Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Response to Trevin Wax's "A Word to my Calvinist Friends"

Trevin Wax, whose blog is on the Gospel Coalition Compromisers (TGC) website, has decided to complain about the perceived "tone" of two 5-point Calvinists who have taken a stand against 4-point "Calvinism." Dr. James White spent about 45 minutes of his Diving Line podcast responding to Wax's whining.

While there are a lot of issues with 4-point "Calvinism," or Amyraldism, my main response here is with regards to Wax's mild rant and the attitude he brings to the entire issue.

Before I begin, let me first say that I don't know Trevin Wax. His person is not the issue; his article is.

First, we note that Wax wrote this:

Instead of asking, “Why do you reject the unlimited atonement view?,” the question is framed in a way that treats four-point Calvinists like they have simply failed to adequately consider all the relevant points. The implication is this: Oh, those four-pointers are good guys, but they obviously haven’t thought it through as well as we have.

No, my brothers. There are plenty of us who reject the traditional Calvinistic understanding of limited atonement precisely because we have adequately considered the arguments and have found them wanting. The reason I stand with theologians like J.C. Ryle, Millard Erickson, Gregg Allison, Bruce Demarest, and Bruce Ware is because their argumentation is more persuasive than yours.

Wax here is complaining about the language that Barrett and Nettles used, that 4-pointers have not thought through the issues clear enough. In reply, we must ask, would Wax prefer them to express their view in these other ways?

4-pointers reject the Bible

4-pointers reject the clear teaching of Scripture for their emotional feelings

4-pointers refuse to consider the alternative option because they are emotionally unable to bring themselves to consider the other option objectively

Positing a failure to be logically consistent is by far the most charitable judgment given to 4-pointers by those of us who are convinced of the biblical teaching of Definite Atonement. We are unable to say that Amyraldism in any of its forms is biblically warranted or legitimate, and asking for us to think of it as a possible biblical option with just as much legitimacy as consistent Calvinism is to ask us to betray our conviction of what Scripture teaches.

The problem with Wax is the absolutely emotional nature of his article. He claims that there are universal texts that Calvinists then are forced to fit into "tight, particular shoes." That itself is false. There are NO universal texts in the Bible. Just because he thinks there are does not mean that by fiat they exist.

Wax claims that he, along with other 4-pointers, have "adequately considered the arguments and found them wanting." No argument however has he put forward as to why these arguments are considered wanting. If really there is a known-down argument for universal atonement, where is it? Throwing big names at us don't mean anything.

We are not to wear our emotions on our sleeves, especially when we are dealing with what the Bible teaches. Wax claims that Amyraldism is biblical. Fine, prove it! If you are so certain that your system of doctrine is biblical, surely you can defend it according to the Scriptures? Instead of doing so, why are you whining on a blog post about you taking offence at a perceived "tone" of condescension?

That's the problem I have found with quite a few of these "New Calvinists." They always claim they are reading the Bible (so by implication are they accusing me of NOT reading my Bible?) and thus they found all these particular doctrines they are subscribing to. Yet, none of them that I have interacted with wants to interact with me on the biblical basis for their particular doctrines? You would have thought they since they are convinced of their views according to Scripture, they could defend their views according to Scripture? Nope! Its basically "Ego dixi, finitus est" (I have spoken, it ends). So are we or are we not trying to be biblical? Or does "tone" triumph over the truth of Scripture? Or maybe you are your own mini-pope, that your impression of what the truth of Scripture is is THE true interpretation of Scripture? Who is your ultimate authority in interpreting Scripture? Is it your own intellect, or the Holy Spirit using the means of the Church to sharpen our interpretation of Scripture and correct our blind spots?

The Protestant view of Sola Scripture does not make everyone their own mini-popes shouting "here I stand" and then claim that their conscience bind them to whatever interpretation they found through reading the Bible by themselves. No, that is Solo Scriptura. The Protestant view of Sola Scriptura states that the conscience of believers are to be bound to the interpretation of the Scripture they found through reading the Scriptures in the power of the Holy Spirit in interaction with the Church. The idea that anyone can just claim to "read the Bible" and then state that they have "adequately considered the arguments and found them wanting" is contrary to the Protestant hermeneutic. Whoever thinks their system is biblical, let them put forward their case and argue for it. The Reformed Churches and their descendants have rejected Amyraldism as error, while not considering it outright heresy. The onus is on those who claim otherwise to defend their positions, not whine about perceived slights due to our rejection of their errant doctrines.

So no, I will not defend my Amyraldian friends from the charge that your positions leads to universalism. To do so is ridiculous, since we are convinced that is contrary to biblical truth. If none of them desire to biblically defend their positions, perhaps they are not actually following Scripture but rather their emotional gut feelings.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"An Open Letter to Praise Bands"

Professor James K.A. Smith has written a succinct open letter that expresses the practical problems with most of contemporary worship in evangelical churches, which can be seen here. An excerpt:

Dear Praise Band,

I so appreciate your willingness and desire to offer up your gifts to God in worship. I appreciate your devotion and celebrate your faithfulness--schlepping to church early, Sunday after Sunday, making time for practice mid-week, learning and writing new songs, and so much more. Like those skilled artists and artisans that God used to create the tabernacle (Exodus 36), you are willing to put your artistic gifts in service to the Triune God.


No Compromise Radio: On the Elephant Room

The first episode of No Compromise Radio has finally aired. The issue is a bit dated, but the principles are still very important.

No Co Ever: Episode 1 from No Compromise Radio on Vimeo.


Sunday, August 05, 2012

James White on the liberal redefinition of terms like "hate"

Once upon a time, to hate someone means you wish them evil, especially that they die. Now however, the word "hate" has been redefined to mean "doing anything that makes me feel hurt." In this light, James R. White has done a Dividing Line episode on this issue, here.