May 27, 2012

Darwin Fish vs. the Gospel, pt. 2

Posted in Darwin FIsh tagged , , , , , , at 4:00 AM by chriswadams

The following is part two of an e-mail I wrote a few months ago. The first part can be found here.


Darwin continues:

  1. It is flat out a lie. In Gethsemane, Jesus, the Son of God, God Himself (John 1:1), prayed an illogical paradoxical contradictory prayer. He prayed, “Take this cup away from Me” (Mark 14:36). That request was against the logic of God’s perfect eternal plan for both Christ and the salvation of mankind. It was paradoxical to be asking for that which cannot be. It was contradictory to God’s prophetic word (e.g. Daniel 9:26; Isaiah 53; etc.). Sovereign Redeemer Assembly ( has a god of their own making. They have “changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptiable man” (Romans 1:23).

Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane may not be easy to understand from a human perspective, but it hardly demonstrates that God is “illogical paradoxical [or] contradictory”, especially when it was accompanied with the request, “Yet not what I will, but what You will .” Christ was in perfect submission to the will of the Father, and for Mr. Fish to suggest otherwise is simply repulsive.

In this confession under “II. God, C. Divine Attributes” they write,

“1. God is all-knowing, everywhere present, unchangeable, and not able to be limited.”

The last phrase, “not able to be limited” is again a lie, as Jesus said in His impossible prayer in the garden, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You” (Mark 14:36). The eternal infinite all-powerful God can be limited. His ability to be limited is well illustrated in His wrestling match with Jacob. Even after dislocating Jacob’s hip, the Lord still requested for release saying, “Let Me go, for the day breaks” and Jacob refuses saying, “I will not let you go unless You bless me” (Genesis 32:26). The Lord then blesses him, and Jacob releases him. Jacob “struggled with God” and prevailed (Genesis 32:28; Hosea 12:3-4).

Evidently, Darwin is getting as irrational as he thinks God is. How the story of Jacob wrestling with God proves that God can be limited is beyond me.

Under “II. God, D. Predestination. 1. Election” they write,

“d. When Scripture speaks of God’s covenant, it does not mean a conditional agreement or contract between two parties; rather, it means a bond of friendship and fellowship that is unilaterally enacted by God. [Gen 15:12-21; Lev 26:44-45; Deu 4:31; 7:6-8; Jdg 2:1; 2Ch 13:5; Psa 89:3; Isa 54:10; 55:5; Heb 6:17-18; 8:10]”

They lie here as well when they say, “it does not mean a conditional agreement”. God’s covenant is both unilateral (e.g. Romans 8:29-39; etc.) and conditional (Romans 11:20-22; 2 Timothy 2:11-12; Hebrews 10:26; etc.). Of course, when you are stuck on one’s own idea of logic, contradiction, and paradox, then truth is therefore rejected based on a man-made standard of logic, contradiction, and paradox.

And now we see why Darwin wants to have a God who is irrational: he wants a covenant that is both unilateral (thereby exalting God’s grace), and at the same time conditional (thereby exalting Man’s free will). Again, notice that Mr. Fish makes no effort whatsoever to deal with the verses put forth by the Confession. Let’s look at a few of those verses:

Deu 7: (6) For you are a holy people to Jehovah your God. Jehovah your God has chosen you to be His own treasure out of all the people on the face of the earth. (7) Jehovah did not set His love on you or choose you because you were more in number than any people, for you were the fewest of all peoples. (8) But because Jehovah loved you, and because He kept the oath which He swore to your fathers, Jehovah has caused you to go out with a strong hand, and redeemed you from the house of slaves, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Isa 54: (10) For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My mercy shall not depart from you; nor shall the covenant of My peace be removed, says Jehovah who has pity on you.

Heb 8: (10) Because this is the covenant which I will covenant with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord, giving My laws into their mind, and I will write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

These verses describe God’s covenant with his people, and there is no conditionality here whatsoever. In fact, these verses demonstrate that the covenant God made with his people is completely unconditional.

Now for the verses that Mr. Fish refers to:

Rom 11: (20) Well! For unbelief they were broken off. And you stand by faith. Do not be highminded, but fear. (21) For if God did not spare the natural branches, fear that it may be He will not spare you either. (22) Behold, then, the kindness and severity of God: On those having fallen, severity. But on you, kindness, if you continue in the kindness. Otherwise, you will also be cut off.

God’s covenant with his elect is not actually in view here. The context of this quote is the cutting off of the Jewish nation as the exclusive people of God, and this verse deals with the bringing in of the Gentiles as a whole, not the election of individual Gentiles. The nature of God’s covenant with elect individuals is spelled out a few verses later:

Rom 11: (27) And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins. … (29) For the free gifts and the calling of God are without repentance.

Darwin also refers to:

2Ti 2: (11) Faithful is the Word: for if we died with Him , we also shall live with Him ; (12) if we endure, we shall also reign with Him ; if we deny Him, that One will deny us;

The non-conditional nature of this verse is actually shown in the very next verse:

2Ti 2: (13) if we are unfaithful, that One remains faithful; He is not able to deny Himself.

Finally, Darwin also refers to:

Heb 10: (26) For if we are willfully sinning after receiving the full knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice concerning sins,

The people being spoken of here are not those who were truly converted, but only said they were, perhaps even deceiving themselves. They are like the seed that is sown on stony ground (Mat 13:20-21): they had “received the word with joy” and had “the full knowledge of the truth” but they “had no root in themselves”, so when persecution arose they fell away and left the assemblies (Heb 10:25). That didn’t show that they failed to meet a condition of any kind; instead it showed that they had never been regenerated to begin with.

Darwin continues:

Under “II. God, D. Predestination. 2. Reprobation” they write,

“e. God does not have any love toward the reprobate or any desire to save them,”

That is in direct opposition to Jeremiah 8:19-9:6; Micah 1:3-9; John 3:16; Romans 11:32; 1 Timothy 2:4; etc..

Let’s take a look at the verses Darwin mentions:

Jer 8: (19) Behold, the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people from a distant land! Is not Jehovah in Zion? Or is not her king in her? Why have they provoked Me with their carved images, with foreign vanities? (20) Harvest has passed; the summer has ended, and we are not delivered. (21) For the breaking of the daughter of my people, I am broken. I mourn; horror has taken hold on me. (22) Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no healer there? Why then has the healing of the daughter of My people not come? (9:1) Oh, that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! (2) Oh, that I had a lodging place for travelers in the wilderness, that I might leave my people and go away from them! For they are all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous ones. (3) And they bend their tongues, their bow is a lie. And they are not mighty for the truth on the earth, for they go from evil to evil. They also do not know Me, says Jehovah. (4) Let everyone be on guard against his neighbor, and do not trust any brother. For every brother will supplant, and every neighbor will walk as a slanderer. (5) And everyone will deceive his neighbor, and they will not speak the truth. They have taught their tongue to speak lies. They weary themselves to commit iniquity. (6) Your home is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me says Jehovah.

Mic 1: (3) For, behold, Jehovah is coming out of His place, and He will come down and walk on the high places of the earth. (4) And the mountains shall melt under Him, and the valleys shall cleave themselves, as wax before the fire, as waters poured out on a steep place. (5) All this is against the transgression of Jacob, and against the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what are the high places of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem? (6) And I will make Samaria into ruins of the field, planting places for a vineyard. And I will pour down her stones into the valley, and I will uncover her foundations. (7) And all her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, and all her gifts for harlotry shall be burned with fire. And I will make all her idols a desolation. For she gathered it from the reward of a harlot, and they shall return to the reward of a harlot. (8) Because of this I will wail and howl; I will go stripped and naked; I will make a wailing like the jackal, yea, mourn like the daughters of an ostrich. (9) For her wounds are incurable; for it has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem.

These two lengthy sections show God’s sorrowing over the apostasy of national Israel, but by no means shows that God loves those who go to Hell. National Israel was symbolic of God’s spiritual Israel, who will never end up in Hell.

Joh 3: (16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone believing into Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

1Ti 2: (4) who desires all men to be delivered and to come to a full knowledge of truth.

These two verses were already explained in the Confession in section II.D.2.e:

Scripture, in speaking of God’s love for “all men” and “the world” is not speaking of all men without exception. Rather, these words refer to God’s love for all men without distinction – that is, regardless of their nationality or status.


Rom 11: (32) For God shut up all in disobedience, that He may show mercy to all.

As I said above, God’s covenant with his elect is not actually in view here. The context of this quote is the cutting off of the Jewish nation as the exclusive people of God, and this verse deals with the bringing in of all the nationalities of the Gentiles.

If God loves those in Hell, then he will be eternally sad that he couldn’t save everyone he wanted. Poor God. Poor, helpless, ineffective, powerless God. If that is the ‘God’ that Darwin Fish wants, he is welcome to it. I prefer the God of the Bible, who does what ever he pleases, and noone can oppose him (Psa 115:3, Dan 4:35, Rom 9:21).

Darwin continues:

Under “III. Man. B. Human Nature After The Fall and Before Regeneration” they write,

“1. Adam and Eve sinned by believing the devil’s lie and eating the forbidden fruit. [Gen 3:1-6]”

Adam did not believe the devil’s lie (1 Timothy 2:14).

Here is 1Ti 2:13-14:

1Ti 2: (13) For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (14) And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived has come to be in transgression;

Notice the context: Paul’s point isn’t even about Adam; it’s really about Eve, and the reason for her subjection to Adam in the family order. Adam was not directly deceived by the Devil as Eve was, but he certainly “believed the devil’s lie”, as the Confession says.

But according to Darwin, the devil didn’t even lie:

Under this same section in “3.” speaking of the serpent’s words to Eve they write,

“according to the devil’s lie, ‘You shall be as God.'”

That was/is not a lie. It was true on that accord what the devil said. They would indeed “be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5) as the text further illustrates. It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and when they ate of it they became as God knowing good and evil.

Adam and Eve did indeed come to “know good and evil” in that they themselves became evil, but that’s not at all what the devil was implying. The implication was that God was lying, and Adam and Eve would not ever die from eating the fruit, but become “as God” in everything. So, yes, the devil did lie, as Jesus himself testified:

Joh 8: (44) You are of the Devil as father, and the lusts of your father you desire to do. That one was a murderer from the beginning, and he has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own, because he is a liar, and the father of it.

Darwin continues:

Under “IV. Jesus Christ, C. His Work” they write,

“2. . . . 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.”

The Bible does not teach it “was equivalent to suffering the very pains of hell”. They should not be adding a concept to God’s word that is not there (Proverbs 30:5-6).

Well, let’s see if the concept is in God’s word:

2Co 5: (21) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Gal 3: (13) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it has been written, “Cursed is everyone having been hung on a tree;”

1Pe 3: (18) Because even Christ once suffered concerning sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God; indeed being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit;

In order to be a substitute for his people, Jesus had to suffer what his people deserved. And what they deserved was the torment of eternal hell for their sins. Thus “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.”

Mr. Fish continues:

Moreover, Sovereign Redeemer Assembly prove themselves to be devils (slanderers, διαβολοι [diaboloi] “devils” 2 Timothy 3:3) under “IV. Jesus Christ. C. His Work” where they write,

“6. Those who deny the effectual work of Jesus Christ, claiming instead that the blood of Jesus Christ atoned for everyone without exception (including those in hell), deny the very heart of the gospel. They do not believe that it is the work of Jesus Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation; instead, these self-righteous boasters believe that it is the effort of the sinner that makes the difference between salvation and damnation. These blasphemers deny that Jesus Christ made full satisfaction for sins and that Jesus Christ accomplished and ensured salvation for all whom He represented. They trample underfoot the precious blood of Jesus Christ, treating it as something of no value. They glory and boast in themselves, for whatever one believes makes the difference between salvation and damnation is what one glories and boasts in. There is not a single one of these blasphemers who is a child of God. [Psa 25:14; 74:18; 94:4; 139:20; Pro 30:12-13; Isa 28:14-18; 42:8; 48:11; Joh 16:8-14; Rom 3:27-28; 4:2; 10:3; 16:17-18; 1Co 2:12; 2Co 10:3-6; Gal 1:8-9; 6:14; Eph 2:8-9; Phi 3:18-19; 1Ti 4:1; 2Ti 3:2-5; 4:3-4; Heb 10:29; 1Jo 2:22-23; 4:6; 2Jo 9]”

In the above quote they slander those who believe the truth (Christ did die even for those in hell) and falsely accuse them of being “blasphemers” who “believe that it is the effort of the sinner that makes the difference between salvation and damnation”. They accuse them of denying that “Jesus Christ made full satisfaction for sins”, of trampling “underfoot the precious blood of Jesus Christ, treating it as something of no value”, and not being “a child of God”. Believing Christ died for even those in hell does not in any way dictate such slanderous accusations. But, according to their logic, it does.

If Christ died even for those in Hell, then his work on the cross was, in and of itself, insufficient to save everyone for whom it was intended. And that is blasphemy. It denies that Jesus made full satisfaction for sins, treats the blood of Christ as a thing of no value (especially when compared with the Almighty Free Will), and is a glorying and boasting in self. It is self that makes the difference, rather than the work of Christ.

In condemning the Christian Confession of Faith, Darwin Fish has shown us that he has a bible that is full of paradox and contradictions, a god who will be eternally sad that he was unable to save vast multitudes of people he loves, and a christ whose blood was unable to pay the sin-debt of vast multitudes of people he loves. Then he wonders why we call him and his brothers in Satan blasphemers. Darwin Fish’s false gospel of a powerless christ, uncertain promises, and the worship of man’s Free Will is from the pit of Hell, and will carry him back there if he dies believing it. Let everyone who believes it repent and believe the true Gospel:

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]

-Christopher Adams.


For more information, please see:

Gospel Atonement

The Christian Confession of Faith

Sermon on Romans 3:24-25

The Wicked Westminster Confession of Faith

May 20, 2012

Darwin Fish vs. the Gospel, pt. 1

Posted in Darwin FIsh tagged , , , , , , at 4:00 AM by chriswadams

The following is part one of an e-mail I wrote a few months ago.


Recently, my attention was brought to a website that offers a critique of the Christian Confession of Faith. The following blog post (, 2/12/2012) is written by Darwin Fish (elsewhere on this site, he assures us that, yes, that is his real, given name).

Mr. Fish begins with an e-mail he received that enquires about his view of the “Outside the Camp” website:


From: jeremyj1515@***.com
Sent: Thursday, January 28, 2010 10:40 PM
Subject: ?


Have you ever researched”outside the camp”?( give me feedback .I have known mass delusion is everywhere. Including me.The Holy Spirit has testified of Jesus to me.But I can’t find the truth.I know it is all my fault .I am self-seeking in my seeking.Anyway please provide feedback on this site.Itseems to have something.–Thanks-Jeremy Jenkins


Now here is Darwin’s reply:

From: Darwin
To: jeremyj1515@***.com
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2010 9:58 PM
Subject: Re: ?

“I am self-seeking in my seeking.”

Unless that changes, you will perish. See Romans 2:6-10.

In regards to that website, you have given ear to false lips (Proverbs 17:4). They are false.

So, right off the bat, Darwin has judged us to be “false lips”. This is promising; I respect someone who makes judgements of true and false, so long as they are based on the correct standard. Sadly, as we will see, Darwin Fish not only has a false, but a paradoxical and illogical standard for judging.

For one, they admit to being ecumenical. They write in the preface of their “Confession Of Faith” that their confession is,

“truly ecumenical in the good sense of the word.”

There is no good sense of the word in our venacular …

Here is the full sentence that Darwin has quoted from:

“From the outset, it was our mission to make a Confession with which every true Christian could agree in full, thus making it truly ecumenical in the good sense of the word.” (

The preface of the Confession was written by Marc Carpenter, and there is a reason he specifically wrote that the Confession would be “truly ecumenical in the good sense of the word.” That reason is to make it obvious that he was talking specifically about an ecumenicity that is based on the Gospel, (which is something that “every true Christian” believes) and not false standards like experience or emotions. There really is a “good” sense of this word whether Mr. FIsh wants to recognize it or not.

Darwin continues:

… nor in their context, since they also claim in this preface regarding their “Confession of Faith”,

“The other Confessions leave room for their adherents to speak peace to those who believe false gospels; this Confession does not.”

Since their confession is not exaustive regarding the “doctrine of Christ” (2 John 9), and since the Biblical “gospel” is “the word of truth” (Ephesians 1:13, i.e. “every word of God” Matthew 4:4), their claim is actually a lie and it most certainly does “leave room for . . . adherents to speak peace to those who believe false gospels”.

First, notice that Darwin doesn’t spell out what precisely the Confession is missing with regard to the “doctrine of Christ.”

More importantly, however, the Gospel is not “every word of God”, as Darwin has misquoted Mat 4:4. Man certainly is “to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”, but that doesn’t mean that every word that proceeds from the mouth of God is the Gospel.

Here is a quote from Marc Carpenter’s sermon “The Gospel – What It’s Not” that addresses the erroneous view that the Gospel is the entire Word of God:

It’s a very popular notion among those who profess to believe the doctrines of grace to define the gospel as everything that is contained in the Bible. Now what difference does this definition make? Isn’t it true that the entire Bible records the very words of God? Yes. Isn’t it true that God’s Word must be believed? Yes. Isn’t it true that the gospel is contained in God’s Word? Yes. Isn’t it true that the gospel is throughout God’s Word? Yes. So why is defining the gospel as the entire Word of God such a horrible error? Well, let’s think about it for a little while. If the gospel is the entire Word of God, then how is the gospel preached? Does the preacher have to read or preach the entire Bible in order to preach the gospel? Well, the advocates of this definition have a little out that they will always mention eventually. They will say, “No! A preacher doesn’t need to read or preach the entire Bible; instead, a preacher can read or preach ANYTHINGin the Bible and still preach the gospel.” So they believe that the power of God unto salvation isANYTHINGin the Bible. Now notice what this means about BELIEVINGthe gospel. Mark 16:16 says that those who do not believe the gospel will be damned. If they were consistent, they would have to say that those who do not believe EVEN ONE PARTof the Bible are lost. And, as I mentioned in last week’s sermon, you can’t believe what you don’t know. So, if they were consistent, they would have to say that someone who doesn’t know that Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters: and the names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah,” which is from Numbers 26:33, they are lost. But no – they do not say that someone who doesn’t know about a particular truth in the Bible is lost. Instead, they say that WHEN THIS MESSAGE IS PREACHED, they will believe it. And UNTIL IT IS PREACHED, a believer can be ignorant of it. Now this is all well and good, when it comes to the daughters of Zelophehad. But what about when it comes to the work of Christ that demands and ensures the salvation of all whom He represented? Here we get to the bottom of it all, and the real reason why some would want to define the gospel in this way. They use the SAME REASONING for the daughters of Zelophehad as for the atoning work of Christ. After all, since it’s ALLthe gospel, one passage of Scripture is no different than any other passage of Scripture when it comes to salvation.

The very word “gospel” means good news. God’s Gospel is not just news about every subject in the Bible, but good news about a very specific subject – the person and work of Jesus Christ. Trying to shoehorn the entire rest of the Bible into the Gospel is a bringing in of another gospel (Gal 1:8-9).

Darwin continues:

In fact, they themselves speak peace to an aberrant gospel, limited atonement. In their confession under “II. God, D. Predestination. 2. Reprobation” they write,

[e.] “Jesus Christ did not die for the reprobate in any sense,”

Under “IV. Jesus Christ. C. His Work” they write,

“6. Those who deny the effectual work of Jesus Christ, claiming instead that the blood of Jesus Christ atoned for everyone without exception (including those in hell), deny the very heart of the gospel.”

The gospel teaches exactly that. Christ did indeed die for people who perish (those in hell). See Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 8:11; Hebrews 10:29; 2 Peter 2:1; etc..

Now, section IV.C.6 is an odd choice to show that we believe in the doctrine of Limited (or Effectual) Atonement. Section IV.C.2 is a much better choice, since it actually puts forth that doctrine:

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]

Darwin’s quote of section IV.C.6 rather than IV.C.2 raises some interesting questions. Since section IV.C.2 puts forth an effectual, rather than merely a limited atonement, is Darwin unable to refute the doctrine of Christ’s effectual atonement? And since section IV.C.6 really talks about Universal Atonement advocates being lost, is he actually offended more by that than by the doctrine of Effectual Atonement? That would be pretty hypocritical, considering he seems to judge us as lost. It’s not beyond some people, though.

Let’s take a moment now to look at the Scripture verses Darwin produced in favor of Universal Atonement:

Rom 14: (15) But if your brother is grieved because of your food, you no longer walk according to love. Do not by your food destroy that one for whom Christ died.

Even assuming that the “destruction” spoken of here is eternal destruction, Paul is not putting forth a case of an actual person for whom Christ died being destroyed, but merely a theoretical person. His point is to show the fearful effects of this theoretical case, if it were possible.

1Co 8: (11) And on your knowledge the weak brother will fall, he for whom Christ died.

Again, even assuming that the “falling” here is eternal falling, Paul is not putting forth a case of an actual person falling for whom Christ died, but merely a theoretical person. His point is to show the fearful effects of this theoretical case, if it were possible.

Heb 10: (29) How much worse punishment do you think will be thought worthy to receive, the one trampling the Son of God, and having counted common the blood of the covenant in which he was sanctified, and having insulted the Spirit of grace?

Although Paul is again putting forth a mere theoretical person, rather than an actual person, the word “sanctified” here simply means “set apart”; that is, someone who was set apart from the world and its corruptions, but only superficially and not spiritually.

2Pe 2: (1) But false prophets were also among the people, as also false teachers will be among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, and denying the Master who has bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves.

The word that is here translated “Master” is not “Kurios” (Strong’s #G02962, translated “Lord”) but “Despotes” (Strong’s #G01203, meaning “absolute power”). This shows that the “purchasing” is not with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, but simply refers to the power which God has over them as Creator.

The Scriptures do not teach that Jesus died in any sense for those in Hell. This is because his work on the cross is effectual to save all for whom it was intended. If Darwin would like to deal with the verses put forth by the Confession in favor of effectual atonement, he can be my guest. (He could even start by dealing with the verses put forth in section IV.C.6, which he seems to have conveniently cut from his quote of the section.)

More from Darwin:

They also write in the preface of their confession about “God-hating religionists” who “believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception”. This is actually what God-loving religionists believe. Thus, they declare the gospel of God-lovers to be evil, and the gospel of God-haters to be good. The curse of Isaiah 5:20 & Galatians 1:8-9 is upon them [for more on limited atonement, see, under III. Limited Atonement].

Furthermore, they write in their confession under “II. God, A. The Knowledge of God”,

“7. God is a logical being, and the knowledge that He imparts to His people is logical and noncontradictory. God is not paradoxical or illogical, for God cannot be against Himself. [Num 23:19; 1Sa 15:29; Psa 61:7; 117:2; Isa 65:16; Mal 3:6; Joh 1:1; 1Co 14:7-9; 2Co 1:18-20]”

This is faulty on at least three accounts:

  1. Scripture nowhere teaches it (Proverbs 30:5-6).

This is actually laughable. Did he not notice that the Confession put forth nine verses to prove the doctrine? Is he incapable of explaining those verses?

Further, look at the verse he puts forth to prove his position:

Pro 30: (5) Every word of God is tested, He is a shield to those who seek refuge in Him. (6) Do not add to His words, that He not reprove you, and you be found a liar.

Since this verse has nothing to say about whether God is logical or paradoxical, Darwin apparently refers to it as a warning to us not to look for logic where there isn’t any. But that just brings me back to those nine verses that the Confession puts forth: they aren’t there for no reason. They are there precisely to prove the point that Darwin is opposing – that “God is a logical being, and the knowledge that He imparts to His people is logical and noncontradictory.” Darwin is apparently ignoring this evidence.

He continues:

2. It is subject to the frailty of human logic and what man thinks to be logical, paradoxical, and contradictory. God has already declared man’s wisdom to be foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:20; 3:19-20).

Darwin apparently means “illogical, paradoxical, and contradictory”. But that aside, the sentence is still asinine. If Darwin were correct, the Bible would be reduced to pure gibberish, since any sentence could mean literally anything at all. Every single verse of the Bible would refute the Confession, and at the same time every single verse of the Bible would support the Confession. The promises and threatenings of God would be meaningless, no doctrine could be established, and the entire Bible would be completely uninteligible. Perhaps this is Darwin’s true goal, but it isn’t God’s goal. When God says six separate times that he spent a day creating the earth (Gen 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), and then says that he “created the earth in six days” (Exo 20:11) that is pure, non-paradoxical, non-contradictory logic.

2Co 1: (19) For Jesus Christ the Son of God, the One proclaimed among you by us, through me and Silvanus and Timothy, was not yes and no, but has been yes in Him. (20) For as many promises as are of God, in Him they are yes, and in Him are Amen, for glory to God through us.

Mr. Fish may be vacillating and inconstant, but God is not (Mal 3:6).


For more information, please see:

Gospel Atonement

The Christian Confession of Faith

Sermon on Romans 3:24-25

The Wicked Westminster Confession of Faith

December 11, 2011

John Wesley vs. the Gospel, pt 11

Posted in John Calvin, John Wesley, Servetus tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:00 AM by chriswadams

Appendix B:The Church & The State

Despite his apparent desire to be named as a bishop in America, Wesley did not say very much about the relationship of Church and State. However, he did have some words of criticism for John Calvin’s view of the relationship of Church and State:

I dare not insist upon any one’s using the word Trinity, or Person. …. I cannot: Much less would I burn a man alive, and that with moist, green wood, for saying, ” Though I believe the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; yet I scruple using the words Trinity and Persons, because I do not find those terms in the Bible.” These are the words which merciful John Calvin cites as wrote by Servetus in a letter to himself. (6:201, Sermon 55 On The Trinity, May 8, 1775)

Those who can’t logically refute predestination will often run to this episode in Calvin’s life as seemingly irrefutable proof that predestination is false. Their view seems to be that Calvin taught predestination because he was just plain mean. Obviously the conclusion doesn’t necessarily follow. But it is worth examining Calvin’s rationalization for the use of the death penalty against Servetus, because it offers a very revealing look at the whole relationship of Church and State.

There is an amazing amount of literature on this subject, but it all falls into two distinct categories: that which depicts Servetus as a paragon of virtue, filled with all humility, temperance, patience, and meekness, and a selfless martyr for freedom of conscience under the cruel, tyrannical, bloodthirsty,merciless, iron hand of petty, vindictive John Calvin1; and that which presents a much more realistic picture of the two men and their times, but presents Calvin as merely being influenced by the vestiges of an archaic view of the role of politics in the service of religion2. Neither type has the slightest interest in what specifically motivated Calvin to support the use of capital punishment against heretics.

First, a few of the facts3. Miguel Serveto was a doctor from Spain, studying in Vienne, France. In 1531, he published a book called Errors on the Trinity , that was openly anti-Trinitarian. In 1545, he had some correspondence with Calvin, and continued to defend his anti-Trinitarian views. But Calvin became so frustrated with Servetus’ heresies and personal pride4 that he finally broke off correspondence with Servetus. Soon thereafter, Calvin wrote a letter to his friend William Farel, which contains the infamous passage “But I am unwilling to pledge my word for his safety, for if he shall come, I shall never permit him to depart alive, provided my authority be of any avail.”5

Servetus published a second book, Christianity Restored, and was subsequently arrested by the Inquisition in April, 1553, at Vienne. He was sentenced to death by burning, but escaped. He was then burned in effigy, along with most of his books. In July of 1553, Servetus went to Geneva, apparently to join Calvin’s enemies there, a party called the Libertines. In August, he attended one of Calvin’s sermons, was recognized, and arrested. The Inquisition demanded that Servetus be returned to Vienne, to be executed there, but the Geneva council refused. (When asked, Servetus himself preferred to remain in Geneva.)

On Sept. 22, 1553, Servetus submitted a petition to the Genevan Council. Schaff says “He declared in his petition that Calvin, like a magician, ought to be exterminated, and his goods be confiscated and given to Servetus, in compensation for the loss he had sustained through Calvin … But the Council took no notice of his petition.”6 The Council sentenced Servetus to death, by being burned alive. Calvin concurred with the death penalty, but requested that the form be changed to beheading, as it was quicker and less painful7. The Council refused. At Servetus’ request, Calvin visited Servetus before the execution, and urged him to repent, but Servetus would not.

At the execution, Servetus cried out “Jesus, Son of the eternal God, have mercy on me!” This prompted Farel to remark that Servetus had been killed for a single adjective; meaning that if Servetus had called Jesus “the eternal Son of God”, he would have been spared. Nevertheless, Farel’s remark has provided much ammunition for Free Willers to accuse Calvin of ‘making Servetus an offender for a word’. But almost every contemporary Reformer supported the execution, including Melancthon, Bucer, and Bullinger in Germany, and Farel and Beza in Switzerland8. As a historical footnote, however, a statue was erected by Swiss Calvinists in 1912, bearing the inscription “In memory of Michael Servetus – victim of religious intolerance of his time, and burned for his convictions at Champel, on September 27, 1553. Erected by the followers of John Calvin, three hundred and fifty years later, as “expiation” for that act, and to repudiate all coercion in matters of faith.”9

Obviously, Wesley, in his reference to Calvin’s supposed use of “moist, green wood” intended to imply that persecution of dissenters is the natural fruit of the doctrine of predestination. Not only was the situation a lot more complicated than that, but Wesley conveniently ignored all the evidence to the contrary; that it is actually the doctrine of Free-Will that produces the fruit of persecution.

Let’s look first at the institution that originally arrested and tried Servetus: the Inquisition. It was created in the fifteenth century after Spanish Jews were forcibly converted to Catholicism. When many of those Jews converted publicly, but continued to practice Judaism privately, the Inquisition was created to find and eliminate them. Later, the full force of the Inquisition would be brought to bear on thousands, if not millions of Reformers, Anabaptists, and various non-Catholics, in Holland, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany, with much the same object as that for which it was originally created: conversion of ‘heretics’ to Catholicism by the power of the sword. Now there is really only one reason to forcibly convert someone, and that reason is the doctrine of free-will. After all, if faith is given exclusively by the grace of God, then sword-point conversions are rendered meaningless. They cannot produce true, saving faith. On the other hand, if faith is produced by the free-will of man, then a sword-point conversion can actually convert someone. In fact, it becomes a great way of forcibly converting large numbers of people to your religion.10 So, contrary to popular belief, the great impulse for religious persecution is in fact free-will, while the great impulse for religious and political toleration is predestination.

It is worth noting that the early Arminians (also called ‘Remonstrants’) learned this lesson well, from their Catholic predecessors in Holland. The Acts of the Synod of Dordrecht were originally published with a lengthy foreword, describing some of the events leading up to the Synod, and it includes some of the persecutions Arminians inflicted on their opponents11:

For Adolphus Venator, the Minister [of the Church of Alkmaar] was suspended from his ministry by the North-Holland Churches on account of his unsound life and thoroughly unsound doctrine. But he, appealing to the Magistrate there and despising ecclesiastical censures, nevertheless continued in the office of Minister. …. These [Magistrates] … first forced the elders and deacons to lay down their office; then they did the same thing to the two Ministers because they had taken position against the errors of Venator. And when the Ministers had been deposed from their office, they were scandalously driven out of the city. The one was Pieter Cornelissen, who had been minister for some fifty years with great edification; and the other was Cornelius Hillenius, a bright and pious man, both of them earnest defenders of the pure doctrine.”12

There were also many churches in the villages on whom, against their will, were imposed Remonstrant Ministers, or Ministers who were favorable to the Remonstrants. And seeing that they could not without the greatest offense, grief, and unrest listen to those terrible slanders against sound doctrine which were daily heard in their sermons, the people of these congregations forsook their churches and went to hear the sermons of neighboring sound Ministers; …. When the Remonstrants sought in vain to prevent this by strict prohibitions by the Magistrates, they aroused no little persecution against those churches. …. In the province of Utrecht … [Johannes] Uitenbogaard, August 24, introduced certain Remonstrant ministers, …. Thereafter these men were very zealous and diligent that not only in the City, but in the entire Province, everywhere where they could, the sound Ministers were driven out and replaced by Remonstrants, so that only the doctrine of the Remonstrance was openly taught.”13

“Meanwhile, Uitenbogaard brought it about through the authority of certain Leaders, his Fellow-Ministers were ordered to obey these resolutions [ie. new laws regarding the installment of Church Ministers, favorable to the Remonstrants]….. When because of this many pious people were punished by confiscation of goods and with imprisonments and exile, they appealed to the highest Court of Justice and sought help against this violence. And now the honorable Lord Counsellors of the High Council sought to come to the help of the oppressed; but the Remonstrants saw to it, through the Advocate [ie. Uitenbogaard], that the High Council was forbidden to help, and that the hands of the High Court of Justice were tied.”14

Remonstrant persecution of their opponents did not end in Holland, or even with the Synod of Dordt. It continued to spread into England, where it was heavily promoted by Archbishop Laud. An example of Laud’s persecution of Calvinists is seen in his reaction to the trial of Dr. Thomas Jackson. Jackson was arrested for writing a book against the ceremonies of the Church of England. He was kept in prison for sixteen weeks before his trial, and this imprisonment had deteriorated his health to the point that he could not even attend the trial. Horatius Bonar writes that Star Chamber “condemned the afflicted and aged divine to be degraded as a minister, to have one of his ears cut off, and one side of his nose slit, to be branded on the face with a red-hot iron, to stand in the pillory, to be whipped at a post, to pay a fine of £1000, and to suffer imprisonment until the fine was paid. When this inhuman sentence was pronounced, Laud took off his hat, and holding up his hands, gave thanks to God who had given the Church victory over her enemies! The sentence was executed without mercy, and Leighton lay in prison till upward of ten years.”15

To his credit, Wesley himself never advocated such persecution of predestinarians. His style was more along the lines of having a massive ‘revival’, with lots of emotional frenzy, and thousands of people ‘saved’; and later Methodists would take this line of thinking to even greater heights, or depths, of silliness. But the great principle behind both the persecutions and the ‘revivals’ is free-will. So far from persecution being a fruit of predestination, we see that persecution is, in reality, a fruit that springs from the tree of free-will! (Mat 6:16-18)

But here we run into a problem. John Calvin was one of the greatest champions of predestination, and one of the most eloquent opponents of free will, in all of history. But we have already seen that Calvin concurred with the death penalty ordered against Servetus. How is it that John Calvin, whose name is practically synonymous with predestination, seems to have endorsed a practice so thoroughly grounded in free-will?

John Calvin held to several doctrines that would today be reviled as hyper-Calvinist. These include supralapsarianism19, double imputation20, and double predestination21. But he also held to some doctrines that seem rather at odds with predestination. Advocates of Common Grace often point to passages in Calvin’s writing to support their theory, but it is more correct to say that he held to common aspects of grace:

The power of human acuteness also appears in learning these [ie the arts] because all of us have a certain aptitude. . . . Hence, with good reason we are compelled to confess that its beginning is inborn in human nature. Therefore this evidence clearly testifies to a universal apprehension of reason and understanding by nature implanted in men. Yet so universal is this good that every man ought to recognize for himself in it the peculiar grace of God.”22

“…how unworthy soever we be and straight, yet the fatherly love of God breaketh through even unto the unworthy. Especially the generality of mankind doth testify that the benefits of God do never cease, wherein heappeareth to be our Father.”23

So, according to Calvin, the knowledge of arts and sciences which people possess is a “peculiar grace” of God, while the “sun and rain on the evil and the good” shows that God is, in some sense, a Father to the entire human race. This, indeed, is a far cry from the idea that God is waiting, pleading, and yearning over every sinner in the world, as promoted by the Marrow Men, certain Puritans, and assorted tolerant Calvinists.24 But it is certainly a tentative step in that direction.

Calvin, however, does not seem to have held the theory of common aspects of grace in isolation. It seems that he also held to a theory of universal aspects of the Atonement:

True it is that the effect of His death comes not to the whole world. Nevertheless, forasmuch as it is not in us to discern between the righteous and the sinners that go to destruction, but that Jesus Christ has suffered His death and passion as well for them as for us, therefore it behoves us to labour to bring every man to salvation, that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ may be available to them…”25

And, indeed, in the Second Epistle of Peter, Christ alone is mentioned, and there he is called Lord. But He means that Christ is denied, when they who had been redeemed by his blood, become again the vassals of the Devil, and thus render void as far as they can that incomparable price.”26

The four reasons, whereby Paul doth carefully prick forward the pastors to do their duty diligently, because the Lord hath given no small pledge of his love toward the Church in shedding his own blood for it. Whereby it appeareth how precious it is to him; and surely there is nothing which ought more vehemently to urge pastors to do their duty joyfully, than if they consider that the price of the blood of Christ is committed to them. For hereupon it followeth, that unless they take pains in the Church, the lost souls are not only imputed to them, but they be also guilty of sacrilege, because they have profaned the holy blood of the Son of God, and have made the redemption gotten by him to be of none effect, so much as in them lieth. And this is a most cruel offense, if, through our sluggishness, the death of Christ do not only become vile or base, but the fruit thereof be also abolished and perish …”27

These quotes alone prove that Calvin was not even a Christian, for it shows that he believed that the Atonement was intended to accomplish something which it failed to do (Psa 115:3, Isa 46:10, Eph 1:11). This kind of blasphemy is never taught by the Holy Spirit; it is only taught by Satan and his children.

But thus the stage was set for Calvin to do a theological end-run around the doctrine of predestination, retaining all the man-centered qualities of free-will, without discarding the biblical truth of predestination. That is to say, universal aspects of the atonement and common aspects of grace add up to free aspects of the will. Calvin could therefore go on at length about the wickedness of free will, while still maintaining that God will nevertheless reward even the wicked when they obey his Law:

The reward, that the days of children who have behaved themselves piously to their parents shall be prolonged, aptly corresponds with the observance of the commandment, since in this manner God gives us a proof of His favor in this life, when we have been grateful to those to whom we are indebted for it; whilst it is by no means just that they should greatly prolong their life who despise those progenitors by whom they have been brought into it. … But inasmuch as long life is not vouchsafed to all who have discharged the duties of piety towards their parents, it must be remembered that, with respect to temporal rewards, an infallible law is by no means laid down; and still, where God works variously and unequally, His promises are not made void, because abetter compensation is secured in heaven for believers, who have been deprived on earth of transitory blessings.”28

It was Calvin’s doctrine of common aspects of grace that laid the foundation for Reconstructionism. Gary North writes:

The working out of the principle of covenantal blessing can lead to the positive feedback operation: historical blessing to covenantal reaffirmation to greater historical blessing.” “The law of God is a tool of dominion. There can be no long-term dominion in defiance of it. When men adhere to its principles externally, they receive God’s external blessings. This is common grace. … This common grace obedience brings external blessings. It may also bring external influence. These blessings do not point to the salvation of unregenerate people; if anything, they point to their coming destruction, for reprobates always grow arrogant when they receive God’s covenantal blessings. … The positive feedback between faith and blessings requires additional faith to sustain the growth process. … The law is the basis of affirming the covenant. It is the basis of positive feedback culturally. … God’s law is the primary manifestation of common grace.”29

Notice the recurring theme that “external obedience to God brings external blessings”, and the use of the word “feedback”. This is essentially “free aspects of the will”: God responding to what the unregenerate do, rewarding them for their external obedience, even though they do not have faith (Heb 11:6).

Reconstructionists, in their turn, have taken the doctrines of common aspects of grace, and free aspects of the will, and constructed a theology which allows for cooperation between Calvinists and Roman Catholics. Take a moment to think about these two astounding quotes, found recently on the World Wide Web:

 So let us reconsider the biblical basis for a truly Christian doctrine of natural law. … it will show us the basis on which those of us who are Evangelical or Reformed can cooperate with our Catholic brothers in opposing the common foe.”30

 …vital to ECT’s success is an ecumenical dialogue based on the self-evident truths of Catholic Natural Law Theory and Calvin’s insights on common grace.”31

Ironically, it has come to this. John Calvin, who so vehemently opposed the Roman Catholic church, along with all its will worship, superstition, and idolatry, himself set down the principles upon which his followers could cooperate, and eventually fellowship, with Roman Catholics. After all, most Catholics outwardly obey the Law of God, so (according to Gary North’s “feedback” theory) God should provide them with outward blessings, right? And if the blood of Jesus was, in some sense, intended for them as well, we should have no problem cooperating with them against an ungodly world, right?

Against all this filth, we maintain that the church in this world is not called to works of cooperation with the world, or the whore church. She is called to preach the antithesis: to oppose the evil works of the world, and expose the wickedness of the whore church, especially when that wickedness is hidden behind a facade of godliness, and outward obedience to the Law. She is called to do this because she has absolutely nothing in common with world or the false church. In no sense does the grace of God extend to them, in no sense did Jesus die for them, and in no sense are they able to choose obedience to God (Pro 16:4 & 21:1, John 1:12-13 & 15:21-25, Rom 9:16).

Furthermore, in no sense is the church called to use the sword as a means of conversion, let alone the prosecution of heretics. Faith does not come by the free will of man, but by the grace of God alone (Eph 2:8-9). It is God alone who determines when and where a conversion will take place, not the use of force (Jms 1:20). It is also God alone who determines how a sinner will be hardened against the Gospel (Psa 105:25, 2 Cor 2:15-16, Rev 17:17). If a sinner is predestined to hate the Gospel, God can as easily use the true preaching of the Gospel, as the preaching of a heretic, so it is no excuse to argue that a heretic murders the soul of his hearers. The election of God can neither be increased nor diminished by dispatching a heretic off to hell. The church in this world is most certainly called to remove heretics and ungodly men from her midst (1 Cor 5:4-5, Eph 5:11, Tit 3:10) in the hope that their removal will cause them to repent, and believe the Gospel. But the church does not safeguard her members by executing heretics, any more than she increases her membership with forced conversions. The power of God is not in the sword, but in the Gospel (John 18:36, Rom 1:16-17, 2 Cor 10:3-5); specifically in the true preaching of the Gospel, a preaching that involves pointing fingers at heretics, naming their names and warning the sheep about the wolves (Mt 23:13ff, Ac 20:28-31, Gal 1:8-10, 2 Tim 2:16-18, 1 Jn 4:1-3).

This section has necessarily gone into some of the larger issues relevant to the trial and execution of Servetus. To conclude, therefore, let it be understood that Calvin’s participation in the execution of Miguel Serveto was, historically, a very complicated matter, not the stark, good-Servetus/evil-Calvin dichotomy we are led to believe. However, it is still true that Calvin did support the use of the death penalty against heretics like Servetus.

But against the insinuations of Free-Will advocates like John Wesley, we maintain that this was not the fruit of predestination, but the vestiges of Free-Will that Calvin still clung to. Therefore, let every Arminian, Unitarian, Roman Catholic, and every other defender of Free-Will take note of the spirit of intolerance and persecution inherent in their own system.

And further, let every Reconstructionist and tolerant Calvinist take note of the logical direction their theology of common grace will eventually take them. Let them also take note how the doctrine of common grace goes hand in hand with the blasphemous doctrines of universal (aspects of the) atonement, and free (aspects of the) will.

1One claimed that Calvin “had a prolonged, murderous hate in his heart” and another claimed “A book printer who had railed at Calvin had his tongue perforated with a red-hot iron”. Neither author offered proof of these accusations. But the editor of Calvin’s letters notes: “ Calvin shewed himself, on more than one occasion, disposed to forgive personal injuries, as the Registers of Council testify: — “A woman having abused M. Calvin, it is directed that she be consigned to prison. Liberated at the request of the said M. Calvin, and discharged with a reproof.” — 12th December 1545.” Calvin’s Letters, #154, 13thFebruary1546, fn 27.

2Phillip Schaff says “Calvin’s [participation in the] arrest of Servetus admit of no proper justification, and are due to an excess of zeal for orthodoxy.” Scaff, History of the Christian Church, vol VIII, ch. 16, , June 21, 2001

3For a thorough and detailed discussion of the events surrounding the trial, see Schaff, ibid. Schaff includes an extensive discussion of Servetus’ life and theology, his invectives against Calvin, his behavior before the Inquisition, and a general discussion of religious liberty before and after Servetus’ execution. See also Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (Nutley, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1932), p. 412-419. , June 5, 2001.

4See Calvin’s Letters, #153, Feb 13, 1546.

5Calvin’s Letters, #154, Feb 13, 1546. It should be noted, however, that Calvin did not have any such authority; he was never a member of the city Council, and was not even a citizen of Geneva until years later. The only real authority he had was as pastor of the French refugees in Geneva. Furthermore, his influence over the Geneva city council was tenuous at best. Indeed, the President of the Court and many influential members of the court were Calvin’s avowed enemies.

6Schaff, ibid.

7Calvin’s Letters, #322, August 20, 1553. Interestingly, Farel rebuked Calvin for this action: “In

desiring to mitigate the severity of his punishment, you act the part of a friend to a man who is most hostile to you.” Calvin’s Letters, #322, fn 395

8Boettner,ibid. See also Calvin’s Letters,#331

9 , June 21, 2001. Note, however, that the date of Servetus’ execution was October 27, not September 27, of 1553.

10Let the reader note that, although the name has been changed, the Inquisition is still in existence; it even has its own web site ( , May 15, 2001). But even if the Inquisition were not around, the principle of free-will is still a foundational element of the Roman Catholic system, so that the horrors of the Inquisition could be brought back at any time, if necessary. I note in passing, that the Roman Catholic Church has never erected any statues repudiating the massacre of thousands upon thousands of Dutch, German, French, Scottish, and English Reformers.

11Reprinted in Homer C. Hoekserma, The Voice of Our Fathers (Reformed Free Publishing Assoc., Grand Rapids, MI, 1980), p. 45-102

12Ibid, p. 78-79

13Ibid., p. 79-80

14Ibid., p. 89. The Foreword goes on to describe how Uitenbogaard raised his own militia to defend the Remonstrant ministers in the event that a national Synod were called, and the Remonstrant doctrines condemned.

15Horatius Bonar, The Letters of Samuel Rutherford, quoted in Arminianism – Another Gospel, by Donald MacLean, 1976 (Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Glasgow).

16Ibid. p. 34

17Ibid. p. 34

18Ibid. p.37-8

19Inst II:12:5 , June 5, 2001;

Comm. on Malachi, Lecture 170 , June 5, 2001.

20Inst II:16:5+6, June 5, 2001;

Comm. on II Cor 5:21 , June 5, 2001.

21Inst II:4:3, June 5, 2001;

Inst III:21:8, June 5, 2001;

Inst III:23:1+8 , June 5, 2001.

22Institutes II:2:14 , June 5, 2001 (emph mine).

23Comm on Acts 14:17 , June 5, 2001(emph mine)

24“Christ invites sinners with an enlarged heart. Joy enlarges it. His heart is open to you, his arms are stretched wide. … Would you do Christ a pleasure? then come to him. … Would you content and ease his heart? Then come.” [Thomas Boston,from his sermon, Come Unto Me, All Ye That Labour, distributed in booklet form by Chapel Library, Pensacola, Florida , June 5, 2001].

25Sermon CXVI on the Book of Job (31:29-32) XXX

26Comm. on Jude 4, , June 5, 2001.

27Comm. on Ac 20:28, , June 5, 2001.

28Commentary on the Harmony of the Law, vol. 3, Exodus 20:12, , June 5, 2001; emph. added

29Dominion and Common Grace, , June 5, 2001.

30J. Budziszewski, “Apostles of Common Grace” , June 5, 2001; emph. in orig.

31Rev. Richard M. Nardone, Book review of “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Commission”, Edited by C. Colson and R. J. Neuhaus (Word Publishing, Dallas, Tex., 1995), 236pp , June 5, 2001.

November 13, 2011

John Wesley vs. the Gospel, pt. 8

Posted in John Wesley tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 4:00 AM by chriswadams

VII. Eschatology – The Doctrine of the Last Things

As with baptism, and other matters of church government, the Christian Confession of Faith does not have much to say about the doctrine of the end times. This is another matter where Christians can disagree, because this doctrine has little bearing on the doctrine of the Gospel. Here is what the Confession does have to say on the matter:

Jesus Christ will return from Heaven as He promised, the dead will be resurrected, and the whole world will be judged, all at God’s appointed time. [Psa 96:13; Dan 7:9-14; 12:1-2; Mat 16:27; 25:31-46; Mar 4:22; 13:24-27; Joh 5:28-29; Act 1:11; 17:31; 24:15; 1Co 15:23-25; 2Co 5:10; 1Th 4:15-17; 2Th 1:7-10; 2Ti 4:1; Heb 9:27-28; 2Pe 3:10-12; Rev 1:7-8; 20:11-13]1

The Confession then goes on to summarize the biblical teaching about Heaven and Hell.

All for whom Jesus Christ did not die will live eternally in the pit of Hell and will be eternally tormented for their sins. Souls who are tormented in the next life will never suffer enough to even begin to pay for as much as one sin. Scripture rejects the lie that souls in Hell cease to exist or cease to be tormented, as this is a denial that offending the infinitely holy God is an infinite crime deserving of an infinite punishment. Scripture also rejects the lie of Purgatory as well as the lie that those who perish denying the doctrines of the gospel will finally accept them in heaven. [Deu 32:22,41; Psa 9:17; Pro 27:20; Isa 33:14; Dan 12:2; Mat 3:12; 5:22; 7:21-23; 10:28; 11:22-24; 13:41-42; 25:30,46; Mar 9:42-48; Luk 16:23-24,26; Joh 3:36; 10:11,26; 12:48; Rom 2:5-9; 6:23; Gal 3:10; 2Th 1:5-9; Heb 10:26-27; 2Pe 3:7; Jud 6-7; Rev 14:9-11; 19:2-3; 20:14-15]

All for whom Jesus Christ died will live eternally in Heaven in perfect fellowship with God, as He promised them. The final state of the Church will be eternal glory with her King and Husband. He will wipe every tear from her eyes and will entirely remove all indwelling sin from her. She will worship Him in the presence of His visible glory for all eternity. [Psa 49:15; 116:8; Isa 25:8; Dan 12:2; Mat 19:29; 25:34,46; Luk 18:29-30; Joh 3:15-16; 3:36; 4:14; 6:40,47, 54; 10:28; 14:2-3; 17:2-3; Rom 2:7; 6:22-23; 8:30; 1Co 15:53-54; Gal 6:8; Phi 3:20-21; Col 3:4; Tit 1:2; 2:13; 3:7; 1Pe 1:4; 2Pe 3:13; 1Jo 2:25,28; 3:2; Rev 14:1-5; 21:2-4,22-27; 22:1-5]2

It must be admitted that Wesley had a sound view of Heaven and Hell3. And despite believing in an intermediate state for departed souls4, he rejected the doctrine of purgatory (ie. that departed souls can atone for sin in the next life by their suffering5).

But at this point there is a major discrepancy in Wesley’s thinking. It has already been shown that he believed that the saints were not preserved from falling away in this present life by God. So how does it happen that they are then preserved from falling away when they are in Heaven? After all, to use Wesley’s own words:

Were human liberty taken away, men would be as incapable of virtue as stones. Therefore, (with reverence [sic] be it spoken,) the Almighty himself cannot do this thing. (6:318, Sermon 67 On Divine Providence)

So, according to Wesley’s principles, if God took away their liberty, men could not be virtuous even in Heaven. And if their liberty remains, then is it possible for a person to sin in Heaven? If yes, then what happens to that person when he sins? Is he sent immediately and irrevocably to Hell?

But if not, then what becomes of the person’s all-important liberty? Is it taken away? Is it then possible for him to do anything virtuous (in Wesley’s terms)?

And what of those who are in Hell? Is their liberty taken away? If yes, then the full force of Wesley’s arguments against predestination come down against him:

Men are as free in believing or not believing as if he [God] did not know it at all. Indeed, if man were not free, he could not be held accountable …. (6:227, Sermon 58 On Predestination)

As he has called us to holiness, he is undoubtedly willing as well as able, to work this holiness in us. For he cannot mock his helpless creatures, calling us to receive what he never intends to give. (6:416, Sermon 76 On Perfection)

But what if the person’s all-important liberty is not taken away in Hell? What if someone in Hell sincerely repents and believes the Gospel he had scorned in life

The God of love is willing to save all the souls that he has made. This he has proclaimed to them in his word, together with the terms of salvation revealed by the Son of his love, who gave his own life that they that believe in him might have everlasting life. And for these he has prepared a kingdom from the foundation of the world. But he will not force them to accept of it; he leaves them in the hands of their own counsel; (7:317, Sermon 120 The Wedding Garment, Mar. 26 1790)

Wesley might answer that noone in Hell will sincerely repent. But how can he know that? Of all the millions and millions of souls in Hell, might there not at least be a few that sincerely repented? If nothing in this life could convince a man to sincerely repent of his sins, surely the fires of Hell would do the trick. And after all, doesn’t God (according to Wesley) love them and long for their salvation? How can he leave them screaming in the torments of Hell, when he so desperately wants to save them?

The very thought of this eternal chaos, souls in Hell making themselves fit for Heaven, and souls in Heaven making themselves fit for Hell, ought to convince us, once and for all, of the folly of placing Man’s need to be saved above God’s need to be glorified. It is God who preserves his elect from falling away from him, and it is God who hardens the reprobate in their sins. It is God who is glorified in the salvation of his people, and it is God who is glorified in the damnation of his enemies.

The Judgement Day & Future Life

Some of Wesley’s views regarding the afterlife can only be described as silly. For instance, he held that the day of judgement would last a thousand years, if not many thousands:

And from this very expression [2 Pet 3:8], some of the ancient Fathers drew the inference, that what is commonly called the day of judgment would be indeed a thousand years: And it seems they did not go beyond the truth; nay probably they did not come up to it. For if we consider the number of persons who are to be judged, and of actions which are to be inquired into, it does not appear, that a thousand years will suffice for the transactions of that day; so that it may not improbably comprise several thousand years. (5:174, Sermon 15 The Great Assize)

Even more bizarre is the view that there would be an afterlife for animals. In his sermon The General Deliverance, he begins by speculating about the condition of animals before the Fall, then goes on to describe the effect of the Fall upon their condition:

If the Creator and Father of every living thing is rich in mercy towards all; if he does not overlook or despise any of the works of his own hands; if he wills even the meanest of them to be happy, according to their degree; how comes it to pass, that such a complication of evils oppresses, yea overwhelms them? …. And as a loving obedience to God was the perfection of man, so a loving obedience to man was the perfection of brutes. And as long as they continued in this, they were happy after their kind; happy in the right state and the right use of their respective faculties. Yea, and so long they had some shadowy resemblance of even moral goodness. For they had gratitude to man for benefits received, and a reverence for him. They had likewise a kind of benevolence to each other. …. Perhaps insects and worms had then as much understanding as the most intelligent brutes have now. …. As man is deprived of his perfection, his loving obedience to God; so brutes are deprived of their perfection, their loving obedience to man.” (6:242-6, Sermon 60 The General Deliverance, emph. in orig.).

Then, he further speculates about the effect of the resurrection on the “brute creation”:

But will “the creature,” will even the brute creation, always remain in this deplorable condition? …. As a recompence for what they once suffered, while under the “bondage of corruption,” when God has “renewed the face of the earth,” and their corruptible body has put on incorruption, thy shall enjoy happiness suited to their state, without alloy, without interruption, and without end. But though I doubt not that the Father of All has a tender regard for even his lowest creatures, and that, in consequince of this, he will make them large amends for all they suffer while under their present bondage; …. May I be permitted to mention here a conjecture concerning the brute creation? What if it should then please the all-wise, all-greacious Creator to raise them higher in the scale of beings? What, if it should please him, when he makes us “equal to angels,” to make them what we are now, — creatures capable of God; capable of knowing and loving and enjoying the Author of their being? …. something better remains after death for these poor creatures also;” (6:248-51 , Sermon 60 The General Deliverance)

But Wesley did not hold these views merely for comic relief. He is in fact tying up some loose ends of his theology. As we have seen, Wesley had a wicked and idolatrous view of God. He worshiped a God after his own image. As such, Wesley’s “God” was responsible to treat all people the way Wesley himself was responsible to treat them — with fairness and equality. Therefore, Wesley’s “God” could not be allowed to simply divide the whole world into two classes and summarily pass sentence on half of them (Mt 25:32-3); he was responsible to try them all separately, and hear each case individually.

Further, Wesley’s “God” was not allowed to simply do as he will with the creatures he has made. He is even responsible to treat the animals fairly. In regard to the doctrine of Animal Resurrection, Wesley went on to say:

May it not answer another end; namely, furnish us with a full answer to a plausible objection against the justice of God, in suffering numberless creatures that never had sinned to be so severely punished? (6:251 , Sermon 60 The General Deliverance, emph. mine)

Notice the word “plausible”! How is it possible that there could be a plausible objection to the justice of God?!?! Only if Wesley’s God is not the God of Holy Scripture!!

Isa 45:6-7 …that they may know from the rising of the sun, and to the sunset, that [there is] none besides Me; I [am] Jehovah, and there is none else; forming light, and creating darkness; making peace, and creating evil.

Rom 9:20-21 Yes, rather, O man, who are you answering against God? Shall the thing formed say to the [One] forming [it], Why did You make me like this? Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, …?

Whatever God does is just, by virtue of the fact that it is God who does it. There is no such thing as a “plausible objection” against the justice of God, because this presupposes that there is a standard of right and wrong, independent, and even superior, to God himself. But on the contrary, the will of God is itself the standard of right and wrong. Wesley’s view of God was, therefore, utterly blasphemous.

1Christian Confession of FaithVII.A.;

2Christian Confession of FaithVII..B & C.;

3See 5:181, Sermon 15, The Great Assize; 6:193, Sermon 54, On Eternity; 7:323, Sermon 121, Human Life A Dream; Notes Rev 21:4, in loc; also 7:247, Sermon 112, Dives And Lazarus; Notes Luke 16:25, in loc.

4See 7:327, Sermon 122, On Faith; and Notes 2Co 12:4 & Rev 19:20, in loc.

5See 7:247, Sermon 112, Dives And Lazarus, section 5.

November 28, 2010

Phil Johnson vs. The Gospel

Posted in John MacArthur, Phil Johnson tagged , , , , , , , , at 4:30 AM by chriswadams

Phil Johnson is an associate of John MacArthur, and executive director of MacArthur’s ministry, Grace To You. He also has his own website, featuring some of his own essays, and writings by prominent Calvinists like Charles Spurgeon, and R.L. Dabney (Outside The Camp is also listed on his site, on the “Really Bad Theology” page, though inexplicably, not on the “Really, Really, Bad Theology page.) Johnson is also famous for his “Hall of Church History” page, but today I’m going to be looking at an article of his, entitled “The Nature of the Atonement”. In it, Johnson puts forth the following view of the Atonement:

If Christ’s dying means that the whole [sic], the judgment of the whole world is
postponed, than unregenerate people reap the blessings and the benefits of that
delay. They reap the benefits and the blessings of common grace through the
atonement. And if that’s the case than that is exactly what God designed. It
didn’t happen by accident. And for that very reason it is my position and the
position of most Calvinists throughout history that some benefits of the
atonement are universal and some benefits of the atonement are particular and
limited to the elect alone.

I have already written several posts on the view of Common Grace put forth by John MacArthur, but in the quotes I cited from MacArthur, he never linked the doctrine of Common Grace to the atoning death of Christ. Here, Johnson asserts that those for whom Christ did not die “reap the benefits and the blessings of common grace through the atonement”.

Those for whom Christ did not die certainly reap the benefit of God’s delayed judgement on the world, but is that a blessing? As I have already written:

Contrary to this nonsense, the Bible teaches that all the good things that God provides for people in this life are a blessing only to the elect (Rom 8:28-32). To the reprobate, they are only a curse (Psa 73:11-20, Pro 16:4-5, Jn 15:22). More importantly, the Bible teaches that all things God sends to his people, good and bad, are a blessing, a blessing that flows from the righteousness of Christ alone (Eph 1:3-6). … an infinitely holy God cannot bless sinful man without the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. To insist that he can is to oppose the standard of absolute holiness that God reveals in the Gospel.

Like MacArthur, Johnson also teaches that Common Grace is evidence of God’s love toward all people, even those for whom Christ did not die:

Common grace is the grace that permits all sinners to
live and enjoy life under a temporary reprieve from just judgment and justice
even though they’re worthy of instant damnation. Common grace delays that.
Common grace is also the grace that pleads tenderly and earnestly with sinners
to repent and to be reconciled to God, even though they’re hearts are set against
Him. And according to Matthew 5:44-45, these common grace blessings are
tokens of God’s genuine love. Scripture does not hesitate to apply the
expression “love” here.

But inconsistently, Johnson goes on to write:

Now in what sense did Christ purchase
the Church? In Ephesians 5 Paul uses language that evokes the imagery of a
marriage price. Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands love your wives just as Christ also
loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.” Not for her enemies, but for
her. So Christ bought the Church with His own blood. For what reason,
Ephesians 5:26-27, “that He might sanctify her and having cleansed her by the
washing of water with the Word, that He might present to Himself the Church
and all her glory having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing that she should be
holy and blameless.”

Those for whom Christ died He loves with the highest and purest kind of love.
It is a particular love. Its closest earthly parallel is the love of a husband for his
wife. And it’s a special love. It’s not dispensed indiscriminately to everyone
alike. It’s reserved only for the bride, this love. In fact what do we call a man
who shares conjugal love with his neighbor and does not reserve it exclusively
for his wife? We call him an adulterer. What would you call someone who
indiscriminately showed every woman the intense ardent affection men reserve
only for their wives? We would call him a philanderer. Christ’s love for His
Church is pure. It’s more tender, more personal, and an infinitely greater love
than the love of a husband for his wife.

This is utterly repulsive. While Johnson is speaking out of one side of his mouth about the precious love of Christ for his bride, and how it is only given to those for whom Christ died, out of the other side of his mouth Johnson is prattling about God’s universal love for all men without exception — exactly the kind of cheap love he opposes in the two paragraphs above. As I have written before:

The doctrine of God’s Universal Love is a lie that cheapens the love that he has for his beloved bride. Imagine a man who tells his wife that he certainly loves her, and is willing to lay down his life for her, but just happens to have a similar, though totally ineffective, love for all the women in the world. Should she be pleased with such a pathetic, offensive expression of marital love? Yet this is exactly the kind of love that people like MacArthur ascribe to Jesus Christ.

For more on this topic, please see the articles Common Grace?,  and Christ Crucified: God’s Love Manifested, by Marc D. Carpenter.

Christopher Adams.

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