Thursday, October 30, 2008

God, I thank you that I'm not like... the Pharisees?

Am I self-righteous about the self-righteous?
Coming mostly from a "Younger Brother" background, my form of self-righteousness is slightly more subtle than the obvious kind that Pharisees and "Older Brothers" have. Blogger Tullian Tchividjian offers an excellent message on his blog.

Here's an excerpt:

“That’s right, I know I don’t have it all together and you think you do; I know I’m not good and you think you are. That makes me better than you.” See the irony?

ht: Between Two Worlds


beowulf2k8 said...

I was thinking about this parable today, and I came to an amazing realization. Part of the reason why Jesus condemns the Pharisee's prayer is because it accuses God of being unjust by accusing God of being a Deterministic puppet-master. "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are," means "God, thank you for Deterministically making me Elect and not Deterministically making me non-elect like those slubs over there." It is an assualt on God's justice. You can't blame God for making you an adultery, since you made yourself that way. Nor can you thank God for not making you an adultery, since it was you who restrained yourself from adultery. To thank God for not making you an adulterer is to accuse God of making all the adulterers into adulterers, which means you are accusing God of evil! Jesus opposes the Pharisee's prayer, not for mere pride, but moreso for its Calvinism.

Deb said...

Hi there Beowulf2k8! Thanks for taking time to comment.

I would have to agree with the idea that it is horribly wrong and a complete misapprehension of God's Grace to ever think that if we are saved that we should now consider ourselves better than someone else. After all, we have no way of knowing the other person's heart or God's intentions toward the other person.

As to the example you have with regard to adultery, I would agree to the extent that the Bible clearly states that everyone is without excuse, and that we cannot blame God for the evil we do - or even for the temptation that leads to the sin.

Now, I do think we may have some difference in an area that is very, very important. God created human beings in His image, and before the fall mankind was free of sin. However, since the fall, everyone born after Adam has suffered the effects of sin -- ie, disease, death, hatred of God, etc..

God created us to not be adulterers at the beginnning. After the fall, every single human being, except for Jesus Christ, has been guilty of spiritual adultery. Only those who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and place their trust in His atonement for our sin, have been set free from the bondage of certain sin and death. We still do battle with the sin - the old man who still clings to us in this life. But we have been also given union with Christ through the Holy Spirit which enables us -- which compels us to love God and to desire to please Him.

Deb said...

As far as determinism, here are a few points that I believe:
1- God created mankind free of sin. In the beginning there was no sin, death, disease, bloodshed, etc.
2- Mankind fell when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and brought sin and death into the world.
3- The effects of sin have permeated all of creation, including every human being. We are born with the effects of the fall in our beings - disease and sin.
4 - From the beginning (see Genesis 3) God promised that He would send a Messiah, by the seed of the woman, who would put an end to the cycle of sin brought about by the fall.
5- Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, lived the perfect life, free of sin, was crucified, dead and buried for our sin. After three days, he was raised from the dead and walk among His disciples, until he ascended unto the right hand of God where He makes intercession for us today -- right now. At the final judgement, all will be raised from the grave, some to eternal life with God and the others to eternal damnation and separation from God.

6- It is saving faith that enables us to embrace Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. This is a gift from God.
7- Not everyone has or will receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
8- Therefore, some people will not be given the gift of faith and some people will suffer eternal damnation.

Again, only those who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will have eternal life, because all of us have fallen short of the glory of God. Faith is a gift from God. We do not deserve it. No one deserves to be saved. It is purely a gift. I think that is what is important here.

Do you believe?

beowulf2k8 said...

The Bible in no indicates that as a result of the fall God took away free will, nor that God initially created even Adam without free will and forced him to sin (as some Calvinists believe). Calvinists merely overplay statements like "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph.2.1) which mean "on death row because of trespasses and sins" making them out to be literal as if people are already dead in spirit so as to be incapable of spiritual motion like a spiritual corpse. You cannot deal with Romans 8:10, however. That's the verse that sends all Calvinists running home to momma Calvin to hide their faces in her breast. Paul says "And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." Following Calvinistic exegetical procedure in which "dead means dead" Paul must be saying that each and every one of our bodies is as dead as a door-knob, dead like a corpse, and incapable of movement! Yet here we both are typing away. Are our bodies then dead? It is plain to those who are not stuck in a heretical system that forced them to overplay the word "dead" at all costs, that when Paul says "the body is dead because of sin" he means "the body is on death row because of sin," and that likewise when he says "dead in trespasses and sins" he means "on death row for trespasses and sins." The doctrine of total inherited depravity is a disgrace to Christianity and a tool of the devil to accuse God of injustice. The doctrine teaches that little infants who have done nothing go to hell for Adam's sin, whereas God Himself (you can't get no higher than that!) says in Ezekiel 18:20 "The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son." Perhaps the son will bear the guilt of the father with respect to the flesh, as clearly Adam's sin and not our own is the cause of everyone's physical death. But, the son will not bear the guilt of the father with respect to the soul, for "The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son." This principle is overthrown by Calvinism because Satan needs it to be overthrown to establish a self-righteous people who think that Adam's sin is the only one that matters and that Jesus only died to free the elect from Adam's guilt and to then make them untouchable for their own guilt so that they can go out and commit every sin imaginable and never repent and still be saved "because we're the elect."

Deb said...

Good afternoon Beowulf,
I do very much empathize with your questions about Calvinism, because before I thoroughly studied the doctrine an spent time in the WCF, I had many of similar type questions or issues. Not all of them, but I do recognize several of them

Let me quote answers directly from the WCF (ref: , as I think the doctrine that I believe is most effectively stated there by others who write more clearly than I.

To your first point about the nature of the fall:
Chapter VI
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and the Punishment thereof
I. Our first parents, being seduced by the subtilty and temptations of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden fruit.[1] This their sin, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.[2]

II. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion, with God,[3] and so became dead in sin,[4] and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.[5]

III. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed;[6] and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.[7]

IV. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good,[8] and wholly inclined to all evil,[9] do proceed all actual transgressions.[10]

V. This corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated;[11] and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.[12]

VI. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto,[13] does in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner,[14] whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God,[15] and curse of the law,[16] and so made subject to death,[17] with all miseries spiritual,[18] temporal,[19] and eternal.[20]

To your second point about free will:

Chapter IX
Of Free Will
I. God has endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined good, or evil.[1]

II. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power to will and to do that which was good and well pleasing to God;[2] but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.[3]

III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation:[4] so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good,[5] and dead in sin,[6] is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.[7]

IV. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin;[8] and, by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good;[9] yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he does not perfectly, or only, will that which is good, but does also will that which is evil.[10]

V. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone in the state of glory only.[11]

And with regard to your question/concern regarding infants:

Chapter X
Of Effectual Calling

III. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit,[12] who works when, and where, and how He pleases:[13] so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.[14]

As I mentioned, I would greatly commend the Westminster Confession to you as a great resource for answering some, if not all, of your questions about the details of "Reformed Theology."

God bless.

Deb said...

One more thing that I just realized that you had mentioned, which I probably failed to address was that, in your opinion, Calvinism opened the door for Christians to go out and commit every sin imaginable and never repent. This could not be further from the truth, but don't just believe me, here is what the WCF states (and I guarantee you that nothing that John Calvin ever wrote would confirm your assertion that the natural outflow of Calvinism is Antinomianism - far from it!!). The WCF:

Chapter XX
Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience
I. The liberty which Christ has purchased for believers under the Gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, and condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law;[1] and, in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin;[2] from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grace, and everlasting damnation;[3] as also, in their free access to God,[4] and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind.[5] All which were common also to believers under the law.[6] But, under the New Testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church was subjected;[7] and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace,[8] and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.[9]

II. God alone is Lord of the conscience,[10] and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship.[11] So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience:[12] and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.[13]

III. They who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, do practice any sin, or cherish any lust, do thereby destroy the end of Christian liberty, which is, that being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life.[14]

IV. And because the powers which God has ordained, and the liberty which Christ has purchased are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another, they who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God.[15] And, for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity (whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation), or to the power of godliness; or, such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ has established in the Church, they may lawfully be called to account,[16] and proceeded against, by the censures of the Church. and by the power of the civil magistrate.[17]

beowulf2k8 said...

"I do very much empathize with your questions about Calvinism, because before I thoroughly studied the doctrine an spent time in the WCF, I had many of similar type questions or issues."

I have no questions, but only infallible answers. And I recognize the old tried and failed Calvinist tactic of "I once was just like you" which I've seen countless times. Perhaps you were. But I shall never be as you are now, for I will not worship a false god devised by a murderer, who after he burned Servetus at the stake (in accordance with the nature of his god) wrote and published a book against Servetus (called Defensio orthodoxae fidei de sacra trinitate contra prodigiosos errores Michaelis Serveti Hispani...) in which he said the following, "Many people have accused me of such ferocious cruelty that I would like to kill again the man I have destroyed. Not only am I indifferent to their comments, but I rejoice in the fact that they spit in my face." And as if that wasn't bad enough, John Calvin also wrote to England's King Henry VIII recommending
that Anabaptists be burned as an example to other Englishmen, in these words "It is far better that two or three be burned than thousands perish in
Hell." Oops! He forgot his own doctrine of Fatalistic salvation there for a second! How would killing "heretics" save anyone from hell? The Elect could not be deceived by the heretics so as to lose their salvation, right? And the Non-Elect would not be hindered from believing the truth by the heretics, but rather by their lack of free will and the total inherited depravity! Thus by Calvin's own doctrine the killing of the "heretics" was pointless. Why then did he support it? Only because he was a cruel man animated by Satan, and because the anabaptists were the true Christians and he wanted them dead so that men would be locked up in the Reformed faith which is Satanism and thus unable to find the truth in Christ Jesus which the anabaptists who never killed anyone taught. All the Reformers were murderous persecutors except the anabaptists, because the anabaptists were and still are the only Christians on earth.

Deb said...

Beowulf, I'm fairly certain that I do not know you and that you don't know me either. However, because you continue to return here and spew vitriolic comments that are irrelevant and unedifying, I must now decide to end our so-called dialogue. I very truly had prayed and hoped that it might be a dialogue. If you should ever wish to have a real conversation, where we mutually respect, read and respond to one another, I would welcome it wholeheartedly. Until then, I must bid adieu.