March 13, 2011
A few months ago, I came across a website of a group in the Philippines called “Bastion of Truth Reformed Church”. I sent a mass e-mail to the group, and what follows is the next round of my debate with one of their members, Alex Aquino (Mr. Aquino’s comments are in angle brackets like << this >>):
On Mon, Jan 11, 2010 at 9:10 AM, Alex M. Aquino wrote:
I’m sure you were very much excited to have “accidentally” found another prey for your illustrious ministry after doing that search.>>
CA: Actually, I often run across people and organizations that seem to stand boldly for the truths of the Gospel, but when it comes time to make judgments (based on the Gospel) about who is saved and who is lost, they quickly backtrack, and defend the heretical teachers based on the good works and the sound parts of the teachings of those heretics. I’m used to it.
<<Interestingly, the materials and authors we post on our website (whom your illustrious ministry excitedly condemns) have contributed much to make us less and less popular.>>
CA: I believe it. When we promoted John Pedersen, the PRC, John Calvin, and similar writers, we were very unpopular. And when we disendorsed these people, we became far less popular. And that’s fine as far as we are concerned. Numbers don’t mean a thing in God’s eyes (Judg 7:2-4).
<<More interestingly, because of our stance reflected in those authors’ writings we are even often associated and identified with OTC! Of course, that isn’t fair with OTC, is it Mr. Adams?>>
CA: No it isn’t. I certainly don’t want to be associated with anyone promoting heretics like Pedersen, Moreno Dal Bello, the PRC, John Calvin, Arthur Pink, and so on. Despite their reputations, these people were and are compromisers to the core. John Pedersen couldn’t even tell us whether OSAMA BIN LADEN was lost! And you are promoting him.
<<Most interesting though is that now OTC itself adds to the crowd disturbed and displeased by us!>>
CA: Good. So are you now going to tell people that we don’t endorse your ministry? And, specifically, will you tell them WHY we don’t support your ministry? Even better, since I have sent you the relevant links, you can direct people to our website and SHOW them where we have disendorsed and exposed those heretics, and refuted their arguments.
<<We post those materials in our website because we believe the messages by themselves are true and that they express what we wish to convey. >>
CA: Yes, and I have been told that rat poison is 95% good food, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to eat it.
<<Add to that our inability (being average Filipinos) to articulate on our own our Gospel convictions in English.>>
CA: Your English is fine, and so is your articulation of what you believe. I have learned just enough to know that you speak peace to people who confess a false gospel.
<<If those persons did believe a false gospel their own writings shall testify against them>>
CA: This is exactly my point. Their writings DO testify against them, but you claim to not want to talk about it! I have given you many links to pages with exact quotes from these people, exposing their false gospel, peace speaking, and hypocrisy, and yet you continue to judge these people based on their reputations.
<<Suppose we adopt and promote OTC’s stance, can we be truly assured? I mean, who can tell if OTC itself will in the future promote heresy (I believe it already does)? If that happens all that OTC wrote and stood for are the Lie.>>
CA: Yet you ignore the fact that we once promoted ALL of the people BTRC is now promoting. We later disendorsed them when we found out more about what they believed. That is the reason I wrote to you: I wanted to give you the opportunity to find out what they REALLY believe, and exactly why we disendorsed them. Yet you refuse to judge them based on the gospel doctrine they confess. This tells me a lot about you.
<<Talking about heresy, I personally think that OTC promotes the heresy of a “mutable” idol-god in its denial of eternal justification. If I understand you correctly, you believe that god loved his elect in eternity, then he changed his attitude on them, from that of love to that of wrath, when they are born in time (using Ephesians 2:4 detached from verses 5 and 6), and mutates again from being a wrathful god to being a loving god from the moment the supposed elect believe. This is obviously not the Immutable God of the Bible (Malachi 3:6). It is an accursed idol.>>
CA: No, you don’t understand us correctly. And if you had actually checked on the links I sent you, you would have known that.
The following quotes are from our Confession of Faith. Note especially the words in red:
1. God is all-knowing, everywhere present, unchangeable, and not able to be limited. He existed before time began and will exist forever. Because of His infinite holiness, He is infinite in justice, righteousness, love, mercy, and grace. His infinite glory is manifested in these attributes. [Exo 20:5-6; Num 23:19; 1Sa 15:29; 1Ki 8:27; Job 26:6-14; Psa 44:21; 90:2-4; 103:17; 136:1-26; Pro 8:22-31; Isa 6:3; 57:15; Lam 3:22-23; Hab 1:12-13; Mal 3:6; Jam 1:17; 1Jo 4:8]
a. In eternity past, God the Father covenanted with God the Son, Jesus Christ, to glorify Himself by saving a particular, elect people, and those only, from the guilt and defilement of sin, by the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. [Psa 89:19-37; Isa 49:5-6; 53:11-12; Luk 22:29; Joh 6:37-40; 10:29; 17:2,9; Gal 3:16-18; 2Ti 1:9]
b. In covenanting with Jesus Christ, God the Father covenanted with all the elect in Jesus Christ, to be their God and to reveal His divine love, mercy, grace, and wisdom to them by saving them through the work of Jesus Christ their Redeemer. [Gen 13:14-16; 17:4-8,19; Deu 4:35; 7:9; 2Sa 23:5; Psa 65:4; 67:2; 105:8-10; 111:9; 132:11; Isa 43:10-12; 55:3-4; 61:6-9; Mat 13:11; Mat 24:22,24,31; Mar 13:20,22,27; Luk 1:68-75; 18:7; Joh 17:2-3; Act 13:48; Rom 8:28-30,33; 9:11-16,23; 11:26-27; Eph 1:4-14; Col 3:12; 2Th 2:13; 2Ti 2:10; Tit 1:1; Heb 6:13-14; 8:6-12; 1Pe 1:1; 2:9
CA: You should also consider this refutation of eternal justification:
The following are some necessary implications of eternal justification (or any justification that is not connected with faith) that show this heresy to be damnable. These heretics necessarily believe the following:
(1) While they were going about to establish a righteousness of their own and bringing forth dead works, evil deeds, and fruit unto death, they were pleasing to God.
(2) A justified person can commit sins such as believing and confessing a false gospel.
(3) They had the imputed righteousness of Christ while remaining ignorant of that imputed righteousness.
(4) Without faith it is possible to please God, and some who are in the flesh are able to please God.
(5) When they were dead in trespasses and sins, walking according to the course of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, conducting themselves according to the lusts of their flesh, acting out the things, the wills of the flesh and of the understandings, they were not children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3).
(6) There are some who are redeemed, who are God-pleasers, who are friends of God, who also walk as the rest of the nations walk, in the vanity of their mind, having been darkened in the intellect, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them because of the hardness of their heart, who, having cast off all feeling, gave themselves up to lust, to the working of all uncleanness with greediness (Ephesians 4:17-19).
Consider Psalm 5:5: “The boasters shall not set themselves before Your eyes. You hate all workers of iniquity.” Since these heretics believe that God never hated them, then they must believe that they were never workers of iniquity. Contrary to this damnable denial of total depravity, God describes the elect before regeneration in Ephesians 2:1-3: “And you being dead in deviations and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience, among whom we also all conducted ourselves in times past in the lusts of our flesh, doing the things willed of the flesh and of the understanding, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as the rest.” We were children of wrath, hated by God. We were without a righteousness that answered the demands of God’s law and justice, and we walked in disobedience.
Some might ask: But didn’t God love His people in Christ before the foundation of the world? Romans 8:29-30 answers this question: “Because whom He foreknew, He also predestinated [to be] conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be [the] Firstborn among many brothers. But whom He predestinated, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” “Foreknew” means “loved beforehand.” In the eternal decree of God, God loved His people in Christ from before the foundation of the world. Note that in this verse God’s people are called, justified, and glorified. This does not mean that they were already called, justified, and glorified temporally in their persons. So there is a time in each elect person’s life that he is loved by God as considered in the eternal decree of God and temporally under God’s wrath before the righteousness of Christ is imputed to him.
Eternal justification advocates would accuse us of holding to a contradiction or of believing that God is mutable. They would say that in order for God to be immutable, He must either always show love for a person or always show wrath toward a person. But consider this: When the sins of Christ’s people were imputed to Him on the cross, God poured out His wrath on His beloved Son. God forsook Christ when the sins of His people were imputed to Him (Mark 15:34), because God, in His holiness, righteousness, and justice cannot look upon sin, must show wrath toward sin, and must punish sin. What would the accusers say about this? They would either have to say that God was always wrathful toward His only begotten Son from before the foundation of the world and continues to pour out His wrath on His only begotten Son even now, or God never showed wrath toward Jesus Christ, and the cross was just an empty show. The truth is that God loved His Son, who remained holy, harmless, and undefiled in His own personal character and conduct even on the cross, and God showed wrath toward His Son based on imputed sin. God shows wrath toward His elect people in time before they have the imputed righteousness of Christ, and He shows love when the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them. Far from showing God’s mutability, this shows God’s immutability, because He is unchangeably holy and must show wrath where there is sin and must show love where there is righteousness.
When does justification happen? The Bible is clear: “And everyone believing in this One is justified from all things which you could not be justified by the Law of Moses” (Acts 13:39). “Then we conclude a man to be justified by faith without works of Law. Or [is He] the God of Jews only, and not also of the nations? Yes, of the nations also, since [it is] one God who will justify circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith” (Rom. 3:28-30). “Then being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have had access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we glory on the hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2). “And the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel before to Abraham: All the nations will be blessed in you” (Gal. 3:8). “So that the Law has become a trainer of us [until] Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24).
Justification is by faith. What does this mean? It means that faith is the instrument through which a person receives the imputed righteousness of Christ and is justified. Our accusers would say that this is proof that we believe that faith is a condition of or prerequisite to justification. But we strongly deny that faith is some “empty vessel” that is given to a person as a precondition of justification, into which justification is then “poured.” If we continue using the vessel analogy, then the vessel of faith is already filled with the liquid of justification, and this full vessel is given to us by God. (Of course, as with any analogy, it will break down if you go far enough with it.) Yet faith is the result of justification. Faith is both the result of justification and the instrument through which we receive the imputed righteousness of Christ and are justified.
Considering that the Bible clearly connects faith and justification, what do these Hyper-Calvinists have to say about faith? John Brine, in A Defence of the Doctrine of Eternal Justification, says this: “Justification by faith, is only the comfortable knowledge or perception of that gracious privilege. … knowledge of this benefit is intended when it is said we are justified by faith.” In other words, “justification by faith” is merely being made aware by faith that one has already been justified from eternity! Faith is not an indication that there has been a change of standing before God at all! It is just the realization that God has always been pleased with the person! Yet “without faith [it is] impossible to please [God]” (Heb. 11:6a). These heretics would say just the opposite!
Romans 8:8 says, “And those being in the flesh are not able to please God.” Yet these heretics would say that there are some who are yet in the flesh but who are pleasing to God!
Romans 1:17 says, “for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; even as it has been written, But the just shall live by faith.” Yet these heretics would say that a just (or justified) one can go for a time without faith!
It is very telling how Brine eliminates the connection between faith and justification: “[N]ow if Christ’s righteousness is to or upon us, in a way of believing, and it cannot be ours till actually received by faith, … how come elect infants, who die in infancy, to be actually interested in that righteousness, seeing they cannot act in faith, and consequently are incapable of receiving Christ’s righteousness?” Those of you who believe that God saves those who die in infancy without causing them to believe the gospel are just as heretical as the eternal justification Hyper-Calvinists.
According to the eternal justification heresy, remission of sins happened from before the foundation of the world; thus, the moment an elect person is conceived, his sins are already remitted. But what does the Bible say? “John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for remission of sins” (Mark 1:4). “And repentance and remission of sins [must] be preached on His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). “And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized, each of you on the name of Jesus Christ to remission of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). “This One God [has] exalted [as] a Ruler and Savior to His right [hand], to give to Israel repentance and remission of sins” (Acts 5:31). “To this One all the Prophets witness, [so that] through His name everyone believing into Him [will] receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). “to open their eyes, and to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the authority of Satan to God, in order that they [may] receive remission of sins, and an inheritance among those being sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18). It is clear when remission of sins occurs.
According to the eternal justification heresy, adoption happened from before the foundation of the world; thus, the moment an elect person is conceived, he is already a son of God and not of the devil. But what does adoption mean? It means being taken from one family and being made part of a different family. Yet, in the eternal justification scheme, the elect were never in the family of Satan! How, then, could there be an adoption out of the family of Satan and into the family of God in this scheme, unless there is some kind of reasoning like, “He would have been in the family of Satan had he not been elected” or some other kind of hypothetical nonsense?
When does the Bible say that the elect become sons of God? “But as many as received Him, to them He gave authority to become children of God, to the ones believing into His name, who were born not of blood, nor of [the] will of [the] flesh, nor of [the] will of man, but [were born] of God” (John 1:12-13). “For as many as are led by [the] Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery again to fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba! Father! The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:14-16). “But faith coming, we are no longer under a trainer; for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:25-26).
<<Pardon me if I cannot express myself in fluent English. It’s not that I am not interested to discuss these things at all. It’s that I do not want to discuss these things with OTC. I resolve not to continue this correspondence (perhaps when extended may be potential to add to your OTC web posts, right Mr. Adams? Nah, this won’t be worth that). Sorry to disappoint you… again.>>
CA: It is disappointing. Typical, but disappointing
<<Farewell, Mr. Adams.
PS Just curious: we’ve known OTC for passionately disendorsing historical church figures. Do you have anyone at all (from the past or present) beside yourselves you positively endorse? You may treat the question as a rhetorical one. I would understand.>>
CA: There is a links page on our site. Not as big as yours, I’ll admit, but that is what happens when you won’t endorse the enemies of God — your links page gets very, *very* small.
In all seriousness, I must warn you that your soul is in great danger. You are not under God’s pleasure, but his wrath. Above, you confessed a belief in eternal justification, which puts forth a God who is pleased with his people APART from the imputed righteousness of Christ. This is blasphemy. Repent, and believe the Gospel, which is the good news of salvation based ONLY on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone.
February 22, 2011
A few months ago, I came across a website of a group in the Philippines called “Bastion of Truth Reformed Church”. I sent the following mass e-mail to the group, and what follows is my debate with one of their members, Alex Aquino:
To Whom It May Concern:
I recently came upon the BTRC website, and I found it very interesting. I am curious to know what anyone associated with the BTRC thinks of the following website:
Also note that we have had past associations with John Pedersen, Ron Hanko, Moreno Dal Bello, and others promoted on your site. We have also promoted John Calvin, Arthur Pink, and many other historical figures who are also promoted on the BTRC website, but have since learned more about their views — to the point that we cannot promote them any more, because they did not believe the Gospel.
There are many more articles addressing these issues on the website (www.outsidethecamp.org), but if any of you would be interested in discussing these things, I would be willing to correspond.
I am a member of the BTRC. It is strange for me that someone could search the BTRC website that easy since our site does not appear on the earlier entries of search engines like Google. A meeting related to our churches took place recently wherein your site was mentioned in passing and so I wonder if someone had recently informed you of our existence and our website. Could you please inform us who that person might be?
With due respect sir I personally decline to discuss these things with you. Thank you for your concern.
Actually, I came upon your website while using Google. I was searching for “Tagalog Psalter”. After I found the BTRC site, I started poking around, and found the other articles.
But now I’m curious about what was said about the OTC site! What have people been saying about us? And if it was something negative (which wouldn’t surprise me at all) did you find that what you heard was true?
It’s disappointing that you don’t want to discuss these things. Your website promotes John Pedersen, Moreno Dal Bello, and others, yet you are not even interested that they might be promoting heresy? That’s disturbing, to say the least.
I’m sure you were very much excited to have “accidentally” found another prey for your illustrious ministry after doing that search.
Interestingly, the materials and authors we post on our website (whom your illustrious ministry excitedly condemns) have contributed much to make us less and less popular. More interestingly, because of our stance reflected in those authors’ writings we are even often associated and identified with OTC! Of course, that isn’t fair with OTC, is it Mr. Adams? Most interesting though is that now OTC itself adds to the crowd disturbed and displeased by us!
We post those materials in our website because we believe the messages by themselves are true and that they express what we wish to convey. Add to that our inability (being average Filipinos) to articulate on our own our Gospel convictions in English. If those persons did believe a false gospel their own writings shall testify against them.
Suppose we adopt and promote OTC’s stance, can we be truly assured? I mean, who can tell if OTC itself will in the future promote heresy (I believe it already does)? If that happens all that OTC wrote and stood for are the Lie.
Talking about heresy, I personally think that OTC promotes the heresy of a “mutable” idol-god in its denial of eternal justification. If I understand you correctly, you believe that god loved his elect in eternity, then he changed his attitude on them, from that of love to that of wrath, when they are born in time (using Ephesians 2:4 detached from verses 5 and 6), and mutates again from being a wrathful god to being a loving god from the moment the supposed elect believe. This is obviously not the Immutable God of the Bible (Malachi 3:6). It is an accursed idol.
Pardon me if I cannot express myself in fluent English. It’s not that I am not interested to discuss these things at all. It’s that I do not want to discuss these things with OTC. I resolve not to continue this correspondence (perhaps when extended may be potential to add to your OTC web posts, right Mr. Adams? Nah, this won’t be worth that). Sorry to disappoint you… again.
Farewell, Mr. Adams.
PS Just curious: we’ve known OTC for passionately disendorsing historical church figures. Do you have anyone at all (from the past or present) beside yourselves you positively endorse? You may treat the question as a rhetorical one. I would understand.
To Be Continued …