Calvinism Is Not An Obscure Species of Christian Theism- It Is Christianity

Speaking paraphrastically is often done in an attempt to clarify. Unfortunately, what happens many times is that the object of discourse becomes an unfocused target. Often used by magicians, bright lights and flashes cause vision problems making prestidigitation easier. Rather than the lighting making the object clearer, it actually blurs.

Machen’s years at Princeton were the two decades which are known for the ongoing modernist-fundamentalist controversy. We will see Machen’s distinctive response to Modernism if we contrast it with what was known most widely as fundamentalism. In the process of defining his response the meaning of Modernism will become clear.
He was seen as an ally by the fundamentalists; and his ecclesiastical opponents like to make him “guilty” by association with them. But he did not accept the term for himself.
In one sense fundamentalists were simply those who “[singled] out certain great facts and doctrines [i.e., Fundamentals] that had come under particular attack, [and] were concerned to emphasize their truth and to defend them” (see note 18). But there was more attached to the term than that. And Machen didn’t like that. He said,

Do you suppose that I do regret my being called by a term that I greatly dislike, a “Fundamentalist”? Most certainly I do. But in the presence of a great common foe, I have little time to be attacking my brethren who stand with me in defense of the Word of God (see note 19).

What he didn’t like was

1) the absence of historical perspective;
2) the lack of appreciation of scholarship;
3) the substitution of brief, skeletal creeds for the historic confessions;
4) the lack of concern with precise formulation of Christian doctrine;
5) the pietistic, perfectionist tendencies (i.e., hang ups with smoking (see note 20), etc.);
6) one-sided other-worldliness (i.e., a lack of effort to transform culture); and
7) a penchant for futuristic chiliasm (or: pre-millenialism).

Machen was on the other side on all these things. And so “he never spoke of himself as a Fundamentalist” (see note 21).

But none of those issues goes to the heart of why he did not see himself as a Fundamentalist. The issue is deeper and broader and gets at the root of how he fought Modernism. The deepest difference goes back to Machen’s profound indebtedness to Benjamin Warfield who died February 16, 1921. Machen wrote to his mother, “With all his glaring faults he was the greatest man I have ever known” (see note 22).

In 1909 at the 400th anniversary of Jon Calvin’s birth Warfield gave an address that stirred Machen to the depths. Warfield made plea that the Reformed Faith—Calvinism—is not a species of Christian theism alongside others, but IS Christianity come to full flower.

Calvinism is not a specific variety of theistic thought, religious experience, [or] evangelical faith; but just the perfect manifestation of these things. The difference between it and other forms of theism, religion, [and] evangelicalism is difference not of kind but of degree … it does not take its position then by the side of other types of things; it takes its place over all else that claims to be these things, as embodying all that they ought to be (see note 23).

So he says Lutheranism is “its sister type of Protestantism” and Arminianism is “its own rebellious daughter” (see note 24). Calvinism’s grasp of the supremacy of God in all of life enabled Machen to see that other forms of evangelicalism were all stages of grasping God which are yet in process of coming to a full and pure appreciation of his total God-centeredness.

What this came to mean for Machen was that his mission in defense of super naturalistic Calvinism was nothing more or less than the defense of the Christian faith in its purest form. So his biggest problem with the term fundamentalist was that, it seems to suggest that we are adherents of some strange new sect, whereas in point of fact we are conscious simply of maintaining the historic Christian faith and of moving in the great central current of Christian life (see note 25).

He was invited to the presidency of Bryan Memorial University in 1927 —a move that would have aligned him with fundamentalism outside the Reformed tradition. He answered like this:

Thoroughly consistent Christianity, to my mind, is found only in the Reformed or Calvinist Faith; and consistent Christianity, I think, is the Christianity easiest to defend. Hence I never call myself a “Fundamentalist” … What I prefer to call myself is not a “Fundamentalist” but a “Calvinist” —that is, an adherent of the Reformed Faith. As such I regard myself as standing in the great central current of the Church’s life—the current that flows down form the Word of God through Augustine and Calvin, and which has found noteworthy expression in America in the great tradition represented by Charles Hodge and Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield and the other representatives of the “Princeton School” (see note 26).

So Machen moved in a different world from most Fundamentalists. And when he took on Modernism he took it on as a challenge to the whole of Reformed Christianity. His most important book in the debate was Christianity and Liberalism, published in 1923.

The title almost says it all: Liberalism is not vying with Fundamentalism as a species of Christianity. The book is not entitled Fundamentalism and Liberalism. Instead Liberalism is vying with Christianity as a separate religion. He wrote the blurb for the book:

Liberalism on the one hand and the religion of the historic church on the other are not two varieties of the same religion, but two distinct religions proceeding from altogether separate roots (see note 27).
Stonehouse tells us that Machen’s only regret is that he had not used the term “Modernism” rather than “liberalism” in the book, since the word “liberalism” seemed to give too much credit to the phenomenon (see note 28). The words refer in Machen’s vocabulary to the same thing.
Now what was that?

Here again Machen did not move quickly with the Fundamentalists to show that the modernists were people who denied certain fundamental Christian doctrines. That was true. But his analysis was wider and deeper. He approached the phenomenon of Modernism first through an analysis of modern culture and the spirit of the age. He tries to think through the relationship between Modernism and modernity (see note 29). He wants to understand it from the inside as it were, on its own terms. Provided by Desiring God.

Piper quotes Machen in one of his subtitles:

Machen alerts us to the danger of indifferentism – the attitude that says “affirming or denying truth is not a matter of great import . . . just leave the doctrines aside and unite on other bases.”

Machen impressed:

Calvinism is not a specific variety of theistic thought, religious experience, [or] evangelical faith; but just the perfect manifestation of these things. The difference between it and other forms of theism, religion, [and] evangelicalism is difference not of kind but of degree … it does not take its position then by the side of other types of things; it takes its place over all else that claims to be these things, as embodying all that they ought to be (see note 23)…Thoroughly consistent Christianity, to my mind, is found only in the Reformed or Calvinist Faith; and consistent Christianity, I think, is the Christianity easiest to defend. Hence I never call myself a “Fundamentalist” … What I prefer to call myself is not a “Fundamentalist” but a “Calvinist” —that is, an adherent of the Reformed Faith. As such I regard myself as standing in the great central current of the Church’s life—the current that flows down form the Word of God through Augustine and Calvin, and which has found noteworthy expression in America in the great tradition represented by Charles Hodge and Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield and the other representatives of the “Princeton School” (see note 26)…

To this Machen asserts:

Liberalism on the one hand and the religion of the historic church on the other are not two varieties of the same religion, but two distinct religions proceeding from altogether separate roots (see note 27).

The historic church:

that flows down form the Word of God through Augustine and Calvin, and which has found noteworthy expression in America in the great tradition represented by Charles Hodge and Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield and the other representatives of the “Princeton School”

Then what remains? That is a difficult question because we are faced today with the Emergent Church and a plethora of “modernist” spirited churches. Pragmatics, rather than dogmatics, E.Y. Mullin’s latitudinarianism rather than the narrow path are the soul of conservatives such the Southern Baptist Convention. As Piper says, the infatuation with the new, the popular, breeds a desire to redefine reality. What eventuates is a post-modernist world where deconstruction of meaning leads to dissolution of the transcendent fixed reality of meaning; the dissolution of the sufficiency of Scripture. Unfortunately, the battle for inerrancy wrecked upon the rocks of opinion and a false definition of soul competency and liberty of conscience, of free-will and autonomy. No longer is it politically correct to demand of fellow believers the adherence to certain meaning in Scripture, to certain creeds (beliefs). The reality is that we are far too willing to let opposing opinions stand equally under the rubric of unity and cry “Peace, peace,” when we are at war.

I stand with Machen upon this truth that my brother’s are in error in their Arminianism. And most fundamentalism is Arminian.It is error that cannot be allowed to stand if we are to reverse the tide of modernistic advances against the dependability, that is the authority, of the Word of God. We can not admit equivocation saying that the Arminian’s doctrine is acceptable and on equal footing, for that undermines the very definition of the perspicuity of what we say we know to be true. It is also a disingenuous treatment of a watching world, and not unlike fundamentalism’s anti-intellectualism that Machen so loathed. Machen was right when he acknowledge Arminianism as the “rebellious daughter”. He recognized that she must be turned, she must repent, for from her refusal to admit to the historic clarity of Scripture arises the Phoenix of modern error. Arminianism was a return to the Roman Church and traditionalism, contemporaneous magisterial interpretations, a return to the sacramental faith of free-will and the auto-nomos, self-law. The Reformers exalted the Scripture to its rightful place and fought for the truth it contained against Rome whose fount was not unlike that of the current milieu.

Do you suppose that I do regret my being called by a term that I greatly dislike, a “Fundamentalist”? Most certainly I do. But in the presence of a great common foe, I have little time to be attacking my brethren who stand with me in defense of the Word of God (see note 19).

It was this struggle against modernism that moved him to tolerate Arminianism as a necessary ally. I have criticized Machen for this tolerance of Arminianism because tolerating it led to today’s marginalizing Reformed doctrine. He at least was not timid in his defense of Calvinism as the true Gospel. So we can thank him also in that he draws for us the battle lines of our current struggle against the diminution of Christianity. For us, at the same time, they are battle lines against any form of Arminian doctrine, and its architects, who refuse the clear language of Scripture. Obscurantism by muddled acceptation of diverse opinion, as Machen would inform us, is the source of all modern error.

What is shared among the modernist or the post-modernist, the fundamentalist and Arminian, is the very thing that Machen decried; the need to undo definition and create a new meaning for words that have long been understood. The heart of Machen’s effort as Piper remarked:

What I prefer to call myself is not a “Fundamentalist” but a “Calvinist” —that is, an adherent of the Reformed Faith. As such I regard myself as standing in the great central current of the Church’s life—the current that flows down form the Word of God through Augustine and Calvin…

Happy Reformation Day

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The problem for most who claim the name is that they really don’t believe that Christ finished the mission of John 17. Was he glorified by the father for having saved those he prayed for, including those who would believe on his word, and not those in the world who the Father had not given him. Or does he lose some?

As the video says, not one drop was wasted on those who would not believe. It was a perfect sacrifice.

So, You Want To Be An Elder?

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

The Greek word epithymeo connotes more than a passing notion, or a fleeting infatuation. It is the idea of an all consumming passion, one that denies all other suitors. It denies its self-pursuits. It says there is no greater love than this.

I recently heard in an installment service the depth to which this calling reaches into the heart of a man. The selected verses were out of Colossians 1: 24-29. Their importance should not be neglected, nor should the fact that this charge given to Paul by Christ, empowered and worked in him by the Spirit, is the same charge that Paul entrusts to Timothy to pass on to other faithful men who in turn are to do the same. Paul urges Timothy as one called to be a fellow elder, to labor and suffer for Christ in this manner:

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

The abandonment of civilian pursuits coupled with the enduring of suffering has in mind only one object: the sake of the elect.

When we couple that together with: “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable,” we find that there is no turning back, no laying down of the cross, no removing the hand from the plow once the call of God on a man to become an elder burns with epithymeo. Lest any consider this verse as only referring to general gifts, Paul goes on to describe particular calling to ministry:

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

As it has often been said, a man who is content to do anything other than be an elder, has not been called to be one. This does not mean that a man might not work at an occupation, but what it calls for is that even those things, eventually, be laid aside for a life with single minded purpose:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III writes:

Now the other thing that you need to know when Paul is speaking here, is that Paul doesn’t describe elders in terms of office or status, but in terms of work. Notice that Paul says that “if any man desires this work….” Paul is concerned for the work, for the function of the elder; not so much the status or the title, or the prestige of the office. Paul’s concern in speaking of the qualification of desire is not that a man would desire a status of authority and reputation, but that he would desire a work.

Now let’s get back to the desire. That is the first qualification: he desires this work. What is Paul saying? Paul is saying that the first qualification of the eldership is that a man would desire to do the spiritual work of a shepherd in the church. Not that he would desire to be esteemed in the local congregation as one who is holding the highest rank that the church has to offer. And it is a glorious thing, my friends, to be an elder…

…But the thing that Paul wants is not a man to aspire to that honor, but to aspire to the work. He wants men who are burning with the desire to shepherd the people of God. He wants men who want to be pastors. All elders are pastors, not just preachers! Not just professional, full-time ministers, but all elders are pastors.

So what are you looking for, when you’re looking for an elder in the church? You’re looking for a man in this congregation who wants to shepherd the souls of people. Yes, they have to make hard decisions about budgets and buildings. But you know what? They do that because they love you. That’s the part of the job that they have to do. What they really love to do is shepherd the souls of men and women, and boys and girls. That’s their great desire. The other stuff they have to do: that’s their great desire. The other stuff they have to do. We’d almost have to pay them to do that other stuff, because it’s hard! But the thing that they really desire is the pastoral, shepherding ministry.

That’s the first qualification for an elder. He has to desire to shepherd the people of God. You can see that in a man. You can see that in the way a man studies his Bible; you can see that in the way a man studies to teach the word; you can see that in the way a man commits himself to the life of a local congregation, in the way he attends church (Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday night)—you can see those desires expressed outwardly in a man who desires to shepherd the people of God. He’s involved in evangelism and discipleship, he is involved in preparing to shepherd the people of God. So there’s the first qualification. He has a desire for the work of ministry that is entailed in being an elder.

And I might add that he attends to that purpose as Paul might refer, to spend and be spent for the sake of the flock as an undershepherd of the Chief Shepherd as one who laid down his life for them as the sole consumming passion of his heart. To Jerusalem, to the cross, as the Chief Shepherd, the elder forbids anything to interfere with attaining the one goal, the highest calling, set aside as one whose life and purpose is consumed by a single desire.

Peter wrote:

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4)

John MacArthur said:

…by virtue of their calling and their gifts and their affirmation by the church, they have a responsibility that is different than the rest of the sheep. Responsibility is the key word, or accountability. The Chief Shepherd will hold them responsible—he will call them to give an account someday for exercising oversight. The rest of the sheep will not be called to give an account for oversight. Only the elders, the shepherds.

The calling is not to be slighted by spending effort to fill life with civilian pursuits. The presenting of a bride without spot or blemish to Christ is too precious a charge to have interests divided. The crown is too prescious to be seen as an addendum to the things that other men desire.

John MacArthur continued:

…The Lord has always sought for leaders. In some ways, apart from the very work of God Himself in an individual’s life, spiritual leadership is the most essential element of church structure. So it is an important calling.

There is really no more important calling than this. The Lord has always sought for leaders. You can go all the way back into the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 13:14, and you read there, “The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart.” You find again the words of Ezekiel 22:30, “I searched for a man who should stand in the gap before Me for the land.” God has always looked for leaders. There is a great need in the church for spiritual leadership.

I read you somebody’s description of how a pastor ought to act, and some of you might be saying, “That’s a too demanding kind of exhortation for me to deal with.” Others might be saying, “Let me have at that. In the power of the Spirit of God, that would be what I would like to be,” and the difference is the compelling of the heart.

I never compel anyone to go into the ministry or the pastorate. If that is not an all-consuming desire of the heart, then either the call of God is not there or sin is there, which means the call of God is muffled. Either way they aren’t fit for ministry. If the call isn’t there or if the sin is there muffling the call, then who am I to call them to ministry?

…this is a demanding calling. He says it is a noble, fine, honorable work. It is a work. It is not just an honored position. It is a lifelong task.

…Paul said to Timothy, “Do the work of an evangelist.” To the Thessalonians Paul wrote and said, “Honor those over you for their position,” no, “for their work’s sake.” Paul in Ephesians 4:12 talks about the work of the ministry. It is a demanding calling. It is diligent, hard work.

…And then finally, it is a holy calling. Verse 2, an overseer then – then -takes us back, because it is an essential calling, because it is a limited calling, because it is such a compelling calling, because it is such a responsible calling, because it is such a noble calling, because it is such a worthy calling or a – not only a worthy calling, but a hard calling, a demanding calling. An overseer then must be above reproach. He must understand it’s a holy calling, because only a holy man could approach such a formidable task.”

At Jerusalem there arose debate about tasks less important, yet tasks necessary to be done. The Elders’ reply was succinct:

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

It is too important, and as John MacArthur says, it is a work which requires diligence because it is a formidable task. Now consider, if the secondary ministries of serving in other capacities in the church was not deemed important enough to distract, then how much less civilian pursuits from which they had already been called. Jesus in calling Peter and Andrew said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” This is a defining moment, they were to leave home, family, occupation for the high calling of becoming shepherds of God’s flock. They were to be made holy men, set aside, made overseers, not self-willed to be. The task is too precious, too demanding, requiring the absolute attention of the laborer called into the harvest, and cannot be subjugated to the things that occupy the lives of other men. It is a monumental thing, a good and hororable thing, a consuming, arduous work, to aspire to be an elder. But it must be a desire above all else, or it is not God calling.

Paedobaptism Presumes Grace

From the 17th Article of the Canons:

The Salvation of the Infants of Believers

Since we must make judgments about God’s will from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.

If children who die in infancy are holy is it true that they are always elect and assured of salvation?

If the answer to that is yes, is it possible that children who grow up can reject the covenant? That is, if they are holy by the covenantal relationship of the parents, of which they were not parties to its creation or consummation in Christ, but only are made its beneficiaries by virtue of relationship with the parent, can they by their actions void that which God promises cannot be voided?

John 1: 12-13 tells us:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

The first thing we notice from this is that it is those who receive who are those who believe and are given the right to become children of God. Second, it is they who are not born of anything inherent in man, but exclusively are born of God.

The word blood in this passage is in the plural indicating lineage; bloods are those who are in relationship to the progenitor as offspring. The right given to become children of God is in contradiction to this means. That is, the right to become the child of God does not inhere in the relationship of natural offspring to their natural parent. It goes along with another famous passage:

“But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”

This means that it is not the children of the flesh, of natural procreational descent who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. The children of Abraham who are of the faith came through Isaac. There is a natural disconnect and a necessary spiritual connection made with the promise of God. For this is what the promise said:

“About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Notice, it is clear that the relationship to the believing parent does not gaurantee, place into covenant by natural descent, Esau. And that before they were born. The conclusion is that the children are not affirmed as in covenant by natural generation, but election. The promise of Isaac likewise, was not of natural descent, but the passages are clear that his was a miraculous conception beyond the means of natural man.

We remember also that it was not Ishmael who was sanctified by his relationship to Abraham eventhough Abraham pleaded with God that it might be so. In fact all three negative cases out of John come into play in the relationship to the covenant made with Abraham. What makes the covenantal relationship is God’s declaration and the children are so called children of promise… not procreation.

Here is the analysis. Even though Dort has in mind what has been the traditional view, it holds little value except for comfort. In another portion the Canons we read that this mystery is not to be pried open by vain inquiry. There is mystery in election. Infant covenantalism would eliminate such. So it is held that it was the elect infants who are regenerated and made holy ones who are those who are the ones in covenant relationship. It cannot be said that all infants are elect. It is not simply a blanket covering because there is blood lineage. Despite the beauty of this Canon and of the WCF, of Calvin’s erudition and many others also, it is error to say that bloods make for one’s election.

Dort says

not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are included.

The bible passage being addressed is:

For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

The problem of course is the meaning of holy. If it is true that the children are considered to be elect, then why not the unbelieving spouse? The passage is addressing the legitimacy and sanction of mixed marriage -believer to unbeliever- and whether or not it is acceptable to remain so when one has been converted in marriage and the other not, 1 Cor 7:10, cf. vs 17. Curious is verse 16. There is no reason to accept that a believing spouse sanctifies the husband to election, and likewise no reason to extend election to the children by the same logic. Paul is making appeal to the marriage covenant which is not annullable. If divorce ensues, that would make illegitimate children out of legitimate. Or in other words, it would make unholy what God considers holy and so the issue of that unholy relationship. The context, regardless of Calvin’s take on it or any others, is marriage, not election.

John 1 says that the right to become children is not contingent upon the relationship with the covenanted parent, but it is a covenanted right given to those who receive and believe who are those who are born of God and not of natural descent. Point being, they believe. Short of the confession of faith, we have no knowledge as to the status of a person’s election. To make 1 Cor 7 say what it does not is to contradict John. That cannot be allowed no matter how appealing it might be to think that all children of believing parents are elect.

In the case of this clause of the Canons of Dort, infant baptism is not necessarily indicated, eventhough one may make historical appeal to it. The holiness indicated is that of informal relationship with the fellowship of believers derived from the formal relationship. They can be afforded only the common blessing of the covenantal parent, and cannot be afforded anything more because, as the clause stipulates, they are not regenerate according to nature, and therefore cannot be said to be in the body of Christ. Being unregenerate, having no part in the body of Christ then, they would not be eligible for all benefits pertaining to the believing parent such as baptism and the table.

The mystery of election is great, and one that is not to be taken for granted. We all too often find that holy little children grow to be whores to the faith and horrors of history. To say that those who once were considered elect can grow to dishonor Christ, rejecting him wholly, blasphemously and heretically, and die so, were once holy ones who lost their faith, is to deny the very thing that makes the promised covenant His perfection and not ours.

In a discussion of paedo versus credo baptism, often the arguement resolves to confessions and church history so I approached it through this discursis on a portion of the Canons of Dort. Some appeal to it, and others to the WCF, or the church fathers, as their authority for infant baptism. Our authority should not rest there, but instead in Scripture and what can be reasoned about the subject from it. Making baptism requisite to inclusion in the covenant would reverse much of the rest of what the Canons teach. The Canons reject the works that forms so much of Arminian schemes- much of the reason for the Reformation and the rejection of Roman teaching. Our faith is not one of instrumentalism, nor of implicit mental assent, nor one in which the sacraments become the ticket to heaven because dad happened to believe and it was credited to his children as righteousness. We find that it is for this very reason baptism of infants is not commanded or even indicated in Scripture. Though one might think baptism of infants might find its way into the Canon, it did not. It isn’t because it would have lent credence to the heresies being denied by the Canons which had attempted to make man’s affiliations, efforts and will, the determiners of the convenantal relationship and not that of the grace of God:

This same election took place, not on the basis of foreseen faith, of the obedience of faith, of holiness, or of any other good quality and disposition, as though it were based on a prerequisite cause or condition in the person to be chosen, but rather for the purpose of faith, of the obedience of faith, of holiness, and so on. Accordingly, election is the source of each of the benefits of salvation. Faith, holiness, and the other saving gifts, and at last eternal life itself, flow forth from election as its fruits and effects. As the apostle says, “He chose us” (not because we were, but) “so that we should be holy and blameless before him in love” (Eph. 1:4).

If obedience of faith does not make even a believer to be in covenant according to election, but rather faith itself is a benfit, a “fruit” flowing out of election, if children of believers can reject the faith and be condemned, how much less so infant baptism where it is, without doubt, the act of another’s faith?

The WCF holds:

IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.

V. Although it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it: or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

VI. The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.

But we must ask why. If it is true that the efficacy is not attached to time, then why not comform to Scripture which places the right to become children of God as being a receiving and believing post new birth? Why even consider presuming upon the grace of God in this way? As with the Supper, where the body and blood of Christ are offered to be consumed, hiding as it were, Christ within the believer, baptism performs the complimentary symbol of being hidden in Christ. This symbol of vital union, though, is accepted as reality only upon confession of faith. Then we must finally ask, why would anyone diminish its meaning by presumptive baptism of infants as though it were based on a prerequisite cause or condition in the person?

Rapp and Gerrard Are Not Christians According To Wyoming Tribune Eagle Article

“We all get together to worship the same God,” the Rev. Bob Garrard, pastor at First Presbyterian, said.

No Bob, we don’t. You worship a god who opposes himself. God is Truth, not the compromise between oppositional beliefs. What you represent is not what is meant by Biblical reconcilliation. And the Jesus you believe in is not the Jesus of Scripture, then.

“Ministers” such as Rapp and Gerrard have no clue as to what constitutes the Christian faith. My guess is, they cannot tell anyone what the “big picture” is. Jesus did not push for unity, rather he said:

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

He also said that by your words you will be judged; that for every word that does not work you will be judged. Then, it is ultimately important that the truth is spoken in unity. There is no freedom to personal opinion in Christianity. The truth spoken in love is not divided, neither is Christ. To leave another ignorant, isn’t, love, it is self-service. We are to shut the mouths of those who bring another Gospel, who claim to know the truth but deny it by their actions and words. The ecumenicalism of Rapp and Garrard is the rejection to Jesus, not faith in him, for it rejects that there is truth which can be known of Him. We are commanded to not go beyond what is written. Rapp and Garrard seem to think that nothing has been written.

The Heresy That Most Southern Baptists Love

Today on the Dividing Line: A Review and Refutation of Middle Knowledge

In one form or another, as a related kind, this heresy of progressive knowledge in God is the main course of most Southern Baptists’ soteriology. But they should not feel alone, it is the most common kind of error found and held to by most in evangelical Christianity.

Middle Knowledge is credited to be the brain-child of a Roman Catholic named Luis de Molina. You can read more about it here. Interesting and very disturbing is that this denial of the God of Scripture is held by a cadre of leaders of Southern Baptist seminaries and tolerated as part of the faux unity of good ‘ol boys who tend to care more about annuity than eternity.

The Last Idol In The Temple

I dare say, that, in such an auditory as this, a number of Arminians are present. I fear, that all our public assemblies have too many of them. Perhaps, however, even these people, idolaters as they are, may be apt to blame, and, indeed, with justice, the absurdity of those who worship idols of silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. But let me ask: If it be so very absurd, to worship the work of other men’s hands; what must it be, to worship the works of our own hands? Perhaps, you may ask, “God forbid that I should do so.” Nevertheless, let me tell you, that trust, confidence, reliance, and dependence, for salvation, are all acts and very solemn ones too, of divine worship: and upon whatsoever you depend, whether in whole or in part, for your acceptance with God, and for your justification in His sight, whatsoever, you rely upon, and trust in, for the attainment of grace or glory; if it be any thing short of God in Christ, you are an idolater to all intents and purposes.

So much of what is called Christianity today is a worship of self. From the alleged entrance into the Kingdom of God which claims that man has done something- received, believed, accepted, sworn allegiance, followed- and that it was by those actions he has been blessed to be born again, to the continued efforts to cleanse the temple of idols that abound in his world, the central figure, is man working. No matter the perfection, the sterility achieved, the one idol missed by him which calls him to do something to adjoin Christ and remain, is the one which reserves for him only condemnation. That idol of self is so hard to remove. It tenaciously clings to the delusional life of the religious man who no matter how strenuously he strives… it thrives. Work though he does, removing every discernible kind of leaven, every idol which corrupts, the self does not recognize that he is their maker and that until that last idol in the temple is destroyed, the temple remains polluted. For whose hand erected the idols? It is not the idols, then, that are the images of themselves, but of the maker.

Listen as Toplady explains that the Arminian plagues himself (as do all Romanists) for he is no different than those in the world who by their self-deception believe that they are the ones who not only begin the work of sanctification, but that they are also the ones who complete it. That it is they who please God, and continue to do so, by their own efforts. Quite contrary says Toplady is the right view that our active obedience is born from our passive reception of the working of God in us:

For holiness, the inward principle of good works; and for good works, themselves, the outward evidences of inward holiness; we are obliged to the alone grace and power of God most high. We do not make Him a debtor to us, by loving and performing His commandments; but we become, additionally, debtors to Him, for crowning His other gifts of grace, by vouchsafing to work in us that which is “well-pleasing in His sight” (Hebrews 13:21).

Say not; “Upon this plan, sanctification is kicked out-of-doors, and good works are turned adrift.” Nothing can be more palpable and flagrantly untrue. Newness of heart and of life is so essential to, and constitutes so vast a part of, the evangelical scheme of salvation, that were it possible for holiness and its moral fruits to be really struck out of the account, the chain would, at once, dissolve, and the whole fabric become an house of sand. The Arminians, have, of late, made a huge cry about “Antinomians! Antinomians!” From the abundance of experience, the mouth is apt to speak. The modern Arminians see so much real Antinomianism among themselves, and in their own tents, that Antinomianism is become the predominant idea, and the favourite watch-word, of the party. Because they have got the plague, they think every body else has. Because the leprosy is in their walls, they imagine no house is without it. Thus: “All looks infected, that the infected spy: as all seems yellow, to the jaundiced eye.”

It is cunning, I must confess, in these people, to raise a dust, for their own defence; and like some pick-pockets when closely pursued, to aim at slipping the stolen watch or handkerchief into the pocket of an innocent bystander, that the real sharper may elude the rod of justice. But unhappily for themselves, the Arminians are not complete masters of this art. The dust, they raise, forms too thin a cloud to conceal them: and their bungling attempt to shift off the charge of Antinomianism upon others, rivets the charge but more firmly on themselves its true proprietors. The avowed effrontery, with which they openly trample on a certain commandment that says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”; may stand as a sample of the little regard they pay to the other nine. Pretty people these, to look for justification from the “merit” of their own works, and to value themselves on their perfect love to God and man.

With regard to sanctification and obedience, truly so called; it can only flow, and cannot but flow, from a new heart: which new heart is of God’s own making, and of God’s own giving:

I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh [a soft, repenting, believing heart] and I will cause ye to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments and do them (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Now, God accomplishes this promise, by the effectual working of His blessed Spirit: by the mystic fire of Whose agency having melted our hearts into penitential faith, He then applies to them the seal of His own holiness; from which time, we begin to bear the image and superscription of God upon our tempers, words, and actions.

This is our “licentious” doctrine: namely, a doctrine which (under the influence of the Holy Ghost) conforms the soul, more and more, to God: carefully referring, at the same time, all the praise of this active and passive conformity, to God Himself, Whose gift it is; singing, with the saints of old, “Thou, Lord, hast wrought all our [good] works in us” (Isaiah 26:12); and for all the works so wrought, for the will to please Thee, for the endeavour to please Thee, for the ability to please Thee, and for every act whereby we do please Thee- “Not unto us, 0 Lord, not unto us, but to Thy Name, give glory.”

And indeed, was not this the truth of the case, i.e. if conversion and sanctification and good works were not God’s gifts and of His operation; men would have, not only somewhat, but much, even, very much, to boast offer they would be their own converters, sanctifiers, and saviours. Directly contrary to the plain letter of Scripture, which asks; “Who maketh thee to differ from others, and what hast thou which thou didst not receive?” (I Corinthians 4:7)- i.e. from above. Nor less contrary to the scriptural direction; “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:31).

What is the answer then, how does a man enter the kingdom of God and remain in it? It is by this:

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son…According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time…And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ…

You cannot begin, nor can you complete the work of God in you. That alone is God’s work. As long as you are attempting to secure to yourself God’s blessing, as long as you depend upon anything except his mercy to secure you, you are the last idol in the temple. Leave the cleansing of the temple to God, He alone will bring Dagon down. Put to death the deeds of the flesh by the Spirit, for the works of your hands can only defile the temple of God.

I Think Challies Misses The Heart Of Grace

Tim Challies has written in Outgrowing the Need for Grace:

Whenever I consider Solomon, I am faced with the question of how a man of such great wisdom and discernment could end his life so far from the Lord.

But I wonder just how far was he from the Lord at the end of his life? Challies quotes:

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, ‘You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.’

But his father was no stranger to this practice: “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.” David himself was of Moabite blood. But then we remember that even Mose brought in foreign wives among the children of Israel, didn’t he?

There is far more to the story of Solomon than the “oops” I guess he fell kind of mentality that makes grace some how to exclude the lives, the whole lives, of sinful people, from God’s sovereignty.

I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.

Thus the Lord said of Solomon.

Then we shouldn’t be so sure he ended his life so far from the Lord, should we? Was his name not called Jedidiah, prophetically? Was he not, from birth, loved of the Lord. If it is said he was far from the Lord at the end of his life then how does the prophecy hold true? The Lord said that he disciplined him and would keep him in his steadfast love. It would seem then that the things that Solomon did were the outworking of God for his discipline. Solomon’s life was not his own, was it? It was God working in him to both will and to do of his good pleasure, was it not? And if God turned him over to depravity, so that God’s will is worked out, is that not an act of grace also, is that not God working? Was that not how God worked in both Joseph and his brothers?

Don’t get me wrong and think that I make God the author of sin. Note that I said that God turned Solomon over to his depravity. That God did not supply the means to apply the wisdom that Solomon had, does not make God the doer of the sins of Solomon. It simply would mean that Solomon, as wise as he was, was not enabled to do what he knew to be true and right.

I get the distinct impression that some, like Challies, don’t understand grace in all its meaning. Who was Samson? Was his life directed by God into the means, including his natural lust for women, by which God would be glorified? Was not David’s life directed the same way? Did not God predetermine for the good what David had intended for evil? Was not David the progenitor of the Lord? To think that God had no hand in Solomon’s wanderings is to assume grace does not include all circumstances of life as the means of God’s glorifying himself.

Solomon wrote,

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.

Scripture affirms him as not cut off, but the legitimate king and also a forerunner of Christ in type and a father of Christ in the flesh. Could it be that grace is really exemplified in that Solomon is subjugated to the will of God, in all aspects of his life, that despite his wisdom, it is not by that which men are in the favor of God? And despite failure, it is not by that which men fall out of favor? It is instead:

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

You really think that you can avoid the life that David said has been written for you? I wonder, do you think that Solomon read Psalm 139? Then perhaps Solomon was thinking along these lines, that he had run to the farthest reaches, had hidden in darkness and still he was no further from God than when he had first believed.


It is not to say that you should pursue license and carelessness in regard to holiness. My guess is that Solomon did not, either. It is curious, is it not, that the Scripture does not say that Solomon came by this on his own, but that his wives lead him to it? Curious banks of the stream, are wives. Now, the thing that might be missed was the fact that Solomon could only have one wife. The fact that he was already a spiritual adulterer in his heart is played out by what is seen. But then, he was schooled by his father and mother, who gave him the Proverbs, who were in an adulterous relationship. And died so. His father who lived in violation of the wisdom given him by God taught him not to.

So, how is it that Solomon would even listen to his parents? Bathesheba was living in open rebellion. How could he listen to his father, he was likewise? How could their teaching be anything but hypocrisy? Would it not seem that to live by those precepts produced David and Bathsheba? Or at least, that those precepts hold no guaranteed promise? If Solomon was so wise, wouldn’t he have picked up on the cognitive dissonance somewhere along the line? Or, was he blinded by something? Was his hearing prevented, and by whom?

Challies writes:

…“Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” …While we cannot know for certain, I am increasingly convinced that this is what happened to Solomon. While he was young, he was visited by God and was endowed with great wisdom and discernment.

But didn’t Solomon also write:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Wisdom comes down from above and stands regardless of the men who find it. That is the point. We are not to look to the sayings of Solomon, that is the wisdom of Scripture to sustain us. But to God alone. They give us useful guide, but do not gaurantee that God has not planned for us to experience the reasons that he will apply the scourge. As it is not a guarantee that a child will not turn away from wisdom (Solomon by Challies’ admission is proof in the pudding), so also, knowing wisdom is not enough to prevent the ceasing of hearing what it says. Solomon’s life was the outcome of God’s determination, irrespective of the commands of Scripture. His life is presented for us to know that he is sovereign over all, even the keeping of us close, despite our attempts at fleeing his presence.

I have no doubt that Solomon was questioning himself. That is only reasonable. I mean, doesn’t it smack of lunacy to know God face to face as Solomon did, and to know that his rebellion would be the downfall of a nation, and still proceed to jump off the cliff? Don’t you think that he was beside himself in amazement that the promise made to his father and he would be fulfilled while he watched his life disintergrate into ruin? Do you not think that Solomon was grieved at his own decline? The determinate providence of God’s sovereignty is inescapable. What we see, what we do, who we are, does not void the Word of God, they fulfill it.

That is the great lesson of grace. That is the wisdom of God which escapes the minds of men.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

Challies says:

Wisdom and discernment, then, are character traits that, like the moon, can wax and wane. They are gifts of God, but gifts that we can throw away. They are gifts that need to be nurtured and maintained. We cannot take them for granted, taking refuge in the fact that we may be wise and discerning right now. We need to continue to strive after them and to seek them. We need to learn from Solomon that even the wisest man today may be the greatest fool tomorrow. We depend on grace, even to sustain our wisdom and discernment.

No, they are not character traits. Yes they do wax and wane. Yes they are gifts, but no, we cannot throw them away for the gifts and callings of God are without remission. But, they are also operated by the Spirit. Without doubt we must pursue maturity. However, though Challies is right that we must depend upon grace to sustain our discernment and wisdom, he stands in stark contradiction to himself, for if it is by grace then it is not by our striving, but is only and evermore the gifting of God.

Then, and only then do we know grace and what it means when Scripture says:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

For we may find ourselves in Solomon’s sandles, if the Lord should so choose to lift his hand from us and turn us to our own depravity. We take comfort though, also, from Solomon. That however far it may have appeared to him, however far it may appear to us, that we have gone away from the Lord, he will never leave us nor forsake us.

Believe that and you too will be wise.

Barack Obama’s Dream for a Secular, Non-Christian Nation

James White posted this video of his show demonstrating Obama’s hatred for Jesus Christ and for the United States. Bravo James!

As you listen, pay attention, you will begin to understand Obama’s agenda is proselytize into his homosexual religion when he says that “hearts remain to be opened” and when he says that the enshrinement of discrimination of the sort that views homosexuality as evil should be rooted out of the constitution. By that he means to force everyone to adhere to the opinion of the state church via government- ala Hate Crimes Legislation.

The video tract is available on MP3 as a free download here: Barack Obama’s Anti-Christian Dream for the US.

Obama’s Lies About Climate Change Confirmed

Centuri0n writes:

The real tales of scientific malpractice are now startiung [sic] to be outed by science media outlets. If that link disappears, download the PDF I made of the story here.

Also see Bishop Hill’s reporting of this story.

An throw another log on the fire for me, yo. It’s cold over here.

You can go to his blog and follow the links there.

Here’s my guess: Eventhough the documented fraud of global warming is everywhere easily found, no MSM (Main Stream Media) outlet will cover the facts.

One of the more interesting books I have ever seen on the conspiracy of enviromental politics is this book:

It is a compendium of quotes from the fascist movements of the early 20th Century. Eerily familiar, though not quite as sophisticated as today’s propaganda being delivered to the world by leftists.

Obama’s speech at the UN was nothing short of idiocy on parade. That so many believe him, that millions of children are being indoctrinated into the false science of climate change in their classrooms, that you can’t even watch The Weather Channel without being bombarded, bodes ill wind for the future. A perfect storm easily fueled by low intellectual acuity in the populace and blustering punditry is building on the horizon, brewed by political opportunists like Obama. In the assumed need created by unreasoned fear promulgated by liberals in pulpit and classroom, new and vastly expansive governmental powers will be established to protect the huddled, dumbed-down masses. But, there is no need for cabon capture or any other restrictive government policy. There is no crisis because man has not affected, nor does man have the capacity to affect, the global climate.

Remember this:

Well, beside there being no global warming Polar bears swim a hundred kilometers in a single stretch and range thousands of miles in search of food. Not only are they not in danger of drowning, they are fat, and stay fat. They won’t under any circumstance go hungry because they range so far for food. Though they prefer seals, they eat what ever they find. They simply don’t go hungry, fasting in the summers if they can take in enough food during the winter.

Given the manufactured crisises of Democrat politics and of Obama, don’t you think it is about time they and he stand accountable? The impeachable offense of misdemeanor spelled out in the Constitution does not have anything necessarily to do with a breach of law. It has to do with unseemly behavior. Obama’s actions- lying to instill fear, wanton conspiratorial power grabbing, and a simple lack of public conscience- as its representative, as a true embarrasment to the nation, are enough to impeach.

UPDATE: Not Evil… well that’s a matter of opinion.

Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change