Friday, November 13, 2009

Thoughts on my flu.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was absolutely correct when he referred to sickness as judgment (cf. spiritual care). In the event of our sickness we have to do with the troubling reality that no one-not even God's child- is exempt from punishment for sin (1 Pe 4:17). Not that there is always necessarily a causal relationship between a concrete sin and subsequent illness, for we may well learn to say with Job: "Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy" (9:15). In truth our weakness instructs us with the reality that no one is blameless, and our hardships are endured as discipline. Within this frame of time the nature of God as Abba is ferociously tested and called into question through God's own hiddenness and wrath. We cannot bring ourselves to imagine that God would be the sort of person who would throw His arms around us, kiss us and weep with utter love. We begin to accept judgment as the proper revelation of God and lose hold of His generous adoption of us. God is now solely Master, Judge, Avenger, Hidden, Wrathful, Infinite and Terrible. The sacred scriptures witness against us; the beautiful creation witnesses against us, the promises dissapear, personal sanctity slithers away, conscience condemns, the brethren tremble and the fire of Hell irrevocably summons us. We cannot see Jesus as anyone other than the eschatological judge who approaches us only to say," Depart from me, you who are accursed, into the eternal fire!" Sickness is temptation; sickness is truth. But it is not true enough.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Forty Theses Against the Godless and Impious Doctrine that Salvation-once conferred on man- can be Lost.

1.Salvation is referred to by Paul as “the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). Since the gifts of God cannot be revoked (Rom 11:29), it follows that those who suppose salvation can be revoked despise the nature of the gift and treat God’s Word with contempt, which clearly says that it cannot be revoked.

2. James speaks in similar terms when he calls the gifts of God “good and perfect” (1:17). But how can it be said that God’s gift of salvation is perfect if it lacks: 1.Certainty 2.Eternality and 3. Immutability? Thus to teach that salvation can be lost is to mock God, who promises a perfect salvation.

3. In order to confirm the unchanging and glorious salvation given to us in Christ, God took an oath in His own Name (Heb 6:16-20). Those who maintain that the salvation given to us in Christ can be lost blaspheme God most severely, making Him out to be a liar.

4.Furthermore, they make God out to be a promise-breaker and thus lead many into the sin of unbelief.

5. These mockers think that the security of God’s oath rests on human perseverance.

6. And since human perseverance is faulty, they judge God’s oath to be insecure.

7. But Christ has become our high priest forever, and He most certainly will not fail.

8. Furthermore, it has been decreed from Heaven that God “will keep (us) strong to the end, so that (we) will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful (1 Cor 1:8-9).”

9. Those who affirm that salvation can be lost treat this promise as nothing, which clearly states that we shall be kept strong to the very end.

10. They also inadvertently scoff at God’s faithfulness which is enjoined by Paul to certify this promise.

11. They refer to passages like Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:26-31 to build their case. Thus they choose a hermeneutical axiom which begins with God’s wrath and judgment, whereas “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (Jas 2:13).

12. Nor do they take into account that the apostasy spoken of in Hebrews is juxtaposed with the “things that accompany salvation” found within the church towards which the letter was written (6:9-10).

13. They say that salvation is only secure on the condition that we persevere unto the end. Thus they teach that a man is saved by God on account of his works rather than by God’s grace.

14. But this is clearly refuted by Paul, who says that God “saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy (Titus 3:5).” It follows that the righteous activity of perseverance will not merit salvation.

15. The Arminian says that God is free to take back what He has given, but the Christian says that God is free to keep His Word.

16. The Arminian says that some of those whom God has justified are later damned, but the Christian says that “those he justified, he also glorified (Rom 8:30).”

17. The Arminian declares that God consigns some of His own children to the everlasting lake of fire. The Christian declares that God keeps and protects His own.

18. For our earthly fathers, twisted as they are, would never allow their own sons and daughters to burn… not even for an hour.

19. But the Arminian teaches that the Heavenly Father revokes the bond of love with His child and banishes him to Hell. In the end the sinful, earthly father is richer in mercy.

20. But God alone is merciful, and thus the Arminian has an idol for a god.

21. They also make God out to be a tyrant much fiercer than has ever before been conceived, who suffers his very children to burn forever in agony without so much as lifting a finger to help them.

22. And if they say that our position as sons and daughters must be maintained, they make adoption out to be a wage earned rather than a gift freely given.

23. For which earthly father with even a smidge of compassion would dare to tell his own flesh and blood,” You must work to maintain your status as my son.” Surely we would call such a father a scoundrel and a knave, not fit to have children!

24. In this manner the Arminian speaks evil of God and will not suffer to imagine that He may be more gracious than an earthly father.

25. But God is a gracious Father to those who believe (Gal 3:26), thus it would take great mental gymnastics to imagine that He would let His beloved child burn.

26. And yet an Arminian insists that God is love, and love always values free will. Thus if we as His children choose the path that leads to destruction, God will honor our choice.

27. In this they rob God of all responsibility, who does not forbid His children from running into eternal destruction.

28. Yet not even an earthly parent- who sees his stubborn child attempting to run into a busy thoroughfare- would dare to honor the free choice of the child and look on as he is crushed. Such a parent would be judged wicked!

29. How much less will our Heavenly Father honor our blind and stupid wills when they rush off towards Hell and destruction?

30. Moreover, the will that even considers evil an option is not truly free.

31. And the scriptures have decreed that “there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God (Rom 3:11).”

32. How then can the Arminian say that there are some who seek God? They cannot do so without pitting themselves against this word.

33. Yet they point to the droves of people in history or their own personal experience who professed Christ with all sincerity but later fell away.

34. In this manner they think that their personal experiences nullify the clarity of God’s oath and promise.

35. But God has declared that those who leave the faith “did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us (1 John 2:19).”

36. Since “none of them” who go out from the faith belonged to us, it follows that none of them were ever Christians.

37. And if they insist that these people truly were Christians, we choose to disregard their balbutiations in favor of the Word, which says that “none of them belonged to us.”

38. For surely one Word of God trumps the testimony of 10,000 Arminians!

39. Jesus Christ Himself witnesses to the eternal security of the believer when He says that,” a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever (John 8:35).”

40. And since a son belongs to the family of God forever, we profess that our salvation can at no time be lost.

*The author of these disputations is not a Calvinist. Nor does he think that he need be one to maintain the Christian truth of eternal security. The author also wishes to have it made clear that a person who holds to the Arminian doctrine can indeed be a Christian, but that his doctrines belong to the unbelieving nature which wars against his soul.