"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

How to Kiss Calvinism Goodbye: The Gracious Way to Depart from the Doctrine of God's Distinguishing Love

I was twenty years old when I first read God's Everlasting Love to His Elect by John Gill. To this day, other than the Bible, no book has impacted my life more. Gill showed me how God is love, and how the Father's love is not drawn out by our loveliness nor diminished by our ugliness. Previous to reading Gill, I had been infected with the delusion that God had a holy hatred for sinners and Jesus had a longing love for sinners. I believed that the Father desired to punish sinners because of His holy nature of justice, but Jesus offered Himself to the Father as a Substitute for undeserving sinners. My notion of a bi-polar God bothered me, but I just assumed that justice and love were mutually exclusive--- until I read Gill. Then I began to see that God is love, and when He moves to save His people, He saves them in love, through love, by love and for love. The Father and the Son are one in motive. "For God so loved the world...."

I have never struggled with what some call God's distinguishing love for His elect. Since every sinner is responsible for his own sin and rebellion, I felt that if God chose to love an innumerable company of sinners instead of every individual sinner, who can complain (Romans 9)? It's a little like you saying to me, "I love your wife, but I don't love her like I love my own wife." I understand the difference. You chose your wife, not my wife. However, in my journey of faith I have discovered that not all of God's people are as comfortable with God's distinguishing love as I am. Some believe that God's love abides upon each human being to the same degree of fullness as every other human being, and the notion that God has a distinguishing love for His Bride bothers these Christians immensely.

George McDonald (1824-1905) was one of those Christians.

It is said that the first time the doctrine of predestination was explained to young George McDonald, he burst into tears, although he was assured that he was one of the elect. George would grow up and become a Congregational minister himself, but he was eventually kicked out of the ministry for suggesting that the consuming fire of God's love would eventually overcome sin and rebellion in every human being. George McDonald turned to writing, and his influence was enormous. Most American evangelicals have not heard of George McDonald, but they have heard of those discipled by him:

C.S. Lewis called McDonald "my master." Lewis had picked up a copy of McDonald's book Phantastes at a train station bookstall. "I began to read," says Lewis, "and a few hours later I knew that I had crossed a great frontier."

G.K. Chesterton said McDonald's book The Princess and the Goblin "made a difference to my whole existence."

Mark Twain was greatly influenced by George McDonald, as was the great Christian devotion writer Oswald Chambers who said, "It is a striking indication of the trend and shallowness of the modern reading public that George MacDonald's books have been so neglected."

I could go on, but you get the picture. George McDonald would eventually write many books, but two of them, Robert Falconer and Lilith,  show his intense dislike for the idea that God's salvific love is given to some and not to others. C.S. Lewis describes in George McDonald: An Anthology  how McDonald kept the "worthy" portion of his Scottish Calvinism while renouncing the doctrine of predestination: "In the very midst of his intellectual revolt (from Calvinism), McDonald forces us to see elements of real and perhaps irreplaceable worth in the thing from which he is revolting."

Don't gloss over what Lewis is saying about McDonald. In the midst of rejecting God's distinguishing love, McDonald keeps his readers focused on the real worth of Calvinism. If the "real worth" of Calvinism is not God's distinguishing love, then what is it? McDonald believed Calvinism correctly conveyed a real sense of God's majesty, sovereignty, and power. McDonald believed and taught that God can do as He pleases at all times or He would not be God. This was the portion of Calvinism that McDonald deemed worthy. What McDonald despised was the belief that God chooses to save some and not all.

George McDonald came to believe in universal reconciliation.

C.S. Lewis never fully adopted George MacDonald's eschatology of universal reconciliation. However, Lewis did challenge the traditional doctrine of hell, showing how much he was influenced by McDonald.  In Lewis' book The Great Divorce,  a person named "MacDonald" appears as a heavenly guide and shows how it might be that a person who continually spurns God's love might spend eternity in total isolation and darkness. Then, a character named "Lewis" challenges the heavenly guide (McDonald) by reminding him that he had believed in universal reconciliation while he lived on earth. MacDonald responds that indeed,  it is possible that everyone will eventually be saved (just as he believed on earth),  but "we cannot know this" with certainty. C.S. Lewis taught in The Great Divorce that what we can know is God's mercy and love are endless, but if we spurn His love and mercy, we cease being human beings in any meaningful sense. If God's mercy and love do not ultimate obtain for us victory over our sin and selfishness and hell is eternal, then that hell will be "outer darkness" where the consuming fire of God's love is not experienced. For God's fire of love consumes our sin.

C.S. Lewis came very close to embracing the universal reconciliation of his master George McDonald. Ironic, is it not, that John Piper tweeted "Goodbye Rob Bell" when Rob Bell published Love Wins (a book that questions, but does not deny the existence of an eternal hell) while during that same time period John Piper extolled C.S. Lewis as the greatest influence in his life. Both men, Rob Bell and C.S. Lewis, believed the same thing about hell. C.S. Lewis simply wrote fantasy while Rob Bell spelled it out in plain English. I'm not sure why Piper has not tweeted "Goodbye C.S. Lewis" except for the fact that we sometimes seem more concerned with tweaking perceived opponents than in learning from fellow disciples.

Southern Baptists are convening in Houston, Texas this week. Calvinism is an issue for the SBC. There is a dividing line between those who believe in God's distinguishing love and those who believe in God's universal love. Throughout history, evangelicals who have had a high view of God's sovereignty, a keen intellectual and theological awareness, and a desire to communicate the love of God to sinners, have all rallied around the cross of Jesus Christ and the reconciliation He brings. There is a way for Southern Baptists to refuse to believe in God's distinguishing love for His people; they can be like C.S. Lewis, George McDonald, Rob Bell, Paul Young and others and believe in universal reconciliation.

I do not.

However, if one chooses to reject the doctrine of God's distinguishing love and finds universal reconciliation distasteful (as many Southern Baptists do), then the only alternative is to deny the sovereignty of God and make Him into a fickle human being whose love is dependent on the performance of those being loved. That isn't good news, it's really rotten news. When you make your god as fickle as we are, you have turned him into a person just like us.

Thankfully,  God is not like us.  His love is an artesian spring that is not drawn out by our loveliness nor diminished by our ugliness. He is love. His love continues. His love never ends. Love can't end, because He continues and He never ends. To rightly believe in God's sovereignty and God's unconditional love you must either be a Calvinist or a universalist. The only other option is to believe in a God who is not sovereign and a love that is always conditional; I want nothing to do with that kind of religion, for it is has no good news.

75 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wade, can you cooperate denominationally with those who affirm a synergistic soteriology and the universal availability of salvation while rejecting universal redemption? You seem to be saying that Calvinism is the only viable option for the SBC.

God loves the world (cf. John 3:16). His "distinguishing" love for the elect in no way precludes His love for all people, neither does His universal love preclude His wrath toward the unrepentant. I hope you are willing to cooperate with those who aren't strict Calvinists. If not, then why expect complementarians to cooperate with you?

Christiane said...

"What is it that is about to be created, that enjoys such honor?
It is man that great and wonderful living creature, more precious in the eyes of God than all other creatures! For him the heavens and the earth, the sea and all the rest of creation exist.
God attached so much importance to his salvation that He did not spare His own Son for the sake of man. Nor does He ever cease to work, trying every possible means, until He has raised man up to Himself and made him sit at His right hand."

(St. John Chrysostom)


I think the mystery of Christ is very deep and that we want to know more about it than we now have the capacity to understand,
but if we WANT to understand as much as possible,
we had better go back . . .
to the Holy Trinity held together by a generative force we call 'love',
to Creation,
to the Incarnation . . .

if we don't go back to the beginning, we will lose perspective on what we can know about the great mystery of Christ.

Eastern Christianity understands this better than we Christian westerners, and St. John Chrysostom is honored in both East and West.

There is more in the mystery of the Incarnation, WADE, than many Westerners see . . . but there is something there that, upon examination, gives us more understanding about how 'man' and 'God' came together in Christ, and how this makes a difference in the way we, dying and rising in Him, are drawn 'into Christ' and brought eternally into the embrace of the love of the Holy Trinity.

some thoughts

Bob Cleveland said...

I happen to have been an Elder at the lasts Presbyterian Church to which we belonged. We always met with people who wanted to join, in an afternoon "Dessert" at one of the Elders' homes. We'd split up two by two, and sit and talk to the new members.

I recall one young man we were talking to, and asking how he felt about our church's subscribing to Calvinist doctrines. His response was "I'm sure glad God is in control".

He went one to say that he personally preferred that system of faith that acknowledged the maximum possible sovereignty of God. Said if He ever had to explain any error to God, he'd rather it be erring on the side of God, not man.

He and his wife made good members.

David (NAS) Rogers said...

To rightly believe in God's sovereignty and God's unconditional love you must either be a Calvinist or a universalist. The only other option is to believe in a God who is not sovereign and a love that is always conditional; I want nothing to do with that kind of religion, for it is has no good news.

I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree but with agreeableness.

I’ve always believed that God can sovereignly choose whatever way he wants to relate with His creation as long as it does not violate his moral character. I see no contradiction between God’s sovereignty and His sovereign decision to exercise His loving grace within parameters of conditions set out by His sovereign decision.

God can sovereignly decide to enable totally depraved sinners with the ability to resist or surrender.

God can sovereignly decide to make that surrender to offered grace as a condition for His decision to complete the salvific work.

God can sovereignly decide to have Christ be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).

God can sovereignly decide to relate with persons based on a relational love dynamic rather than a pre-Creation distinguishing grouping that unconditionally loves some and unconditionally damns others with no genuine offer of salvation but with a thin shell of semantic sleight of word “well-meant offer.”

God can sovereignly decide to continue His relationship with those who remain in Him but deny those who deny him. (2 Tim. 2:12; John 15:6; Rom. 11:20-22)

Blessings even in the midst of disagreement.

David

Christiane said...

If God IS 'sovereign', then He is able to tell folks to 'choose life' and 'live'. He can say ANYTHING He wants to mankind, and He did offer choice, as recorded in sacred Scripture.

The rabbis have ALWAYS taught that God is sovereign and permits choice. Our Lord did not change this teaching when He was among us.

God calls all Creation to Himself through Christ . . . but to mankind, He decided to give a freedom to choose to respond to that calling,
some say that the responsibility of choice is a part of 'being made in the image of God'.

I hold with the teaching of the rabbis, that God is sovereign yet permits choice,
and that this is not something impossible to One Who is truly sovereign.



Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous, David, Christiane,

I appreciate your comments. I come from the biblical perspective that "God saves sinners" not that "sinners save themselves."

Of course I believe in "synergism." It is our faith not God's. It is our repentance, not God's. George McDonald and C.S. Lewis (and I) believe it is God's love that draws the sinner to repentance. God's grace that brings the sinner to faith. God's love that leads a sinner to love God for we love Him because He first loved us.

Anonymous, you write...

"God's distinguishing love for the elect in no way precludes His love for all people, neither does His universal love preclude His wrath toward the unrepentant. I hope you are willing to cooperate with those who aren't strict Calvinists."

I'm really confused by comment. The entire point of the post is that C.S. Lewis, George McDonald, Paul Young, Rob Bell and others SHOULD BE EMBRACED even though they REJECT and find ABHORANT the doctrine of distinguishing love (i.e. Calvinism).

So, to answer your question emphatically - "Of course I can cooperate with people who reject Calvinism."


It's those who reject that God actually was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself that have no good news.

Blessings to you all,

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Bob,

Thanks for the email!

Wade

Anonymous said...

Wade please do more research on Rob Bell. SBC does not need to co-operate with views like his.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

Rob Bell is not a Southern Baptist. No need to even discuss cooperation with Rob Bell.

David (NAS) Rogers said...

I come from the biblical perspective that "God saves sinners" not that "sinners save themselves."

I also believe that, and nothing I said contradicts that.

Rex Ray said...

To disbelieve God died for everyone, a person probably thinks God can NEVER fail, so obviously He didn’t die for everyone, but only for “His elect”.

IMHO, this person must think if man fails, God fails. Hey! Man started failing with Adam and Eve.

I sure don’t believe everyone is going to heaven or ‘universal reconciliation’, but to imply if I don’t believe like he does I make God into a fickle human is a bigger insult than I’m making.

Kristen said...

I agree with David and Christina too. How sovereign is God if He is incapable of limiting the use of His own power when He deems it appropriate and necessary? How sovereign is a God who is unable to draw humans to Himself gently enough that they are able to resist?
How is God not sovereign if He simply says, "I'm going to limit My exercise of sovereignty so that the creatures I created in My own image can have some sovereignty of their own"?

James Jordan said...

"..believed Calvinism conveyed a real sense of God's majesty, sovereignty, and power."

Power is not majestic if used for cruelty. I believe in Psalm 37 "The wicked cease to exist; the righteous abide forever." No Christian theologian can set the afterlife agenda, not even Jesus himself; they came to the game too late. God will absolutely obliterate all evil from his universe, not hide it in a closet and torment in flames for all eternity. Otherwise, his conquest against evil would never be complete. So, the Sadducees were right: the wicked cease to exist, only the righteous have an afterlife. And before Calvinists pipe in that everyone is wicked, go read the Old Testament. By the Old Testament definition of these terms only the inveterate persistent sinner is wicked; the righteous man who screwed up in the past but repented is called righteous. See Ezekiel 18. This means there is no need for predestination; it also pretty well eliminates the need for any kind of sacrifice. Oops. Bye bye Christianity. Judaism was right after all.

James Jordan said...

That is, the only way to truly kick Calvinism good bye is to leave Christianity for Judaism. Calvinism is tied up in the doctrine of the necessity of the perfect human sacrifice and the "lest any many should boast" of Paul's (As if God even cares if man boasts). The doctrine of the necessity of the perfect human sacrifice is contradicted by Micah 6, and therefore invalid. Therefore Calvinism which is based on it and always ends up resulting from it no matter how hard you try to avoid it, is also invalid.

Anonymous said...

David (NAS) Rogers, well said in everything you said.

I am not a Calvinist and I do not believe man saves himself. I also think it is stupid to suggest that an enabled free response to benefaction through repentance and faith can be said to be a person saving oneself.

Here is why: Man can not live perfectly. Man can not die for his own sins. Man can not regenerate himself. Man can not justify himself. Man can not lift his soul to heaven upon physical death. Man can not raise himself from the dead at the end and give himself a glorified body. And finally, man can not even exist under his own power in any sense whatsoever.

As you stated, for God, in His sovereignty, to decide that it functions where men may receive or reject does in no sense whatsoever constitute any sort of saving action, but rather, it is merely a receiving or rejecting action.

You are quite right to say that nothing you stated contradicts the notion that God and God alone saves.

So, whenever the claim is made that boils down to it being that either Calvinism is the case, or man saves himself, something quite stupid has been uttered when the claim is investigated thoroughly.

Just my $0.02

Not even monotheistic religions that have either a strictly works-righteousness scheme, or even a faith-plus-works-righteousness scheme, believe that man saves himself. So while the rhetoric is sort of smug and self-satisfying for those who utter it, the problem is that it actually sounds quite stupid to not only those who disagree with Calvinism, but to everyone else as well. This is because it is actually stupid when you get right down to it. Just saying...

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

"How sovereign is God if He is incapable of limiting the use of His own power when He deems it appropriate and necessary?"

God self-limits His own power to do what? To save? That's like saying to a drowning person, "Listen, I'm jumping into the creek to deliver you, but I am going to limit my ability to grab you because I don't want you to thank that I have crossed a line and done something for you that you can and should do for yourself. I didn't push you into this creek, you jumped into the creek on your own. Therefore, I'm limiting my power to pull you out of the creek so that you can pull yourself out."

I don't understand that logic.

Wade Burleson said...

James Jordan,

It seems by your comment that you are Jewish. Thank you for stopping by.

C.S. Lewis, George McDonald and others believed in a perfect Man, but they did not believe God demanded or required anything in the atonement. Their view of the atonement is called Christus Victor and they believe that God inserted Himself in the disease, sickness, and sin of the universe (caused by man) and defeated man's three great enemies (the world, the flesh and the devil), and then conquered death, thereby obtaining for every sinner the keys to the kingdom of life -- in other words, Christ saves sinners from themselves, not a vengeful God.

I only share this with you to illustrate that not all Christians who trust Christ are believing that God is the one demanding the sacrifice as you seem to indicate.

Wade Burleson said...

James Jordan,

You also wrote:

"...'believed Calvinism conveyed a real sense of God's majesty, sovereignty, and power.' Power is not majestic if used for cruelty."

Amen. God is never cruel. Ever. That we agree wholeheartedly.

Bob Hadley said...

I have a serious problem with the following statement:

I have never struggled with what some call God's distinguishing love for His elect. Since every sinner is responsible for his own sin and rebellion, I felt that if God chose to love an innumerable company of sinners instead of every individual sinner, who can complain (Romans 9)?

It is one thing to say "this is what I believe." It is another to say "this is how I got saved" but when you say this is how and who GOD LOVES, you are talking about MY Heavenly Father and the God of the Bible and that simply is not what I read in His precious Word.

Now as for one either being a Calvinist or a universalist, that is equally denigrating as well and you KNOW the difference. There is a difference in talking about a universal love for all and God saving all; The Scriptures teach that God saves those who believe; you simply twist that to say that God saves those He causes to believe.

It is my prayer that the Southern Baptist Convention reads statements like this because this kind of statement will wake them up; this is not the theology of the Southern Baptist today and I do not believe it needs to be the theology of the Southern Baptist Convention of tomorrow.

Wade Burleson said...

Bob,

God loves His people. He loves them deeply, unconditionally, and eternally. Thanks for commenting.

Jeremy said...

Bob,

I think you need to re-read the post again. Wade is simply pointing out that God's love is powerful and effectual and accomplishes what He sets His love out to accomplish. Wade is showing how one must believe in distinguishing love or universal love, or you wind up with a god who is just like us - a fickle-hearted, easily offended god who withdraws his love or continues his love based on the performance of the one being loved.

Wade seems to be saying that the belief in whom God loves is not nearly as important as the belief in the effectual power of God's love. You seem to be getting hung up on the "whom does God love" part, but the point of the post is "God's love is overwhelming and effectual." Whom He loves He delivers.

Matt said...

Very interesting. I've struggled with this idea of God's distinguishing love. I've often thought that if I believed in the same God Calvinists do that I would come to the opposite conclusion about his love for people and its results.

It sounds to me like you are saying what I've suspected...God's universal love is the other side of the same theological coin.

In your opinion, does it have to be one or the other? Is there not room for an intermediary view (free will) that does not diminish God's sovereignty?

Ken Hamrick said...

It is a mistake to conclude that since it is out of God’s love that He saves, and since He saves only some, then God’s “saving love” is a “distinguishing” love. John Murry, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955), pp. 9-10, states:

///blockquote///…The Scripture informs us that this love of God from which the atonement flows and of which it is the expression is a love that is distinguishing… The love of God from which the atonement springs is not a distinctionless love; it is a love that elects and predestinates.///end quote///

Such a conclusion does not follow. Merely because God elected only some and saves only some does not mean that it was out of His love that He limited salvation, as if it was His love that was limited or limiting. Such a “distinguishing” love would also be a distinguishing hate. The very same God who chooses to save also chooses to let others perish. However, there are different reasons for each, and the false conclusion that both the choice to save some and the choice to not save others flow from the love of God is a monstrous portrayal of a two-sided love that is also hate. Make no mistake: God does select some for salvation and not others, and He does indeed distinguish between the elect and the nonelect in His eternal plan and salvation; however, the decision not to save all, but to let many perish, does not come from any limiting aspect of His love, but from other pressing exigencies in His nature relating to His justice and His glory.

The premise, that if God had any desire to save all then He would save all, is shared by both sides but is false. I've answered that here: http://sbcopenforum.com/2013/05/08/toward-southern-baptist-unity-part-4-discarding-the-faulty-premise-that-divides/

Anonymous said...

Wade said this:

I'm really confused by comment. The entire point of the post is that C.S. Lewis, George McDonald, Paul Young, Rob Bell and others SHOULD BE EMBRACED even though they REJECT and find ABHORANT the doctrine of distinguishing love (i.e. Calvinism).
So, to answer your question emphatically - "Of course I can cooperate with people who reject Calvinism."

I thought you were making the point you could cooperate with Rob Bell.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

I am cooperating anyone who believes reconciliation is through the Person and work of Christ, regardless of whether they believe this reconciliation universal or particular.

Wade Burleson said...

Ken Hamrick,

"God does select some for salvation and not others, and He does indeed distinguish between the elect and the nonelect in His eternal plan and salvation; however, the decision not to save all, but to let many perish, does not come from any limiting aspect of His love, but from other pressing exigencies in His nature relating to His justice and His glory."

I understand your view and appreciate it and can cooperate with anyone who holds to your view.

C.S. Lewis, George McDonald, and others believed that any judge with incomparable love is able to satisfy judicial justice on his own, without the aid of the criminal. They held that reconciliation was through the cross and faith in Christ becomes the natural response to God's persistent, eternal, personal and unrelenting love - either now or in hell after the consuming fire is withdrawn and sinners spend time in total darkness and isolation from God's revealed presence. They held out hope that the sinner would then respond in love to Christ.

I do not believe as C.S. Lewis or George McDonald. I am simply pointing out that were I not a person who believed in distinguishing love, I would have to be a universalist because God saves sinners - sinners do not save themselves. IF sinners saved themselves, then sinners would be asking, "Have I done it right? Have I done it well enough? Did I really mean it? Am I truly saved? "

Sounds like a Southern Baptist revival meeting, yes?

Rex Ray said...

God said to Abram, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee..”

I believe God does the same to those that curse his Son.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

Obviously, I would agree with you but would probably define "curse." Since God is love, those who curse Christ will find the revealed presence of God (i.e. "the consuming fire") withdrawn. Those who enjoy their selfishness and sin will be without God's love for eternity.

McDonald believed that God's love would eventually win over even though most hardened sinner.

I do not. I believe there will be sinners who are separated from the consuming fire of God's love for eternity.

Anonymous said...

Wade said:

Anonymous,
I am cooperating anyone who believes reconciliation is through the Person and work of Christ, regardless of whether they believe this reconciliation universal or particular

I agree with you. I just wish you wouldn't use Rob Bell as an example of someone you would cooperate with considering his views on same sex marriage and apparent view on the authority of scripture. Perhaps it's just me but I find these emergent types scary.

Anonymous said...

That post was the biggest load of crap I've ever read in my life. It's Calvinism or Universalism? Says who? Have you ever actually read someone like Roger Olson or Greg Boyd? All you show me is that I am glad I left Calvinism behind a couple years ago because of neo-fundamentalists like you.
I say neo-fundamentalism NOT as a set of doctrines, but as an attitude and an outlook. You are criticizing people for what you think their beliefs logically should be other than what they actually hold. It is a close minded-ness that you claim to be not close minded because you can "work" with those people, you just think they're stupid.
And while you may talk of biblical and logical faith, Calvinism is illogical and not biblical. There is no biblical defense of limited atonement (see Dort) and Piper's attempts are failed as well.
Synergism is not that people save themselves either. Have you never heard of prevenient grace? Do you understand the concept? God's grace must come first to enable salvation for anyone, but He gives his grace to all people because He is love.
To say the only options are Calvinism or universal reconciliation is ridiculous, biblically false, intellectually dishonest, and historically inaccurate. I used to read this blog because while I disagreed with you I could respect you. Now I can't even respect you.

Christiane said...

ANONYMOUS:

Wade doesn't 'criticize' those who come here to disagree with him who do it respectfully.

Of all the Southern Baptist blogs around, you will not find a more considerate host than Wade Burleson, and he probably learned respect for others from his good father, Paul Burleson.

Is it possible you are confusing 'respect for others' with 'being in agreement with them on matters of faith'? Please, step back and take another look at that. Trust me, you can express disagreement here, and not be ridiculed or hushed-up, or sent wicked e-mails, or any of the other abusive ways some in the Baptist world treat those who disagree with them.

Wade is a Christian gentleman, first and last, and you can disagree with him all you want to, but I can you he is worthy of your respect, sir. If you only knew the good he has done for others who have been abused, you would know that to be true.

You need to apologize to him. And to remember that Christian people may disagree with one another and still hold one another in respect, as is befitting your and their dignity 'in Christ'.

Anonymous said...

Christiane,
I respect MANY who I disagree with. I knew he was a Calvinist before this post and I disagreed in my own way. What is close minded is his argument that it's Calvinism or Universal Reconciliation. THAT is ignorant. What of Wesley? Boyd? Many Southern Baptists? Olson? Wade argued that if you aren't a Calvinist or Universal "Reconciiationist" then God is either not sovreign or isn't loving. Not everyone defines sovreign as meticulous control of all things, as Calvinists do. As Roger Olson argues, God is on charge but not in control of every little detail. So, no I will not apologize for being INSULTED as intellectually inferior by someone making a priori assumptions and making that God. I disagree with you right now and I respect you. What I DO NOT respect is calling biblically viable theologies inferior and incapable of of saving people or simply arguing (as in the comments) that people save themselves. No classical Arminian would EVER say that. Yet we believe in hell and not meticulous providence. I continue to read and dialogue with Calvinists in a peaceable way. What I will not respect is what Wade has here done.

Anonymous said...

Christiane,
To clarify, what I do not respect is the misrepresentation of other people's views or the argument that people who respect the Bible have to agree with you. Wade is not the Bible and trust me, I have the greatest respect for the biblical text, I just interpret it differently. As a classical Arminian if I was to attend Wade's church and he argued what he argued here I would walk out. That isn't loving and it isn't intellectually honest. Read Wesley, Boyd, Olson, etc. All Arminian, all believe in hell, all love Jesus. Our theology is NOT some inferior thing that has no background and is not biblical. Also, if that is the best southern baptists can do I am glad I'm not one.
(Note Boyd is an Open Theist, but disagrees heavily with Calvinism. Therefore he is not a classical arminian, but anyone who reads or listens to him knows he respects the Bible and yet disagrees with Wade.)

Christiane said...

ANONYMOUS,

it's just so much better when Christian people can dialogue with one another in a civil manner

there is a model for diversity in Christianity:
it's called the Holy Trinity

all Christian people draw from the sacred well of the Trinity, and it is there that they receive the holy knowledge that love for one another is more important than any differences they have

try for understanding among your Christian brothers (and sisters)
in spite of your frustration with others' ways of seeing things . . .

don't forget that understanding between Christian people WILL come when they employ the 'fruit' of the Holy Spirit in that quest

perhaps, for now, you may benefit more from trying to understand than to be understood,
until you realize that it is within nurturing the former, that the latter is given birth

it's one of paradoxes I have learned myself

Anonymous said...

Christiane,
I was a Calvinist for most of my life. In fact I was an ARP stripe Calvinist who majored in theology at a Calvinist university and did some work in a Calvinist seminary. I understand. I WILL NOT stand for my beliefs being belittled by people who set themselves up a authorities and who quite obviously do not understand MY beliefs. Why are you such a slave to Wade? Is it possible he is simply wrong this time? The horror. It is Wade in this who is lacking understanding. I think Calvinism is wrong, point blank. As i demonstrated I know the doctrines well. I have trouble seeing the difference between God and Satan in the Calvinist system because I think it necessarily makes him the author of sin. He controls all events in that system, not just allows them. That being said I recognize that NO Calvinist thinks that of God and so I do not typically reveal my belief about that as my way of loving them. Simply because I do understand what they believe and do not want to mischaracterize what they actually believe and to uphold Christian charity. Wade showed no such respect. So I will fight (non-violently of course, I am an anabaptist) against those who feel that they need to diminish and misrepresent others beliefs. Even if the beliefs differ from mine I would fight to prevent misrepresentation. That is the difference. I still believe Wade is a Christian, I still believe he loves God, I still believe he does the best he can to help people and serve God. The reaction from me is so strong because of the respect I used to have for him. He lost the respect when he misrepresented and belittled. That is beneath Christian love and respect. I have no issues with diversity in the body of Christ, which you seem hung up on. My issue is with people misrepresenting other peoples beliefs with the intent to diminish, belittle, or negate their beliefs. Argue against what we Arminians actually believe and not your straw man

Christiane said...

ANONYMOUS

instead of 'arguing', why not just 'talk about it'?

I am Roman Catholic. In my Church, a similar debate has taken place between the Thomists and the Molinists,

it got very heated, that is until everyone was told by the Pope to cut it out,
that they were free to believe anything they wished within the Thomist-Molinist continuum EXCEPT coming to any understandings involving double-predestination, or any understandings that God creates evil directly.

So everyone settled down. And those groups still each have their own perspectives. And they still dialogue. But they have to leave any stones outside the gate, or they are in danger of the sin of breaking the Peace of Christ in the Church.

It IS possible for Christian people with different perspectives to live at peace with one another respectfully. If it can happen in MY Church, I know it is possible elsewhere.



Anonymous said...

Ironically Christiane you are not ALLOWED to believe in Calvinism anyway by way of double predestination. I am willing to "talk about it". Read the post in which I made clear that I do. You are entirely missing my point. I would never have posted anything in the first place if Wade did not MISREPRESENT people's views. I also know about the Molinist debate, so I get it. However, there is no "talking to" people (i.e. Wade) who intentionally misrepresent or denigrate theological beliefs of other people. That is what I'm saying. HE should know better.

Christiane said...

ANONYMOUS, did you forget that we are in this world where we see as through a glass darkly

we will ALL 'know better' in God's time

but for now, a little patience and humility will go a lot farther than anger and frustration, when the waters need calming

and something you may not realize: my Church respects the informed consciences of its members,
but 'double-predestination' is outside of our understanding of Who God is, as revealed to us through the coming of Lord Christ Who is the ultimate revelation of God to mankind

have a good Sunday evening, and thank you for dialoguing with me and sharing your thoughts honestly


Anonymous said...

Christiane
I appreciate your willingness to have a conversation as well. I still think you misunderstand my point, but oh well. Have a good evening

Aussie John said...

Wade,

I always appreciate your articles, which occasionally is unintended bait which brings the "experts" out. Of course everyone would realize that an ex spurt is a drip under pressure:)

In the sixty years since God gifted His saving grace to this most undeserving sinner, I have learned that there is only one saving faith, which has no humanly defined label such as Calvinism, Universalism, or any other ism.

It's not MY faith, YOUR faith or anyone elses faith, it remains His gift,which we ought to treasure rather than hold as a trophy of achievement marked by our knowledge of our particular ism.

I'm thankful that God has assured all who are truly in Him through His Son,via His Apostle Paul's words,
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing;it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."





Anonymous said...

Some of us witness like Arminians, as though it depends on us to persuade as many as possible.

And we pray like Calvinists that God will save them in spite of themselves.

And we hope like universalists that God's calling and election are as effective as the Calvinists teach, and as wide a call as the Arminians believe.

We work, pray, hope, and ultimately trust in God.

Linda

Gerald Polmateer said...

The background of Jn 15:16 "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you" is discipleship and specifically in contrast the way a rabbi chose disciples and how Jesus chose his disciples. In Judaism the disciple wanting to be a rabbi asked to study under the rabbi and then the rabbi chose those he wanted who were the best and brightest. Jesus directly chose those who did not go to rabbi school.

Gary said...

Dear Baptist/evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ,

I ask you to consider these points:

1. When God said that he would preserve his Word, what did he mean? Did he mean that he would preserve the original papyrus and parchment upon which his Word was written? If so, then his Word has disappeared as none of the original manuscripts remain.

Did he mean that he would preserve his word in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek only? He would not preserve his Word when it was translated into all the other languages of the world?

Or did God mean that he would preserve his Word…the message/the words…the Gospel: the free gift of salvation, and the true doctrines of the Christian Faith? Would God allow his Word/his message to mankind to be so polluted by translation errors that no translation, into any other language from the three original languages, continues to convey his true words?

2. There is NO translation of the Bible, from the original ancient languages, into ANY language, ANYWHERE on earth, that translates the Bible as the Baptists/evangelicals believe it should be translated.

No Bible translation on earth translates Acts 2:38 as, “Repent and believe in Jesus Christ every one of you and you will receive the Holy Ghost. Then be baptized as a public profession of your faith.”

Why would God allow EVERY English translation of the Bible throughout history to be mistranslated or use such confusing language as to suggest that God forgives sins in Baptism? And not only all English translations, ALL translations of the Bible have retained these “mistranslations or confusing wording”.

Do you honestly believe that God would allow his Word to be so polluted with translation errors that EVERY Bible in the world, if read in its simple, plain interpretation, would tell the people of the world that God forgives sins in water baptism??

3. Why is there not one single piece of evidence from the early Christians that indicates that ANYONE in the 800-1,000 years after Christ believed that: Water baptism is ONLY a public profession of faith/act of obedience; sins are NOT forgiven in water baptism? Yes, you will find statements by these early Christians that salvation is by faith, but do Baptists and evangelicals really understand how a sinner obtains saving faith? THAT IS THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION, MY FRIENDS! Does the sinner produce faith by his own free will or does God provide faith and belief as a gift, and if God does provide faith and belief as a free gift, with no strings attached, WHEN exactly does God give it?

4. Is it possible that: Baptist-like believers, at some point near or after 1,000 AD, were reading the Bible and came across verses that read “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” and “Call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved” and established their doctrine of Salvation/Justification first, based on these and similar verses alone, and then, looked at the issue of water baptism, and since the idea that God forgives sins in water baptism didn’t seem to fit with the verses just mentioned, these early Baptists re-interpreted these verses to fit with their already established doctrine, instead of believing the “baptism verses” literally?

Is it possible that BOTH groups of verses are literally correct?? If we believe God’s Word literally, he says that he saves/forgives sins when sinners believe/call AND when they are baptized? Why not believe that God can give the free gift of salvation in both situations: when a sinner hears the Gospel and believes and when a sinner is baptized?

Should we re-interpret God’s plain, simple words just because they don’t seem to make sense to us?

God bless you and keep you!
http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2013/06/the-early-church-fathers-believed-in.html

James Jordan said...

"It seems by your comment that you are Jewish."

Not yet, but maybe someday. I'm really fed up with how the concept of the necessity of Jesus' sacrifice coupled with the concept of justification by faith in it, ALWAYS degenerates into Calvinism. Because if its by faith apart from works, then oh my God what if faith becomes a work????? If I get to have faith without being magically zapped first then its my work rather than God's so faith MUST be based on predestination. But oh crap, if predestination is based on anything other than something random, a dice roll or a coin toss, then it would be something I had earned and thus by works! So God must be a cruel sadistic arbitrary monster who elects some randomly to salvation and damns everyone else, or else oh my God people would have to be said to have saved themselves by choosing to believe in Jesus. How could anyone not end up converting to Judaism after years of dealing with this nonsense???

Anonymous said...

James Jordan you better purchase your sacrificial Lamb soon before the sale goes off, or is that Judaism no longer in effect so the Rabbis came up with their own version practiced today because theri Temple hasn't been around since AD70? Speaking of nonsense.

James Jordan said...

"James Jordan you better purchase your sacrificial Lamb soon before the sale goes off,"

Well I think I'd need more than one. :) Except that according to Micah 6 I don't need any. The prophets officially declared the sacrifices unnecessary long before Jesus or the rabbis came along. But I wouldn't except a Calvinists breaking the commands of Calvinism to not post anonymously would have ever read Amos 5 or Isaiah 1, and certainly not Micah 6.

Wade Burleson said...

Matt,

You write: "In your opinion, does it have to be one or the other (Calvinism or Universalism)? Is there not room for an intermediary view (free will) that does not diminish God's sovereignty?"

Of course there is another option. I mentioned it in the last paragraph of my post.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous:

"What is close minded is his argument that it's Calvinism or Universal Reconciliation. THAT is ignorant. What of Wesley? Boyd?"

The post is not about Wesley or Boyd. The post is about George McDonald. For George McDonald, it was either Calvinism or Universalism. I am very aware that others would see things differently.

James Jordan said...

"that does not diminish God's sovereignty?"

The problem is that both sides are accepting the nonsense Calvinist definition of sovereignty. Sovereignty does NOT mean micromanagement. Emperors have always done quite well with their sovereignty while delegating responsibilities to satraps, governors, vassal kings, and so on. Sovereignty does not mean you can't delegate. Sovereignty does not mean doing everything yourself and refusing to allow anyone else to have any freedom.

Anonymous said...

Agree with James Jordan. Calvinists have their own definitions they bring to everything. I know, I was one. God is in charge but not in control of everything. THAT is sovereignty.

Anonymous said...

Wade,
The point is that you AGREED with McDonald and that you are both wrong.

Jennifer said...

"God is in charge but not in control of everything. THAT is sovereignty."

Huh?

Laughing.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer what is funny? Does someone have to contol every detail of everything to be in charge? If a king doesn't make every decision for every person in his kingdom does that mean he isn't in charge of his kingdom ? Seek to understand before ridiculing.

Kristen said...

Wade, you said:

That's like saying to a drowning person, "Listen, I'm jumping into the creek to deliver you, but I am going to limit my ability to grab you because I don't want you to thank that I have crossed a line and done something for you that you can and should do for yourself. I didn't push you into this creek, you jumped into the creek on your own. Therefore, I'm limiting my power to pull you out of the creek so that you can pull yourself out."

I don't think this analogy works very well, because it is based on the assumption that every drowning person wants to be rescued.

I think the analogy were closer if it were, "I'm going to reach out to pull you out of the water, but if you deliberately slap my hands away and insist that I leave you alone, that it's your intention to reject my help and that if I drag you out of the water you're going to jump right back in, then-- your will be done."

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

"I don't think this analogy works very well, because it is based on the assumption that every drowning person wants to be rescued."

I believe it was the Apostle Paul who said, "There is no one who seeks God ... there is no one who does good, no not one. There is no fear of God in anyone's eyes... for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:11, 12, 23).

Sounds like there's not too many people wanting to be spiritually rescued either, right?

Christiane said...

Hi WADE,

just an insight into that verse you quoted:

St. Paul is referencing what is called a particular 'lament' from the Psalms of David, Psalm 14 and from Psalm 53:


"For the leader. Of David.

The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
Their deeds are loathsome and corrupt;
not one does what is good.

2The LORD looks down from heaven
upon the children of men,
To see if even one is wise,
if even one seeks God.

3All have gone astray;
all alike are perverse.
Not one does what is good,
not even one.

4 Will these evildoers never learn?
They devour my people as they devour bread;
they do not call upon the LORD.

5They have good reason, then, to fear;
God is with the company of the just.

6 They would crush the hopes of the poor,
but the poor have the LORD as their refuge."
(from Psalm 14)


Wade, this particular 'lament' (duplicated in Ps 53) depicts the world as consisting of two types of people:

“the fool” (equals the wicked, Ps 14:1–3)

and “the company of the just” (Ps 14:4–6; also called “my people,” and “the poor”).

The wicked persecute the just, but this lament expresses the hope that God will punish the wicked and reward the good.
It makes sense that if St. Paul is also addressing the Gentiles in his teachings, his quotes from David's lament would particularly apply to them.

You may wish to speak to a rabbi about the form of a 'lament' as a literary device used in the OT.

One of the distinguishing marks of interpreting sacred Scripture literally, is that it doesn't always catch the 'nuances' of its poetry, and 'laments' are a part of that poetry.

In this case, we have a theme of King David that repeatedly cries out for the sake of the righteous poor against the persecution done to them at the hands of evil people.

St. Paul, like Christ, often references the Psalms. A serious immersion into the language of Psalms is a great background for understanding some of St. Paul's phrasing, I think.

The other side of the coin is in an O.T. lament, God is often seen on the side of those who are persecuted, who live in righteous poverty, and who wait in patient hope for the coming of their Savior.
That is truly consistent with the great themes of sacred Scripture throughout.

" the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New" (St. Augustine)

Wade Burleson said...

Christiane,

Great thoughts.

I also wanted to thank you for defending my willingness to allow people to disagree and having a spirit of acceptance for everyone.

You get it.

Christiane said...

WADE,
I couldn't let that go by, not after all you've tried to do for others, and after what it has cost you personally.

You don't need 'defending', because you already walk in the light of Christ, where no one may harm you;
but I wanted that person to know that there is more to you as a Christian person that could be respected than any doctrinal disagreement could possibly erase.

I did try, at least.

You are kept in my prayers, as are many in the Southern Baptist community. That is something I can do that helps, I think.

Kristen said...

Wade said:

"Sounds like there's not too many people wanting to be spiritually rescued either, right?"

I like what Christiane said about the source of what Paul was quoting, and what it originally was talking about. But here's the thing. As an Arminian I believe that God must put the desire to be rescued in the human heart. The difference is that I don't believe God makes the desire so overwhelmingly strong that humans have no power to refuse.

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

"As an Arminian I believe that God must put the desire to be rescued in the human heart. The difference is that I don't believe God makes the desire so overwhelmingly strong that humans have no power to refuse."

I think you are misunderstanding what I believe. I never have believed, never have taught, and never have written that any human being does not have the power to refuse.

I have always believed, taught, and written that God's love is so captivating, so alluring, so charming, so dazzling, so enthralling, so mesmerizing, so spellbinding (gospel comes from "good spell"), so magnetizing, so enrapturing, so gripping, so compelling, so hypnotizing, and so absolutely "sweep me off my feet" enamoring that I could not, would not, and must not refuse (though I have the power).

Ever been loved like that?

I have. :)

Anonymous said...

Wade,

I try to understand the situation with regard to God's sovereignty in the world at present in the light of 1John 5:19, " We know... that the whole (sinful) world is under the control of the evil one".

In Ephesian 2: 2-3, and in 6:12 we are also told Satan is the god of this world, and is the mighty prince of the unseen evil hosts of this world.

We know all too well mankind is inclined by nature and choice to follow the dark paths of sin and the broad road that leads to destruction. The Gospel of Christ has been given to turn us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan's kingdom in this world to God's Kingdom of Heaven"(Acts 26:18). Jesus inaugurated God's Kingdom of Heaven in opposition to Satan's kingdom. Our Sovereign now rules already in our hearts by His Spirit, and some day He will take us to glory, where time and space and sin and suffering shall be no more. What a day; what a day that will be !

The Gospel invitation in this present day of grace, calls on ALL sinners to emigrate from Satan's Kingdom, and to put their trust continually in Christ's atonement for their sin. "WHOSOEVER believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life". This means that all people, without distinction or exception, may come in faith to receive forgiveness and a new citizenship. "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive " (1 Cor 15:22). As we all qualify for the penalty of sin, so we are all mercifully being favoured to receive the reprieve in Christ.

While I see the Gospel as being universal in its favours, the Bible teaches that the recipients of salvation are limited. Only those persons who are obedient to God's gracious condition of childlike faith and trust in Jesus Christ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

I can't agree with those who would say that salvation is automatically imparted to everyone, regardless of any faith response. "He that BELIEVES on the Son has everlasting life, and he who believes not the Son shall not see life but the wrath of God stays on him " (John 3:36).


Gordon

Wade Burleson said...

Gordon,

I agree!

afkimel said...

May I respectfully suggest that if one believes in divine sovereignty and irresistible grace, then one logically should be a universalist, given gospel principles. See Oliver Crisp, "Augustinian Universalism," International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (June 2003).

Arminians at least have a reason why they cannot be universalists: God will not violate human freedom. But Calvinists believe in some form of effectual grace and thus believe that God can move someone to free decision for Christ and genuine without any such violation. If God can save all, then he will save all. If he does not, then he is a capricious monster who is responsible for evil and suffering. There just ain't no logical way around that.

Chris F said...

Matt asked "In your opinion, does it have to be one or the other? Is there not room for an intermediary view (free will) that does not diminish God's sovereignty?"

The answer is yes. See Ken Keathley's excellent book "Salvation and Sovereignty" where Dr Keathley posits a Molinist solution to the Calvinist / Arminian dilemma.

James Jordan said...

"Wade, this particular 'lament' (duplicated in Ps 53) depicts the world as consisting of two types of people: 'the fool'...and 'the company of the just'..."

Yes, but Paul's inability to read the Old Testament in context means Christians, so long as they hold Paul to be infallible, must also reject contextual interpretation of the Old Testament. To do otherwise, that is, to interpret the Old Testament properly, is to accuse Paul of error. To anyone who has ever read these Psalms in their entirety, Paul's argument in Romans 3 patching together bits a pieces of Psalms written against ATHEISTS and applying them as if they are about EVERYONE smacks of absolute absurdity. But most Christians don't read the Psalms at all: all their knowledge of these Psalms comes from the bit that Paul quotes out of context.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Burleson,

Does the analogy of "not loving your spouse, like I love my own" still hold if "not loving your spouse" means allowing them to burn forever in hell? I certainly mean no rudeness in this question. I find myself in a reform church at the moment and really can't make heads or tails of it at the moment.

Are you an annihilationist?

Leslie M

Wade Burleson said...

Leslie,

I am not an annihilationist, but I understand the arguments and respect those who are. "Burn in hell" is a statement I don't find biblical. Hell is dark. Hell is abandonment. God's fire does not consume, so there is no burning.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
I believe there are ‘degrees’ in hell—darkness for some—fire for others. You’re right that God’s fire does not consume (people wish they could die) but they will feel pain.

“…be thrown into hell where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out.” (Luke 9:47-48 NLT) If maggots were eating you, would you feel pain—the same with fire?

“…Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.” (Luke 16:24 NLT)

"And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." (Revelation 19:20)

"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (Revelation 20:10)

"Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:14-15)

"But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)

Anonymous said...

Wade,

I have lots of fun showing my grand children the pictures in my Magic Eye book. All they can see at first is a pattern of squiggles, until their gazing eyes become attuned and focused on the page . Suddenly the picture opens up with great depth, revealing animals, flowers, fish, etc , which they had not seen before. Amazing !

Jesus, Paul and other Apostle tell us God has revealed Himself at sundry times and in diverse manners in time past,but in these last days has spoken to us through Jesus Christ. The Patriarchs, Moses, David and all the Prophets were essentially speaking of Jesus, the Messiah who was to come to redeem His people. It is amazing what can seen when the eyes have been opened .

People will see more clearly what the Old Testament teaches if they would turn the telescope around and look through the lens of the New Covenant scriptures, as it is intended to be done. The visibility is poor and incomplete if we only see the first and lower level of OT interpretation.

Gordon

James Jordan said...

"God's fire does not consume, so there is no burning." (Wade)

Psalm 37:20 "But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away."

Its so important the Psalmist says it twice in a row.

Gary said...

Can you really trust your English Bible to be God’s true Word?

Have you ever had an evangelical or Reformed Christian say this to you:

“THAT passage of the Bible, in the original Greek, does NOT mean what the simple, plain reading of the passage seems to say in English.”

It happens to me all the time in my conversations with Baptists, evangelicals, and fundamentalists on my blog. They state: “Repent and be baptized…for the forgiveness of sins” was mistranslated. “This is my body…this is my blood” is a metaphorical expression, “Baptism does now save us” is figurative speech for what happens to us spiritually when we ask Christ into our hearts.

What they are basically saying is that unless you speak ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek…you can’t read and really understand the Bible without the help of an educated Churchman!

This morning I came across an excellent article on this subject, written by Jordan Cooper, a Lutheran pastor. I am going to give the link to his article below. I have copied a couple of his statements here:

“So here is a question that we all need to ask ourselves when doing this (refusing to accept the simple, plain, English translation of a passage of Scripture): If a verse seems to disprove your theological beliefs, and you translate it in some way that doesn’t fit with any of the dozens of major English translations of the Bible, and that unique translation just happens to fit your own theological biases, could it be that it is in fact you who are in the wrong? Could you be reading your own preconceived theological convictions back into the text?”

” I know it can be frustrating when you are constantly told that Scripture can’t be understood unless you learn (an ancient) language or read ancient documents that you don’t have either the time or the energy to study. Honestly, if you have a few good English translations at your side, and you take the time to compare them to one another, you have all the tools you need to understand the meaning of the Bible.

Link to Pastor Cooper’s original article:

http://justandsinner.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-wrong-use-of-biblical-languages.html

James Jordan said...

You have a good point Gary. However, on "this is my blood" that has nothing to do with translation, but common sense. Of course its only metaphor. Drinking blood is against the Law. Or is that the point of Christianity even having this ritual, to prevent Jews from converting? Yes, I think Paul added this ritual (Jesus didn't establish the Eucharist despite the gospels saying so) because Paul wanted to stop Jews from converting, and saying "Let's drink Jesus blood now!" was a good way to stop Jews from converting.

Anonymous said...

I agree with this. I feel that those who believe in Universal love of God, free will, and wrath toward the unrepentant, are the excluded middle of Christianity.

Chris

Anonymous said...

Well put. And while I'm hopeful that those who hold these beliefs will start being represented a little more in the blogosphere, I do really enjoy your writing Wade!

Your egalitarian, semi Molinist sister,

Chris

Jerry said...

A superb article. Just tweeted it. Thank you!