Monday, June 29, 2009

The universal offer and the Gospel presentation

In dealing with the issue of the Universal Offer or Call of the Gospel over and against the irrational idea of the Well-Meant Offer, one issue which was dealt with was the area of evangelism. How does one share the Gospel with others in light of the biblical idea of the universal offer? As I have written:

We proclaim Christ crucified and His death for sinners, and it is up to sinners to come up with the minor premise themselves in this valid Gospel syllogism:

Major premise: Christ died for sinners
Minor premise: I am a sinner
Conclusion: Christ died for me

The Gospel message is not meant to be proclaimed that Christ died for anyone in particular, but the universal offer is to be preached in a way that it will impress upon the hearts of its listeners that Christ died for sinners. It is up to each individual sinner to have faith (which only those who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit will have (Jn. 3:3, 5-8)) in the Gospel message. When these individuals who are the elect believe in the Gospel message, then they will provide the minor premise as one of the symptoms of repentance and manifest faith through believing in the conclusion of the Gospel syllogism.

Major premise: Christ died for sinners [Gospel proclamation]
Minor premise: I am a sinner [Personal Repentance]
Conclusion: Christ died for me [Personal faith]

The indicative of the Gospel is therefore to be proclaimed that Christ died for sinners, and that only; we are not to think ourselves wiser than God in spicing up the presentation by turning God into a love-sick suitor. We are also to call sinners to repentance, and thus sinners would know the way to fulfil the minor premise, in order that faith is created in their hearts (conclusion) through believing the Gospel message (major premise) and applying it to their persons (minor premise).

And so we have gone full circle, back to the Apostles' seemingly foolish methodology. It truly is amazing how wise we think ourselves out to be, and use all sorts of methods to make the Gospel more attractive and winsome, adding man-made philosophies like the Well-Meant Offer to the Gospel message, as if the Gospel proclamation methodology found in the Scripture are insufficient unless we add the "necessary ingredient" that Christ died for YOU, YOU, YOU and YOU, and that He thinks of YOU daily, and desires and longs for YOU to have a relationship with Him, and intends YOUR salvation. See how he is on his knees begging YOU to receive him. *Urgh*! (Small case intentional)

Yet it seems that the Apostles' methodology without all the "evangelical" trappings has been found to be the most consistent with all of Scriptures. After going through Scriptures and logical reasoning, the Apostles' "foolish methodology" of simply telling Man of Christ's death for sinners and commanding them to repent of their sins is the most biblical method! Perhaps if we start following Scripture and trust its sufficiency and authority for ALL of ministry then we would not create such a mess as found within "Evangelicalism"!

The full response to Tony Byrne, and sufficient refutation of Neo-Amyraldism [AMMENDED]

I have finally finished the response to the Neo-Amyraldian Tony Byrne, which can be found here. Here are the subtopics in the paper itself.

I. Biblical teachings and logical errors
I.1.1 On God’s desire

I.1.2 Non-decretive desires?

I.1.3 Deducing intentions from imperatives?

I.1.4 Illogicity runs amok

I.2.1 Distinction between the Visible and Invisible Church

I.2.2 What applies to the collective may not be applicable to the individual; the logical fallacy of division

I.2.4 Understanding Covenant Theology and its idea of the universal offer

II. Interpretation of historical sources
II.1.1 Context of John Bunyan and his writings

II.1.2 The context and proper interpretation of his work

II.1.3 Rebuttal of Byrne’s interpretive fallacies

III. Conclusive rebuttal and practical concerns
III.1 The logical fallacy of quote-mining

III.2 Conclusive rebuttal of Byrne’s fanciful theories

IV. Conclusion

Section one of the response was previously posted on the blog here, and the PDF contains the remainder of my response to Tony Byrne, both in refuting his Neo-Amyraldism according to the Scriptures, his quote-mining methodology, and his misquotation of historical sources.

Here is the abstract, if you like, of the paper.

The Neo-Amyraldian Tony Byrne has quoted John Bunyan in one of his blog posts in asserting that Bunyan believes in the well-meant offer of the Gospel. I have refuted Byrne’s eisegesis of Bunyan and came up with an alternative interpretation. In reply, Byrne attempted a proper response to prove that his interpretation is correct, or at least highly probable. In this paper, I would address the issue of God’s desires, interpret Bunyan’s quote in context, and refute Byrne’s interpretation of Bunyan as being acontextual and thus reading of foreign concepts into the text.

Add (30th June 2009): I have made some minor changes to the article (typo and the section regarding John Preston) to touch it up.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Reply to Tony Byrne's attempted rebuttal (part 1)

I have been working out a response to Tony Byrne's attempts (here and here) to defend his "interpretation" of John Bunyan's quote, which in the process a lot of fundamental concepts must be rehashed in order to create a proper framework from which a response can be made. In the process, I have, it seems, refuted some [not all] of Dr. Bob Gonzales's attack on the impassibility of God and the defence of the well-meant offer.

Anyway, here is a small part of the response, pending completion in the near future.

I. Biblical teachings and logical errors

I.1.1 On God’s desire

What exactly IS God’s desire? According to based on the Random House Dictionary [1], ‘Desire’ is “a strong feeling, worthy or unworthy, that impels to the attainment or possession of something that is (in reality or imagination) within reach”. Desire therefore has the connotation of something that involved the emotions of the person involved, and non-fulfillment of that desire would negatively impact the feelings of the person who has that desire.

What does the Scriptures therefore teaches us about God’s desires?

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. (Ps. 33:10-11)

Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. (Ps. 135:6)

For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back? (Is. 14:27)

remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ (Is. 46:9-10)

[Nebuchadnezzar:] all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” (Dan. 4:35)

First of all, it can be seen from these verses that God’s absolute sovereignty over all things is asserted, and that God does whatsoever he pleases to do, and absolutely nothing and no one can stop Him or even ask of Him an account. If God does not want to do something, it is not done, and if He wants to do it, it will be done.

Before we look into this idea of God’s plans and purposes with regards to His desires, it may be instrumental to look at how the Bible uses the word ‘desire’ when predicated of God [2].

For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place: (Ps. 132:13)

But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does (Job 23:13)

In both of these texts, the word ‘desire’ when predicated of God is based on the Hebrew word ‘avah, which carries the connotation of desire/craving/ longing. As Job 23:13 states, whatever God desires, that HE DOES. Certainly, it seems therefore that there is nothing in God’s desire that He doesn’t do.

I.1.2 Non-decretive desires?

To propound the idea of the well-meant offer, the idea of God having non-decretive desires [3] is postulated. However, is this phrase even a coherent concept? We have seen that the Bible portrays a God who does all He desires. All that God wills to do is theologically referred to as God’s decretive will. So therefore, logically, all of God’s desires must fall into the category of God’s decretive will [4]. The idea of non-decretive desires therefore is a contradiction in terms, reducing itself to the nonsensical phrase “non-desire desires” or “non-decretive decrees”.

Much has been made about passages like Deut. 5:29 [5], which states:

Oh that they had such a mind as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever! (Deut. 5:29)

This and other passages like Ex. 32:14, which mention God relenting (literally repenting) of what He wanted to do, in order to prop up the idea of God having non-decretive desires. However, the Scriptures themselves do not allow for such an explanation. One basic hermeneutical principle is that of the Analogia Scriptura or the Analogy of Scripture: that more obscure verses are to be interpreted by those with greater clarity. Another principle is that the didactic portions of Scripture take precedence over the narrative portions of Scripture. The various verses where it is said of God’s wishes like in Deut. 5:29 and of God’s “repentance” in Ex. 32:14 are found in the narrative, and therefore the senses and meaning of these verses are to be interpreted in light of the more didactic passages like those found in the Psalms and Is. 46:9-10. When we do so, such passages can be seen to be a form of language called anthropopathism, in which truths regarding God and His attitude towards what He commands are couched in human emotive language in accommodation to our finite understanding [6].

So what are verses like Deut. 5:29 supposed to teach us? They are written to teach us more regarding God’s precepts and the attitude of God towards their fulfillment as precepts qua precepts, which brings us to the next point.

I.1.3 Deducing intentions from imperatives?

God’s commands and laws are normally termed God’s “perceptive will”, which refers to what God commands of men, both individually and generally. Verses like 1 Thess. 4:3 uses the word ‘will’ in this sense, and tells us what God wants of us in His commands.

Is it possible to deduce God’s desires from His ‘preceptive will’? Is it possible to deduce God’s intentions at all from His commands? No, for such is logically fallacious! Certainly, in real life, we can possibly discern the intention and the desire of the person giving commands, but that is because we have a context and environment where hints are given so that we can make educated guesses of the desires and intentions behind the giving of such commands. Therefore, the claim that intentions can never be deduced from imperatives seems counter-intuitive. However, it need not be so. Even in human relations, a parent may “command” their child to study hard to score 90% or higher for his exam, but he may actually intend the command to be meant for pushing the child to study hard with the high grade being a good thing which is not absolutely necessary. And in the case of God, we do not have any “environment” and the only context we have is Scripture, which therefore in its totality must inform our view [7].

Without even discussing the issues of God’s intentions with regards to the well-meant offer, a more basic idea in theology is the issue of Law and Gospel, and it is here that we already see God’s principle differentiating His desires and intentions from His commands. As it is written:

The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (Rom. 7:10-12)

Notice that it is written that the Law, the commandment, promised life. This is what is revealed in God’s perceptive will. Yet we can see in passages like Gal. 3:19-24 that the intention of God in giving the Law was so that it would function as a guardian leading Man to Christ, and also as a guide for Christian living (Gal. 5:14, Jas. 2:8)! God’s intention in giving the Law therefore is different from what is stated explicitly in the Law, thereby proving that even in the most foundation area of Law and Gospel, God’s intention and God’s commands are not necessarily linked.

Scripture therefore shows us at least one example showing the error of deducing intention from imperatives. God’s perceptive will therefore cannot be used to deduce or infer anything about God’s intentions at all. Not only it is logically invalid, it has been shown to be biblically in error even and therefore any reasoning from imperatives to intentions or desires is illogical and unbiblical.

I.1.4 Illogicity runs amok

Christ is the Logos of Scripture (Jn. 1:1) [8]. He is thus always logical. While God is not logic, logic is the manner in which God thinks. Ontologically, God precedes Logic, yet Logic precedes God epistemologically [9]. The Scriptures even makes it clear that those in rebellion against God are irrational (Gr. aloga) (2 Peter 2:12) – without logos. Therefore, God is supremely rational and one aspect of rebellion against God is irrationality. To the extent that we are still irrational in our thoughts, we have not loved God with all our minds (Mt. 22:37) and are therefore still sinning in this regard.

Ignorance and irrationality is tolerable, in the sense that that is the natural state of fallen Man. Christians who have been regenerated will grow progressively in godliness which include (but is not limited merely to) rationality, and therefore will be more knowledgeable about the things of God and think more rationally on spiritual issues as a consequence. Celebration of ignorance and irrationality in the name of “mystery” however is a different ball-game altogether; an exhibition of false piety in mystifying what God makes clear in Scripture, and a celebration of this act as something to be celebrated instead of grieved over.

Having made and proved the previous points according to Scripture, it is now time for us to evaluate Byrne’s response in light of the biblical principles we have deduced from Scripture.

Byrne in his response commits the error of deducing intentions from imperatives, as this statement shows:

We’re only claiming that Bunyan thinks God is willing to save the reprobates inefficaciously according to the revealed will …

This is logically nonsense statement, as a rephrase of that statement according to its logical equivalence would show

We’re only claiming that Bunyan thinks God [desires] to save the reprobates [in a manner that does not reflect His desire] according to the revealed will …

Byrne could very well talk about a “round square” and a “quadrilateral triangle”, and it would have the same meaning as the sentence he wrote above – absolutely zero! Logically contradictory sentences or [real] oxymorons as opposed to reconcilable paradoxes have zero knowledge content at all, and are not even worth arguing in the same way as it is ridiculous to argue about the existence of a “non-Christian Christian”. Unless such sentences can be shown to be a real paradox in the sense that both are referring to two different non-contradictory senses, appeal to mystery is basically appeal to ignorance. If a person is ignorant about the subject, then he should keep quiet and not celebrate his ignorance, much less arrogantly think that his ignorance means that no one else can solve the problem he cannot solve.

The problem with Byrne here is that his statements and beliefs in this regard flatly contradict the Scriptures. Only the Bible is the norming norm that is not normed (norma normans non normata), not even the Creeds and Confessions and most definitely not what Christian theologians and pastors have written. Failure of Byrne to ever exegete the texts properly (quoting men’s interpretation of scriptural texts do not count) means that even if the Reformed giants truly taught what Byrne and his fellow Neo-Amyraldians teach, Byrne is nowhere nearer the Truth. However, even Byrne’s interpretations of historical sources are in error, as we shall see in the case of John Bunyan later


[1] desire. Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. (accessed: June 22, 2009).

[2] The Greek word that can be translated desire, ‘thelo’ (θελω), has a broader range of meaning as a glance at Strong’s Concordance shows. Nevertheless, a cursory look does not indicate many instances whereby it is predicated of God’s desires, except 1 Tim. 2:4 where the context makes it very clear it is talking about classes of men – all men without distinction and not all men without exception. For exegesis of this verse and others like it, check out James R. White, The Potter’s Freedom (Merrick, New York, USA: Calvary Press, 2000), pp. 139-145.

[3] Comment #14 in Robert Gonzales, Gerety’s Hammer misses the mark (, accessed: June 26th 2009.

[4] If all God desires He does (Job 23:13), then the subset of “God’s desires” [R] is within the subset of “God’s decrees” [C] (R ⊆ S). Since the Scriptures teaches that God does all He desires and does not anywhere teaches God decreeing what He does not desires, by exhaustive induction based on Sola Scriptura, R ≡ S

[5] Robert Gonzales, God makes a wish: That each and every sinner might be saved (, accessed: June 26th 2009

[6] It is a far cry from denying that God has mutable emotions to stating that He has no [real] emotions. Yet Dr. Robert Gonzales in “There Is No Pain, You Are Misreading”: Is God “Comfortably Numb”? (, (accessed: June 26th 2009) commits this non sequitur logical fallacy. Furthermore, the direction of reasoning should be from what Scripture teaches, THEN to have it transform our philosophical framework, not choosing an interpretation of Scripture that conforms to a particular a priori philosophical framework.

[7] I find it supremely ironic that those who like to teach about the incomprehensibility of God; that He is “Totally Other”, are nevertheless so sure of what God intends when He gives His commands.

[8] For a better understanding of the word logos as used in Jn. 1:1, check out Gordon H. Clark, The Johannine Logos (Jefferson, Maryland, USA: The Trinity Foundation, 1972 [1989])

[9] C. Matthew McMahon, The Two Wills of God (New Lenox, IL, USA: Puritan Publications, 2005), p. 24

Monday, June 22, 2009

Against homosexuality

My friend Soon Beng has given a message to his church's youth on the issue of homosexuality some time back. You can hear the messages here and check out the powerpoint presentation that was prepared for his talk on the topic.

On other news, here is an interesting and touching testimony of a person, Christopher, delivered from bondage to homosexuality. Homosexuality is a sin, and indeed the way to cure it is through repentance and faith.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The problem of Israel...

Here is an interesting article on the topic of Israel from a balanced and Reformed perspective.

List for the rebuttal of Neo-Amyraldian quote mining

Here is a list of the few quotes that have been shown to be misquoted by the Neo-Amyraldians, which I have exposed on my blog some time back.

John Calvin on Rom. 2:4, by Tony Byrne

John Flavel on Rom. 2:4, by Tony Byrne

John Howe on Rom. 2:4 and God's Kind Intention, by Tony Byrne

All three posts have been refuted by me in my blog post On the Common Grace controversy — Or a Rebuttal of Tony Byrne's misquotation of their words.

Bunyan on General Love and Grace, by Tony Byrne

This has been repudiated here. Tony has attempted a response, which I will address in due time.

Tony Byrne, slander, hypocrisy and cowardice

Tony Byrne recently drafted a reply to my refutation of his use of the Bunyan quote, in an attempt to defend his Neo-Amyraldian spin of Bunyan's material. His reply is extensive, and as such will be addressed in a couple of days time.

Byrne however is not content to merely refute (or rather attempt to refute) my previous rebuttal of his mis-quotation. Rather, he has gone on the offensive with a comment posted on Dr. Gonzales' blog.


Respond to the Edwards quotes above. We now want to see to see how you will interpret those.

Also, since you’re in the habit of name calling and speaking disrespectfully to us [even to Dr. Gonzales], I do not look forward to these exchanges with you. Since you don’t even talk to us as if we are Christians, I want to wrap this up as quick as possible. There’s no need to produce a long dissertation here in response to the Bunyan material above, and then demand that I respond to it on your time table [as you recently said on your blog: "Byrne having seemingly being silenced, his good friend David Ponter comes to the rescue..."]. I know you’re saying to yourself, “they do not want to [or can't] respond to me since I am such an intellectual powerhouse.” No, Daniel. It’s because you’re a hateful person and you show nothing but disrespect for us. And you will not change, so even these comments to you are in vain.

So, just move on to Edwards now, so we can get this over with as soon as possible. Do not expect me to respond to anything else you say about Bunyan. As I said above, we will just have to agree to disagree on him. Others can read what is above and make up their own minds.




First of all, Byrne is slandering me when he states about my "speaking disrespectfully" to Dr. Bob Gonzales and the Neo-Amyraldians. Let's get this straight: Byrne and Ponter can engage in the most egregious form of name-calling but when someone is thought of doing such, it is "speaking disrespectfully"? Byrne can slander the brethren and call respected apologist Dr. James White and ordained minister Dr. Robert Reymond "hyper-Calvinists", yet it is wrong for me to call him a Neo-Amyraldian? On David Ponter's side, he can engage in the worst forms of character assassination of Mark Farnon aka tartansarmy, but anyone calling his character for doing such a deplorable act is engaging in "slander, gossip and sniping"! The HYPOCRISY and double-standardness exhibited by these two Neo-Amyraldians disgust me. Even IF what they [falsely] charge me with is right, the best I can offer them is "Pot, meet kettle"! It seems that some people can dish out insults but cannot even take the smallest critique!

As for Dr. Gonzales, I let the readers read for themselves and judge whether I have treated him respectfully. In point of fact, Dr. Gonzales is no saint either on his blog, demanding of me to defend my position according to Scripture (while I was addressing the topic of historical theology not theology per se), while giving Tony Byrne and David Ponter free passes in their misquotations of reformed sources and never asking THEM to defend their positions according to Scripture. I am very disappointed that the president of a professed reformed seminary behaves in such a manner. I think it was James that tell us not to be partial. (Jas. 2:1)

Seondly, and most importantly, we can notice from Byrne's remark that the truth is NOT important for him. This is the relevant portion from his comment:

So, just move on to Edwards now, so we can get this over with as soon as possible. Do not expect me to respond to anything else you say about Bunyan. As I said above, we will just have to agree to disagree on him. [Bold added]

Let's unpack what Byrne is actually saying. He has just written a rebuttal to my contest of his Bunyan quote, yet he simultaneously claims that despite whether he is right or wrong, it is irrelevant! In other words, even if the Bunyan quote in actual fact DOES NOT support his Neo-Amyraldism, it does not matter. On the contrary, we claim it DOES matter. Few if any of us have the time and capacity to check out ALL the quotes given by Ponter and Byrne and their fellow Neo-Amyraldians, read ALL of them in context and either confirm or refute the interpretations of the Neo-Amyraldians. If even one of these quotes can be proven to be wrong, or even to have a highly plausible alternate reading that does not require a Neo-Amyraldian interpretation, then that quote just cannot be used by them to prove their Neo-Amyraldian position, period! It also should make us doubtful of their ability to read historic quotes alright, and are not merely quote-mining historical documents to look for words and phrases they desire to find, much like how Roman Catholic apologists have treated the writings of the early church fathers! Speaking of RC apologists in their utilization of the writings of the early church fathers, I honestly see no difference in their approach and the approach of the Neo-Amyraldians, but I digress.

In conclusion, Byrne has publicly state that he is not interested in the truth and that he is only interested in furthering his Neo-Amyraldian agenda; whether Scripture and the Reformers taught it is not important at all! Such a deplorable attitude can be seen in his manifest dis-interest in whether the Bunyan quote utilized by him does or does not in fact promote his position. Byrne has also slandered the brethren, and hypocritically cries foul when a similar but biblical action is taken against him.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

David Ponter: The bad fruit of Neo-Amyraldism

In a manifestation of his irrationality, Neo-Amyraldian David Ponter has decided to falsely accuse me of dishonesty in changing my position "from a strong to a weak claim" in his comment against me on his blog post which I have critiqued. When a person claims to know what your position is which you have categorically denied, it is time to call it quits, seriously! Instead of addressing the issue, Ponter is starting to behave like a spoiled brat who whines when people do not play his game his way. The ad-hominem have already started on his post, and it is indeed sickening to see how they attack the person of those they disagree with. I am harsh with heretics who attack the Gospel, but even such is linked to their heresy and not them as person. It is simply disgusting to see these hyper-Amyraldians attack Calvinists as "hyper-Calvinists" simply because we refuse to take part in their misology and embrace the unbiblical nonsense of the well-meant offer.

I was informed through Mark Farnon of David Ponter's antics over at the Unchained Radio Forums some time back. What can be found there is simply appalling. The language reminds me of the malicious attacks by the Neo-Orthodox heretic Antithesis and other unbelievers; language which serve only to insult the opponents' person, character, mental state etc, which are absolutely unbecoming of any true believer. It is said that a good tree bears good fruit, and a bad tree bad fruit (Mt. 7:15-20). The production of such bad fruit by Ponter does not give a good indication for his spiritual state (using Modus Tollens)

Here is a sampling of Ponter's "loving" attack on Mark Farnon (tartanarmy):

The mindless musings of an irrational man:

From his corrected and updated profile at the 5solas site, Tarta baby answers unequivocably

[quote] ...


What lies. You will never find him [Mark] saying otherwise??? I cant believe he thinks he can get away with just plain lies like this.


He [Mark] is sick. He is obsessed.


Tarta baby is just plain kooky. He just flat out lies about his position. I suspect he does not want them to know over there that he is in fact a hypercalvinist. So what does Tarta baby thinks is offered to all men? Hate? Hell? One can only wonder.

"Sick"? "Obsessed"? These are blatant character attacks unbecoming of anyone naming the name of Christ.

The Neo-Amyraldism promoted by Ponter and Byrne is absolutely disgusting, and knows no restraint it seems. Ponter has called traditional Calvinism a "blight upon reformed theological thought". The truth of the matter is that it is Neo-Amyraldism that is a "serious blight upon Reformed theological thought". Such people promote irrationality, mislead people through the selective misquotation of historical sources, and practically speaking they DO NOT seem to be proclaiming the Gospel. What have these people done to reach out to those caught in the bondage of the Word-Faith movement? What have they done in any form of evangelism and outreach?

With their irrationality, I would rather be an Arminian than an Amyraldian; at least it is more consistent. If Jesus had indeed died for ALL men without exception, and He desires even reprobates to repent, yet God failed to save them and therefore the determining factor must be something found in Man, namely his free will. Substitutionary Atonement must be denied, for God did not actually died for anyone but only made salvation possible. Election and reprobation therefore must be conditional (upon faith), since God does not desire anyone including the reprobates to perish therefore he cannot reprobate anyone at all, but men reprobate themselves by rejecting Christ.

The other Amyraldian alternative of course is a schizophrenic deity who struggles with conflicting desires and whether he actually reprobates anyone depends on his "current mood"; perhaps when he feels particular loving at a certain point in time such that his "desire for the reprobates to be saved" becomes preeminent then he may go and change his decree for particular individuals to be reprobated.

I think I will go with traditional Reformed thought on this subject, and will pass the Pandora's box of Neo-Amyraldian nonsense.

Monday, June 15, 2009

David Ponter, Neo-Amyraldians and double standards

Recently, I have posted a rebuttal to David Ponter's defense of his [and Tony Byrne's] methodology of historical quote-mining. It seems that David is feeling the heat, and decided to respond with another article here defending his previous defence.

While David has added some new paragraphs in points 5-7 in his defense attempt, it can be seen that nothing of substance has been added to the discussion. Remember that we are not going to play Ponter's and Byrne's game of elephant hurling. Since Byrne has mentioned the Bunyan quote of which the book is in the public domain, I have stuck to that and given an alternative explanation of what Bunyan had actually said. The onus is on Ponter and Byrne to prove my alternative interpretation wrong and their interpretation correct, or concede their error at this point. And if they have committed this error in Bunyan's work, why should we trust that they do not multiply the same error of eisegesis of historical sayings in the other quotes they so liberally 'provide' on their respective blogs?

It is astonishing that in point 5 of David's defence, David thinks that we are asking historians to be prophets who can come up with what we think the Reformers would have said and meant instead of reporting what they have said. Evidently, he is not reading our objection alright. What we are saying is that there is such a possibility that it may be the case that the words used by them at their time in their context do not convey the same meaning as what they would have when utilized in our context. Along those lines, they may have utilized phrases which we in our modern context would find strange and even heretical. One such concept is the issue of the Real Presence. Are we supposed to think that the phrase and concept as used and taught by Irenaeus and the other church fathers meant that the early church was essentially Roman Catholic (which is what Rome would want us to think)? According to Ponter's logic, why not?

It seems that no matter how frequent we champion the issue of CONTEXT and letting the whole CONTEXT determine the meaning of historical quotes, the Neo-Amyraldians do not *get* it. Historians are not to think of what might have happened if Calvin et al would have said or modified if they were living today; that is a strawman! Rather, that is a possibility which must be taken into account so that all quotes are to be read and interpreted according to their own CONTEXTS. It is interesting to note that David evidently thinks that acknowledging the dynamic nature of language and technical (theological) jargon = a "low view of Scripture"! As someone who is fluent in two languages of which one is not a Western language (ie Chinese), this is the most hilarious thing I have ever read. Evidently, unless the Church utilizes the same terminology consistently down through the ages (ignoring the language barrier), this implies a low view of Scripture? I think not!

Anyway, here is the comment I have left on that post. Let's see if David would interact with it.

I see you have not interacted with my alternative interpretation of Bunyan's work. Since your good friend Tony Byne was the one who utilized that quote as proof of your Amyraldism first, shouldn't you defend your common interpretation of Bunyan's post first instead of changing the subject and, in your own words, "ignoring the responses I have made"? Otherwise, why can't the same leaky boat analogy be applied to you, and that you are "simply change the goal post [from Bunyan's work] to a new location [Musculus]"? Remember, the Bunyan quote was provided by Byrne first, so the onus is on either of you to defend that quote, NOT shift the goal post to Musculus or any other Reformer.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

In defence of the OPC Minority Report

Dr. Bob Gonzales, in his rejoinder to Sean Gerety defending himself from the charge of irrationality for promoting the Well-meant Offer, attacked the Minority Report of the 15th General Assembly of the OPC in their denial of the Well-meant offer. The statement in the Minority Report reads as follows:

Desire suggests a want or lack in the one who desires which can be fulfilled only by the gratifying of the desire. This is incompatible with the self-sufficiency of God. Desire is something weaker than the firm determination of the will. No such weak wishing can properly be ascribed to God whose will is firmly fixed and fixes all things.

This is the whole quote in context:

(b) Elements in human desire unsuited to the perfection of God can be mentioned. Desire suggests a want or lack in the one who desires which can be fulfilled only by the gratifying of the desire. This is incompatible with the self-sufficiency of God. Desire is something weaker than the firm determination of the will. No such weak wishing can properly be ascribed to God whose will is firmly fixed and fixes all things. God has not a will that can be frustrated as well as one that cannot be.

In his critique of the reasoning in the Minority report, Gonzales arranged what he thinks is the report's reasoning in this way:

Major premise: “Desire suggests a want or lack in the one who desires which can be fulfilled only by the gratifying of the desire.”

Minor premise: “This is incompatible with the self-sufficiency of God.”

Conclusion: Therefore, “No such weak wishing can properly be ascribed to God …”

He then argues against the position as follows:

Why should the logical syllogism above confine itself with “weak wishing”? It would seem that the all-sufficient God who needs nothing could not, according to the logic above, desire anything. He’s perfectly sufficient and does not need a world or human beings or a fall or the cross, etc (see Acts 17:24-25). Consistency of logic would seem to demand that God couldn’t desire anything except himself. Yet God created the world because He freely desired to create the world and all therein. That fact doesn’t seem to fit well with the minority report’s logic. For that reason, I question the first premise. In the realm of human experience, “desire” may suggest a “lack” in the one who desires which can be fulfilled only by the gratifying of the desire. But desire doesn’t suggest such a “want” or “lack” in the experience of all-sufficient deity. God desires, whether less strongly or more strongly, certain objectives outside himself simply because he is free to so without any constraint. For this reason, I do not find the minority report’s logic cogent. I may be incorrect, but it would be helpful if someone would graciously point out where I’m mistaken.

In a footnote linking to this paragraph, Gonzales writes:

Some might suggest that the minority report is only referring to non-determined desires in the major premise. I would respond, first, by noting that even decretive desires are not-yet-fulfilled desires in their pre-creation state. In human experience, not-yet-fulfilled often denote a prior state of need, lack, or want. So I don’t see how the insertion of “non-determined” or “weak wishing” rescues the major premise. Here is how I would construct the syllogism: major premise-Scripture predicates desires of God that are actuated in history (because decreed) and also desires of God that are not actuated in history (because not decreed); minor premise-Scripture portrays God as independent of creation and as completely self-sufficient; conclusion-Desire predicated of God, whether determined (decretive) or non-determined (preceptive), cannot, by the very nature of the case, suggest a want or lack that can be fulfilled only by the gratifying of the desire since God is by nature independent or self-sufficient. A more common argument goes something like this: God desires certain states of affairs. God is absolutely sovereign. Therefore, all God’s desires must come to futurition. I fail to see, however, why God must actuate every state of affairs that he might find intrinsically good and desirable.

In defence of the minority report, the short answer to Dr. Gonzales is that he has not shown himself to understand the reasoning behind the Minority Report.

The larger context of the Minority Report shows that the word "desire" is used in varous senses throughout the text. While part (1b) seems to define desire as "a want or lack in the one who desires which can be fulfilled only by the gratifying of the desire", that is so ONLY for section (1b) of the report and not for the other sections, for in the same report (2) and (2a) the word God is said to have 'desires', whereas in (1b) it is emphatically denied that God has 'desires'.

Perhaps more than anything else, a hint of the meaning of section (1b) can be found in the beginning phrase in that section, a phrase Gonzales surprisingly ignores. The first part reads "Elements in human desire unsuited to the perfection of God can be mentioned" (Bold added). The text of the minority report therefore makes it clear that 'human desire', in the sense of frustratable and frustrated desires is what the authors of the minority report had in mind, which is clearly seen in the last phrase which states that "God has not a will that can be frustrated as well as one that cannot be".

The argument of the Minority Report is therefore nothing like what Dr. Gonzales has (mis)construed it to be. Here is a better syllogism of what the Minority Report actually teaches:

Major premise: “Desire suggests a want or lack in the one who desires which can be fulfilled only by the gratifying of the desire, which is frustratable by Man and circumstances.”

Minor premise: “This is incompatible with the self-sufficiency of God.”

Conclusion: Therefore, “No such weak wishing [which can and has been frustrated] can properly be ascribed to God …”

As we can see, this syllogism is logically sound, for the reason that self-sufficiency necessarily implies that God does not depend on anything outside Himself. Yet, the major premise must have us believe that the fulfilment of God's desire depends on Man and circumstances, which contradict the aspect of God's self-sufficiency. So therefore, God does not have such frustratable desires.

Neo-Amyraldian debating tactics, elephant hurling and spin

Over in the meta of Dr. Bob Gonzales' blog post, in which Dr. Gonzales attempts to defend his position of the Well-meant offer (WMO) from the charge of irrationalism made by Sean Gerety, the Neo-Amyraldians Tony Byrne and David Ponter are hard at work playing the game of historical quote-mining. Byrne is well-known for committing the fallacy of elephant-hurling, or amassing huge quotes supporting his position and throwing them at his opponent as if large number of acontextual quotes would an argument win. So in my response to him, I called upon him to focus on one issue and decide to hold him there. For if he cannot defend the case that one of his citation does indeed prove his position, then why should we think that the multiplication of similarly questionable quotes would solve the inherent problem in his argumentation?

It is noted that in a forum involving others, Byrne misrepresents my position even when it was so explicit in my post on the subject I was discussing. This should surely cast doubt on whether Byrne has adequately represents pastors and theologians of the Reformed and Puritan tradition in his many citations from their works. Byrne's response is to throw three quotes which seem explicit in teaching God's desire for reprobates to repent, following which I called him out on one of them — the example given by John Bunyan, of which he quoted

“That God is willing to save even those that perish for ever, is apparent, both from the consideration of the goodness of his nature (Psa. 145:9), of man’s being his creature, and indeed in a miserable state (Job. 14:15, 3:16).” John Bunyan, “Reprobation Asserted,” in The Works of John Bunyan (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977), 2:353.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I have addressed Byrne's use of Bunyan's material here. As I have said then:

The next post to look at is one entitled John Bunyan (1628-1688) on God’s Grace, Goodness, Offers and Saving Will. As per his norm, Byrne highlighted all the words that he thinks promotes ‘common salvific grace’ or the ‘well-meant offer’ in yellow. However, looking at the context of the quote from Bunyan, does Bunyan actually believes in ‘common salvific grace’? I contend not. All the highlighted parts should be read together in their contexts to establish what Bunyan means by what he says, not just isolated as phrases and infused with established modern meanings. The entire quotation by Bunyan proves only that the offer of the Gospel is not proffered only to the elect but to all, such that even the reprobates could take it if they are able to (but of course they are unable to). As Bunyan states later, he says that “there is a difference between his withholding further grace, and of hindering men from closing with the grace at present offered”. In this sense therefore, Bunyan states that for God’s interaction with the reprobate, he withholds further grace, which is obviously referring to salvific grace. However, God does not “hinder men from closing with the grace at present offered”, which just means that with the grace given to even the reprobates, God would not prevent them from being saved if they are able to use this grace to bring themselves unto salvation (but of course they are unable to). What is damaging to the Neo-Amyraldian case is this following quote from Bunyan:

But I say, as I have also said already, there is a great difference between his being willing to save them, through their complying with these his reasonable terms, and his being resolved to save them, whether they, as men, will close therewith, or no; so only he saveth the elect themselves, … (Bold added)

As it can be seen, Bunyan here states that if God resolves (wills) to save them, then the proper objects of such a resolve must be only the elect. So therefore, Bunyan DOES not believe in God having any form of intent of saving the reprobate (’common salvific grace’). All of the talk about offer to the reprobate, grace given to them etc. are Bunyan using theological imprecise (even incorrect) terms to express something very true, which is that God will NOT hinder the reprobates from saving themselves IF they are able to do so. In more theological precise terms, God does not actively reprobate sinners, nor does He prohibit them from being offered the Gospel.

Byrne having seemingly being silenced, his good friend David Ponter comes to the rescue, and attempts to make some points to defuse my skeptical deconstruction of Byrne, which we shall look at.

Firstly, we MUST note that Ponter did not ever engage with my reading and interpretation of Bunyan's material. Whatever it can be said, the failure to prove my position wrong will forever undermine whatever proof the Amyraldians can come up with, for the simple reason that why should we believe their citation of other and especially obscure sources when the ones we have checked do not actually prove their position?

Ponter gave three points to defend the Neo-Amyraldian method of quote-mining from charges of anachronism, which are lifted from his post here. The points are:

1) Just because a topic was not debated, does not mean a given person could not have had an opinion on a given subject. Or that they could not have explicitly meant what they quite apparently said.

2) The allegation that we can not with certainty discern the position of the early Reformers on the basis of their alleged ‘unguarded’ statements is a two-edged sword. If it holds good for one side of the question, then it holds good for the other side of the question. For example, if the so-called unguarded statements which seemingly speak to an unlimited redemption and expiation, then likewise any statements which seem to indicated a limited expiation and redemption. When bloggers assert this rule against one side of the question, but happily [sic] go about trying to prove the other side of the question from the same sources, they are being capricious and hypocritical.

4) Such an allegation may find a place in the thinking of bloggers, at the academic level–which should be of more concern than “bloggers,” all the leading academic contributors do believe that certain positions regarding the Reformers can be discerned. For example, Richard Muller is quite convinced that men like Musculus, Kimedonius, Aretius, Zanchi, Ursinus and many others held to a form of what he calls non-Amyraldian hypothetical universalism and universal redemption. . Michael Thomas is another author that comes to mind. Roger Nicole is quite convinced on his side that Calvin held to limited expiation. Jonathan Rainbow likewise. Peterson has shifted ground on this too, conceded that the doctrine of limited atonement was debated in the time of Bucer (here he confesses Rainbow has persuaded him on this point. Keep in mind, too, Calvin spent a year with Bucer in Strasbourg.

To conclude, the fact that a topic was not hotly debated at a given point in time, or by given men of interested, in no way proves that these given men, at that time had no firm self-conscious opinion on the matter. That they did not argue a theological point for something does not preclude them from asserting that theological point. Its time that certain “bloggers” get beyond this naive assertion regarding anachronism and engage the primary sources directly, using public and testable rules by which a given man’s thought on the extent question and be ascertained.

Let us now look at Ponter's attempted defense.

1) There is no disagreement with this particular point per se. However, having a pre-controversy position on a subject does not mean that that position has exactly the same nuances and qualifications even meaning as the post-controversy position even if both position statements utilize the exact same words. Neither does it mean that the person espousing this position would hold to that position under different circumstances. Sentences are said and written in a particular historical and worldview context, and must be interpreted accordingly.

We need not look too far to the example of Augustine to see this reality, who pre-Pelgian was very much for the idea of free-will, like the rest of the Church Fathers, but altered his position when the Pelagian controversy started. It could very well be surmised that the initial patristic emphasis on free will occurs as a reaction to the fatalism in Greek religious mythology and philosophy (ie stoicism) and therefore the patristic emphasis must be read in this light: not as a denial of God's sovereignty but as a denial of fatalism.

Ponter's point here therefore fails to take into account the authors' Weltenshauung and prevailing Zeitgeist of the period these pastors and theologians live. Much like how Augustine changed his position due to his shock at Pelagius' heretical reasoning, it could very well be the case that the pre-controversy positions and sentences utilized by these saints were proper in their time, and they would be shocked if they were to see how such language is being used today to promote error, in the same way as Augustine was shocked by Pelagius' promotion of autonomous free will.

This is why context is so important when reading sources; not only for the Bible but for all texts. Historically, it seemed to escape the notice of Ponter and his fellow Neo-Amyraldians that most of these pastors and theologians and reformers were living in a vastly different world from today. Theirs was a Christian world, and especially in the case of the Reformers and Puritans, a Christian world even extending to the Christian nature of the State! Theirs also was a world of inclusion of the whole of society into the Visible Church, and thus any reprobates within would still be considered as being covenantally inside the Church. If the Neo-Amyraldians desire to prove God's desire for reprobates to repent, writing about God's desire for reprobates within the Covenant to repent is absolutely insufficient! What is required is for such as living in Christendom to write about God earnestly desiring the reprobates among the Turks (as was known as the major enemy of that time) or the heathen to repent, which I doubt they would be able to find one single example.

Theologically, we have already mentioned the idea of the Visible and Invisible Church, external and internal inclusion in the Covenant of Grace. The Neo-Amyraldians ignore this basic fact presupposed especially in Reformed and Presbyterian (and even Lutheran) circles, which shows the little attention they pay to the worldview of the authors of their quotes.

2) Ponter here thinks that those of us who accuses them of anachronism and states that the early Reformers utilize "unguarded" statements are in a dilemma created by our false reasoning. What Ponter seem to forgot is that I at least have given a viable alternative interpretation of the text by Bunyan which was quoted by Byrne, which takes into account the context of Bunyan's book. Nobody that I know is arguing, and definitely not me, that the views of the early Reformers or anyone for that matter, cannot be known because of their use of "unguarded" statements. What we DO assert, however, is that the possible use of such unguarded statements mean that work must be done in trying to understand the author's train of thought in their work and how they themselves define and utilize the terminology found within their book. That is why we have been emphasizing again and again the issue of CONTEXT, CONTEXT and CONTEXT. Only when we have taken into account their particular jargon and idiosyncrasies can we then understand the meaning of what they say, NOT merely importing our "modern" definitions into their writings in acontextual quote-mining.

3) As argued, nobody is saying that the positions of the Reformers cannot be discerned. What we are arguing for is a proper interpretations of their writings that takes into account their entire worldview and utilization of terms instead of importing our definitions and concepts into the words they say. This by the way is what makes reading works of the Reformers, Puritans and other saints gone by hard! It is not just the language barrier of the "thees" and "thous", but the cultural and ideological landscape barriers that must be overcome. With the rapid change in society and the deconstruction of Christian Western culture, the barriers are made even harder, but not impossible.

One thing that is hoped is that the Neo-Amyraldians would actually engage the primary sources, not merely quote sentences which seem to teach their pet doctrines. I have done so for the one case of John Bunyan, and we shall see whether Ponter or Byrne or any of the Neo-Amyraldians desire to truly interact with the arguments or are they desiring only to play the elephant-hurling game they have been playing so far.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Article: Five arguments against Future Justification according to works

Over at the Reformation21 ezine, Rick Phillips has posted two interesting posts refuting the error of future justification according to works. In light of the New Perspective of Paul controversy, these two posts by Phillips would be helpful for us.

This year has witnessed a publishing event of real interest to many Christians: the publication of N.T. Wright's Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision. Wright is widely considered the most provocative writer on justification today and the arrival of this book has deservedly garnered much attention. My purpose in this article is not to review Wright's book as a whole or even to assess his overall teaching on justification. Rather, I intend to respond to that part of his teaching that proposes a future justification by works for believers in Jesus Christ.

While I agree that vindication occurs at the Eschaton, I do not know whether using the word justification to talk about this vindication is proper, especially in light of the New Perspective distortion of this concept. Surely, it would be better to describe vindication a manifestation of the reality of [past] Justification instead of the "eschatological terminus of Justification" itself?

After homosexuality - The New Frontier of Polygamy

The slippery slope argument on the issue of allowing the homosexual activists to redefine marriage and redefine "bigotry" and "hatred" seems to be proving itself true. In New Hampshire, after deciding to allow for "homosexual marriage" — an oxymoron if there was one, a polygamy advocacy group now utilizes the same argument the homosexual activists have been using to further their cause. According to WND:

A polygamy advocacy organization says the New Hampshire law that is intended to assure "equal access to marriage" for all instead specifically embeds in state statutes bigotry against polygamists.

According to a statement posted on the Pro-Polygamy website, when on Wednesday New Hampshire "became the sixth U.S. State to codify the legal construction of same sex marriage," it was hailed by homosexuals as a "civil rights victory."

"Declaring that the new law advances fairness and equality for all, they proclaimed that New Hampshire had supposedly 'ended discrimination' for everyone," the statement said.

"But the law did no such thing. Rather, it intentionally 'discriminates' against consenting adult polygamists – indeed, on purpose," the organization said.


"However, the new law then took the matter further, with intentional 'discrimination.' The new [law] now ends with a newly added anti-polygamy provision," the group said, citing the new statement: "No person shall be allowed to be married to more than one person at any given time."

"Same sex marriage supporters had intentionally changed the combined anti-incest and anti-gay-marriage ban into a combined anti-incest and anti-polygamy ban instead. They intentionally re-directed the law to purposely 'discriminate' against consenting adult polygamists - the clearly known bigotry of equating consenting adult polygamy with the biological dysfunction of incest," the group said.


"In truth, therefore, New Hampshire's new gay marriage law does not end 'discrimination' at all. It absolutely does not provide 'equal access to marriage' for all. Rather, New Hampshire's new same sex marriage law intentionally 'discriminates' against consenting adult polygamists," the report said.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Mosaic Covenant: Works or Grace?

Over at Reformation Theology, Nathan Pitchford writes about the relation of the Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace in the Mosaic Covenant here. In light of some who call themselves Reformed yet deny the Covenant of Works, a grievous error, this is pertinent to show us the necessity of believing in the Covenant of Works.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, speaking of the unity of the Covenant of Grace from the time immediately after the Fall and forever thereafter, states, “This covenant [of grace] was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the Gospel” (WCF 7:5). In this brief summation, we may observe two things about the Mosaic administration of the Covenant: first, it was fundamentally an expression of the Covenant of Grace, and thus held forth the gospel to the people of God “by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come”; (WCF 7:5); and second, it was nevertheless in a sense utterly distinct from the New Covenant, even on so central an issue as the gospel itself. It was, in fact, appropriately designated a covenant of “law,” not just as acts of obedience flowing from gratefulness for the gospel, but as contradistinct from the very “Gospel” itself. In other words, it was, in one sense, in full continuity with the gospel first proclaimed to Abraham and consummated in Christ; and in another sense, of an entirely different legal principle.


So then, the covenant made on Sinai was in some sense an administration of and advance upon the Covenant of Grace; but in some other, equally notable ways, it was a republication of the Covenant of Works. When we look to the Pentateuch with an unjaundiced eye, nothing could be clearer than the works-principle breathed out everywhere in its pages, that the one who does all of the things written in the Law will live by them; and similarly, nothing could be more clear than the fact that Paul also sees a definite works-principle at work in the Mosaic Law, which is utterly distinct from the faith-principle at work in the gospel and the Abrahamic Promise (see Romans 10 and Galatians 3:1-5:6). The nature of the Mosaic administration as a Covenant of Grace cannot overturn its distinctive character of Law; on the contrary, the legal, binding principle of “Do this and live” lays the foundation apart from which the Covenant of Grace cannot function. It shows, in a word, how God can both “be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).


The Law principle, set forth in uncompromising terms throughout the Pentateuch, showed the desperate need for the gospel principle of a federal head who would satisfy the curse and merit the blessing that the Law held forth. Which is nothing less than to say, the very manner in which the Sinaitic Covenant was an advance upon the Covenant of Grace demands that it also be a most uncompromising republication of the Covenant of Works as that which, in our desperate need, the coming Seed would fulfill for us.

This dual “law/gospel” nature of the Mosaic Covenant, in that it demands for the Law to be fulfilled but freely promises a Savior to fulfill it, is not only clearly seen in the harmonious but antithetical principles summed up in Leviticus 18:5 and Deuteronomy 30:1-14; it is also the only assessment that makes sense of Paul's complex (and superficially contradictory!) treatment of the Pentateuch in Romans 10 and Galatians 3-5.

(Bold added)

Is it any wonder that in churches who deny the Covenant of Works and embrace some form of mono-covenantalism, some form of Legalism or Antinomianism (depending on whether they emphasize the grace or law aspects of their mono-covenant more) inevitably sets in? While brilliant but irrational pastors and theologians may be able to keep these tendencies in check, the state of the members are another different story altogether, swinging from Legalism to Antinomianism or mixtures of both depending on which sins are currently under discussion or emphasized.

It is vital to maintain the Law/Gospel antithesis which is fundamental to the Gospel message, otherwise the entire epistle to the Galatians among other can make no sense whatsoever. The growth of Biblical theology has corrected for the previous over-emphasis on Systematic Theology, which has ceased becoming true Systematic Theology but Philosophical Theology as Scriptural texts are interpreted in light of metanarrative constructs such as Supralapsarianism or even Election, instead of letting the contexts determine the sense of the passages of Scripture and then building a systematic theology based on these. As Pitchford states: "nothing could be more clear than the fact that Paul also sees a definite works-principle at work in the Mosaic Law, which is utterly distinct from the faith-principle at work in the gospel and the Abrahamic Promise". It simply amazes me that those pushing for the denial of the Covenant of Works can be so blind that they cannot see the clear denunciation of the Law by Paul in his epistle to the Galatians.

This does not of course mean that there is a Law/Grace antithesis, contrary to the Antinomians. Law and Grace are never antithetical to each other, as the many approval of the right use of the Law in the Scriptures prove (eg. Rom. 7:22; Jas. 2:8).

Law and Gospel. Law and Grace. When one commits oneself to understanding the biblical covenants, then a wrong understanding of the Covenant scheme can have disastrous consequences. New and young believers in Christ are in some sense exempt from these struggle, as somehow they instinctively through the Spirit interpret Scripture properly in its proper context though logically inconsistently. When one moves into trying to understand the Covenant schema and be consistent in his theology, the struggle then begins, for having a wrong Covenant schema would cause one to change one's hermeneutical principle and thus giving rise to the specter of denying a plain biblical truth based upon one's errant metanarrative hermeneutical framework. Bad Covenant schemata therefore is worse than no Covenant schema at all, and thus an errant "reformed" church (e.g. the Federal Vision) is worse off than an infant evangelical church on the issue of the Gospel