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High Holy Days

September 18, 2009

 

This evening at sundown begins the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, or the Feast of Trumpets. It is traditionally a time of celebration and prayers for the coming year, and a time of repentance through the next ten days leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The realizations of God’s judgment and of atonement are strong through these days. As believers in Christ, we are thankful for God’s provision of His Son and His forgiveness of all the sins of His people. 

One tradition many Jews hold to on Rosh Hashanah is casting pieces of bread, or pebbles, etc., into naturally flowing water. This is symbolic of the casting off of sin, and originally based on the concept of God graciously taking our sins away such that they are gone forever. The use of water is based on the passage from Micah 7,

“Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

These days are yet another great opportunity to reflect on our spiritual status, to consider where we have failed in sin and to repent, and also to praise Him for the blessings and victories He has given us.

Though the waters ahead are as yet uncharted by us, we press on with sober resolve to walk closer to the Lord, who knows all and holds all things in His sovereign, mighty, blessed hands.

Happy New Year.  Grace and peace to you.

the second most views = the most recommended post

June 10, 2009

For quite a while now, WordPress has recorded 499 views for a post I wrote titled, “A Must-Hear Sermon on the Doctrine of Election” (the number of views for this post have only been surpassed by “Jerry Vines Preaches John 3:16 Sermon at SBTS,” mentioned yesterday).

“A Must-Hear Sermon on the Doctrine of Election” is the post from Strange BaptistFire that I would most recommend to readers of this site, not because of anything that I wrote in that post, but because of the sermon linked at the end of the post: a sermon on Romans 8:26-9:6a by Dr. Russell Moore. I hope that anyone who has not yet done so will follow the link above and will benefit from Dr. Moore’s teaching.

Why the most views?

June 9, 2009

The post on this site that has had the most views is “Jerry Vines Preaches John 3:16 Sermon at SBTS.” This has been the case for a while now, and more views are recorded for this post all the time.

I can’t figure out why this should be the case; as far as I can tell, no high-trafficking blog has linked this post, and the post does not rate high on Google searches for “Jerry Vines,” “John 3:16,” “SBTS,” etc. Furthermore, there is nothing controversial in this post and no lengthy comment thread under the post.

Anyone have any ideas why this particular post should get so many views?
Please leave your thoughts below.

Response on Pyromaniacs to the Blackaby Denial of Sola Scriptura

April 6, 2009

As most readers are probably aware, on Thursday and Friday of last week Dan Phillips of the Pyromaniacs blog began posting a response to Henry and Richard Blackaby’s chapter in How Then Should We Choose? Three Views on God’s Will and Decision Making. This is important to Strange BaptistFire readers because the view presented by the Blackabys in How Then Should We Choose? is the same view presented in Experiencing God, which has been profoundly influential in Southern Baptist circles.

One implication for Southern Baptists of the Blackaby view of extra-biblical special revelation is indicated in Phil Johnson’s following comment on Dan Phillip’s first post:

One thing I don’t understand is why someone who accepts Blackaby’s approach to divine guidance wouldn’t simply apply Balckaby’s [sic] arguments on a wider scale and become a REAL charismatic.

On the other hand, perhaps that is the whole point: Blackaby has found a way to let Southern Baptists have Charismatic mysticism without glossolalia. This way the SBC loses fewer people to the Assemblies of God and the Vineyard.

Read “Non Sola Scriptura- the Blackaby view of God’s will:”
Part 1
Part 2

I also encourage readers to view an old Pyromaniac post on a related topic HERE.

In reading the posts linked above, I would ask readers familiar with the Blackaby view to consider questions such as the following:

1. Should Christians today expect to receive a specific word from God apart from the Word of God (the Bible)?
2. Should Christians today look to the biblical accounts of how God appeared to the prophets and the apostles as examples of how we should expect God to appear to us?
3. If Christians receive a specific word from God apart from the Word of God is this other word inerrant and infallible? (Related: Can God, who cannot lie, even speak in a way that it subject to error or failing?)
4. If a Christian does believe that he or she has received a specific word from God apart from the Word of God, does that Christian sin if he or she does not obey this other Word?

Support the Africa Center for Apologetics Research

April 2, 2009

John Divito, a graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who formerly managed a blog called the Reformed Baptist Thinker, is working to begin a ministry to confront and evangelize cult members and those influenced by them in East Africa. John and his family plan to move to Uganda where John will teach apologetics at Kampala Evangelical School of Theology; from there, John will direct the Africa Center for Apologetics Research, providing training and resources to ministers throughout East Africa. [Learn more about the Africa Center for Apologetics Research at the AC|FAR website and blog.]

Anyone who has been interested in the material posted on Strange BaptistFire.com should be all the more interested in supporting the work of AC|FAR for at least two reasons:

1. The cause of Truth. At Strange BaptistFire we have been primarily focused on responding to attacks on the Doctrines of Grace, commonly called Calvinism, within Baptist circles. This is because we believe that the Doctrines of Grace are clearly taught in Scripture and that deviating from these doctrines can lead into grave error; indeed, if left unchecked, departures from the Doctrines of Grace may lead to a repudiation of key gospel truths, as seen throughout history since the Reformation.

Most of the doctrinal controversies we have addressed, however, do not involve heresy versus orthodoxy. In other words, while I believe that the speakers at the John 3:16 Conference (for example) are incorrect in their views (and, in many cases, dangerously so), I would not label them “heretics.”

On the other hand, AC|FAR will be addressing heretical movements which are actively spreading anti-gospel lies throughout East Africa. These movements are a real threat to evangelism in this region. As hard as it is to reach people with the gospel when they have been raised in an Islamic or animistic culture, it is much harder to reach them when they have already been won over to a “Christian gospel” that actually distorts key doctrines of the Christian faith. We who love the Truth should be eager to support a work that seeks to respond to heresies and to proclaim the truth of the gospel to those who have been caught in a web of lies.

2. The opportunity to support a Reformed Baptist missionary. Those of us who have been convinced of a Reformed (or Calvinistic) view regarding soteriology are well aware of the charge from anti-Calvinists that Calvinism is a detriment to evangelism and missions. Whereas we can respond to such critics through an appeal to history or theology, the more effective response is to become ever more diligent in personal involvement with evangelism and missions. We can become daily involved in such efforts at our workplaces, but we must also look to God’s work overseas in spreading His kingdom throughout the earth. If we are not able to go overseas ourselves, we must look for ways to support others in world evangelism.

And so I urge readers to prayerfully consider supporting John Divito and the work of AC|FAR. You can donate to this ministry HERE.

FORGET EVERYTHING ELSE ON THIS BLOG; WE’VE ALL BECOME ARMINIAN!

April 1, 2009

(Happy April Fools’ Day.)

A Response to Dr. John Compton’s “What is Calvinism?” : 1a. Total Depravity

October 27, 2008

[Introduction]

1. Dr. Compton’s Definition of Calvinism
In defining Calvinism, Dr. Compton reviews the traditional five points of doctrine summarized in the acronym TULIP: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints. Though more could be written, I would like to draw readers’ attention to Compton’s presentation of two of these points in particular, namely: a. Total depravity, and b. Irresistible grace.

a. Total depravity
Compton explains the doctrine of total depravity with the following statement:
“[Total depravity is] the total destruction of God’s image in a human being, so that they are rendered incapable of responding to God.”
A major problem with this explanation is that when Calvinists define the effect of Man’s Fall into sin, we consistently and explicitly deny that this Fall totally destroyed God’s image in human beings. To illustrate this point, I direct readers to two sources that are very influential among Calvinistic Baptists: i. James P. Boyce’s Abstract of Systematic Theology, and ii. Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology.

i. That the image of God within Man was not totally destroyed by the Fall, according to James P. Boyce
That James P. Boyce, the first president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, held to the Bible doctrines commonly known as Calvinism may be demonstrated through his teaching on Limited atonement [see especially pages 339-340 of James P. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2006)]. Boyce taught Total depravity (referring to this doctrine as “total corruption” [Abstract, 245]), writing that, “This corruption [brought about by Adam’s Fall into sin] extends to every affection of the heart and mind” [Abstract, 243]. Yet Boyce was clear in his denial that God’s image was totally destroyed in the Fall, writing, “That the whole image was not destroyed by the sin of Adam, appears from the fact that man is spoken of as in that image subsequent to the fall and before the renewal. See Gen. 9:6; James 3:9; 1 Cor. 11:7″ [Abstract, 214].

ii. That the image of God within Man was not totally destroyed by the Fall, according to Wayne Grudem
Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology is used in seminaries across the U.S. Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, has an endorsement for this book on the back cover of the 2000 edition. Grudem’s “Calvinism” can be demonstrated in his teaching on Limited atonement, in which Grudem writes, “In conclusion, it seems to me that the Reformed position of ‘particular redemption’ [the term for this doctrine that most Calvinists, including myself, prefer over ‘Limited atonement’- Andrew] is most consistent with the overall teaching of Scripture” [Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000. 600). In discussing the “Calvinism” of both Grudem and Boyce, I have turned to their teaching on the doctrine of Limited atonement, because this doctrine is the most apparently controversial of the “five points,” and adherence to this doctrine indicates adherence to the other “points,” almost without exception.] In a section of his work titled, “The Fall: God’s Image Is Distorted but Not Lost,” Grudem explicitly affirms that Man remains in God’s image after the Fall, even as he affirms the doctrine of Total depravity [Systematic Theology, 444].

Conclusion
When Dr. Compton claims that the doctrine of Total depravity indicates the total destruction of God’s image within a human being, he is incorrect according to how Calvinists themselves define this doctrine. The only way in which Dr. Compton’s definition could be vindicated is if he were to argue that the ability to make moral choices apart from the overwhelming influence of sin (an ability that has been lost in the Fall, according to the doctrine of Total depravity) is fundamental to what it means for Man to be made in God’s image, and thus the idea that God’s image is totally destroyed would be implicit within Total depravity, even as Calvinists explicitly teach that this image remains. Apart from this hypothetical argument, however (and Dr. Compton certainly makes no such argument in his presentation, but rather seems to imply that he is defining Total depravity as Calvinists themselves would define it), Dr. Compton’s statement is simply false, it should be either amended or retracted by Dr. Compton, and should not be repeated by anyone who is trying to give an accurate representation concerning what Calvinists teach about Total depravity.

-Andrew Lindsey


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