Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Rebuttal of "Calvinism Critiqued" by Steve Jones (part 1)

I was sent to a link by a friend who got it from a friend of his attempting to disprove Calvinism. The article is by a fellow named Steve Jones who attempts to critique Calvinism. In this post, I would like to write a rebuttal to it.

Before we start, I would like to mention that it is odd that there is no description of who this guy "Steve Jones" is. I am a proponent that someone who wants to dispute something should not be anonymous. In other words, take responsibility for what you are posting. A second issue I have is that it is hosted on the website of a guy, Ken Allen, who seems to be a universalist with his "True Grace Ministries." While this does not mean that the article is discredited, this poses a question as to the motive behind Steve Jones and what he currently holds to. In other words, I question the use of this article by an evangelical to attempt to discredit Calvinism. Why does Steve Jones decide to post his article on a site maintained by someone at least sympathetic to universalism? In fact, is Steve Jones a universalist himself, judging by his citation of the heretics Clark Pinnock and Faustus Socinus, both of whom had universalistic tendencies? Do evangelicals really want to utilize arguments by a probable universalist just to fight a common enemy, Calvinism, noting that Universalism is just as much an enemy to Evangelical Arminianism as it is to Calvinism?

The author's experience

The author Steve Jones claimed to a former Calvinist. While that seems to portray him as a more credible source as one coming from within the movement, the question to be asked is how much does he really understand of Calvinism? Was he formerly a Calvinist who truly understood the arguments behind Calvinism and then reject it when he was convinced by the Scriptures otherwise? Or was he a former Calvinist in the sense of mere identification of the movement without going deeply into it? I would submit the latter, since he does not deal with the major texts and arguments, as we shall see.

TULIP

According to the author, the main point of Calvinism lies in is embrace of Total Depravity (which he mistook for a related point Total Inability). Remove that point, and the rest of the other 4 points crashes. In his words, "to question his point [Total Inability] is to question all of it." This is a candid admission which shows the inconsistency of Evangelical Arminianism, which lives in a perpetual tension of being Evangelical and being Arminian.

The first issue here of course is with Jones' seemingly minor point of confusing Total Depravity with Total Inability. The former necessitates the latter, but they are nevertheless distinct. Total Depravity has to with the depravity of Man, while total inability pertains only to the will. If Jones wants to establish credibility, he has already lost it at the start.

Total Inability

Nevertheless, we will start with the first point raised by Jones: Total Inability. According to Jones, total inability teaches that

"Man has sunk so far through the Fall that he is no longer capable of believing the gospel. He can no more repent and believe than a dead man can rise up and walk. This is all the result of the sin of Adam, who communicated th is [sic this] absolute inability, this loss of free will, to all his posterity."

This however is not a true definition of Total Inability. Total Inability does not teach that Man is no longer capable of believing the Gospel, but that he is no longer capable of doing any spiritual good. It is not the Gospel that is even primarily in mind, but that of obeying God's Law. Of course, believing the Gospel is a spiritual good which Man cannot do, but the primary focus of total inability goes beyond that. That Jones later gives a proper understanding of it shows his carelessness and does not bode well for this article.

The Genesis Account

Jones starts by attacking the very nature of the Fall. In his words, "if this [total inability] is true, we would surely expect to find some mention of it in the Genesis account." Here we see the worst of the practice of proof-texting and extreme biblicism. This idea of how Scripture is written and truths are taught in Scripture is just horrendous, as if Scripture must teach everything explicitly right from the start! Instead, what we have to do is to read all of Scripture and interpret all of Scripture in the light of all of Scripture (tota Scriptura).

In this, Jones did not actually interact with the biblical texts or even Calvinists' interpretation of these texts. Jones just did a mere hand-waving and claimed that "two primary texts adduced to prove the doctrine of Original Sin (Rom 5; 1 Cor. 15) say nothing about Total Inability." Even if one disagrees with the exegesis of Calvinists proving Total Inability, one should interact with the exegesis and prove why it is wrong. Mere hand-waving is a cop-out altogether.

Rom. 5 for example is an excellent place that speaks about total depravity, in terms of death. But even before we go there, Jones just hand-waved through the Genesis account, as if mere hand-waving means he can discount the actual teaching of the text. For example, we read in Gen. 2:17 of God's prohibition for Adam (and Eve) to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, for "in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (מ֥וֹת תָּמֽוּת). Was God lying in Gen. 3 when Adam and Eve were not immediately struck dead on the spot? Or are we to take the "day" there as meaning one thousand years (and totally ignoring the context of 2 Peter 3:8 in the process) and claimed that Adam did die within that "day"? Rather, if we believe God, then it must be the case that some form of death did actually occur when Adam and Eve did partake of the fruit, which is spiritual death.

The narrative of subsequent chapter in Genesis has already clued us in to how this spiritual death is worked out in the experience of humanity. We have the first murder of Abel by Cain in Gen. 4, the multiplication of evil until Gen. 6:8 can say that "every intention of the thoughts of his [Man's] heart was only evil continually." Only someone deaf to the teachings of Scripture is unable to see that spiritual death is manifested in evil.

Rom. 5: 12-18 continues in a fuller manner the discussion of what sin does. According to the plain teaching of the text of Scripture, death is the product of sin (v. 12). Yes, it is written that death came about because all sinned, but this idea that "all sinned" speaks of federal headship because in verse 15 the "many died through one man's trespass" and that "death reigned through that one man" (v. 17).

The focus of the Genesis account, subsequent chapter and Rom. 5 focuses on the death motif. From this, we are then to continue to ask the question: What does this spiritual death mean for us?

In Eph. 2:1-3, we see the teaching of Scripture on the motif of spiritual death. According to the Scriptures, spiritual death is "following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air [i.e. Satan], the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience." Spiritual death therefore includes disobedience and a turning away from good.

So from Gen. 6:8, we see that spiritual death includes the will of men towards evil continually, not just once in a while. In Eph. 2:1-3, we see that it includes disobedience. Finally, we turn to Rom. 3:9-11 to see that being under sin means that no one seeks God.

Contrary to Jones therefore, the Scriptures do teach total inability. Such is found in the motif of spiritual death that is up front in the Genesis account. To claim that "there is not a trace of such teaching there" is to ignore the whole teaching of Scripture which informs us what being "spiritually dead" means. It ignores even the biblical theological progression in the book of Genesis itself with its progression from the Fall in Gen. 3 to the wickedness of Man in Gen. 6.

Original Perfection

The denial of Adam's original perfection here is another exercise in biblicism, as if just because Scriptures did not explicitly teach it therefore it is not true. Nothing could be further from the truth.

First of all, we look at the motif of death and spiritual death in Scripture. We see in passages like Rom. 6:11 and 1 Peter 3:18 that spiritually alive means to be able to respond to God. Consequently, spiritual death is not being able to respond to God, a point explicitly stated in Rom. 3:9-11. In the Genesis narrative, we see that Adam before the Fall had communion with God. After the Fall however, God came in judgment upon Adam and Eve and pronounced the curses upon them. Adam and Eve were therefore spiritually alive before the Fall, and spiritually dead after.

If being made spiritually alive in Rom. 6:11 is to be dead to sin, therefore Adam and Eve prior to the Fall as spiritually alive were dead to sin and did not sin. If we define original perfection as sinlessness, then certainly Adam and Eve were originally perfect.

Contrary to Jones therefore, the Bible does teach this truth. The only problem is that Jones seems to be morally incapable of considering the truths of Scripture in this regard, and thinks that any truth not explicitly taught in the passage is not true at all. Through the motifs of spiritual life and spiritual death, we can see all these truths taught in Scripture, including the transmission of spiritual death to all of Adam's descendants (c.f. Rom. 5:12-18).

As we have mentioned before, it is illuminating to see Jones citing the heretic Faustus Socinus, and then the Racovian Catechism. Both of these sources are contrary to biblical Christianity historically. Do Arminians really want to quote sources that embrace some form of universalism in order to discredit Calvinism? Socinus denied the Trinity as well. Do Arminians really want to go down that road?

[to be continued]

33 comments:

ED360™ said...

Hi Daniel,

Based on only one person's views and action, it not fair to deduce that all Arminians want to go down.
that way.

Secondly, thanks for debunking this Steve Jones' post because I saw that article before and certain parts seem convincing to me.

Edwin Zhang

PuritanReformed said...

@Edwin,

I didn't say all Arminians want to go down that way. I said that this is the logical conclusion of rejecting Calvinism. Arminians are illoigcal, and that's why they continue to be Arminians.

SteveJ said...

Hey, glad to see that someone thought my little old article, written back in 1994, is worth all the time and trouble to refute. Just a couple of random reactions here:

1. You criticize the article because there's no detailed explanation of who the author is. Why does the identity of the author matter so much? Don't the arguments themselves make or break it, rather than an appeal to who's making them?

2. You say, "Jones starts by attacking the very nature of the Fall. In his words, 'if this [total inability] is true, we would surely expect to find some mention of it in the Genesis account.' Here we see the worst of the practice of proof-texting and extreme biblicism."

But why? Shouldn't we expect to find some reference to this most terrible of Fall consequences -- the imposition of total inability -- in the Fall story itself? The story refers to such details as the proliferation of weeds and the pains of childbirth but doesn't say word one about something as grave as total inability?! Huh? That's like an account of the Dallas parade on Nov. 22, 1963, without saying anything about the shooting, don't you think?

3. It's an ad hominem to dismiss an argument because the person making them believes something else you find untenable. The arguments should stand or fall, whether the person making them is a universalist, a unitarian or even a Democrat (I'm NOT a Democrat, BTW). Also, I'm very glad we have freedom of conscience today. Of course, that didn't exist under your fiendish pal J. Calvin, who was instrumental in getting a man burned at the stake over the Trinity issue.

SteveJ said...

Also, I appreciate Edwin recognizing that there's no necessity a person adopting Arminianism will go down any particular unorthodox "path" -- as if questioning the TULIP will somehow lead the questioner to Socinianism. Plenty of people become Ariminian and retain their mainstream orthodoxy for life.

But concerning your little snipe about Arminians being illogical: Well, maybe they are. It's interesting, however, than when someone confronts you about the Trinity being illogical, you people instantly discount such a charge by appealing to the dogma's supra-logical status. Calvinists sometimes even remind those who invoke logic that the Fall has left us with fallen, impaired logic that is untrustworthy. Strangely enough, you're able to turn those arguments on and off when it suits you.

Speaking of things illogical, just remember that you're the ones who believe (1) God has seen to it that total inability is transmitted to human nature, making compliance with the divine commands impossible, (2) God, who is wholly just, nevertheless demands that humans do what they are unable to do, and (3) God will punish humans for not doing these things they cannot do.

As long as you believe those dogmas, calling anyone else illogical is a prime example of pot/kettle.

PuritanReformed said...

@SteveJ:

I took the time to refute your piece only because my friend Edwin is reading it, not that your arguments are fresh and at the cutting edge of scholarship.

1) I mention that not because the identity matters as to the validity of the argument, but because the identity gives background information about the person, especially if he is an ordained person or a layperson. That is important as I have a high view of the office of the minister.

Time is precious. I do not desire to spend my time chasing every rabbit down its hole. Just because you have written an article does not mean that I must respond to it.

2) No. The Bible is an unfolding of redemptive history, not a sourcebook for philosophical truth. Just like a acorn to an oak tree, the Bible does not reveal everything at once, but rather revelation is progressive.

3) It's not ad-hominem. It's reductio ad absurdum. The argument is: position y is where holding to theory x leads to; you the audience presumably do not believe in position y (implicit premise), therefore you the audience should not hold to theory x.

As for Calvin, quit being anachronistic. There was no freedom of religion anywhere in the 16th century, not even in Anabaptist communes where they at best don't kill you but banish you.

PuritanReformed said...

@SteveJ:

I happen to think that the doctrine of the Trinity is perfectly logical. Note I say perfectly logical; I did not say perfectly comprehensible.

As for your syllogism, there is no logical contradiction involved. The contradiction occurs when you smuggle in the premise that "responsibility presupposes freedom to will the contrary." The premise may seem perfectly reasonable to you, but you have to come up with a reason why anyone should hold on to that premise.

SteveJ said...

Do you mind if I ask for the basis of your "high view of the office of the minister"? Does the New Testament ever present us with this omni-competent clergyman who ministers to the needs of a church? This is an area where you'll have to search high and low for even a smattering of evidence. The early NT church has a clear polity of plural eldership (and elders are *always* synonymous with bishops in NT language). There's never, ever, EVER any distinction between lay and clergy in the NT.

Not that it really matters to me what you practice. It's just a point of intellectual honesty, that's all.

As far as the charge of being anachronistic: I'm assuming (correctly, I think) that a man of Calvin's mental acumen who reads the teaching of Jesus should know beyond any doubt that killing someone (by slow burning, no less) over an intricate metaphysical issue is unchristian in the extreme. The earliest Christians lived in a brutal age, too, but they didn't resort to such ghastly methods of doctrinal conformity.

The Trinity is logical? If so, then why do apologists have to keep rescuing it by invoking "mystery"? Bishop Hurd, as I'm sure you know, uttered the famous, "At the Trinity, reason stands aghast." Yes, it does. Three divine Persons, each being God, yet each is not just a third of God, and besides that, there is only one God and not three. There's nothing even remotely logical about any of that and you certainly must know it in your heart of hearts.

Same is true with your denial of "responsibility presupposes freedom to will the contrary." This is so self-evident that I scarcely know how to even argue for it. In our society, we don't hold mentally unfit persons responsible for their actions in the same way we do others. If we passed a law that obligated a man in a wheelchair to walk a hundred yards or else suffer imprisonment, every reasonable person would deem that an unjust law, correct? And yet, the most just being in the universe punishes the incapable for failing to perform what they're disabled from doing?!

PuritanReformed said...

@SteveJ:

I don't have the time to write on great detail on the offices of the church. I will just say that the Bible clearly teaches that offices of the church are set apart for special office. Such a setting apart is a vocational calling, not an ontological difference. You never see normal laypeople being called to rebuke heretics for one (Titus 1:9).

And for Calvin, you are repeating too many historical inaccuracies it is not funny.

Fact: Calvin did not sentence Servetus to burn over a slow fire; the Council did that against the opposition of Calvin who recommended a quick humane execution.
Fact: Servetus was sentenced to death by a RC court. All of the magisterial Reformers were unanimous in calling for Servetus' death
Fact: Heresy was believed to be a much worse crime than murder, for it ia murder of souls. Regardless of how stupid you may think such a notion is, to mock of the death penalty for heretics is not to understand the real love and concern for souls behind such laws against heresy
Fact: Calvin pleaded for Servetus to repent and thus save his soul; he cared for Servetus enough to call him to repent towards eternal life.

And to call the Trinity "an intricate metaphysical issue" shows how little you care about doctrine. Not surprising of course, but you evidently don't think that a wrong doctrine of the Trinity will damn one's soul to hell. That is your liberty to believe so in this world, but you are not at liberty to think that others must hold on to and act on your belief trivilizing doctrine.

PuritanReformed said...

As for the Trinity, I am not obliged to defend every stupid remark some theologian somewhere says about the Trinity. I have asserted that the Triity is logical, and for those who knows the difference between logic and comprehension, they similarly know that the Trinity is logical. There is after all a reason why the Trinity is called supra-logical, NOT anti-logical.

On the premise that "responsibility presupposes freedom to will the contrary," first of all a mere assertion that it is so clear and "self-evident" is not a logical argument. In fact, what exactly is "self-evident" and why should "common sense" be made the judge of what one can accept to be true?

Secondly, your remark shows that you believe in the univocity of being between God and Man. Since God's thoughts are not our thoughts (Is. 55:9), your argument is invalid because you argue based upon a strict analogy between what is the reality for Man to what must be the reality for God. But God is not bound to Man's premises. God is sui generis. God's thoughts are logical because the conclusion flow from the premises, but God's premises are not the same as Man's premises.

Your argument is based upon the implicity denial of the Creator-creature distinction in affirmation of the univocity of being. You think that you can reach God by your own autonomous reason. But this is not how God works. You cannot reason autonomously to God, for your premises are not rightly ordered and your mind is darkened (Rom. 1:22-23.

SteveJ said...

PuritanReformed, let me respond to your last statement first. If what you're saying is true, there could be no purely illogical statement uttered about God, ever. Or about anything else associated with theology, for that matter. As long as one can declare the idea biblical, the "his thoughts are not our thoughts" justifies absolutely anything. Nothing about God could ever be falsified via logic.

About the Trinity and hell: It sounds like you're saying God's final judgment includes a theology exam that requires a right understanding of divine "persons," not confounding these persons, not dividing the substance, eternal generation of the Son, etc., etc., etc. A wrong answer and you're tortured for trillions of eons, just for starters. What percentage of Christians even understand the orthodox definition? How many primitive converts -- say, Zaccheus up in the tree -- had any inkling at all about such ideas?

About Calvin: I'm sure you know that Calvin mocked Servetus in a letter for the way he cried out during his execution (swell guy). Some scholars have reasoned that Calvin's motivation for having Servetus executed via the sword was to manifest that the civil authority was carrying out the penalty (and not because of humane stirrings in Calvin's heart). At any rate, for you to wiggle Calvin the Prosecutor of Servetus off the hook for this dastardly act -- even though the council itself technically pronounced the sentence -- is to put yourself in an unenviable position. It sounds as if you, on some level, even admire these people for esteeming crimes against the soul so highly that they would kill over it. Is that true?

Sooner or later, having to argue for such untenable, unarguable positions is bound to wear you down. (I know, I've been there.)

PuritanReformed said...

@SteveJ:

Logic refers to the process of reasoning. It deals with whether the conclusion(s) follow from the premises. It cannot deal with whether the premises are true or false. Your assertion therefore on the impossibility of illogical sentences therefore is demonstrably false.

On doctrine and final judgment, you err because you do not see a difference between explicit knowledge and tacit faith, or to use Aristotelian categories, between formal and material faith. Christianity is a spiritual faith, but it is manifested in true belief. People may have a material faith without having the full formal faith, and it is the job of the Church to instruct believers into the fullness of the Faith.

On the Servetus' incident, please provide citations for your allegations. A lot of what people claim are secondary sources with no true evidence behind it.

PuritanReformed said...

I admire their piety. I do not admire their confusion of Church and State. The Church is a spiritual kingdom, and as such she should not put heretics to the sword. One day when Christ comes back again, final judgment will be meted out, and the Servetus incident will be but a matchstick compared to the bonfire of the judgment of God against those who rebel against Him.

PuritanReformed said...

which incidentally of course, may include you. I exhort you to repent of your errors, although I do know that Internet writing sounds impersonal.

SteveJ said...

I've got to correct what I said in the last post: Calvin's mocking of Servetus was aimed at the way he responded to being sentenced to death, not to the actual burning:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/03/john-calvin-mocked-reaction-of-michael.html

Still, it was heartless, considering Calvin himself (and none of the Reformers, as far as I know) ever had to die for their faith. They never faced martyrdom, but were themselves instrumental in the killing of others, such as the Anabaptist Conrad Grebel. It's astonishing to me that any Christian who's read the Sermon on the Mount would utter one syllable in their defense, but theological preferences create the most inexplicably ironclad loyalties.

As for minimizing the death of Servetus by placing it alongside the Parousia "bonfire": Are you really expecting such an unspeakable global holocaust to occur all around you someday? Do you honestly anticipate people you know and love running around on fire, writhing in agony? And do you earnestly long for such a day?! If it were to happen, I seriously doubt many Christians would lift their hands and exclaim, "Maranatha!" No, they'd probably be in such stunned horror, they'd want it to stop -- you included. And yet, we hear such casual talk about the Second Coming and God burning up our neighbors who believe the wrong technical data regarding the most difficult of philosophical matters.

PuritanReformed said...

@SteveJ:

first of all, the post by RC Dave Armstrong did not say what you claimed it said. That Servetus asked for mercy is true, but that is not the same as saying that Calvin mocked him. Armstrong merely claimed in Calvin "the sufferings of (wrongly) condemned men were prolonged by the ineptitude of an executioner" and then move on to discuss Servetus.

I don't trust Armstrong's scholarship, and the more I look, the worst it gets. When I mention the unreliability of secondary sources, I mean it, and I will check the primary sources where available.

Armstrong cited Williston Walker's work, which claims evidence from Calvin's letters from the Calvin's Opera. The problem is I can't seem to find the supposed quote Walker mentions in the Calvini Opera section of the Corpus Reformatorum. Now my Latin is not as good as I would like it to be, so if you want to pursue your case, please give me the sentence in Latin from the Calvini Opera that supports the claim made by Dave Armstrong (tertiary source) citing Williston Walker (secondary source) allegedly citing the Calvini Opera. Ad fontes! You want to pursue your charge, please provide verifiable evidence.

PuritanReformed said...

And yes, I believe that the Last Judgment will someday occur. That is what God has revealed, and who is anyone to dare to contradict God, except those who think themselves smarter than God.

It is not for me to "long for" or not "long for" such a day. What I desire or don't desire is absolutely irrelevant. I may fantasize about an ideal world where there is no war, but I and you and everyone else don't have the luxury to live in fairyland. Likewise, I don't have the luxury to tell God I want a different world other than what He has ordained. The Last Judgment is a fact, the question is how men and women are to live in light of this assured fact.

Emotional pleas regarding the burning of relatives and friends or anyone else are irrelevant. First of all, it doesn't work in the present world, why would it work in the future? Do you think emotional pleading is going to change the fact that anyone jumping off a tall building is not going to die by the time they hit the ground? Try emotionally railing against the law of gravity for being so heartless in taking away the life of any person who jumps off a tall building. Why would you think emotional railing against the law of gravity is going to change anything? Why would you therefore think that emotional railing against the law of God's justice must be different?

Those who will be punished by God are sinners, wicked sinners, as I once was. Just as I was once wicked in God's sight, so those who reject Christ are wicked in God's sight. All men are no different qualitatively from Hitler; the only difference is that we do not have the same opportunity and loss of restraint that Hitler possesses.

When the all holy God punishes Man, all natural restraints and goodness will be stripped off. There are no noble people in hell, for whatever natural good they once have which they have received from God will be removed. All condemned men in that state will each be worse than a thousand Hitlers combined.

Lastly, saving faith is not not "believing the wrong technical data regarding the most difficult of philosophical matters." If you refuse to interact with the substance of what I have previously said, then stop repeating your absurd claim, over and over again. It is only a "most difficult philosophical matter" to those who do not have the Spirit of God in them, and thus they cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2: 14-16).

SteveJ said...

OK, you've mitigated the guilt of religious killers. You've deemed all humans, even the most decent and loving, evil as Hitler. You've presented a theology in which people are responsible for doing what they're incapable of doing -- then punished horribly for not doing it. You've set forth an end-time scenario in which God burns people with fire, strips them down to the most depraved level possible, then hurls them into a place of endless toruture.

Tell me, is that faith beautiful and appealing to you?

PuritanReformed said...

@StevenJ:

you said:
"You've deemed all humans, even the most decent and loving, evil as Hitler"

The Scripture says thus:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
"Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
(Rom. 3:10b-18)

There are no "decent and loving" person on this planet, me and you included

You further said:
"You've set forth an end-time scenario in which God burns people with fire, strips them down to the most depraved level possible, then hurls them into a place of endless toruture"

The Scriptures states this:

So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
(Luke 17:10)

The common elements of civility, intelligence etc are but gifts that God has given us to be used for His glory. God as the Creator gives all good things. Man as creatures do not deserve any of these things. God is not unjust to remove the common gifts pertaining to humanity to those who misuse it in rebellion against him.


So in answer to your question, yes, it is beautiful and appealing to me. Because I know that God does not owe me anything, and that I as a sinner had rebelled against His glorious majesty. I deserved death, but Christ has paid the price for my sins to save me from myself. God owes me nothing, yet He gives my everything in Christ. Why is this great salvation not beautiful and appealing?

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
(2 Cor. 2:14-16)

The same Gospel that you smell death in is the same Gospel that I smell the fragrance of life in. You refuse to see yourself as a creature under the Creator. You refuse to acknowledge your wickedness before God. You refuse to see yourself as one who is wretched and blind and miserable, imprisoned under the bondage of sin. And that is why you can in this state never see the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to your eternal detriment.

I would like to call you to repentance. While it is today, you still can come and repent of your sins and believe in Christ. Do not continue to harden your heart, for there is no mercy left when Christ comes again.

SteveJ said...

Yeah, I've heard Romans 3 a time or two. So you don't think there's anything hyperbolic about it? This is a statement of literal, metaphysical theology, to be taken at face value? You're entitled to your opinion, of course, but your opinion doesn't necessarily equal absolute truth.

I could as easily quote the same volume to show that people are often called "good," "upright," "righteous" -- fairly often, in fact. I could further show you Luke 1:6, where we learn that Zechariah and Elizabeth continued in all the commands of God, blamelessly. And that the very book of Psalms that Paul quotes in Romans 3 recognizes that some people "keep thy law."

But to address your point about whether your faith is beautiful. Here's the bottom line: Because of something a remote ancestor did (one who lacked the knowledge of good and evil, and was tricked by a talking snake), we all enter the world as mini-Hitlers. God's revulsion toward us is so immutable that he can't even pardon our sins -- no, he had to vent his wrath against a substitute. Only blood appeases him. In your thought world, God can't tolerate even the most microscopic of moral imperfections, but still commands us to bear with the sins of others and forgive them freely. Furthermore, he commands us to have faith, knowing full well that we're all incapable of complying. So he gives the gift of faith to a small percentile of the whole, while purposing to judge and hurl all the rest into a lake of fire to endure suffering without end.

And for failing to find that lovely, I'm thereby manifesting a stench of death? Are you kidding?

PuritanReformed said...

@SteveJ:

Yes, I am not kidding. You are manifesting the exact moral repugnance that Scripture has prophesied of those who reject the Gospel message.


You fail to read each of these texts in their proper genre and in context. Romans is speaking of metaphysical redemptive-historical reality, whereas the other narratives are speaking comparatively, of a comparative "righteousness" against those who are more wicked.

Your idea of "God" is not holy and not just, such that He can forgive sins without the necessity of a substitutionary atonement. That you think God can deal with a wicked, rebellious world in any other way than the way He has said He did shows that you esteem Man too much and God too little.

SteveJ said...

Well, there's not much left to say except that I respectfully disagree with you -- profoundly. Still, I wish you well in your studies and trust that you'll do a great deal of good for others.

ED360™ said...

Hi SteveJ,

I decided to join in the fun since my name was mentioned :D so let get started with the basic tenents of the faith instead of arguing about whether man has the ability to believe or work of Christ is only limited to a group of people.

1. Firstly, we got to agree that God is holy because (Leviticus 21:8b I the LORD am holy),(Leviticus 22:32b Do not profane my holy name) he cannot stand sin and is angry at sinners who refuse to repent (Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things the LORD hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to 1 Him: 17 l A 2 proud look,
m A lying tongue,
n Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 o A heart that devises wicked plans,
p Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 q A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who r sows discord among brethren.) and (Psalm 5:4-6 4 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,
Nor shall evil 1 dwell with You. 5 The c boastful shall not d stand in Your sight;
You hate all workers of iniquity. 6 You shall destroy those who speak falsehood;
The LORD abhors the e bloodthirsty and deceitful man.)

2.The nature of man. Is man born good? The bible cleary say this (Romans 3:23
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,)
(Psalm 51:5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.) There still many verses but I think this two is good enough.

3.Now applying statement 2 in the light of statement 1. It mean that God will punish men for all the sins they done.(Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.) It is very clear that death mean being seperated from God forever. Men deserve nothing but death because every sin is an act of rebellion against God. God has every right to punish men. I am quite concerned on your subtle idea that man is good and deserve something good from God because he deserve it(Correct me if I get the wrong idea.)
4.On your statement "You've deemed all humans, even the most decent and loving, evil as Hitler."
Total depravity does not say men as evil as they can be but rather sin has affected all parts of a human being. If you read Genesis 2 to 5 carefully. You can infer this few things eg Ruined relationship between God and man, Ruined relationship between people(Cain kiiled Abel. Work got tougher for man and having a baby is tougher for woman. Death of people and sexual immorality. Adam and Eve depending on their own strength and wisdom to cover their nakeness and shame instead of repenting to God.
6.But the good new is that Jesus Christ has pay the penalty for sinners and those who trust in him will be saved. My question is to you is this are you convinced that you have violated God's law(I am sure you have violated God law) and is in danger of being separted from him forever. Only through Christ we can be saved not our good works at all. As the bible say( Isaiah 64:6b and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags) and (Galatians 3:11
Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”)

ED360™ said...

5. I will considered myself more Calvinistic leaning even though I believe Limited Antonement in limited way. I am not concerned if you are a Calvinist or not. I am more concerned about your subtle view of (high view of man and low view of who God is.)

6.ASSUMING that what you say on what Calvin done to Servetus is true.That does not mean what he teach is wrong. All men have their own moments of foolish and that include you and me.

7.It would be great if you clarify your understanding on who God is and nature of man, wherter Jesus is the only way back to God and the extistence of a literal heaven and hell. Thanks. God bless you.

Edwin

PS:Sorry if I have grammer,vocab or spelling error.It 4.40am now at my side(I live somewhere in South East Asia.)

PuritanReformed said...

@SteveJ:

I wish I could say the same for you. I wish rather the best for you - that God will bring you to repentance and true faith.

colnunn said...

I note that many Calvinists attack the person of those that disagree with them, in order I guess to discredit their arguments. PuritanReformed is quick to do this. His arguments are also dishonest in regard to Calvin who argued vehemently against the Catholic Church for just the same sins he himself later committed when he had absolute power. He was known as the Protestant Pope. He also wrote with hate about Servetus a number of years previous to murdering him and stated clearly that if Servetus ever came to Geneva he would make sure that he would not leave there alive. His pretense that he had no say in this murder was disingenuous. I challenge you PuritanReformed to search out the still extant correspondence and papers relating to that time and get a handle on what your precious leader and hero was really like. I expect though that you will use the same excuse you have used with Steve ie. that you don't have the time. So you don't have the time to seek out truth? At least SteveJ had the courage to disagree with the teachings of his peer group, but I suspect, judging by your need to put him in his place (wherever you think that may be), that you fear truth because it may upset your equilibrium and perhaps force you to conclude that the Bible teaches you that you may actually be lost?

PuritanReformed said...

@colnunn:

> PuritanReformed is quick to do this. &c


That is because you have no idea what the Reformed doctrine of the church is. You refuse to see that someone who could not show which Reformed church he was once a member of cannot be called to be a actual former Calvinist. You also persist in failing to recognize that this guy has no way of being checked upon, whereas I as a member in a Reformed denomination and a pastoral intern can be checked upon easily.


>He was known as the Protestant Pope

By his enemies, and citing such "sources" give no credibility upon the one citing them.

>He also wrote with hate about Servetus

That's a lie. You cannot prove that using primary source quotation. Calvin even was willing to risk his life to meet Servetus in Paris in order to try to show him the truth.


>murdering him

Everyone who has the power and authority execute heretics, including the Anabaptists when they were in power (e.g. Munster). You fail to recognize that the historical situation is that of 16th century Christendom, where heresy is a capital crime.


>if Servetus ever came to Geneva he would make sure that he would not leave there alive

So? That was 16th century Christendom, not 21st century America! Everyone did that.


>His pretense that he had no say in this murder was disingenuous

You cannot prove that from primary sources. Yes, Calvin had a hand in the sentencing and execution of Servetus (NOT murder, because heresy was considered a capital crime in that day). That does not mean that Calvin wanted him to be burnt at the stake.


>So you don't have the time to seek out truth?

You refuse to read historical sources in their historical contexts. You fail to realize what the fact that heresy is considered a capital offence in 16th century Europe means. Everyone killed heretics back then. You should at least realize that and stop using 21st century notions of religious freedom to judge Calvin. There was simply no religious freedom in 16th century Europe. The Anabaptists championed religious freedom only because they were on the receiving end of persecution. When in power, they were just as brutal in imposing their creed on everyone else. So stop trying to interpret events ahistorically. It shows only that you are a bad historian.


>perhaps force you to conclude that the Bible teaches you that you may actually be lost?

What do you mean "lost," since your hero Steve Jones deny original sin? According to Unitarian Universalism, everyone is going to heaven anyway, so why bother "converting" me to Steve Jones' position?

colnunn said...

>That is because you have no idea what the Reformed doctrine of the church is.

Why would you even say such a thing? You have no knowledge of me nor of SteveJ, yet you quickly jump to conclusions, condemn and criticise. If I criticise it’s in reply to your ungracious words to SteveJ, you criticise out of what appears to be pure spleen. As a matter of fact, I attend a Presbyterian Church pastored by a convinced Reformed-doctrine Minister. I hear the Reformed doctrines continually, but accept the Church-people and Pastor as Brothers and sisters in Christ in spite of the fact that they teach what I disagree with.

>You also persist in failing to recognize that this guy has no way of being checked upon, whereas I as a member in a Reformed denomination and a pastoral intern can be checked upon easily.

What is your name? You too hide your identity. I checked your website and found a little information, but no real possibility of identifying who you are - the pot and kettle situation. Half the trouble in the Churches is the many young Calvinist men and women who make claims of authenticity because they have greater knowledge, (almost a gnosticism?), or are studying in seminary etc.. It’s hard not to envision a chest out, proud know-everything person behind your words.

It doesn’t matter who “this guy” is. You have no right to blacken his reputation simply because he chafes your youthful pimples. I have found that in general, Calvinists will only accept writings and teaching from fellow Calvinists. Your website proves this. Anything that is not Calvinist is suspect, and of the devil and rejected. As a result, you can’t, or will not face truth and it's possibly why you eagerly seek out reasons to reject the truth in SteveJ's words.

>He was known as the Protestant Pope By his enemies, and citing such "sources" give no credibility upon the one citing them.

>He also wrote with hate about Servetus That's a lie. You cannot prove that using primary source quotation..

I again challenge you to research the still existing letters and papers from that time in history before calling people liars. I doubt you’ll have the courage though. You’ll find that Calvin in fact was in absolute agreement, insisting quietly behind the scenes on the death penalty for a young man who simply had the courage to disagree with what the Protestant Pope said. This attitude of persecution and attacking is a convenient way of handling disagreements among strongly convinced Calvinists. You seem to be proving this point.

>Calvin even was willing to risk his life to meet Servetus in Paris in order to try to show him the truth.

I can just as readily say as you did, “That's a lie. You cannot prove that using primary source quotation”, so then why don’t you actually investigate the facts, rather than dodge them – you’re the “member in a Reformed denomination and a pastoral intern”, you have the facilities available to research (honestly) these facts, but you won’t.

colnunn said...

>murdering him: Everyone who has the power and authority execute heretics, including the Anabaptists when they were in power (e.g. Munster). You fail to recognize that the historical situation is that of 16th century Christendom, where heresy is a capital crime.

Calvin argued vehemently against the Catholic Church for exactly the same sins he himself later committed when he had absolute power. Therefore he knew that what he did was wrong. There is no excuse for him. He had others who disagreed with his teachings and Church rulership jailed, flogged and put to death as well as other lesser punishments. He had his spies inspecting the homes and workplaces of the whole of Geneva and surrounds in order to bring the citizens under control, meting out all kinds of punishment for infringements that would be simply overlooked in todays Church. His subjects lived under the thraldom of fear. Sadly there is no indication of any form of repentance from him. His followers centuries later had to erect a memorial of apology for him for his sin of murder against Servetus.

>He also wrote with hate about Servetus. That's a lie. You cannot prove that using primary source quotation. Calvin even was willing to risk his life to meet Servetus in Paris in order to try to show him the truth.

So then, I’m a liar too? Great way to answer criticism. Read the facts my friend rather than the facts as presented by Calvinist authors.

>if Servetus ever came to Geneva he would make sure that he would not leave there alive. So? That was 16th century Christendom, not 21st century America! Everyone did that.

I thought that Calvin was a Bible teacher – why then did he protest against the unscriptural attitudes and actions of the Catholic Church if he was so dense in regard to scriptural admonishments such as “love your neighbour”? “Everyone did it” is no excuse for any Christian who teaches the Bible, to act in an ungodly, hateful or condemning way to others whatever their beliefs or life-style. It’s simply a cop-out.
Your frantic attempts to excuse the 16th century believers for not practicing what they preached to the Catholic Church - that which they read clearly in the scriptures is pathetic.

>perhaps force you to conclude that the Bible teaches you that you may actually be lost? What do you mean "lost," since your hero Steve Jones deny original sin? According to Unitarian Universalism, everyone is going to heaven anyway, so why bother "converting" me to Steve Jones' position?

“Your hero” Steve Jones??? Again you have no clue. I don’t know any Steve Jones, but I did read a disgruntled Calvinist protesting loudly and abusively against a paper written by a “SteveJ”, (who by the way can't be called a Universalist for the reasons you give). That’s what I am replying to.
As regards to the possibility of your being lost – you obviously disregarded all that SteveJ wrote in your haste to demean him. He made some very honest and scripturally factual points that because of your fear, were ignored. I challenge you to truly and honestly read what he said and have the courage to face the truth. Calvinists can often be like a man in a rowboat on the ocean without an anchor when faced with a challenge to their safe harbour beliefs.
Brother, please stop clamouring to hold on to your doctrines and have the courage to read the scriptures with an open and honest heart and with a desire to know what God would have you understand. It is a little frightening, but it will reward you with peace that comes from knowing Christ rather than from doctrine. Perhaps you need to get away from the seminary that will tend to indoctrinate you and perhaps instil pride into you – at least until you are more spiritually aware and mature? By the way, God is not restricted to the doctrines of men. Thank God.

PuritanReformed said...

@colnunn:

>Why would you even say such a thing? You have no knowledge of me nor of SteveJ, yet you quickly jump to conclusions, condemn and criticise. If I criticise it’s in reply to your ungracious words to SteveJ, you criticise out of what appears to be pure spleen. As a matter of fact, I attend a Presbyterian Church pastored by a convinced Reformed-doctrine Minister.


That does not mean anything to me. Which Presbyterian church do you attend, which denomination? There are a lot of so-called "Presbyterian" and "reformed" denominations on this planet that are neither Presbyterian or Reformed. Just because they were historically so doesn't mean anything. Arminius after all was a Reformed pastor, but that doesn't mean that he is Reformed.

>What is your name? You too hide your identity. I checked your website and found a little information, but no real possibility of identifying who you are - the pot and kettle situation

I find it interesting that you claimed that I hide my identity even though it is plainly obvious who I am. From the very first comment on this post, you would have known that my name is "Daniel." Digging a bit deeper, you can know my full name, even a brief summary of my background, as I have revealed on my website. Also my church. I doubt your statement that you "found little information," since there is enough there to establish some idea of who I am, if you actually have looked.


>It’s hard not to envision a chest out, proud know-everything person behind your words.

You noticed that I have no descended to the level of motive-judging and name-calling. I find it revealing that you, having never met me, have decided in your "great love" to start descending to that type of ad-hominem level. Who actually is the proud one now?


>You have no right to blacken his reputation simply because he chafes your youthful pimples

Fact: This has absolutely nothing to do with his "reputation." He decided to unrepentantly associate him with universalists; he will lie on the bed he himself made. He commits a sin, he pays the consequences. On "youthful pimples," I see you continued to descend to unwarranted name-calling. First of all, I am not a youth. Secondly, it matter not even if I am. For someone who seems to want to be seen as "loving" and "non-judgmental," you certainly do not act that way.


>I again challenge you to research the still existing letters and papers from that time in history before calling people liars.

And what make you so sure I have not?! I looked up the supposed citation from the Operus Reformatorum; it is not there. Ad fonts! It is a fact that Steve cited a secondary source, which falsely cites something that is not there in the original sources.


> You’ll find that Calvin in fact was in absolute agreement, insisting quietly behind the scenes on the death penalty

Have you ben actually reading what I have said? EVERYONE insisted on the death penalty for heretics at that time, because heresy is a capital offence. Stop being anachronistic!



> This attitude of persecution and attacking is a convenient way of handling disagreements among strongly convinced Calvinists.


This attitude is shared by EVERYONE in the 16th century: Roman Catholics, Protestants, the earlier Anabaptists. You may want to term it persecution all you wish, but you persistently refused to stop your anachronistic pontification and realize that heresy IS a capital crime in 16th century Europe. Disagree all you want that heresy should be considered a capital offence, but stop trying to read 21st century concepts into the 16th century!

PuritanReformed said...

@colnunn:

>Calvin argued vehemently against the Catholic Church for exactly the same sins he himself later committed when he had absolute power.


Really? Have you read Calvin's Institutes? What is the issue between Calvin and Rome, that Calvin disagreed that heresy should be punished with the sword?

I exhort you to actually READ Calvin's Institutes and the Reformed Confessions, not some regurgitated half-baked nonsense sprouted by some Barthians somewhere.


>He had others who disagreed with his teachings and Church rulership jailed, flogged and put to death as well as other lesser punishments.

Again, you refuse to see that the context is 16th century Europe. Calvin disciplined the members of the Church, who are most of the citizens of the city since the era is still one of Christendom and the State Church. I have a question for you: Do you think the Church ought to exercise discipline over its members? Calvin certainly did, and if you have actually read his Institutes, that was not something he disagreed with Rome over.

Furthermore, there was only one person whom Calvin promoted the death penalty: Servetus. There are no others he agreed should be executed for the 16th century capital crime of heresy. Again, disagree with him all you want that heresy is a capital offence, but the fact of the matter is that it is in 16th century Europe.


>So then, I’m a liar too? Great way to answer criticism. Read the facts my friend rather than the facts as presented by Calvinist authors.


As I have said, go read the sources themselves, not the biased "biographies" written by Calvin's enemies and regurgitated over and over again. You need to read the facts for yourself, and stop sprouting the same lies over and over again.


>I thought that Calvin was a Bible teacher – why then did he protest against the unscriptural attitudes and actions of the Catholic Church if he was so dense in regard to scriptural admonishments such as “love your neighbour”?


That's because the Reformation was not over whether heresy is a capital offence. The Reformation was over who has gotten the biblical doctrine of salvation right. And the command to "love your neighbor" does not mean that people are not to put others to death. The State has the right of capital punishment, not because the judge does not love the one being punished, but because justice has to be done. If someone is a murderer, and murder is a capital crime, claiming that the Bible teaches us to "love one another" does not mean that the crime of murder should not go unpunished.

I have questions for you: (1) Do you believe in capital punishment? (2) What do you think is the relation between love and justice?


>Everyone did it” is no excuse for any Christian who teaches the Bible, to act in an ungodly, hateful or condemning way to others whatever their beliefs or life-style.


Again, they see heresy as a capital offence. It is not "ungodly, hateful or condemning" to exercise justice. Whether you agree that heresy should be a capital crime or not is not the issue. The issue is that they thought it was a capital crime, and IF heresy is a capital crime, then it MUST be punished by the State.


>Your frantic attempts to excuse the 16th century believers for not practicing what they preached to the Catholic Church


Again, you recreated the 16th century Reformers into something they are not. Go read Calvin's Institutes and the Reformed Confessions again to understand what the issues between Roman Catholicism and the Reformers are. Hint: it is not about "tolerance" and "love."

PuritanReformed said...

>Again you have no clue. I don’t know any Steve Jones, but I did read a disgruntled Calvinist protesting loudly and abusively against a paper written by a “SteveJ”, (who by the way can't be called a Universalist for the reasons you give). That’s what I am replying to.



So, you wrote all these comments, having never actually read what Steve Jones wrote and the prior interactions I had with him on this very blog post? Furthermore, your main beef is with the interaction being "abusive"? I think that speaks for itself that you have no wish to actually interact with the main issues and that for you, style is more important that substance.

And I am not "disgruntled." I wrote this because a friend of mine wanted a response to this article. You do not know, neither do you seem to care, that people are affected by such pseudo-scholarship into false doctrines and thus the slow corrosion of the Christian faith. But then again I have not seen any evidence so far that you actually understood the Reformation. In fact, I have not seen any evidence so far in my interaction that you have understood what the Christian faith and the Gospel is about. Hint: it is not about "tolerance" and "love."


>you obviously disregarded all that SteveJ wrote in your haste to demean him

I "disregarded" all that he wrote, even though I interacted with what he said and pointed out WHY he is wrong? Excuse me, what planet are you living in?


>He made some very honest and scripturally factual points that because of your fear, were ignored.

He refused to interact with the biblical text, and that refusal is considered "very honest and scripturally factual points"? How about you actually interact with Romans 5 for example?



> I challenge you to truly and honestly read what he said and have the courage to face the truth


I counter challenge you to truly and honestly read the Scriptures and stop hiding behind a façade of being "honest" and "having the courage to face the truth," all the while you refuse to actually interact with the main issues I am bringing up. Repeating yourself over and over again is NOT a recipe for any constructive interaction.


>Brother, please stop clamouring to hold on to your doctrines and have the courage to read the scriptures with an open and honest heart and with a desire to know what God would have you understand


Please stop clamoring to hold on your own beliefs and actually READ the Scriptures honestly.


> It is a little frightening, but it will reward you with peace that comes from knowing Christ rather than from doctrine.

It is a really frightening to actually LET the Word of God judge you, instead of you standing in judgment over the Word and what it says. I exhort you to remove all your pre-conceived notions and philosophies and actually deal with what the text says in context. Read entire books of Scripture as a continuous whole. Understand the truths of Scripture in the context of the ancient world, instead of reading it like a philosophy textbook about "love and "tolerance," and let Scripture define those terms for you also. It is not a little frightening to do that; it is VERY frightening to actually let God speak to you in the Scriptures.

Not to mention that your particular statement "It is a little frightening, but it will reward you with peace that comes from knowing Christ rather than from doctrine", is itself a doctrinal statement; an anti-doctrinal doctrinal statement. Stop thinking you have no doctrines; you have them aplenty. I exhort you to stop using them as axioms and lens to read Scripture, but rather read Scripture on its own without those lenses.

PuritanReformed said...

>Perhaps you need to get away from the seminary that will tend to indoctrinate you and perhaps instil pride into you – at least until you are more spiritually aware and mature?

You have not even began to define "pride," "spiritually aware" and "mature." According to Scripture, those who are spiritually aware and mature are those who know God and His Word and able to exegete it in context. As it is written:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:14-17)

The spiritually-minded is the one who, like Timothy, "continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed," and have "been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."

As it is also written:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. (2 Peter 1:5-9)

The list of Christian virtues (which are defined according to Scripture not according to your own pre-conceived notions of what those mean) stem from faith, which is here defines as belief in the Gospel of the cleaning "from his former sins." In other words, the virtues of the Christian life stem first and foremost from faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The "spiritually aware and mature" must begin with having this faith in this Gospel. He or she must believe that they are sinners in the hands of an angry God, who is angry with them for their wickedness and rebellion against Him and His commandments. He is angry at their violation of all the commandments, starting with the worshipping of false "gods" and not belief in Him as the one and only true God of heaven and earth (1st commandment). He is angry at them for remaking Him into their own image, of thinking they know more about Him than what He has revealed in His own Word (2nd commandment), chief of which is the creation of statues (Roman Catholicism) and icons (Eastern Orthodoxy) to represent Him even though He has explicitly forbidden any physical representation of Him. He also is angry at people recreating and reimagining God in their own image, like all the false teachings do. Just like Steve, who remade God in his own image by stating a priori that God CANNOT in the exercise of His justice throw people into hell. That is the creation of an idol, of dictating to God what He can or cannot do.

[cont]

PuritanReformed said...

[contd]

I have only gone through the first two commandments, which revealed part of the Law of God. Just by these two alone the world is indicted of sin and deserving of hellfire. And if you deny that, you have violated the 2nd commandment too.

The Gospel is the good news to those who see their sins, not to those who don't. As Jesus himself said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:31-32). To those who deny that they are deserving of wrath by nature, Jesus also said, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains." (John 9:41)

It is only to sinners that the Gospel comes as the Gospel. The Gospel is the message that Jesus came to die for the sins of all who believe in Him, that they might be saved from the wrath of God, upon condition of faith in Christ. This faith comes in the acknowledgment of the his sin and the Gospel, and then a full and complete trust in the Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scriptures.

That IS the Gospel and the heart of the Christian faith, without which no one can be saved, not me not you not anyone else