September 15, 2013
Today’s guest post was written by Marc D. Carpenter, and gives a good summary of our position on the terms “Reformed” and “Calvinist”.
As most of you know, we used to identify ourselves as “Reformed” and “Calvinists.” We used these terms in the general sense to mean that we believed in the doctrines of grace, sometimes known by the acrostic TULIP: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints. But as we have come to think more about these labels and what they convey (even unintentionally), we have decided that it is more harmful than helpful to use these labels. And with some new information we have found, the label “Calvinist” is actually not even consistent with a belief in the doctrines of grace.
“Reformed.” The name “Reformed” comes from the “Protestant Reformation” and the “Reformers” who led it. Even before the more well-known “Reformation” of Luther and Calvin, there were other “Reformers” before this. But what does the word “reform” mean? It means “to improve by change.” The “Reformation” sought to improve the Roman Catholic Whore Church, to correct it, to modify it, to alter it – to reform it. This is absolutely contradictory to what God commands in His Word. God’s Word says, “Because of this, ‘come out from among them’ ‘and be separated,’ says [the] Lord, ‘and do not touch [the] unclean thing,’ and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17). The “Reformed” mindset would change 2 Corinthians 6:17 to say, “Because of this, ‘reform them’ says the Lord, ‘and try to change the unclean thing into the clean thing,’ and I will receive you.” God does not command His people to reform the assembly of unbelievers, lawlessness, darkness, Belial, and idols; He commands His people to COME OUT and BE SEPARATED from them and to NOT TOUCH THEM. Coming out and separating and not touching is quite a different thing than reforming. If one is in a rotten house, coming totally out of that house and living somewhere else is quite a different thing than attempting to rehabilitate the house while continuing to live in it.
God’s word also says, “And I heard another voice out of Heaven saying, My people, come out of her, that you may not share in her sins, and that you may not receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4). The “Reformed” mindset would change Revelation 18:4 to say, “And I heard another voice out of Heaven saying, My people, reform her, rebuke her for her sins while remaining in Babylon to try to get it back on the right path.” God does not command His people to reform Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of the Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth; He commands His people to COME OUT of her. And what of those who do not come out of her? They are partakers in her sins and will be partakers of her judgment. As 2 John 11 says, the one who speaks peace to one bringing a false gospel is a partaker – a sharer – in the evil deeds of the one bringing a false gospel.
Now anyone familiar with the Roman Catholic Whore Church knows that well before the “Reformation,” there was no true gospel there. They had been promulgating the devil’s doctrine of salvation conditioned on the sinner for a long, long time. The Roman Catholic Whore Church was absolutely corrupt, through and through. False doctrine reigned. Idolatry, blasphemy, murder, fornication, and all manner of evil was the norm. This was truly a haven of harlots, a synagogue of Satan, a dwelling place of demons, a filthy, unclean, unholy entity if ever there was one, and it continues to be so today. This is not something that is to be reformed. It is to be abhorred, shunned, rejected, eschewed, repudiated, renounced, and forsaken. “COME OUT,” God says. God does NOT say “reform.”
Today, we have people who are advocating for a “modern reformation.” What this means to most is that the “church” of today (meaning all professing Christians, to them) is in need of a “reformation” like in the days of Luther and Calvin. This call for “reformation” is mostly coming from people who profess to believe the doctrines of grace (and who call themselves “Reformed” or “Calvinists”). What they do not realize is that the vast majority of professing Christian churches and professing Christians are just as much part of the Great Whore as the Roman Catholics are. At the same time they are calling for “Reformation,” they are calling those who believe a false gospel their brothers in Christ. Unless God saves them and shows them that these synagogues of Satan are full of evil people, their supposed “Reformation” is just an attempt to make unregenerate Arminians into unregenerate Calvinists.If God regenerates someone who has been in a false church (whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, Arminian or Calvinist, Baptist or Presbyterian or Independent), what is that person to do? As soon as it is known that this church preaches or tolerates a false gospel, that person is to LEAVE. He is not to stay and try to reform the church. He may witness to his former fellow churchgoers, he may expose the church and its doctrines as false, but he is not to be a part of that church any more. If he stays in that church, indicating that this church is a true church and preaches true doctrine and that his fellow church-goers are his brothers and sisters in Christ, then he is a participant in – a sharer in – their sins.
Think of this analogy: Suppose a man is a member of a homosexual advocacy group. Now suppose that this man is regenerated by God. Will this man stay a part of the homosexual advocacy group that promotes and defends the homosexual lifestyle? Will he try to reform it into a Christian group? Of course not. He will COME OUT of it and REPUDIATE it. So it is with someone who is a member of a synagogue of Satan. False gospel doctrine is just as horrific, just as disgusting, just as repulsive, just as vile, just as evil, just as wicked as homosexuality. In fact, Jesus said that it would be more tolerant for the Sodomites in Judgment Day than for those who reject the true gospel (Matthew 10:14-15).
Whereas before, we called ourselves “Reformed” to show that we believe the doctrines of grace, we now realize that there is too much more that is implied in this word to justify its use to identify true Christians.
“Calvinist.” The name “Calvinist” comes from the name of the most famous “Reformer,” John Calvin. Calvin’s name is used in one of the nicknames for the doctrines of grace, which is the “Five Points of Calvinism.” The “Five Points of Calvinism” were formulated in response to the “Five Points of Arminianism,” named after James Arminius. Therein lies one of the problems. To counter the doctrines of a man and his followers, the coiners of the name “Calvinism” used a name that implies the very same thing as “Arminianism,” which is that the doctrines were of a man and his followers. When a man’s name is attached to a set of doctrines, then it is implied that the doctrines originated with this man. Thus, the whole “Calvinism-Arminianism” controversy becomes merely one in which opinions of man are debated: “Calvinism” emphasizes the sovereignty of God, while “Arminianism” emphasizes the responsibility of man, all within the pale of true Christianity. As the God-hater A.A. Hodge said, “The difference between the best of either class is one of emphasis rather than of essential principle.” People say, “I am of the Calvinist (or Reformed) persuasion (or tradition).” (See the Heterodoxy Hall of Shame in Volume 3, Number 1.) It becomes nothing more than a persuasion, an opinion, an inclination, a leaning, based on the doctrines of a man and his followers. The logical conclusion of such thinking is that the “Calvinism-Arminianism” debate is nothing but divisive, partisan bickering between Christians over non-essential doctrine. Since they both consider the other to be Christians, then being in separate churches is nothing but schism based on a party spirit. If the “Calvinists” believe that the “Arminians” are their brothers in Christ, then, if they were consistent, they should join the “Arminian” churches. If the universal atonement and free-willism of the “Arminians” is not a vital difference, then separating over such non-essentials is sin. “For when one may say, Truly I am of Paul, and another, I of Apollos; are you not fleshly?” (1 Corinthians 3:4).
But for us who are Christians, we do not follow the doctrines of men. That is what the God-hating Pharisees did (Matthew 15:9). We follow the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9). The doctrines known as the “Five Points of Calvinism” did not originate in the sixteenth century with John Calvin or in the seventeenth century with the Canons of Dordt. They are doctrines from the Word of God. They are NOT the “Five Points of Calvinism.” The tolerant “Calvinists” can go on bickering with their brothers in Satan, the “Arminians,” all the while embracing them as brothers in Christ, but the CHRISTIANS will believe and proclaim the doctrine of CHRIST. Their boast will be in the cross of Christ ALONE, which makes the only difference between salvation and damnation.
Finally, to describe a belief in the doctrines of the name “Calvinism” implies that Calvin believed the doctrines of grace and that those who believe the doctrines of grace believe what Calvin believed. We have recently found out that Calvin did not even believe all of the doctrines of grace. In fact, he did not believe the very heart of the gospel, which is the efficacious atonement of Jesus Christ. Needless to say, we were shocked and saddened when we discovered this. But the proofs are incontrovertible. (Note that the proofs below do not merely depend on Calvin’s use of the word “world” outside of the context in which he used it, which could be taken many different ways.) Contrary to William Cunningham’s statement that “There is not, then, we are persuaded, satisfactory evidence that Calvin held the doctrine of a universal, unlimited, or indefinite atonement” (The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation, p. 398), the quotes below cannot be explained in any other way than universal atonement. [It is interesting to note that Cunningham also stated, “Now it is true, that we do not find in Calvin’s writings explicit statements as to any limitation in the object of the atonement, or in the number of those for whom Christ died; and no Calvinist, not even Dr. Twisse, the great champion of high Supralapsarianism, has ever denied that there is a sense in which it may be affirmed that Christ died for all men” (p. 396). If we take Cunningham’s version of Calvinism – that NO Calvinist has ever denied that there is a sense in which Christ died for everyone without exception – then we are certainly FAR from being Calvinists, as is every Christian.]
For more information, please see:
September 26, 2010
Last week I discussed MacArthur’s list of “The Fruit/Proofs of Authentic/True Christianity“ (http://www.gty.org/Resources/Questions/QA162) (which is taken from “The MacArthur Study Bible”, p. 2190), posted on his website under the title, “How can we know if our faith is real?” I noted that MacArthur had put forth a false standard of judging saved and lost, because “there is absolutely nothing here about belief of the Gospel, the person of Christ, the work of Christ, or indeed any doctrine at all”.
Given that MacArthur has such a superficial, non-doctrinal standard of judging saved and lost, it should not be surprising that is unable to clearly warn his listeners and readers regarding others who believe in blatantly Gospel-denying doctrines. Take for example his confused judgement regarding the Promise Keeper’s movement:
There’s no denying that the Promise Keepers (PK) movement has been instrumental in turning unbelievers to Christ and stirring Christian men out of spiritual lethargy. Many men who have participated testify that they have found a new excitement about their responsibilities in the family. Wives have given equally enthusiastic testimony of the change in their husbands and their homes. We are grateful to God for whatever eternal fruit has resulted from Promise Keepers and the rallies the movement has sponsored.
We also believe there is a legitimate place for men’s gatherings. Men need to be challenged spiritually as men, to be faithful in the headship of home and church. This is particularly crucial in a culture such as ours, which is overtly hostile to biblical standards of masculinity.
Nonetheless, some aspects of Promise Keepers are troubling. Chief among our concerns would be the overt ecumenicism of the movement.
Some aspects of Promise Keepers are troubling? Seriously? In his article Is Christian Psychology Christian?, Marc Carpenter has this to say about a book that was endorsed by the PK movement:
In a book entitled The Masculine Journey, which is endorsed by Promise Keepers and was handed out to all Promise Keepers attendees, Robert Hicks uses his “stages of manhood” theory to condone sin and even to blaspheme. One of the stages he puts forth is the Zakar stage, which is a phallic stage. He says, “The phallus has always been the symbol of religious devotion and dedication” [referring to pagan sexual rites] and that every man has “the deep compulsion to worship with our phallus.” He says that a teenager’s first sexual sin should be thought of as a “rite of passage” and says that “we usually give the teenagers in our churches such a massive dose of condemnation regarding their first experiences with sin that I sometimes wonder how any of them ever recover. … I believe Jesus was phallic with all the inherent phallic passions we experience as men.”
This isn’t merely troubling, it is blasphemous, and revolting. Yet MacArthur is “grateful to God for whatever eternal fruit has resulted from Promise Keepers”. This is about as uncertain a sound as a trumpet can make. And yet, it all comes back to the fact that MacArthur is unwilling or unable to condemn Promise Keeper’s on the basis of doctrine.
For more on this topic see:
May 21, 2010
Previously, I had given a definition of the Gospel, taken from the Christian Confession of Faith. In my last post, I wrote about how the person of Jesus Christ is at the heart of the Gospel. Today, let’s look at the work of Jesus Christ, and how it is also at the heart of the Gospel.
Here is how the Christian Confession of Faith defines the work of Jesus Christ:
The consummate act of obedience that Jesus Christ paid to the law was in suffering the ultimate penalty for the disobedience of His people that the law demanded. Thus, while upon the cross, Jesus Christ, as a perfect representative, substitute, and sacrifice for His people, became a curse for His people and suffered the unmitigated fury of God the Father, which was equivalent to suffering the very pains of hell. This was not for any guilt He had contracted Himself but for the sins of His people. Their guilt was imputed to Him, and He suffered the penalty their sins deserved. His finished work on the cross appeased God’s wrath in full toward all for whom He died and paid the ransom price in full for all for whom He died, guaranteeing the salvation of all for whom He died. [Gen 22:13; Exo 12:3-13; Lev 16:21-22; 17:11; Psa 22:1-18; 32:1; Isa 53:1-12; Dan 9:24-26; Zec 13:7; Mat 26:28; 27:35-50; Mar 15:24-37; Luk 23:33-46; 24:46; Joh 11:49-52; 19:16-30; Act 17:3; 20:28; Rom 3:24-25; 5:6-11; 1Co 1:30; 5:7; 6:20; 15:3; 2Co 5:21; Gal 1:4; 2:20; 3:13; 4:5; Eph 1:7; 2:13-17; Col 1:14,20-22; 2:13-14; 1Th 5:10; 1Ti 2:6; Tit 2:14; Heb 2:9-10,17; 9:12-14,26-28; 10:10-18; 13:12; 1Pe 1:18-19; 2:24; 3:18; 1Jo 1:7; 2:2; 3:5; 4:10; Rev 1:5; 5:9]
The key thing to bear in mind about the work of Christ is that it was effectual. It actually secured and guaranteed that all for whom Christ died would have their sins washed away. The work of Christ does not merely make his people saveable, it saves them. It does not have the potential to save, it actually saves.
The vast majority of religion that comes in the name of Christ denies this, of course. They teach that the work of Christ has the potential to save, but that it doesn’t do anything in and of itself. They make the blood of Christ to be worthless and valueless, and then go on to condition salvation on the work or the will of the sinner (cf. Rom 9:17) This is the very definition of “trampling the blood of Christ underfoot.” (Heb 10:29) It is sheer blasphemy, spitting in the face of Jesus Christ. And it clearly shows that these people are enemies of the Gospel.
Again, if you have never heard the Gospel formulated this way, I urge you to take some time to consider the Scripture verses referred to here. And for more information on the effectual work of Jesus Christ, be sure to read the articles Christ Crucified:God’s Love Manifested, The Atonement, Gospel Resurrection, The Satisfaction, and the sermon True and False Gospel, all by Marc D. Carpenter.
May 18, 2010
At the heart of the Gospel is the person and work of Jesus Christ. Today, we’ll take a look at the doctrine of Christ’s person (who he is), and tomorrow, Lord willing, we’ll examine the doctrine of his work (what he did). As we do, keep in mind how important these doctrines are to the full definition of the Gospel we looked at yesterday.
Jesus Christ is the God-Man mediator; he is fully God, and fully Man. The Christian Confession of Faith has this to say about the nature of Christ:
Jesus of Nazareth is really and truly God as well as really and truly human. He is the only descendant of Adam with two natures, human and divine. These two natures are continually without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation. Scripture rejects the lie that Jesus Christ was merely human and not fully divine. It likewise rejects the lie that Jesus Christ was a supernatural being but not fully human. [Deu 18:15; Psa 2:7; 110:1; Isa 9:6; Luk 2:7; Joh 1:1,14,18; 3:16,18; 5:18; 8:58; 10:30-33; Act 20:28; Rom 1:3; 1Co 15:47; Gal 4:4; Phi 2:6-8; Col 1:15; 1Ti 3:16; Tit 2:13; Heb 1:1-5; 5:5; 1Jo 4:9,15; Rev 1:17-18]
Note that in this section, the Confession firmly rejects two prominent errors regarding the nature of Christ. The first error is that he was merely human, and not also divine, and the second error is that he was merely divine, and not also human. Both errors are to be rejected, because both are destructive to the Gospel: if Jesus did not partake of both the nature of man and the nature of God, then he could not be an effective mediator, because he could not “lay his hand” upon both God and Man (Job 9:33). If Jesus were not really and truly man, then he could not sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb 4:15), and if he were not really and truly God, then his sacrifice of himself on the cross would not have been of infinite value, and thus could not have atoned for the sins of his people (Heb 9:11-12). Therefore, Jesus Christ had to be God, in order to fulfil God’s promise to remove the sins of his people (Psa 130:7-8) by the work of the coming Messiah (Isa 53:1-12).
A correct doctrine of the nature of Christ is therefore foundational to the doctrine of the Gospel. Without it, there is no Gospel. For more information on this vital doctrine, please see An Open Letter to a Jehovah’s Witness, and A Christian View of the Messiah.
I’ll end this post with an excellent quote from the first article:
God is an infinite God and an infinitely righteous God. Therefore, all sin is an infinite offense to him (Exodus 20:5, Habakkuk 1:13). Therefore, any sacrifice that is intended to atone for sin must be an infinite sacrifice. Anything less would be insufficient to turn away God’s wrath against the sins of his people. It is only as Jesus Christ partakes of the two natures, human and divine, that he is able to become the Mediator between God and Man (Job 9:33; Hebrews 2:17), able to “lay his hand” upon both at once. Therefore, the Gospel absolutely requires that Jesus Christ not only be a real human being but also be God incarnate, God in the flesh.
I couldn’t have said it any better myself.
May 17, 2010
Before we can expose the enemies of the Gospel, we need to have a definition of the Gospel. This definition will serve as a standard for judging if, and when, a doctrine (and anyone who defends it) is in opposition to the Gospel (Isa 28:17).
I subscribe to the Christian Confession of Faith, and it defines the Gospel this way:
The gospel is God’s promise to save His people, giving them all the blessings of salvation from regeneration to final glory, conditioned exclusively on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, totally apart from the sinner’s works and efforts. It reveals the righteousness of God – how God is just to justify the ungodly based on the work of Jesus Christ alone. The gospel is not merely the fact that Jesus lived, died, and rose again, considered apart from the purpose of these truths, which were accomplished to establish a righteousness for all whom Jesus represented. [Gen 15:5-6; Psa 103:2-12; 130:3-4; Isa 1:18; 45:21-25; Jer 33:14-16; Mat 1:21; Joh 3:16; Act 13:32-39; Rom 1:16-17; 3:21-26; 4:5-8,13-25; 10:4,15; 1Co 15:1-8; 2Co 1:20; 5:21; Eph 1:3-2:22; 3:6; Col 1:5; 2Ti 1:1,9-10; Heb 10:4-17]
Obviously, there are a lot of implications to this definition of the Gospel, and the rest of the Confession goes over them in great detail. If this is a definition of the Gospel that you have never seen before, I strongly encourage you to take some time to study the Scripture references, and read the rest of the Confession. For more information on specific parts of this definition, please see the article Essential Gospel Doctrine, which is a compilation of sermons preached be Marc D. Carpenter.