Archive for the ‘Heresies’ category

Tears of a Snake

February 19, 2019
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Periodically I like to listen to podcasts when traveling on business or at the gym. Recently I came across a number of excellent podcasts by Tim Shaughnessy and Carlos Montijo at the Thorn and Crown Ministries website. On the site, you’ll also find podcasts by Timothy Kaufman, Steve Mathews, and Patrick Hines. I highly recommend you check them all out. From there I have listened to other podcasts by Patrick Hines on Sermon Audio. While at the gym yesterday I listened to Hines as he painstakingly went through an entire John Piper sermon on justification while providing rolling commentary. Aside from the fact that Piper very clearly and without any equivocation preaches a false gospel, what really struck me is how absolutely atrocious Piper is as a preacher. He is simply torturous to listen to.

I have clearly been blessed to have never listened to Piper preach before.  Admittedly, I have suffered through a few of his articles over the years along with reading his flowery The Pleasures of God and positively heretical Future Grace, but I had no idea he was so painful to listen to.  I’m sure it’s just me, but I have no idea why this man is such a popular speaker and preacher? He is inauthentic and his delivery, which is clearly contrived and orchestrated to deceive, ranks with the crassest televangelist.  I am actually irritated that I had to listen to him in order to get to Hines’ commentary. The fact that Piper believes that justification by faith alone is not enough to get a person into heaven but instead only puts them in a “right position” with God makes him a snake.  

If you’re in the mood for real pain, both aesthetically and theologically, check out Hines’ podcast in two parts below (*if you want to save yourself some suffering and just get to the meat of Piper’s errant theology and false gospel, I recommend skipping ahead to Part 2):

John Piper Response – Part 1

John Piper Response – Part 2

Repenting of Nothing

June 13, 2017


Last night a friend messaged me letting me know that supporters of Doug Wilson are claiming Wilson is no longer affiliated with the Federal Vision and to continue to label him as a Federal Visionist is unwarranted and generally not nice.  I admit that was news to me and frankly nothing could make me happier to learn that Wilson has rejected the central tenets of this aberrant, deadly and anti-Christian theology and has now embraced the unvarnished truth of the Gospel. His scales have been removed, hallelujah!  However, being generally skeptical of sudden conversions, although knowing from Scripture that they can and do occur, I asked for some proof or a link recounting Wilson’s road to Damascus moment.  So my friend sent me a link to a piece on Wilson’s blog titled; Federal Vision No Mas.  Encouraged by the Roberto Durán surrender reference, I read the piece.

Reading it I had the sense that I had read it before.  Turns out I did, albeit secondhand on Lane Keister’s Greenbaggins blog.  Lane wrote that Wilson “is not retracting his theology. He is retracting what he would call or label his theology.”  The sum total of Wilson’s conversion is that he no longer identifies with the Federal Vision.  Given that we live in an age where a man can “identify” as a woman or even a reptile, Wilson seems to think he can slither away from the Federal Vision while still affirming its theology.  Sorry, Doug, it doesn’t work like that.

Explaining why he no longer wants to identify with the Federal Vision Wilson writes:

Everybody knew (or thought they knew) what that phrase [Federal Vision] represented. Since I certainly owned the phrase, albeit with modifiers, and lots of energetic typing, what happened was that I was thought to be owning what people knew as this. But the more I typed that, the more it made people’s heads hurt. So one of the few things I have been successful at doing is persuading a number of people that I am a sly fellow, and one who bears close watching. Heretics are slippery with words, and since I have spent a lot of time trying to grease this particular piglet, I must be a heretic.

While I can certainly understand why a heretic wouldn’t want to be known as one, and I suspect that particular epithet has started to hurt Wilson’s bottom line hence his feigned mea culpa, the irony is that he continues to use an almost endless stream of slippery words to explain why and how he is no longer a Federal Visionist; none of which are very convincing.  Pay close attention to just some of Wilson’s slippery words:

This is because—I am now convinced—it is not the case that there is this thing called federal vision, with how much of it you actually get wired up to a dimmer switch. I believe it is a false analogy to say that I am a 7 on this switch, and Jim Jordan, say, is a 9.

Coming to this recognition does not mean that I am now disclaiming all commonality with my friends in the federal vision, even over against what many other believers in other traditions believe. Lutherans and Baptists both believe in the deity of Christ and in justification by faith alone—but Lutherans are still Lutherans all the way down. The same goes for Baptists. Baptists are Baptists all the way down. A federal vision advocate is FV all the way down. I am something else all the way down, and I believe that the terminology is getting in the way of making important distinctions.

So the views I hold to are a different kind of thing from what is represented in the common understanding of the federal vision, and the differences involved are connected to everything. They are a different kind of thing, not a lesser amount of the same thing. Thus when I speak of the objectivity of the covenant—which I will still continue to do—this is not a lite version of what someone else might mean by it.

Wilson says he differs from Federal Visionists like James Jordan “all the way down,” but at the same time continues to affirm “commonality” with his FV friends to include his so-called “objective” view of the covenant where the magic waters of baptism in conjunction with the mystical mumbling of some quasi-priestling-pretend-Protestant renders a person “elect” if only for a time.  But that commonality doesn’t stop there. Wilson assures his readers; “I would still want [sic] affirm everything I signed off on in the Federal Vision statement ….”  So, Wilson continues to affirm the Joint Federal Vision Profession but no longer wants to be considered a Federal Visionist?  Huh?  Not sure how that’s supposed to work?

While there are a number of problematic things with the FV statement, including the affirmation of covenantal nomism, the one thing that has always stood out for me was their description of saving faith:

We deny that the faith which is the sole instrument of justification can be understood as anything other than the only kind of faith which God gives, which is to say, a living, active, and personally loyal faith. Justifying faith encompasses the elements of assent, knowledge, and living trust in accordance with the age and maturity of the believer.” (JFVP, p. 6, emphasis mine)

Not to unpack all the slippery words above or revisit how they have been used by defenders of the FV, most proficiently by Wilson himself, PCA pastor Wes White sums up their view of saving faith this way:

Now, notice that last phrase, “personally loyal faith.” Here’s how defines loyalty:

1. The state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations.
2. Faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, etc.

They tried to slip one past us by using the word “loyal” instead of “faithful,” but it means basically the same thing. Faithfulness to commitments and faithful adherence, according to the Federal Visionists, is included in the “sole instrument of justification.” This is justification by faithfulness, justification by obedience, and justification by works. This is a rejection of the sola fide of the Reformation.

Rather than affirming the so-called “objectivity of the covenant” and the Joint Federal Vision Profession which was authored by Wilson, he should reject and renounce these things.  That is what he needs to retract and not some nonsense about not taking his “responsible” and “fair-minded” critics like “Rick Phillips, Cal Beisner, and Richard Gaffin” more seriously and apologizing for lumping them in with the “irresponsible ones” (I’m sure he has people like yours truly in mind). Or, complaining that Peter Leithart’s “end of Protestantism” project is something he can’t go along with.  None of that matters and none of that is enough to separate him from the house he built.

God said through Jeremiah: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.”  Wilson may not be happy with the long-term (financial?) consequences from his long association and defense of the Federal Vision, but he has no more ability to wipe this stain from his character than the “transgender dragon man” can repair his forked tongue with super glue or remove his tattooed scales with Palmolive and a dish rag.

Arrivederci PCA

June 25, 2016

tomb_3I was shocked to learn that there is a real pastor in the PCA who believes a compromised gospel is no gospel at all. After all the hand wringing and posturing from the so-called TRs, particularly after the PCA GA failed to right the wrongs made by the lower courts in the Jeff Meyers and Peter Leithart cases, I thought pastors like Phelps were a myth. I think when deciding whether or not to leave a denomination, particularly one like the PCA, there is always some denial mixed with the belief, no matter how misguided, that things still might get better.  There is also the belief that heresies like the Federal Vision are just a minority position and it really doesn’t matter to the big picture … or the big tent.  Look at all the great work people like Tim Keller are doing.  I mean, the PCA is now relevant and even trendy. So what if Kellerite churches are de facto ordaining women just as long as they don’t call it an “ordination.” Erosion is just as effective as revolution and progressives are expert at biding their time.

There is also the idea that the “purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error” and that Presbyterianism has a theoretical mechanism for righting theological wrongs that make reading the signs of apostasy difficult. Some things are just easier to see in hindsight.  I also think there is some TR pride involved too and the notion that things will just get worse if they leave.  No doubt they will, but the cost of staying in the PCA has become too high except, I suppose, for the hopelessly self-deluded or the seriously prideful.  As for me, I’m very much with Phelps. I was a PCA holdout a lot longer than, say, John Robbins. It took the GA’s decisions to allow the lower courts decisions to stand in the Meyers and Leithart cases that finally did it for me. But who am I?  I’m not an elder. I have no flock to protect. Yet , there were plenty of very public TR elders in the PCA who publicly threatened to leave if the Leithart case went south and none of them has.  In Phelps’ case it’s better late than never. Besides, now the PCA is in the middle of a denominational wide struggle session against the imagined sins that virtually no one in the denomination has committed.  TRs can use that to assuage their misplaced guilt for their very real failures to protect their flocks and preserve whatever purity the PCA had left.

The PCA isn’t just dead; its corpse is starting to stink.

You can read Tony Phelps’ farewell to the PCA here.

Faith Alive

June 18, 2016

faith aliveLuther rightly maintained that justification by faith alone is the linchpin upon which the church stands or falls.  If this doctrine is lost or even muddied, the semblance of religion remains, but the church fades into nonexistence. That is why a clear and unambiguous definition of faith is essential. If you don’t know exactly what the alone instrument in justification consists of how can it be defended? Further, and in order to avoid equivocation, any definition faith has to apply to all forms of faith whether saving or not.  Seems simple, right?  The problem is that in the minds of the vast majority of pastors and teachers any time the word “saving” precedes the word “faith” it’s the latter that takes on an entirely new meaning. To that end the traditional threefold definition of faith has been shown to be ambiguous at best and outright dangerous at worst providing an open doorway for pernicious and deadly heresies that snake their way into the Church unabated.

While a source of irritation to many modern Reformed pastors, it was Gordon Clark who first identified this gaping crack in the Church’s foundation and correctly argued that the difference between faith and saving faith are the propositions believed.  In contrast, a majority of Reformed pastors and churchmen, who are blindly wed to tradition seemingly for tradition’s sake, maintain that the difference lies not in the propositions believed at  all, but in some nebulous psychological state that when mixed with simple faith makes ordinary faith saving.

Like the secret recipe for KFC or McDonald’s special sauce, today’s Reformed leaders and apologists differ wildly when it comes to explaining what exactly in addition to simple faith in the Gospel is needed to save a sinner. PCA pastor Andy Webb says the secret ingredient is a Harry Potter potion mingling “the emotion of love with trust, inclination, and agreement.”  The self-proclaimed “Reformed Apologist,” Ron DiGiacomo, claims the magic happens when “a disposition of commitment,” whatever that might entail, is added to simple belief.  Alan Strange, who is an OPC minister and professor of church history at Mid-America Reformed Seminary, says the alchemy that makes simple belief alone in Christ alone saving is a “mystery.”  Strange warns that any attempt to define what it is that makes ordinary belief saving is like peering into the doctrine of Christ’s Incarnation and is “not amenable to rationalistic reduction.”  For Strange what makes ordinary belief saving is beyond human understanding or definition.  According to Strange even the words faith and belief differ, despite being translations of the exact same Greek word in Scripture, and that “justifying faith is something more than merely belief: not something less, but something more.”  The central error in all this is that faith is belief. Nothing more, nothing less. Consequently, and when you come right down to it, none of these men really believe in justification by faith alone.  They just pay it lip service.  No wonder the FV continues to spread unabated and the PCA is now a safe haven for the FV.  Such is the state of the Reformed and Presbyterian church today.

So, Sean, are you saying that the vast majority of Reformed churchmen don’t believe in justification by faith alone? Well, yes and no.  Yes, because they add to saving faith that which is absent from faith simpliciter and end up equivocating, even contradicting themselves, when explaining what exactly the alone instrument of justification is. No, because while confused and mired in meaningless religious jargon, metaphors and word pictures, they don’t add works as that which completes faith making it somehow “saving.”  They at least attempt to draw a distinction between God’s once and for all declaration of righteousness the moment a person first believes with works done as the result of this faith in sanctification.  They differ, albeit ever so slightly, with the FV men who profess  “the faith which is the sole instrument of justification can be understood as … a living, active, and personally loyal faith” (admittedly very similar to DiGiacomo’s “disposition of commitment”).

Concerning this idea of “a living, active, and personally loyal faith,” perhaps the best example demonstrating the inability of the defenders of the traditional threefold definition of faith to safeguard against the deadly errors of heretics like those in the Federal Vision (but you can think of the ever encroaching tentacles of Romanism as well), came during the final days of year long debate between Lane Keister and Federal Vision bigmouth, Doug Wilson.  At that point the discussion turned to the nature of saving faith and the questions concerning the “aliveness” of faith in justification.  Keister wrote:

Contrary to the criticisms of FV proponents … I know of NO Reformed scholar who says that we are justified by a dead faith. I know of no Reformed scholar who even hints at this. I know of dozens of Reformed scholars who say the aliveness of faith is not what justifies us. The best way I can put this is to say that the aliveness of faith is a sine qua non, but is not part of the inherent structure of justification. Of course the person who stretches out his arm to catch a ball has to be alive to do that. But his being alive is not an action inherent in stretching out his arm. Maybe I can put it this way: states of being are distinct from actions, just like verbs of being are distinct from verbs of action. We must distinguish then between the state of being alive and the verb of action of what faith does in laying hold of Christ’s righteousness. To put it another way, our aliveness can have no object. It is inherently reflexive. But faith’s action in justification takes a direct object: the righteousness of Christ. I really think this is as clear as I can be. I don’t see any reason why Doug should disagree with this, either.  I suppose I will have to enact a qualification of this, nevertheless, lest people think I am making faith active. When I am referring to “faith’s action” I do not mean that we are doing a work. I mean only that faith is doing something in justification. And this is what it is doing: it is “accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification” (WCF 14.2).

Before unpacking this tragically confused paragraph, the central thing to recognize is that both Keister and Wilson are operating from the exact same definition of saving faith. Both believe that faith can be either “alive” or “dead,” which means, when stripped of its metaphorical trappings, that a person can believe the truth of the Gospel, assent to it, yet still be lost.  In order to be saved and for faith to be effectual, something in addition to belief is needed.  I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve had Reformed pastors tell me that simply believing the Gospel and Christ’s finished work on the cross on account of sin is not enough to save anyone. So much for the idea that the Gospel is “the power of God unto salvation.” But, then, almost in the same breath, they identify Christians as “believers” blissfully unaware of the contradiction right under their nose.  This is also why Reformed Christians who refuse to accept contradictions or so-called “paradoxes” in Scripture are routinely attacked and routinely banned from blogs and discussion groups by men for maintaining that sinners are justified by belief alone.

Keister begins by saying that he knows of “NO Reformed scholar who says that we are justified by a dead faith.”  But, then he says the aliveness of faith is “not part of the inherent structure of justification.”   So, which is it?  If we are not justified by dead faith, wouldn’t it follow that we’re saved by a faith that is “alive” whatever that might mean?  He then adds this “aliveness” is a “sine qua non,” that which is indispensable or essential to something, just not to justification.  Again, how can that be?  If faith is the alone instrument in justification than it would seem it is very much “inherent to the structure of justification.” If it’s not, by what means can a sinner be justified?

The tragedy is that Keister is far from alone and his confusion is endemic to virtually all Reformed pastors today who cannot clearly define the difference between faith and saving faith without equivocating or just speaking nonsense.  This is why they identify faith as something that can be either “alive” or “dead.”  In fact, Keister takes a pointed jab at the late John Robbins writing:

…Robbins and his crowd seem to me to be in danger of denying that justifying faith is alive, which is what the confession says. Now, they may say that assent is alive.

First, as one who identifies with “Robbins and his crowd” I do deny that saving faith is “alive” simply because it is a metaphor that is misapplied to saving faith.  Besides, in order for any metaphor to make sense it has to be first explained in literal language.  Now, it could be said that saving faith is evidence that a person has already been translated from death to life in regeneration, but beyond that it is a completely irrelevant to the question of the role faith plays in justification.  This is an important point because as Dewey Robert’s observers, Federal Visionists like Wilson deny God’s grace in regeneration (see “The Federal Vision and Grace“).  Second, the Westminster Confession nowhere says that “justifying faith is alive.”  Concerning faith in justification the Confession states; “Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.” Keister is mistaken simply because that which accompanies something, in this case saving faith, is not part of the essence of saving faith, but rather results from it. That should have been obvious to Keister and the clue is the phrase “works by love,” but more on that later.


Why the PCA is a Safe-Haven for the Federal Vision Heresy

May 22, 2016

rotten-fruitMy friend, Pastor Richard Bacon, recently shared an interesting blog piece written by Rev. Clayton Spronk, lamenting the fact that the PCA is now a Federal Vision safe haven. Spronk is a little off on one thing and that Peter Leithart, after being refused a transfer into a less than FV friendly PCA presbytery, has since retreated to Doug Wilson’s faux Christian denomination, the CREC.  You can read Spronk’s, “Why the PCA is a Safe-Haven for the Federal Vision Heresy,” here.

Not discussed in the piece, and something that has become a sore spot for me, is the central reason why the PCA is now a safe-have for the FV. The PCA lost the fight against this blatant heresy for a simple reason; the failure to understand the nature of faith and saving faith. Men like PCA pastors Andy Webb, Lane Keister, and the other so-called “TRs” (Truly Reformed), deny, along with all of the FV men, that faith is simple belief and that saving faith is the simple belief in the propositions of the Gospel. They say the faith that saves is something more than mere belief, but whatever this “more” is, it’s ambiguous. The FV men too, particularly James Jordan, have maintained the fight over the FV is not primarily dealing with questions concerning the covenant, although that certainly is part of it, it is over “fiducia,” the imagined third element of saving faith that is supposed to make ordinary faith “saving.”

This how Jordan, whom some have dubbed the Godfather of the FV, explained the fight over the FV back in 2008:

Some men remain in the PCA because God has told them they have a duty to help the 7000 who have not yet bowed the knee to antichrist. They hatred of the Kingship of Jesus, which characterizes so much of the PCA, is with fighting. The Reformed faith is that faith includes fiducia, and this is still worth fighting for, regardless of how many antinominian blogs hate it.

Again, the reason why the fight against the FV men was lost in the PCA is because the “good guys” are blindly wed to the traditional and artificial division of saving faith as a complex consisting of  notitia, assensus and fiducia. Or, in ordinary English; understanding, assent and trust. The problem lies precisely with that the last element, fiducia, because it adds an impenetrable layer of ambiguity to faith’s definition rendering the alone instrument in salvation meaningless. Not that there is anything impenetrable or meaningless about “trust,” only that to trust someone is to have faith, is to believe, that what they say is true.  Trust is belief in the future tense, and, as such, adds nothing to an understanding of what faith is.  It is to simply define the word with itself.  Or, as Gordon Clark once said, it’s a tautology.  Now, if that is all it was it would just hardly raise an eyebrow.  But, those defenders of this threefold division of saving faith, both inside and outside of FV, never stop there. Consider this from PCA pastor Andy Webb, an early opponent of the FV; “Fiducia is the hardest element of saving faith to define…. Fiducia therefore mingles the emotion of love with trust, inclination, and agreement.” Now, that’s a definition that is so confused, anti-Scriptural, and hostile to a clear understanding of the nature of faith that no human could possibly understand it. It is a flight into mysticism and is a view of faith completely divorced from reason. But, that is what these men desire more than they ever seriously wanted to eradicate the FV from the PCA. They want a Christianity that is beyond reason, which for many, has become the hallmark of neo-Reformed piety.

For men like Webb, it’s the experience within that matters, not the object on which the mind or soul apprehends outside of itself. Websters defines trust as the belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc. Notice, there is no mention any mingling of the “emotion of love” in addition to trust, much less inclination or agreement (the last of which is just the restatement of the second element of faith or assent). That’s because in the minds of many to clearly and unambiguously define terms, even terms as central to the Christian system as “faith,” is to be guilty of “rationalism.”  Yet, despite their impotence in defending the faith, these men continue to wrap themselves in the confused and contradictory tradition that plays right into the hands of the very heretics they claim to oppose. After all, Christians are believers, not faith-ers. It is the Greek, not the Latin, that determines the meaning of the words of Scripture. Not surprisingly, these same TRs are the ones who will viciously attack anyone who uses seemingly innocuous phrases like “justification by belief alone” (try it sometime and you’ll see what I mean). In spite of all this, they continue to wonder why the PCA is now a safe haven for the Federal Vision.

As John Robbins explained writing in the introduction to Gordon Clark’s, What is Saving Faith:

Unintentionally and unwittingly, the defenders of justification by faith alone, by their un-Scriptural doctrine of faith (which makes faith a complex psychological act rather than simple assent to the truth) have created and sustained the theological climate in which those who deny justification by faith alone can flourish. The defenders of justification by faith alone have asserted that it is not enough to believe the Gospel, for even the demons believe the Gospel, and the demons are lost. Belief is not enough, they say. In order to be saved, one must do more than believe; one must commit, surrender, trust, encounter, relate, or emote.

The deniers of justification by faith alone agree: It is not enough to believe the Gospel in order to be saved. But rather than urging people to perform some further psychological task in addition to belief, they tell them to do good works in order to be saved. Their works (or their baptism) will complete what is lacking in belief alone. In this way, both the defenders and the deniers of justification by faith alone have lost sight of what in fact saves: The perfect, imputed righteousness of Christ completely outside the sinner, and received by the simple instrument of belief alone.

The current controversy over justification has broken out in conservative churches because Christians recognize that the Bible denies justification by works, whether works are regarded as a ground, condition, or an instrument of justification. But what most Christians have not yet recognized is that the common Protestant view of saving faith as something more than belief of the Gospel has fueled and will continue to fuel denials of justification by faith alone so long as it prevails. Until faith is understood as mere belief – the Bible makes no distinction between the two words – the justification controversy will continue, and those defending justification by faith alone will continue to be embarrassed by their agreement with the deniers of justification, that belief of the Gospel is not enough for salvation.

While it is too late for the PCA, Christians everywhere should be thankful for the rotten fruit of the FV for it exposed, more than anything before it, a long hidden weakness in the foundation of the historic Protestant system of belief. Sadly, those hopelessly wed to tradition in opposition to God’s Word, and who make up the failed leadership in the PCA, have been the last to learn from their mistake.

From Antichrist to Brother in Christ: How Protestant Pastors View the Pope

October 1, 2015

pope-francis-atheistsNo surprise. John was right:

And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?


For complete story click here.

When Doug Wrote To My Father

September 11, 2015

wilsonWhen it comes to Wilson, it just keeps getting worse. Make sure you read the letter Wilson wrote this poor girl’s father. The man is a incorrigible pig. The damage Wilson leaves in his fat wake is simply heartbreaking:

John Robbins Quick Quote

January 10, 2015

Since Lane Kesiter has so far refused to answer any of my questions and instead complained that I have misrepresented and mangled what he said and in the process distorted the teachings of his mentor and intellectual father, Cornelius Van Til (Keister said I did so it must be true), I hope to delve more into his non answers in a future post.  I confess, it was intriguing to read him bemoaning my refusal to take  his “no contradictions in the Bible” at face value.  I mean, would he take Jeffery Meyers, James Jordan, Peter Leithart, Richard Lusk, Steve Wilkins (remember him), or Doug Wilson at face value when they all say they believe in justification by faith alone?  I hope not.  Oh, yeah, Keister did take Wilson’s claim at face value before reversing himself after it was too late.

Now, I sympathize with Keister.  As I mentioned recently in one of the discussions on this blog, it is not easy for someone like Kesiter to come out publicly against the present irrationalism as it puts him at odds with the mainstream of modern Reformed thought.  Could you imagine the fallout if he were to repudiate Scott Clark who thinks the teachings of Scripture presents to the mind of man a morass of “mystery of paradoxes”?  Look at what Herman Hoeksema and Gordon Clark, not to mention John Robbins, all went through in opposing men just like Scott Clark. Just look at the amount of garbage being hurled my way for defending something so basic as justification by belief alone against the mystery mongers like Alan Strange, Ron DiGiacom, Reed DePace, Ron Henzel, Kesiter and the others at his blog.

The professional religious class is completely dominated by irrationalists.

For a guy like Keister to reject religious irrationalism parading as Reformed thought would threaten not only his standing among his peers, but his professional standing as well.  And, I’m sure he wants to keep his job.

Concerning the Clark/Van Til Controversy Hoeksema observed:

However, even now one begins to wonder whether the real question in this controversy is not whether God, but whether his revelation to to us in the Scriptures, is comprehensible, that is, can be logically understood by the mind of man. Dr. Clark’s position is that all of Scripture is given us that we might understand it, that all of it is adapted to our human mind, so that, even though there be many things in that revelation of God which we cannot fathom, there is nothing in it that is contrary to human intelligence and logic.  And the opponents appear to deny this [they do – SG].

And if this should be the real, underlying issue [it is – SG], if the complainants take the stand that Scripture reveals things that are, not above and far beyond, but contrary to, in conflict with the human mind [they do – SG], it is my conviction that the complainants should be indicted  of heterodoxy, and of undermining all sound theology.

Either the logic of revelation is our logic, or there is not revelation.

This proposition I am prepared to defend at any time.

Sadly, and as an example of how bad things really are, all you need to do is look back at the Trinity Foundation’s founding document, The Trinity Manifesto: A Program for Our Time. John Robbins wrote about this very problem and fighting it is the reason the Trinity Foundation exists (much to the chagrin of the professional religious class).

Consider this from Robbins:

Contemporary secular intellectuals are anti-intellectual. Contemporary philosophers are anti-philosophy. Contemporary theologians are anti-theology. The irrationalism of the present age is so thoroughgoing pervasive that even the Remnant—the segment of the professing church that remains faithful—has accepted much of it, frequently without even being aware of what it was accepting. In some circles this irrationalism has become synonymous with piety and humility, and those who oppose it are denounced as rationalists—as though to be logical were a sin. Our contemporary anti-theologians make a contradiction and call it a Mystery. The faithful ask for truth and are given absurdity. If any balk at swallowing the absurdities of the antitheologians, they are frequently marked as heretics or schismatics who seek to act independently of God.

There is no greater threat facing the true church of Christ at this moment than the irrationalism that now controls our entire culture. Communism, guilty of tens of millions of murders, including those of millions of Christians, is to be feared, but not nearly so much as the idea that we, as Christian men, do not and cannot know truth. Hedonism, the popular philosophy of America, is not to be feared so much as the belief that logic—that “mere human logic,” to use the religious irrationalists’ own phrase—is futile. The attacks on truth, on revelation, on the intellect, and on logic are renewed daily. But note well: The misologists—the haters of logic—use logic to demonstrate the futility of using logic. The anti-intellectuals construct intricate intellectual arguments to prove the insufficiency of the intellect. The anti-theologians use the revealed Word of God to show that there can be no revealed Word of God—or that if there could, it would remain impenetrable darkness and mystery to our finite minds.

Nonsense Has Come

Is it any wonder that the world is grasping at straws—the straws of mysticism and drugs? After all, if people are told that the Bible contains insoluble mysteries, then is not a flight into mysticism to be expected? On what grounds can it be condemned? Certainly not on logical grounds or Biblical grounds, if logic is futile and the Bible mysterious. Moreover, if it cannot be condemned on logical or Biblical grounds, it cannot be condemned at all. If people are going to have a religion of the mysterious, they will not adopt Christianity: They will have a genuine mystery religion.”Those who call for Nonsense,” C.S. Lewis once wrote,”will find that it comes.” And that is precisely what has happened. The popularity of Eastern mysticism and of drugs is the logical consequences of the irrationalism of the twentieth century. There can and will be no Christian revival—and no reconstruction of society—unless and until the irrationalism of the age is totally repudiated by Christians.

John wrote the above in 1978. I was only a year out of high school and had first professed Christ around that time, but since then very little has change. And, as Keister has demonstrated so convincingly, it has only gotten worse.

Speaking Nonsense

January 6, 2015

To my horror, I just read Lane Keister’s New Year’s eve blog offering.  Here it is in its entirety:

This is from Berkhof’s Introduction to Systematic Theology.

The Word of God presupposes the darkness and error of the natural man, and would therefore contradict itself, if it submitted itself to the judgment of that man. It would thereby acknowledge one as judge whom it had first disqualified (p. 172).

In other words, reason cannot prove the trustworthiness of Scripture. This is because reason only comes packaged in damaged goods. Even the regenerate person still has sin clinging to his reason. How could any untrustworthy instrument prove perfection to be correct? To do that, we would ourselves have to be more foundational than the Bible. No, the Bible is our axiom.

It’s hard to imagine a more vicious attack on the integrity of the Scriptures and the Reformed system of faith than what Keister has written scream-75133566695_xlargeabove.  While Keister’s post exudes piety and humility, consider the reverse. If the Scriptures were irrational and violated the laws of logic, specifically the law of contradiction, would they still be trustworthy?  I don’t see how?  Yet, for Keister reason is not a tool by which we can discover the trustworthiness of Scripture and he confuses the laws of logic with errors in logic due to sin. Further, and what Keister seems to forget, while axioms cannot be proven, they can be dis-proven and if the Scriptures violated the rules of right reason then it’s hard to see how they could still be considered God’s Word.  The God of Scripture is not a God of confusion, Lane Kesiter and Louis Berkof notwithstanding.

Contra Keister (and Berkof) Gordon Clark argued:

…the law of contradiction cannot be sinful. Quite the contrary, it is our violations of the law of contradiction that are sinful. Yet the strictures which some devotional writers place on “merely human logic” are amazing. Can such pious stupidity really mean that a syllogism which is valid for us is invalid for God? If two plus two is four in our arithmetic, does God have a different arithmetic in which two and two make three, or perhaps five?  – An Introduction to Christian Philosophy

Speaking of the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Divines’ belief in the logical consistency of all of Scripture, Clark notes:

The consent or logical consistency of the whole is important; for if the Bible contradicted itself, we would know that some of it would be false. – What Do Presbyterians Believe

And, finally, concerning the importance of the logical consistency of Scripture that attest to divine inspiration, Clark writes:

If, nonetheless, it can be shown that the Bible — in spite of having been written by more than thirty-five authors over a period of fifteen hundred years — is logically consistent, then the unbeliever would have to regard it as a most remarkable accident . . . Logical consistency, therefore, is evidence of inspiration. – God’s Hammer

A Little Sunday Morning Calvin

January 4, 2015

Calvin contemplationI recently read Herman Hoeksema: A Theological Biography by Patrick Baskwell (a book I highly recommend), and it was nice to read again various selections from Calvin’s works that completely expose the irrationality of the so-called “well meant offer of the Gospel” and the hopelessly confused and contradictory idea that God desires the salvation of those he has no desire to save.  I realize folks on the other side love to trot out Calvin’s commentary on 2 Peter 3:9 that at first glace appears to support their cause, but one small inconsistency in a commentary does not a definitive position make and it fails to take into account his more developed thought.  Besides, Calvin is hardly the first or last to stumble on this passage in Peter.  That said, the following is the Institutes book III, chapter 22, section 10 in its entirety (even the section’s subtitle is a repudiation of the asinine and un-Reformed WMO):


Some object that God would be contrary to himself if he should universally invite all men to him but admit only a few as elect. Thus, in their view, the universality of the promises removes the distinction of special grace; and some moderate men speak thus, not so much to stifle the truth as to bar thorny questions, and to bridle the curiosity of many.  A laudable intention, this, but the design is not to be approved, for evasion is never excusable. But those who insolently revile election offer a quibble too disgusting, an error too shameful.

I have elsewhere explained how Scripture reconciles the two notions that all are called to repentance and faith by outward preaching, yet that the spirit of repentance and faith is not given to all. Soon I shall have to repeat some of this.  Now I deny what they claim, since it is false in two ways. For he who threatens that while it will rain upon one city there will be drought in another [Amos 4:7], and who elsewhere announces a famine of teaching [Amos 8:11], does not bind himself by a set law to call all men equally. And he who, forbidding Paul to speak the word in Asia [Acts 16:6], and turning him aside from Bithynia, draws him into Macedonia [Acts 16:7 ff.] thus shows that he has the right to distribute this treasure to whom he pleases. Through Isaiah he still more openly shows how he directs the promises of salvation specifically to the elect: for he proclaims that they alone, not the whole human race without distinction, are to become his disciples [Isaiah 8:16]. Hence it is clear that the doctrine of salvation, which is said to be reserved solely and individually for the sons of the church, is falsely debased when presented as effectually profitable to all. Let this suffice for the present: although the voice of the gospel addresses all in general, yet the gift of faith is rare. Isaiah sets forth the cause: that the arm of the Lord has not been revealed to all [Isaiah 53:1]. If he had said that the gospel is maliciously and wickedly despised because many stubbornly refuse to hear it, perhaps this aspect of universal calling would have force. But it is not the prophet’s intention to extenuate men’s guilt when he teaches that the source of the blindness is that the Lord does not deign to reveal his arm to them [Isaiah 53:1]. He only warns that, because faith is a special gift, the ears are beaten upon in vain with outward teaching. Now I should like to know from these actors whether preaching alone, or faith, makes God’s sons.

Surely, when it is said that in the first chapter of John: “All who believe in the only-begotten Son of God also become sons of God themselves” [John 1:12], no confused mass is placed there, but a special rank is given to believers, “who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” [John 1:13, Vg.].

But, they say, there is a mutual agreement between faith and the Word. This is so wherever there is faith; but for seed to fall among thorns [Matthew 13:7] or on rocky ground [Matthew 13:5] is nothing new, not only because the greater part indeed show themselves obstinately disobedient to God, but because not all have been supplied with eyes and ears. How, then, shall it be consistent that God calls to himself persons who he knows will not come? Let Augustine answer for me: “You wish to argue with me? Marvel with me, and exclaim, ‘O depth!’ Let both of us agree in fear, lest we perish in error.” Besides, if election, as Paul testifies, is the mother of faith, I turn back upon their head the argument that faith is not general because election is special. For from this series of causes and effects we may readily draw this inference: when Paul states that “we have been supplied with every spiritual blessing… even as he chose us from the foundation of the world” [Ephesians 1:3-4 p.], these riches are therefore not common to all, for God has chosen only whom he willed.  This is why Paul in another place commends faith to the elect [Titus 1:1]: that no one may think that he acquires faith by his own effort but that this glory rests with God, freely to illumine whom he previously had chosen. For Bernard rightly says: “Friends listen individually when he also says to them, ‘Fear not, little flock’ [Luke 12:32], for ‘to you has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven’ [Matthew 13:11]. Who are they? ‘Those whom he has foreknown and predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son’ [Romans 8:29 p.], and to whom God’s great and secret plan has become known: ‘The Lord knows those who are his’ [2 Timothy 2:19], but what was known to God has been revealed to men. And, indeed, he does not vouchsafe to others participation in so great a mystery, save to those whom he has foreknown and predestined to become his own.” A little later he concludes: “‘The mercy of God is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear him [Psalm 103:17; 102:17, Vg.]. From everlasting because of predestination, to everlasting because of beatification—the one knowing no beginning, the other, no end.”  But why do we need to quote Bernard as a witness, when we hear from the Master’s own lips: “Only those see the Father who are from God” [John 6:46]? By these words he means that all those not reborn of God are astonished at the brightness of his countenance. And indeed, faith is fitly joined to election, provided it takes second place.

This order is elsewhere clearly expressed in Christ’s words: “This is the will of my Father, that I should not lose what he has given. This is his will, that everyone who believes in the Son may not perish” [John 6:39-40, freely rendered]. If he willed all to be saved, he would set his Son over them, and would engraft all into his body with the sacred bond of faith.  Now it is certain that faith is a singular pledge of the Father’s love, reserved for the sons whom he has adopted. Hence Christ says in another passage: “The sheep follow the shepherd, for they know his voice. But a stranger they will not follow,… for they do not know the voice of strangers” [John 10:4-5, cf. Vg.]. Whence does this distinction arise but from the fact that their ears have been pierced by the Lord? For no man makes himself a sheep but is made one by heavenly grace. Whence also the Lord teaches that our salvation will be forever sure and safe, for it is guarded by God’s unconquerable might [John 10:29]. Accordingly, he concludes that unbelievers are not of his sheep [John 10:26]. That is, they are not of the number of those who, as God promised through Isaiah, were to become disciples [cf. Isaiah 8:16; 54:13]. Now because the testimonies that I have quoted express perseverance, they at the same time attest the unvarying constancy of election.

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