Thursday, June 30, 2011

Refutation of Racial Discrimination, and indirectly Kinism

The Bible in no way supports racism of any kind, and does not state that one skin colour in inferior or superior to any other. All races are equal in the eyes of the Lord, seen clearly by the fact that He has elected people from all nations.

The Image of God
God created both man and woman in the image of God (Genesis 1: 26-28), from whom the entire human race descends (Genesis 3:20). James 3:9 states that all men remained in the image of God, although a fallen version. All people, black and white descend from one gene pool with a common forefather. Modern science supports these verses, as research has proven that 99.9% of all peoples DNA is identical.

Genesis 41:50 states that Joseph, who was Semitic, married Asenath who was an Egyptian woman. Numbers 12:1 states that Moses married a Cushite woman from the area now Ethiopia and Sudan. Furthermore, God punished Aaron and Miriam for criticising this inter-racial marriage. Both are occasions where a Christian married an African, if Africans could not be Christians, God would have supported a marriage between a believer and a non-believer.

Scripture states that Christians are only to marry Christians (1 Corinthians 7:39, 2 Corinthians 6: 14-18). Scripture states that marriage must be strait, not to certain relatives and to another believer. Race plays no part in God's marital laws.

Worldwide Election
In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19), Jesus commanded His disciples to 'make disciples of all nations'. If a continent of unelected people existed, Jesus would have lied in saying 'all nations'.

In Galatians 3:28 Paul affirmed worldwide racial equality by saying ''There is neither Jew nor Greek... for you are all one in Christ Jesus.". Similarly, Ephesians 3:6 states that 'the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.' In essence, both verses state that racial differences are not a factor in salvation.

Revelation 7: 9-10 speaks of those saved consisting of ''a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages". People from all nations and all peoples will be saved; Jews and Gentiles, Black people and white people, etc.

All nations and races are equal in the eyes of the Lord, people from all races and nations will be saved, and the Bible does not endorse racism. People should imitate God, and not think less of others due to genetic or racial factors.

(C), J. Williams, 2010.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Protestantism and Roman Catholicism: Part 2 of 3

1)      An Introduction
This is only a very brief comparison of Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. Importantly, Christianity is NOT a coin with two legitimate sides to one common faith. The disagreements between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are not peripheral - rather they encompass the crux of the gospel. Stated bluntly, Roman Catholics believe that Protestants are unregenerate, while Protestants believe that Roman Catholics are unregenerate. In light of Galatians 1:8-9, Protestants are right (c.f. Ephesians 2:8-9)
When I refer to Protestantism, I use the creeds of the Reformation as the standard; for example, while many Protestants reject infant baptism, the Reformation creeds affirm it; therefore, it is the stance of Protestantism. For Roman Catholicism, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Council of Trent are the standards I used. A denial of a more minor aspect of Protestantism does NOT deem someone unregenerate. I denote which teachings are damnable.
2)      Ecclesiology
It may seem tedious initially, but I must start with ecclesiology. Roman Catholics CLAIM that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church founded by Jesus Christ with the Apostle Paul being given “the keys to the kingdom”. Roman Catholics believe Peter was the first Pope and by Divine Institution a succession of Popes will have authority over the entire church until the return of Christ[i]. Protestants reject the Papacy, which to us has no more validity than the hierarchy of the Taliban.
Catholics and Protestants have DIFFERENT definitions of ‘church’. While Roman Catholics define the church as the visible church of Rome worldwide, Protestants distinguish between the visible church and the invisible church. The visible church is the community of those who profess faith and their children, while the invisible church refers to all of God’s elect (every person chosen by God before the foundation of the world across all time) or the worldwide totality of those who currently believe. However, the visible and invisible church are not two separate churches, but two aspects of the one church of Jesus Christ.
I will evaluate two verses on this topic:

1 John 2:19-20 states “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know”.
John is discussing people who seemed to genuinely profess faith, but then ceased fellowship. John remarks that “they were not really of us” – that is they were never genuine members of the invisible church: they never believed and were never In Christ: they were members of the visible church, but never members of the invisible church.
These people were never true Christians, as true Christians cannot apostatize “if they had been of us, they would have remained with us”; their departure from the visible church empirically proved that they were never true Christians “they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us”. The true church is not only visible but internally SPIRITUAL, as the Holy Spirit is what secures true believers against apostasy “But you have an anointing from the Holy One”.
Romans 9:6 states “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel”.
Paul differentiated between the invisible and visible church in the context of explaining why the majority of the Old Covenant Jews rejected Christ. In the broader context, “the ordo salutis” of Romans 8:29-30 “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” notes that salvation is completely of the Lord: God ALONE predestines, efficaciously calls, justifies and glorifies those exact people He foreknows. The Greek word for foreknew means “to know beforehand" "fore-love" or "fore-appoint"; in Romans 8, Paul is saying the salvation of believers is rooted in God’s eternal, electing love “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
In Romans 9 Paul answers the question “How can the apostasy of Jews be explained if election is rooted in the eternal love of God?” The Old Covenant Jews partook in the sacraments (circumcision and Passover), and even lived in a theocracy, but Paul explains that the nationalistic Israel is not the TRUE SPIRITUAL Israel whom Paul is talking about in Romans 8, and later in Romans 9; it is the TRUE SPIRITUAL ISRAEL to whom God’s electing love is directed. Nationalistic Israel was the visible church, most of whom did not enter the Promised Land because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:19), but within nationalistic Israel, there was the true Israel: the invisible church, just as within our visible congregations, there is a mixture of non-believers (visible church) and the believers (the True Spiritual Israel).
The Invisible Church is ‘Abraham’s seed’ (Gal 3:26-29) and ‘the Israel of God’ (Gal 6:16); both Jews and Gentiles scattered worldwide (remember that the covenant promises to Abraham included children, in an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:1-14), and under the theocracy of Israel, infants were likewise circumcised). “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit”. Romans 2:28-29, clearly distinguishes between the outward visible church (who partake in the sacrament of circumcision[ii]) and the inward invisible church (who are circumcised inwardly by the Holy Spirit).
Jacob and Esau were twin brothers, born at the same time, to the same parents in the same location: they were “womb mates” (thanks R.C. Sproul). Although both womb mates were circumcised as they belonged to the visible church, Esau was NOT part of the invisible church. In Romans 9:13 God said “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated”: a person does not belong to the true Spiritual Israel because of flesh/nationality (verse 8), a person belongs because of "God's purpose according to His choice... because of Him who calls" (verse 11). 
Scripture distinguishes between the visible church and the invisible church; the true church is not an organisation, but a royal priesthood consisting of God’s chosen people: 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION”.
In part one (my previous post), I showed how the Roman Catholic ecclesiology is illogical (with a lot of illogical satire). Here in part two, I provided an exegesis of key Biblical passages to prove Protestant ecclesiology is Biblical, which will provide the avenue for me to in part three conclude this series by Biblically detailing "The Five Solas of the Reformation"

(C), J. Williams, June 2011

[i] Roman Catholics, like Historic Protestants (me) believe in amillennialism. This includes the belief that there will be one coming of Christ, NOT two comings separated by a literal millennial kingdom.
[ii] Circumcision was replaced with baptism as the sign and seal of God’s covenant promise (see Acts 2). Circumcision was a bloody sacrament whereas baptism is a no-bloody sacrament.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Having trouble commenting on blogger?

The question: Many people have recently asked me "Why am I unable to comment on blog posts?".

The problem: Blogger automatically logs you out off when you leave your dashboard.

The Solution: Before you log into blogger, ensure the box "keep my signed in" is not ticked. This will allow you to comment as you please!

God's Holiness, Man's Sinfulness

In recent eschatological debates, three things stand out, the common denominator being an anthropocentric worldview. These are interpretating Scripture by humanistic standards rather than by God’s perfect standards, and consequent failures to recognise the severity of sin and the absolute holiness of God. I address these below.

1)      God’s Standard, not man’s.

Yes, there will be people spending eternity in hell: universalism (everyone will be saved) was condemned as heresy by the Council of Constantinople (533). Case Closed. Is this topic emotive? Yes; in fact, the idea of “A Christian who is indifferent to Christ saving them from hell” is rather oxymoronic.

However, human emotions are not God’s standards. If you believe what you like about God and reject what you dislike about God, are you actually believing God or yourself? As Isaiah 55:9 states “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts”. We must with meek docility embrace whatever God reveals about Himself in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16); nothing more, nothing less (1 Corinthians 4:6). God’s standard of justice is what the Bible states God’s standard of justice is: not what we would like it to be. Thankfully, the standards and thoughts of an infinitly wise God are infinitely higher than ours.

'Disliked' Bible verses such as Psalm 11:5, Proverbs 16:4 or Isaiah 45:7 are to be believed, not suppressed. The Bible stresses the creator-creation distinction from Genesis 1:1: humans are utterly dependant on our Sovereign, self-sufficient, creator God for our very existence; we are commanded to submit to His decrees and commands, and are never permitted to question Him or Scripture. Man is accountable to omnipotent God: God is not accountable to sinful man. “No one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Daniel 4:35)

In Romans 9:22, Paul reminds objectors to double predestination of this: “On the contrary, Who are you, O man, who answers back to God?” I am stressing the biblical axiom to “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar” (Romans 3:4). We are not permitted to answer back to God, “He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth” (Daniel 4:35). A personal dislike for a doctrine is irrelevant as God is God and we are His creations. In Ephesians 1, Paul does not emotionally object to predestination: he praises God for it and rejoices in it! We are commanded to believe God as He reveals Himself through Scripture, not according to our fallible emotions and standards, regardless of the topic of discussion, in this instance hell.

2)      The Severity of Sin and the Holiness of God

Consequential to faliure to submit to God's standards is faluire to recongise the severity of sin and the holiness of God. After the fall, God revealed as decreed before creation that He would send His Son to willingly save His people (2 Timothy 1:9). But briefly suppose a different scenario. Suppose that after the fall, God said “I said eating from the tree would be punished by everlasting death. You ate from the tree, therefore you will have everlasting death” (Genesis 2:17). If God did not decree to provide a way of salvation, on what ground could anyone call God unfair? None - hell is what our sins justly deserve (Romans 6:23).

We cannot belittle sin; we must recognise it as cosmic treason that deserves eternal punishment by an eternally holy God. God does not owe mankind anything; if something intrinsic to man obligated Christ to die on the cross, there would be no gospel of grace. That hell is what man deserves since the fall on account of personal performance is what universalism ignores: it ignores the severity of sin “If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? (Psalm 130:3) and destroys the holiness of God “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD” (Isaiah 6:3). God caanot pardon any sinner without receiving due satisfaction through the penalty for sin being fully paid, as a Holy and Righteous God cannot overlook sin, but must justly react against it. (Exodus 23:7, Numbers 14:18, 1 John 1:5).

Universalists have it around the wrong way; A holy God sending people to hell is not unjust, but for a holy God NOT to punish sin with everlasting death would be unjust! As “All His ways are just” (Deuteronomy 32:4), a just and holy God must punish every sinner as they deseve; we are either justified by faith on the ground of Christ's perfect righteousness, or condemned for unbelief and sin on the ground of our utter unrighteousness.

3)      Sola Christus

On Sola Christus (English: Christ Alone) universalism stands diametrically opposed to the gospel. Firstly on a practical level, if everyone goes to heaven regardless of whether or not they believe Christ and Him crucified, then evangelism is a complete waste of time.

Attacking the crux of the gospel, if everyone is saved regardless of whether or not they believe Christ and Him crucified, then there would be more than one way to be saved, contracting Acts 4:12. If there is more than one way to be saved, then Christ died for no reason as salvation could be attained outside of Christ, contradicting Galatians 2:21 (c.f. 1:8-9). The Bible says that salvation is by God's grace alone wherein he declares us righteous only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, received by faith alone. (John 14:6, Ephesians 1:7, 2:8-9).

4)      Dealing with some final objections:

a)      How can a loving God send people to hell? That question wrongly makes God’s attribute of love (wrongly using man’s, not God’s definition of love) superior to all His other attributes. God’s justice means salvation is impossible apart from Christ. If God’s is not just, His standards and love are arbitrary. Also, who do Psalm 5:5, 11:5; Romans 9:13, Ephesians 1:4-5 say are and are not the objects of God’s love? Be careful not to reject common grace though (Matthew 5:43-48).

b)      How could God punish men eternally for sins committed during a finite time on earth? That question wrongly presupposes that sinners will cease sinning upon entering hell. The opposite is true: those in hell will continue to sin for eternity (Pr. 1:24-31, Rev. 9:20-21, 16:9-11). Regardless, as no person is eternally perfect or Divine (Heb. 2:17, 4:15), payment for their earthly sins is impossible anyway.

c)       (1) God will accomplish all his purpose (2) He decreed to save everyone. Therefore won’t everyone be saved? If premises (1) and (2) are both correct, then the conclusion is true; otherwise God fails. However, while premise 1 is true of God's decree (Isaiah 46:9-11, Job 23:13, Psalm 135:6), premise 2 is false of God's decree (Proverbs 16:4, Romans 9:22). However, we must be careful not to confuse God's decreetive will (What God ordains) with His preceptive will (what God commands). God by precept desires the repentance of all people in the later sense (the obedience of his creation).
d)      Do those who never hear the gospel go to hell? Yes, No one is saved outside of Christ (John 14:6). If those who never hear the gospel are saved, then evangelism is the worst thing a Christian could do. They are condemned ‘without excuse’ on account of their sins (Romans 2:14-15) and for rejecting ‘God’s eternal power and divine nature’ clearly revealed to them in creation (Romans 1:18-20). They are condemned for their sins and unbelief.

5)      Conclusion:

The historic doctrine of hell is true: not universalism. If there are not literal people who will literally spend eternity in a literal hell, then there cannot literal people who will literally spend eternity in a literal heaven either. (Daniel 12:2, Matthew 25:46). Anyone whose name is not written in the book will be in hell “forever and ever” (Rev. 20:11-15). This is God’s justice, by His perfect standard! We cannot neglect the wretched character of man, or any attribute of God.

(C) J. Williams, 2011.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The 10 Step Guide to Defeating the Cult of Calvin **sarcasm**

1)      Ensure that you bring up John Calvin as soon as possible. It is a great idea to get the audience on your side early, and what better way than accusing the opposition of “worshipping a man”. Bring up John Calvin before the Calvinist does. The debate becomes too theological if the Calvinist quotes Calvin theologically.

2)      Remember to... filter all of God’s attributes through His attribute of love. Keep the other attributes of God a secret. Remember to never let the Bible dictate your definition of God’s love: Christians can certainly learn a lot about love form Brangelina. Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins” will help you here.

3)      When the Calvinist posts Bible verses, don’t fret… yet. Sometimes silence is good, therefore there can be nothing wrong with arguing from silence. If a verse makes you feel uneasy, it does not have to be true for you. “Doctrine divides” is a good slogan here: the alliteration makes it catchy too, which makes Christianity “hip and happening”.

4)      When occasions arise where the Holy Spirit used the wrong word, make sure you make this known. For example, Paul really meant “post-destination” rather than “predestination”, and “called” actually means that God shouted out and pleaded.  To avoid these words, it can be handy to pick up a children’s Bible or a paraphrase. Too much effort to flip the pages? Your personal experience will do fine!

5)      Always argue from emotion, try to avoid the Bible – even though “free will is all over the Bible”. After all we are to love God with our “…heart…”. “That wouldn’t be just”; “God would not predestine innocent babies to hell” and “God is not a tyrant” are some good lines for the modern man. They would bring a tear to Joel Osteen’s eye.

6)      Never study Genevan Politics. A wise man once said “what you don’t know can’t harm you”. If you make the error of studying Genevan Politics, it will be at your own peril. You will soon discover that John Calvin did not have the authority to order the execution of Servetus. Nonetheless, “Calvin is a murderer” is our best defence: ad hominen, guilt by association, ad nauseam and red herring in four words. Nice! Use this point as much as possible.

7)      Remember “no Bible student goes anywhere without a pen”. No! Not to take notes! Some parts of the Bible are quite confronting. The permanent marker works wonders in crossing out passages that you don’t like or cannot twist to refer to nationalistic Israel. With the strike of a pen you too can remove John 1:12-13 and Ephesians 2:8-9 from your Bible!

8)       It uses a lot of ink to remove whole chapters from Scripture such as John 6, Ephesians 1 and Romans 9. It is best to glue these pages together, or insert corrections: “I will draw all men to myself” clarifies John 6, and the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts forgot to add “just kidding” after “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated”.

9)      Remember to quote Dave Hunt. Let me correct that: never partake in an argument that does not quote Dave Hunt. This gives more ammunition to our emotional reasoning. When the Calvinist replies with verses, or by using the ‘c word’ (context) you must remember to keep accusing the Calvinist of worshipping men, despite the fact they have not yet quoted any.

10)   By this stage the Calvinist is becoming way too doctrinal. They are even using logic! Venomously defend the fact that “every person without exception from Judea and Jerusalem was baptised in Jordan”…I mean “that Christ died for all the sins of all people without exception: including unbelief”. Do not take no…I mean context for an answer! Always remember to finish with “well I guess God predestined me to oppose the cult of Calvin”. If the Calvinist replies with any more verses, keep repeating John 3:16!

(C), J. Williams, 2011.