Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Jesus

Heidi Jackson sings "Happy Birthday Jesus" Christmas 2008 at G'ma and G'pa Elliott's house.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Media Definitions

What's the difference between 52.2% and 52.7%?

One is a "slim majority".
One is a "mandate for change".

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This guy gets it.

This needs to be on TV, instead of the Obama infomercial.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spreading the Wealth

Someone forwarded me this. I thought it was great:

Creative - imagine the possibilities

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read “Vote Obama, I need the money.” I laughed.

Once in the restaurant my server had on a “Obama 08″ tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference — just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need - the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I’ve decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient deserved money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dobson's October Newsletter

Here is a link to James Dobson's October newsletter. He lists why he's supporting McCain / Palin, and what's up for stake in the 2008 presidential election. I agree with him for the most part, and I will be voting for the Republican ticket.

Major Points:
  • Obama's record is the most liberal of any person in the Senate, Biden his running mate is #3
  • Obama promotes abortion. He actually voted three times against the "Born Alive Act" in Illinois, which protected babies who are born alive after an abortion attempt.
  • McCain and Palin have both demonstrated a commitment to protecting the unborn.
  • The Democrats are promoting a homosexual activist agenda.
  • If the Democrats control the House/Senate/President, there will be a lot of legislation promoted that is blatantly hostile to Christians.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My new blog: Wesleyan Arminian

I have decided to divide my blogging into two separate sites:

1) Wesleyan Arminian
This blog will focus on theology from a Wesleyan-Arminian perspective. If you follow Seekadoo because of an interest in Arminian Theology, please update your links to the new blog. All future theology posts will go there. I have imported all relevant posts and comments from Seekadoo into the new blog.

2) Seekadoo (My current blog)
I like to post on topics other than theology. However, this can be a distraction for readers. Seekadoo will be devoted to everything but theology. I will also keep all old theology posts on Seekadoo (in case they're referenced somewhere else).

Thanks! -Kevin (Pizza Man)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Book Review: The Shack

What would you do if you were invited to spend a weekend with God? What questions would you ask him? Maybe why evil exists? Why is there pain? That is the background for the book "The Shack" (Author: William P. Young).

The Shack has become a phenomenon. As of today (9-8-08) it is ranked #6 in sales on, and has over 1,200 reviews.

There is a dual reaction to the book in Christian circles. People either love it or despise it. I fall into the former category, with a reservation. I enjoyed the story. It brought me to tears a number of times. As the father of two girls, I empathized with the main character, "Mack".

The Shack is about the problem of evil. Why does God allow for terrible things to happen? Mack's youngest daughter Missy is brutally raped and murdered. This causes a rift in his relationship with God. Mack cannot trust a God who would allow such a terrible act. In the story God invites Mack to come to meet him at the site of the murder. Mack goes to meet God, and so the story continues.

The Trinity is represented by three persons: Papa (who is a black woman), Jesus (as himself), and Sarayu (an Asian woman). Some people have been bothered that the Father and the Spirit were represented by women. However, in the storyline it is made clear that they are not really female, they are simply an anthropomorphism of God - much like "Aslan" represents God in the Narnia books.

What I liked about the book was how well the author illustrated the loving nature of God. This aspect of God' s character shined through. God deeply loves Mack. He desires to heal Mack, to be in relationship with him, and to set him free. God loves all of us that way, the author makes it clear. A phrase that is repeated is that God is especially fond of you (each of us).

In the story God does not desire evil, it is not ordained by him. Yet God is able to accomplish his purposes through the way he responds to evil - with his unconditional love.

One concern I have about the book is that it seems to imply universalism - the idea that everyone will be saved in the end. This concept is not explicitly stated, but I can see readers arriving at such a conclusion.

The outright hostile reviews of the book are unwarranted. They seem to primarily come from Calvinists who have an ax to grind with the (Arminian) theology of the author. This is unfortunate.

In conclusion, I recommend this book. However, it should not be taken as "gospel". It should not be read in place of scripture. In the end it is simply a story - but a very moving one at that.

Some other reviews:
Greg Boyd (positive)
Tim Challies (negative)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

General Atonement

Truehope over at Thru Faith has a new post entitled: Atonement for All. He gives a great overview of General Atonement, and how it is biblical. Be sure to check it out.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Audio Links: SBC Today

SBC Today has several audio links dealing with the issue of Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention. SBC Today is a blog run by several pastors. According to the website: SBC Today exists to restore unity in the convention around biblical discipleship and our historic Baptist distinctives.

Audio Links:
1) Dr. David Allen (Dean at SWBTS) gives a convincing argument that Luke is the author of Hebrews. Calvinism completely aside, this is an interesting presentation. Relating to Calvinism, he makes a strong case for General Atonement, preaching from Hebrews 2:9 "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." (70 minutes)

2) Dr Jerry Vines (Former SBC President) is interviewed. During the course of the conversation he speaks on how Calvinism is impacting the SBC. (23 Minutes)

3) Dr. Ergun Caner (President of LBTS) is interviewed. He gives an autobiography, and speaks on Calvinism along with other issues. (17 minutes)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Full Video of the Saddleback Debate Interviews

A must watch for Christians. I will keep my opinions to myself. :)

Warren Interviews Obama (49 minutes)

Warren Interviews McCain (44 minutes)

Questions asked:
Who are three wise people who you would rely on in your administration?
What has been your greatest moral failure? What has been America greatest moral failure?
Give an example where you went against party interest for the good of the country.
Give an example where you went against your own interests for the good of the country.
What is a position you held 10 years ago that you do not hold today?
What's the most gut wrenching decision you ever had to make?
What does it mean to you to be a Christian? How does your faith live out?
At what point is a baby (fetus) entitled to human rights?
Define marriage.
Do you support a constitutional amendment to define marriage?
Do you favor or oppose embryonic stem cell research?
Does evil exist? If so, what should we do about it?
Which existing supreme justice would you not have nominated?
Should faith based organizations who receive federal funds have the right to hire people of like minded belief?
Do you support merit pay for public school teachers?
Define rich. Give me a number.
What do you do when the the right to privacy and national security interests collide?
What's worth dying for?
What is the criteria for committing American troops to war?
Would you consider a government plan to help orphans worldwide?
What should we do to end religious persecution worldwide?
What should we do to prevent human trafficking (slavery)?
Tell me in a minute why you want to be president.
What do you say to people who oppose me asking you these questions in a church?
What would you tell the American public if you knew there would be no repercussions?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Book Review: Passion for the Heart of God

Passion for the Heart of God, by John Zumwalt

Zumwalt makes the case that the reason the church exists is to fulfill the great commission. God loves people. It breaks his heart that there are so many who have never heard his name. He yearns to be in relationship with the unreached people of the world. What grieves God ought to grieve us too.

Zumwalt argues that much of the problem with the Western church is that we have lost focus on what matters to God, and instead focus on ourselves. He argues that the Christian walk is not meant to be easy. Blessings that we receive aren't meant for us to be used selfishly, but are given so that God's name will be known among the nations. The same is true of the nation of Israel. Israel was chosen not just to be blessed, but instead to be used by God as part of his plan to reconcile every nation to him.

This is a challenging book. It is easy to understand, but it is not so easy to apply.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Reformation Era Scholars who Moved Away from Limited Atonement

I thought some others might find this interesting:

The Appendix of The Life of John Goodwin (Thomas Jackson, 1872) has a list of some scholars (Reformation Era to the mid 1800s) who moved away from Limited Atonement
to "enlarged views of Divine Philanthropy". The author includes himself in the list, as well as Luther, Calvin (?!), and others. Very interestingly, a number of those listed were involved with the proceedings in Dort. (Goad, Davenport, Tilenus, Hales of Eton).


It is a fact, which is highly worthy of attention, that several of the greatest divines, who have adorned the different Protestant churches by their learning, talents, and virtue, were, in the early part of their lives, "straitened in their bowels" respecting the extent of CHRIST'S REDEMPTION, and as they advanced in years and knowledge, they entertained enlarged views of the Divine Philanthropy. The following are some of the examples of this kind which may be specified:


Luther's friend and coadjutor, was at first Luther's scholar, and drew from him his earliest religious opinions. But being a learned and dispassionate man, pursuing truth, he saw his errors and abandoned them; and espoused sentiments concerning the respectiveness of God's decrees, widely different from those he had formerly held. [A circumstance which is very conveniently passed over in silence by Dr. Cox, his late English biographer.] — Pierce's Divine Philanthropy Defended, p. 14, Edit. 1657.


Also went on long as he at first set out, with so little disguise, that whereas all parties had always pretended that they asserted the freedom of the will, he plainly spoke out, and said the will was not free, but enslaved. Yet, before he died, he is reported to have changed his mind on this and other kindred subjects : for though ho never owned that, yet Melancthon, who had been of the same opinions, did ; for which he was never blame by Luther. — Burnet on the Seventeenth Article.


Himself was education at Geneva, and in the early part of his life embraced those doctrines concerning predestination, which Calvin and Beza had taught in that city. Afterwards, however, when actually engaged in vindication of those doctrines, he was convinced that they were indefensible; and embraced the principles of those whose religious system extends the Divine benevolence and the merits of Jesus Christ to all mankind.— Mosheim's Eccles. Hist. Vol. V. p. 440, Edit. 1806.


Professor of Divinity at Sedan, a man not less acute in judgment, than versed in all kinds of learning, distinguished himself by decided hostility to the sentiments of Arminius. Convinced at length by the arguments of his opponents, he changed sides; and proved the genuineness of his conversion by submitting to share with the Remonstrants in those severe persecutions which were inflicted upon them by the Dutch Calvinists. — Brandt's History of the Reformation, Vol. II. p. 137, Edit. 1721.


President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, is thus characterized by the noted Prynne : "Dr. Jackson is a man of great abilities, and of a plausible, affable, courteous deportment. — Of late he hath been transported beyond himself with metaphysical contemplations. The University of Oxford grieves for his defection" [from the doctrine of absolute predestination] . — Anti-Arminianism, p. 270, Edit. 1630.


Is generally allowed to have been one of the most learned and pious men of the age in which he lived. Concerning him, Dr. Pierce observes, "That that inestimable bishop, in his most mature and ripest years, was very severe to those doctrines which are commonly called Calvinistical, is a thing so known, that I cannot think it will be denied." — Divine Purity Defended, p. 125, Edit. 1657.


Provost of Queen's College, Oxford, who was esteemed by all who knew him, as a divine of an amiable disposition, and of great probity, industry, and learning, has given a pleasing account of his conversion from Calvinism to the Armiman tenets; and the piety and meekness of temper displayed in the narrative add weight to his judgment, and are honourable to the cause for which he pleads. — Collection of Tracts on Predestination, p. 225, Cambridge, 1719.


One of the ablest opponents of Calvinism that system has ever had, states concerning himself: "I was, in my childhood, of the opinions [concerning Election, Reprobation, &c.] Mr. Barlee doth now contend for. But, through the infinite mercy of God, I have obtained conversion: and being converted from the practice, as well as from the opinion, which I was of, I will, to my poor utmost, endeavour to confirm or convert my brethren." — Divine Philanthropy Defended, p. 15.


Who was a Calvinist in his younger days, used frequently to say, that when he heard Episcopius argue in favour of General Redemption at the Synod of Dort, he "bade John Calvin good night." — Hales's Golden Remains, Preface.


Author of a very able work entitled, " God's Love to Mankind Manifested," — a work which produced a considerable effect among the national clergy, in the early part of the seventeenth century, — says, " I have sent you here my reasons which have moved me to change my opinion in some controversies, of late debated between the Remonstrants and their Opponents." — See the tract itself, p. 1, Edit. 1G38. W1tiston's Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 10, Edit. 1749.


Was a person every way eminent, having the repute of a great and general scholar, exact critic and historian, a poet, orator, schoolman, and divine. He was a member of the Synod of Dort, and acquitted himself there with great applause, in opposition to the opinions of the Remonstrants. He at length saw cause to alter his judgment ; and, in defence of those principles ho had formerly opposed, wrote a very able work entitled, "A Disputation concerning the Necessity and Contingency of Events."— Echard's History of England, Vol. II. p. 122, Edit, 1718. Collection of Tracts on Predestination, Preface.


Who is generally acknowledged to have been one of the most learned men in Europe, in the early part of his life held the doctrines of strict Calvinism; but as he advanced in years, avowed his belief of General Redemption; and is said, before his death, to have expressed his dislike of the whole doctrine of Geneva. — Pierce's Christian's Rescue from the Grand Error of the Heathen, Appendix, Edit. 1G58. — Bird's Fate and Destiny Inconsistent with Christianity, p. 74, Edit. 1726. — Parr's Life of Ussher, Appendix, p. 61, Edit. 1G86. — Wordsworth's Ecclesiastical Biography, Vol. V. p. 504, Edit. 1810.


Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford, and afterwards Bishop of Lincoln, has given an interesting account of the progress of his mind, from the sublapsarian scheme, to the mild sentiments of Melancthon and Arminius. — Hammond's Pacific Discourse concerning God's Grace and Decrees, p. 8, 1660.


At the commencement of his theological career, was eager in his attachment to the peculiar doctrines of Calvin. But when his judgment was more matured, though he still maintained the absolute Election of some men to Life Eternal, he contended strenuously for General Redemption, and for Universal Grace. — Baxter's Catholick Theologie, Preface.


Appears to have undergone a change of sentiment similar to that of Baxter. For Archbishop Ussher "freely declared himself for the doctrine of General Redemption, and owned that he was the person who brought both Bishop Davenant and Dr. Preston to acknowledge it." — Calamy's Abridgment of Baxter's Life and Times, p. 405, Edit. 1713.


Says, "They who have known my education, may remember that I was bred up seven years in the University, under men of the Calvinistical persuasion; and had once firmly entertained all their doctrines." The zeal with which he afterwards opposed those doctrine's, in his Commentary on the New Testament and in his Discourse concerning the Five Points, is universally known. — Whitby on the Five Points, Preface.


Himself, according to Dr. Watts, is entitled to a place among those divines whose attachment to the doctrines of limited mercy and partial redemption abated as they advanced in years. After noticing the difference between his sentiments as expressed in his Institutions and in his Commentaries, the Doctor says, " It may be proper to observe, that the most rigid and narrow limitations of grace to men are to be found chiefly in his Institutions, which were written in his youth. But his Comments on Scripture were the labour of his riper years, and maturer judgment."— Works, Vol. III. p. 472, Edit. 1800.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

An Apealing Aspect of Calvinism

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. - Acts 1:8

In this post I want to focus on the primary aspect of Calvinism that I find appealing. By the way, this is personal reflection. My reason might be motivation for some who have become Calvinists, but I'm not implying that it necessarily is.

It boils down to this: For me Calvinism would provide a release from the guilt for the reason why others are lost. Instead of it being my fault, it is God's plan.

You see, I have largely been a failure in preaching the good news of Jesus. It grieves me greatly that some will go to hell because I have not cared enough to share that Jesus loves them and desires a relationship with them. My brothers will spend eternity in darkness because I was too selfish to share the light of Jesus.

On the other hand, Calvinism teaches that the lost are lost because God has foreordained it. The reprobate are in fact lost because Jesus does not love them, and has not made a provision for them. The Westminster confession (Chapter III) states that:

"God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass..."

"By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death."

"These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished."

"As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto."

So Calvinism says people go to hell because God has ordained it, NOT because I have kept the light of Jesus under a bushel. It further states that the number of people going to hell can't be increased or diminished. Additionally it states that God has already foreordained the means for the elect to be saved. The elect are good to go, without my obedience. The reprobate are certainly lost, without regards to my witness (or lack thereof).

Essentially Calvinism states that all my failures are designed by God's plan. Now that would be a relief to know. But...I don't believe this. My failures are not ordained by God. He certainly forgives them, and can account for them ahead of time, but they are not preferred by him.

An argument that I frequently hear from Calvinists is that Arminian theology comes from a rebellious desire to promote free will at the expense of God's (deterministic) sovereignty. Personally, I find the opposite to be true. I would jump at the chance to attribute my failures to divine providence. But my conscience will not allow it.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Accuracy of Time Magazine's "Antichrist" Article?

Time Magazine has a new article entitled "An Antichrist Obama in McCain Ad?", where they speculate that McCain's recent commercial "The One" is an attempt by the GOP to scare evangelicals into voting against Obama.

Here is a quote from the article that does not appear to be accurate:

A Google search for "Obama" and "Antichrist" turns up more than 700,000 hits, including at least one blog dedicated solely to the topic. A more obscure search for "Obama" and "Nicolae Carpathia" yields a surprising 200,000 references.

Okay, let's find out if that is true. First, let's search for "Obama" and "Antichrist" and see if we get more than 700,000 hits.

Yup, good so far. 700k plus. Now, how about "Obama" and "Nicolae Carpathia". According to Time, this should produce 200,000 hits:

No where near 200,000. There are only 3670 hits, and that's without quotes. Time Mag is off by 196,000, or 98%. Maybe it's Google's "safe search" protecting us from all those fundamentalist sites, let's try this with safe search off:

We picked up another 10 sites, still not within spitting distance of 200k. Maybe no one knows how to spell "Nicolae", let's cut that from the search.

Still only 10,300 hits.

Either a large number of links have just disappeared, or Time Mag needs to check their facts better. But hey, who wants to let facts get in the way of a good story?

For the record, Obama is NOT the Antichrist. The real AC will be much more impressive, and will fool more than 45% of us.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Sola Paul (satire)

In this post I would like to look at the extent of the atonement. By using proper exegesis of scripture it can be proven with certainty that Jesus died to effectually secure salvation for Paul of Tarsus. And for Paul alone.

First, let's take a look at Galatians 2:20. This is the most important verse in the Bible, because it explicitly states the extent of the atonement (bold mine):

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

This verse is key. It indisputably proves that Jesus loved and gave himself only for Paul.

It's worth noting that some theologians have used other passages in a vain attempt to apply the atonement to others for whom it was not intended. These heretics fail to make an important distinction. Ambiguous verses should always be interpreted in the light of more explicit verses. Galatians 2:20 very clearly limits the scope of the atonement to Paul, and Paul alone. Other less clear passages should be interpreted accordingly.

If Galatians 2:20 was the only verse that dealt with the extent of the atonement, the heretics might have a point. Fortunately it is not. Let's take a look at some other clear passages:

In Matthew 18:12 we learn that the shepherd only wanted to save one sheep. In fact he abandoned 99 sheep to save the one (bold mine):

"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?"

This passage is so clear. It proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the shepherd found and saved only one sheep (Paul). The shepherd left the 99 other sheep on the hills. By doing this the shepherd maximized his glory. Moreover, he increased the appreciation and adoration of Paul, whom was effectually retrieved. If other sheep could have been retrieved, it would have diluted the value of the shepherd's act.

The same parable is presented in Luke 15:4-6 (bold mine):

"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'"

One again, we see the shepherd saving only one sheep. He leaves the reprobate sheep in open country, puts the one sheep on his shoulders, and goes home.

Theologian James White gives additional insight on the use of the word sheep (bold mine):

"The good Shepherd lays down His life in behalf of the sheep. Are all men the sheep of Christ? Certainly not..."

Before commenting on this quote, it is necessary to exegete White's use of the term "sheep". To the non-educated it may appear that he is using the word "sheep" to refer to more than one person. This is not the case. In English the word "sheep" can be singular or it can be plural. Here are some examples:

Singular example: Look! there is one sheep over there!
Plural example: Look! There are a boat load of sheep over there! We must be in New Zealand!

Non-English scholars do not often note this subtle distinction in the usage of the word "sheep". Nor do the misguided plural atonement heretics who resort to man centered thinking instead of exegesis. White's context is plain. When he uses the phrases "the sheep" and "the sheep of Christ", he is referring to only one sheep. Never once does White say "boat load of sheep", nor does he refer to New Zealand. He says only "the sheep" (which of course we know is Paul).

Now let's get back to God's word. Another important passage to look at is Acts 9:3-7 (The Damascus Road story). In it we see with crystal clarity that Jesus chose only Paul: (bold mine)

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"....the men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.

This passage indicates that only Paul heard Jesus' voice and saw a light from heaven. The men with Paul heard the voice but did not see the light. The light was not for them, it was only for Paul. This proves that Paul's fellow travelers were reprobate. Of course they would be, they were not Paul.

Philosophical Arguments on the Atonement for Paul:
There are only three philosophical arguments to be considered.
1) The atonement was for everyone
2) The atonement was for no one.
3) The atonement was for Paul.

We know that 1 is false, that is universalism. We know that 2 is false because Paul was saved. Option 3 is all we have left. The atonement was for Paul.

Common objections to Atonement for Paul:

Q: What about the many passages that speak about "the world"? Isn't the world more than Paul?

A: In light of the explicit context of Galatians 2:20, it is clear that the ambiguous passages that refer to "world" are more accurately translated as "the world of the one elect person whose name is Paul". Remember, ambiguous passages should always be interpreted in the context of explicit ones.

Q: But doesn't Romans 1:16 state salvation is for both Greek and Jew? How can this be the one person Paul?

A: Quit imposing your own biased interpretation on the word. Read scripture and let it speak for itself. Paul easily answers this objection in 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 "To the Jews I became like a Jew...To those not having the law I became like one not having the law..." You see, Paul is both Jew and Greek. Romans 1:16 refers only to Paul.

Q: What about Mary, Jesus mother? She wasn't Paul and yet the Bible says she was blessed.

A: What are you, some kind of closet Catholic? Your line of thinking always leads back to Rome.

Q: This whole system is not fair. If only Paul is saved, what about everyone else who perishes? This is a bum deal for everyone except Paul.

A: Paul anticipates your objection and addresses it in Romans 9:20 "Who are you oh man to talk back to God?." In other words this may seem unfair from your fallen human view, but it is God's sovereign choice to individually and effectually save Paul and Paul alone. This gives God more glory, and makes Paul's salvation more valuable. Don't talk back to God.

Q: I'm not talking back to God, I'm saying that your system distorts the character of God.

A: You have an odd concept of fairness. Only one person usually wins the lottery too, but you don't complain about that do you? Sometimes no one wins the lottery and this makes the jackpot even bigger. If everyone won the lottery it wouldn't do anyone any good. For example if the jackpot was $1 million and 10 billion people won it, they would each only get 0.01 cents. What a ripoff! The same concept applies to salvation for Paul. He hit the jackpot.

Q: But wasn't it a waste of Jesus blood to apply it only to Paul when it could have covered more?

A: Not at all, this was planned by divine decree before the creation of the world. Jesus blood was only intended for Paul, and it effectually secured Paul's salvation. The atonement did not make salvation merely possible for Paul, it secured it.

Q: I don't find this doctrine very motivating to preach the Gospel.

A: That is a straw man. Paul believed this and was very motivated. Besides, scripture commands us to preach the Gospel.

In conclusion, the extent of the atonement is very clear. Jesus death was for Paul, and Paul alone. We all need to throw aside our traditional biases and read scripture in the context that it was intended. Case closed.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Romans 9 Exegesis

The Society of Evangelical Arminians is currently highlighting an Arminian Exegesis of Romans 9. This is a fantastic series. Keith Schooley gives a great contextual presentation of this frequently misunderstood passage. Be sure to check it out. The original posts are also available on Keith's blog.

SEA: Link
Schooley Files: Link

Monday, August 04, 2008

Audio Links: Asbury Theological Seminary

Asbury Theological Seminary has audio of their chapel services. Asbury is a multi-denominational seminary in the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition.

There are presentations from well known speakers like as N.T. Wright (New Perspectives on Paul) and Bill Dembski (Intelligent Design), and well as from Arminians such as Jerry Walls and Joe Dongell.

Link here: ATS Chapel

If you're looking for scholarly presentations from a Arminian perspective, you can't go wrong here!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Here is another new Arminian web site:

It is a little sparse on content, but they seem to steadily be adding to the site. It has a very nice layout. They seem to be from more of the Wesleyan perspective than the Classical Arminian view.

Anyway, it's great to see another good resource coming on line!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Can Salvation be Lost?

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:22-23

In this post I want to look at some of the different views on the possibility of losing salvation. Before looking at each view it's important to ask two questions:

1) How is Salvation "gained"? By works, by faith, or by decree?
2) How is Salvation "kept"?, By works, by faith, or by decree?

I'm going to propose 5 views, that come about through the way we answer these two questions.

View #1) Salvation is gained by works, it is kept by works. Net result: Salvation can be easily lost.
This view says salvation is dependent on what we do. If we do enough good and avoid enough bad then God gives us get a ticket to heaven. This view is popular among nominal Catholics and Protestants. It is also popular among some heterodox groups like the LDS.

The main problem with this view is that it makes Jesus' death unnecessary. If we can make it on our own why did he need to die? And a practical concern with this view is that one never knows how much work to do to obtain salvation. As a result there is no security. Scriptural support for this view is essentially zero.

View #2) Salvation is gained by faith in Jesus, it is kept by good works. Net result: Salvation can be easily lost.
One can become a true Christian, but if he sins once he loses his salvation and must repent again to get it back. One must be in a "state of grace" to get to heaven. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. This view is common among Catholics and also some Arminians.

The problem with this view is there is no security for the believer. One accidental sin can cause you to forfeit your salvation. In its more extreme forms this view also leads back to a "works" view of gaining salvation. It envisions a "Santa Claus" type God, who's making a list and checking it twice. This view leaves us open to deception from the enemy who is eager to convince us that we're no longer saved. It can also actually encourage sin. Just confess it after the fact and you're good to go again (Romans 6:1-2)

View #3) Salvation is gained by faith in Jesus, It is kept by faith in Jesus. Net result: Salvation can not be "lost", but it can be forfeited.
In this view losing Salvation is a possibility, but it only comes about by a deliberate choice and doesn't happen by accident. It must be walked away from. This is the view of many Arminians.

Problems: this view must be reconciled with passages which seem to imply that salvation can not be forfeited (like John 10:28). And like view #2 it also potentially leaves us open to deception from the enemy who is eager to convince us that we have lost faith and committed the unpardonable sin.

View #4) Salvation is gained by faith in Jesus, It is kept by decree of God. Net result: Salvation can not be lost one we have believed.
In this view we must believe to be saved, but once we have believed we are "sealed" by God, and there is no longer a possibility that salvation can be lost. This view is popular among some Arminians, Southern Baptists, and some other groups groups like Calvary Chapel.

The strength of this view is that the believer has both full assurance and security in Christ. The weakness is that it discounts the many warning passages in scripture. It can also result in believers thinking they have a license to sin.

View #5) Salvation is gained by decree of God, It is kept by decree of God. Net result: Salvation can not be lost.
Faith in Jesus is an inevitable result of God's eternal decrees. It does not come from anything in the believer. Those whom Jesus died for will certainly be saved. This view is often called "monergism" and is popular among Calvinists.

Problems with this view: First, it has the same weaknesses of view #4 (discounts the warning passages, gives a license to sin). Secondly it denies assurance. Those whom God decrees will certainly be saved, but no one knows what God has decreed. This view can cause us to doubt the good character of God, and can easily lead to a fatalistic attitude.

Works, Faith, and Decree
It's important to note that while there are at least 5 views on the possibility of losing salvation, there are really only 3 views on how salvation is given to us by God, and only three views on how salvation is kept. In each case it is by works, by faith in Jesus, or by unconditional decree.

The Arminian distinctive - We all agree on question #1: Salvation is given by God through faith in Jesus.
For Arminians, we all agree that salvation comes through faith in Jesus, however, there is disagreement on how is salvation kept. It has often been assumed by Calvinists (and others) that all Arminians believe salvation can be easily be lost. This is an unfortunate misunderstanding. The heart of Arminianism is that salvation comes by faith in Jesus. However, there is diversity on the second question: How is salvation kept? As a result, out of the 5 views described, Arminians can logically hold to view #2, #3, and #4.

It has been my observation that some Christians (Southern Baptists in particular) don't want to be labeled Arminian because they strongly disagree with view #2. This aversion to the Arminian label is unnecessary. One can hold to view #4 and still be Arminian. The root issue for Arminians is that salvation is genuinely offered by God to all, and the means he has ordained for us to be saved is through our faith in Jesus Christ.

My point here is not that this issue of losing salvation is unimportant or irrelevant to Arminians. It clearly is very important, but there is disagreement on the issue because of the way we answer the second question, not the first one. As Arminians we need to allow room for differences of opinion on the matter, and we need to teach others that not all Arminians hold to view #2 or even view #3.

There are several scripturally reasonable positions that can be taken on this issue. And to be fair, none of the views are without difficulty. No matter what our understanding, may we show love to those believers who disagree with us.

Arminian Articles on SEA

Here are some great Arminian resources available on the SEA website (Society for Evangelical Arminians). Thanks to Ben Henshaw for putting together this list.

  • Arminius, The Scapegoat of Calvinism Part 1 (Arminian Magazine)
  • Arminius, The Scapegoat of Calvinism Part 2 (Arminian Magazine)
  • Arminius, The Scapegoat of Calvinism Part 3 (Arminian Magazine)
  • Arminius- Hero or Heretic?
  • Calvinism — Ten Little Caveats (Bob Moore)
  • Corporate Election
  • Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Arminian (Olson)
  • Election in Romans Chapter Nine (Hamilton)
  • Extent of the Atonement (Ware)
  • For All, For All My Savior Died (Marshall)
  • Foreknowledge, Freedom, and the Future (Picirilli)
  • Is God’s knowledge the cause of all things?
  • John Wesley as a Theologian of Grace
  • Moral Agency and Accountability
  • Objections To Calvinism As It Is
  • On Predestination (Wesley)
  • Paul’s Use of Kalein: A Proposal
  • Post-Calvinism (McKnight)
  • Predestination Calmly Considered (Wesley)
  • Romans 9 (Adam Clarke)
  • Salvation by Faith, Applied (Picirilli)
  • Sovereignty and Free Will (Cottrell)
  • The Extant of the Atonement (Ryrie)
  • The Extent of the Atonement (Picirilli)
  • The False Antithesis Between Monergism and Synergism: A Lesson from Historical Theology
  • The Five Points of Calvinism: “Weighed and Found Wanting”
  • The Possibility of Apostasy (Picirilli)
  • The Problem of Apostasy in NT Theology (Marshall)
  • The Question, ‘What Is an Arminian?’ Answered by a Lover of Free Grace
  • The Theology of the Atonement (Marshall)
  • The Warning Passages In Hebrews (McKnight)
  • Saturday, July 19, 2008

    Oh Horrible Decree

    By Charles Wesley

    Ah! Gentle, gracious Dove,
    And art thou grieved in me,
    That sinners should restrain thy love,
    And say, “It is not free:
    It is not free for all:
    The most, thou passest by,
    And mockest with a fruitless call
    Whom thou hast doomed to die.”

    They think thee not sincere
    In giving each his day,
    “ Thou only draw’st the sinner near
    To cast him quite away,
    To aggravate his sin,
    His sure damnation seal:
    Thou show’st him heaven, and say’st, go in
    And thrusts him into hell.”

    Worthy of whence it came!
    Forgive their hellish blasphemy
    Who charge it on the Lamb:
    Whose pity him inclined
    To leave his throne above,
    The friend, and Saviour of mankind,
    The God of grace, and love.

    O gracious, loving Lord,
    I feel thy bowels yearn;
    For those who slight the gospel word
    I share in thy concern:
    How art thou grieved to be
    By ransomed worms withstood!
    How dost thou bleed afresh to see
    Them trample on thy blood!

    To limit thee they dare,
    Blaspheme thee to thy face,
    Deny their fellow-worms a share
    In thy redeeming grace:
    All for their own they take,
    Thy righteousness engross,
    Of none effect to most they make
    The merits of thy cross.

    Sinners, abhor the fiend:
    His other gospel hear—
    “The God of truth did not intend
    The thing his words declare,
    He offers grace to all,
    Which most cannot embrace,
    Mocked with an ineffectual call
    And insufficient grace.

    “The righteous God consigned
    Them over to their doom,
    And sent the Saviour of mankind
    To damn them from the womb;
    To damn for falling short,
    “Of what they could not do,
    For not believing the report
    Of that which was not true.

    “The God of love passed by
    The most of those that fell,
    Ordained poor reprobates to die,
    And forced them into hell.”
    “He did not do the deed”
    (Some have more mildly raved)
    “He did not damn them—but decreed
    They never should be saved.

    “He did not them bereave
    Of life, or stop their breath,
    His grace he only would not give,
    And starved their souls to death.”
    Satanic sophistry!
    But still, all-gracious God,
    They charge the sinner’s death on thee,
    Who bought’st him with thy blood.

    They think with shrieks and cries
    To please the Lord of hosts,
    And offer thee, in sacrifice
    Millions of slaughtered ghosts:
    With newborn babes they fill
    The dire infernal shade,
    “For such,” they say, “was thy great will,
    Before the world was made.”

    How long, O God, how long
    Shall Satan’s rage proceed!
    Wilt thou not soon avenge the wrong,
    And crush the serpent’s head?
    Surely thou shalt at last
    Bruise him beneath our feet:
    The devil and his doctrine cast
    Into the burning pit.

    Arise, O God, arise,
    Thy glorious truth maintain,
    Hold forth the bloody sacrifice,
    For every sinner slain!
    Defend thy mercy’s cause,
    Thy grace divinely free,
    Lift up the standard of thy cross,
    Draw all men unto thee.

    O vindicate thy grace,
    Which every soul may prove,
    Us in thy arms of love embrace,
    Of everlasting love.
    Give the pure gospel word,
    Thy preachers multiply,
    Let all confess their common Lord,
    And dare for him to die.

    My life I here present,
    My heart’s last drop of blood,
    O let it all be freely spent
    In proof that thou art good,
    Art good to all that breathe,
    Who all may pardon have:
    Thou willest not the sinner’s death,
    But all the world wouldst save.

    O take me at my word,
    But arm me with thy power,
    Then call me forth to suffer, Lord,
    To meet the fiery hour:
    In death will I proclaim
    That all may hear thy call,
    And clap my hands amidst the flame,
    And shout,—HE DIED FOR ALL

    Wednesday, July 09, 2008

    Audio Links: George Bryson

    George Bryson has a three part audio series on the problems with Calvinism. Link here. This is a great series. Unfortunately the format is Real Audio, so it can't be downloaded to a portable audio player. If anyone knows of an mp3 link let me know. :)

    Bryson is affiliated with Calvary Chapel. He considers himself a Non-Calvinist, but not an Arminian. He has also written two books critical of Calvinism:

    "The Five Points of Calvinism: Weighed and Found Wanting"
    "The Dark Side of Calvinism: The Calvinist Caste System"

    The "Five Points" book is a great primer for anyone who is looking into the Arminian/Calvinist debate for the first time, and wants a simple overview of the issues at hand. It is available online for free: here (web page) and here (pdf format).

    Tuesday, July 01, 2008

    Anyone Speak Portugese?

    Here's an Arminian resource if you speak Portugese. I ran the page through Babel Fish, it looks like a great site. :)

    Interesting side note: Babel Fish translates "Deus" as "God", while Google sometimes translates the term as "Allah".

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    (Personal Post) Family is moved!

    Our family has now moved. Yippe! We went from Nampa, ID to Richland, WA (The Tri-Cities). I changed jobs in October of last year, which made this necessary.

    - I get to see my wife and kids every day!
    - We're closer to extended family.
    - No more 300 mile commute to Idaho every weekend, this will save us big in fuel costs.
    - We found a cheap rental, only 1 mile from where I work.
    - There are now two more conservatives in
    Washington. This lefty state needs us. :)

    -Our house is still for sale in Idaho. The real estate market is terrible there right now. We're looking at renting it out and listing it again when the market improves.
    -In the mean time, I am going to have to get a part time job to pay both mortgage and rent. Maybe I get to be a Pizza Man again? :)

    Thursday, June 19, 2008

    James White / Calvinist Dictionary

    A portion of the Calvinist Dictionary has found its way to James White. :)

    Link here:

    Thanks to Nick Norelli for pointing this out.

    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    The Arminian Web Presence

    As an Arminian, one frustration I have is with the dominance of the Calvinist view on the internet. In this post I want to do a little musing on why this is the case. Why is the Calvinist web presence so dominant?

    Reasons for the Calvinist dominance on the internet:
    1) Calvinists are writers and authors. They love studying doctrine. They are articulate. Arminians are too busy "changing the world" to spend time writing. Unfortunatly these differences in approaches have resulted in a disproportionate Calvinist presence on the web.

    2) Calvinists have lots of big names: Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, White, etc. These big names have big web sites, with lots of free resources. There are no really big Arminian names out there.

    3) This is an excellent resource that I use myself. All free. All Reformed.

    4) The young Calvinist resurgence: Let's face it, there are lots of young Calvinists. If they were all new believers that would be wonderful. Unfortunately many come from nominally Arminian backgrounds. Anyway, all that to point out that younger people are much more active on the web, and these young Calvinists are busy busy busy online.

    5) Lots of Non-Calvinists do not consider themselves Arminian, and this limits the effectiveness of the Arminian web presence. Over and over I hear people say that they are neither Calvinist or Arminian. However, if you question them on their doctrine you find in most cases that they're nominally Arminian. Talk to your average Joe Baptist, and there's a good change that he believes in the P in TULIP, but is Arminian in other respects. However, if you ask him what Arminianism is you're likely to get a blank stare, or perhaps a lecture on how a believer can't lose his salvation. :)

    6) Arminians seem to be more siloed than Calvinists. We're too busy in our various denominations to be troubled with Calvinists or even with other Arminians that have slightly differing views. This is very true of my own denomination.

    7) Calvinism is easier to define than Arminianism. 5 Points. Tulip. Arminianism is more a rejection of Calvinism than a movement all on its own. As a result Arminian Theology is not a nice little package. We know Jesus died for everyone. That's about it for a starting point.

    This disproportionate Calvinist web presence is a problem. Average Christians are not getting a fair representation of what Armininaism is really is all about: the Goodness of God. If a Christian has been unaware of the A/C debate and then begins to look into it on the web, he will find the Calvinist view well represented, but not so the Arminian view. More than likely he will find only Calvinist resources that give a caricaturization of the Arminian view. This disproportionate web presence and dishonest caricaturization I think is in large part the cause of the young Calvinist resurgence. Good Arminian resources are hard to find. Fortunately, this is starting to change.

    Signs of the growing Arminian Web presence:
    1) An Explosion in Arminian Blogs: A year ago Arminian blogs were few and far between. Roy Ingle's Arminian Today was the first one I ever remember running across, and it took me a while to find that one. Now there are so many Arminian blogs I can't keep up with them all. This is a fantastic development. For example, check out this list of blogs and resources that Billy from Classical Arminianism has come up with. A year ago I would have done a cartwheel for the list like that.

    2) Networking: Arminians are starting to find each other, and outside of our respective denominational "silos". Some of this is due to the blogging I mentioned above. Some it is also unfortunately due to excessively negative interactions with Calvinists. We have had to learn to defend ourselves. (May we be graceful in the process.)

    3) A dedicated Arminian resource site: Evangelical Arminians. This site is beginning to make an impact. I hope that over time it will become the for Arminians.

    4) The slumbering Non-Calvinist "silent majority" is starting to awake: This seems particularly evident in the Southern Baptist denomination, with the Building Bridges conference, and now the upcoming John 3:16 Conference. Limited Atonement is not an easy thing to get Bible believers to buy into (for obvious reasons). As insulated Christians become aware of this terrible doctrine, they will have a strong reaction against it. This awakening is starting to take place.

    I would be curious for other's thoughts on this topic as well. Comments? :)

    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    Audio Links: William Lane Craig

    Theologian William Lane Craig has audio available online here: Reasonable Faith.

    He has dealt with a number of theological topics of interest.

    Dr. Craig's is a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California. He is an advocate of Middle Knowledge (Molinism) which is a bit of a hybrid between Arminianism and Calvinism. Read more about Molinism: HERE

    Tuesday, June 03, 2008

    Islamification of American Evangelicalism

    Keith Drury wrote an interesting post a while back entitled: Islamification of American Evangelicalism.

    He muses about 6 things we might see if Christians were take pointers from Islam:
    1) Elevation of the Father over the other members of the Trinity
    2) The glory of God is all that matters.
    3) Elevation of males and subordination of women
    4) Destiny
    5) Nationalizing religious values
    6) Holy war

    He doesn't mention or even allude to Calvinism in the post, but I definitely see points 1-4 as applicable to the Calvinist system.

    Drury is a professor/pastor at Indiana Wesleyan University. If you haven't checked out his site, give it a look. There's lots of good stuff there. He is opinionated, yet also has a knack for addressing serious topics in a disarming manner. (note: use IE on his site, firefox doesn't seem to render pages correctly)

    Sunday, June 01, 2008

    Audio Link: Palmer Lectures in Wesleyan Studies

    Seattle Pacific University has a series of audio links from a Wesleyan view, entitled: The Palmer Lectures in Wesleyan Studies. SPU is affiliated with the Free Methodist denomination.

    Link here: Palmer Lectures

    The series is described as follows: An annual event at Seattle Pacific since 1978, the Alfred S. Palmer Lecture seeks to bring the best minds and hearts in Wesleyan theology and Biblical studies to campus to discuss the Christian faith from a Wesleyan perspective. The lectureship is held in the honor of Alfred Palmer, a minister and ministry leader in Western Washington for more than 50 years.

    There are a number of well-known speakers:

    Wayne McCown (Free Methodist Theologian)
    Dennis Kinlaw (Former president of Asbury)
    William Willimon (Methodist preacher)
    Theodore Runyon (author, has written much on Wesley)
    Thomas Oden (Theologian, author of "The Transforming Power of Grace")
    Greg Jones (Dean from Duke Divinity School)
    Richard Hayes (Duke Divinity School, New Perspectives on Paul)
    Robert Wall (Theology Professor, SPU)
    Clark Pinnock (well known Open Theist)
    Rebekah Miles (Theology Professor, SMU)
    Ellen Charry (Theology Professor, Princeton Theological Seminary)
    Timothy Ware (Orthodox Theologian)

    Monday, May 26, 2008

    Audio Links: The Berean Call

    A fellow named Jesse Larsen has put together a bunch of mp3 links from The Berean Call (a Christian radio show) when they have addressed the issue of Calvinism. There are a number of topics, most fairly short in length (under 10 minutes or so) He also has a link to a sermon by Bob Hoekstra entitled "The Sovereignty Of God And The Responsibility Of Man". Good stuff.

    The Berean Call is a radio show hosted by Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon. They are non-Calvinists who hold to eternal security. Bob Hoekstra is a pastor with Calvary Chapel, and is also involved in prison ministries.

    Here is the link to the audio resources: Resources on Calvinism

    Jesse's main website is here: Jesse Larsen

    Friday, May 23, 2008

    Calvinist Dictionary

    A dictionary to help Arminians better understand Calvinist terminology.
    (Don't take this too seriously, this is meant in good fun)

    All: The elect

    Altar Call: An insult to God

    Man centered theology

    hoping that you're elect

    The first church father.

    The gospel

    Call (effectual):
    to be irresistibly dragged

    Call (general):
    God's justification to condemn the reprobate.

    What Arminianism leads to.

    We are free to do whatever the Potter decrees us to do.

    a mystery

    Doctrines of Grace:
    Term that helps illustrate how God has given us Calvinists superior insight. Usage example: "I was an Arminian before being illuminated by the Doctrines of Grace."

    Doris Day:
    Singer of truth

    To Draw:
    To drag

    Easy believism:
    The false idea that you can believe in Jesus Christ and be saved. Can a rotten corpse believe? Nope, neither can you.

    : Any Arminian interpretation of a difficult passage (thanks Ben)

    Synonymous with "heretic", unless your name happens to be
    Mark Driscoll.

    Someone God hated, not for any reason though.

    The elect

    Any interpretation by James White, after all he's a Greek scholar.

    faith (1):
    Something that the elect are zapped with after regeneration.

    (2): A work that gives pride to Arminians.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

    Faux Pas
    : Coming to church with a Bible translation other than the ESV.

    Finney, Charles:
    Wicked man who ravaged the evangelical movement. (Really)

    To Foreknow:
    To decree or to love, absolutely nothing to do with knowing before.

    Four Point Calvinist:
    An Arminian

    Frankenstein: Cool story about a dead monster that got zapped with lightning and then became alive. Great parallel to the way we are regenerated.

    Free Will:
    Something that can't exist because it would make God helpless if true.

    Praise we give to God for anything wicked that has ever happened (except for the birth of Charles Finney).

    God's secret will:
    To save a few and reprobate the rest (secret to Arminians but not to us)

    God's revealed will:
    a mystery

    Gospel of John:
    anything by John Piper

    Skip this book and read the Gospel of John instead.

    Hyper-Calvinists: Calvinists who care more about consistency than looking good.

    See "Four Point Calvinist".

    Infant damnation:
    Something that brings God glory.

    Book that Luther wanted thrown out of the canon.

    Jesus Loves Me, This I Know:
    Misleading children's song.

    Jesus Loves the Little Children: Another terrible song, obviously written by someone who didn't take the time to do a proper exegesis of scripture.

    John 3:16: Enigmatic verse. One must be a scholar to properly understand this passage. James White's unbiased insights are recommended.

    Greek word that means "elect".

    The Living Bible:
    I hope you're joking.

    A complete waste of time, see "altar call" for more info.

    The way God decrees sin but is not responsible for it.

    Word for thought translation is heresy.

    Author of Romans 9

    Name to call Arminians, extra points if they don't know what it means.

    Polemic Atheist:
    Another name to call Arminians, good diversionary tactic when appealing to John Owen doesn't work.

    Preaching the Gospel:
    Something God commands, but the reason why is a mystery.

    Something that works-based Arminians have in abundance, but we Calvinists don't after being chosen by God.

    Regeneration: See "Frankenstein".

    Those whom God justly damns to maximize His glory.

    Rick Warren:
    worthless author, read something by John Gill instead.

    The Road to Rome:
    Where synergism always leads to.

    Don't say that word!

    A heretic who got what he deserved.

    Misleading term, because the "ship" wasn't really floating in the first place.

    meticulous micromanagement

    God orchestrated the fall for His glory, the central truth of scripture.

    Wesley, John:
    A false apostle of free will (not kidding)

    Whitefield, George:
    Wesley's superior

    The elect

    The elect

    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    Movie Review: Prince Caspian

    **Spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie**

    I’ve been a C.S. Lewis fan since stumbling upon the Narnia series as a child. The stories were exciting, and it was fun to find the “hidden” Christian symbolism. I still enjoy the books today. I also loved the first Narnia movie: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I thought that they did an excellent job with translating that book to the big screen, and was pleased with how faithful they stayed to the original story.

    I had the same high expectations for Prince Caspian. After seeing the film I have mixed feelings. It was enjoyable to watch, and over all I give it a good rating, but I don't think it was done as well as LWW. Much like the Lord of the Rings movies, they took more liberties with the second story as compared to the first one. Not all the changes were bad, some were helpful. But other changes were unnecessary in my opinion.

    This is a blockbuster movie, and it shows. I appreciate the resources and effort they have put into these movies. The special effects were amazing. The musical score was excellent. They did a great job with the character Reepicheep. The overall attention to detail was good. I appreciated the fact that a number of the lines came almost straight from the book. I also appreciated the extra little nods to fans of the books – like showing the bulgy bear sucking his paws.

    They change the flow of the story line in the movie, and that worked well. It made it much easier to follow. In the original book Lewis follows a “flashback” storyline. The movie instead is chronological.

    They developed the character Miraz more than he was explained in the book. The same is true of some of his evil cohorts. I thought the extra character development added to the story, and helped to explain why these were bad dudes who needed to be taken out.

    There is a scene where they attempt to summon the White Witch. This is implied a bit in the book, but they took it much further in the movie. I liked the scene and thought it flowed well and added to the story.

    The role of Aslan was minimized. He seemed to be almost an afterthought instead of the center of the story. He doesn’t really show up at all until the end. That is a shame.

    The goodness of the four Pensive children takes a hit. The way the story line plays out, it would have been better if they had never come back to Narnia, because they’re more of a hindrance than a help. Peter’s character particularly this way. He is more concerned with making himself look good than he is with doing the right thing. He has a lot of unneeded conflicts with Prince Caspian.

    Susan is turned into a fighting machine. She reminded me more of Legolas from Lord of the Rings than she did Susan of Narnia. This is not at all consistent with her character. If Lewis were still around, I think this change would bother him. In the books he made a point of keeping the girls out of the heat of battle, but in this movie they are thrown into the middle of it. They added some romance to Susan too, which was a little irritating.

    The castle scene was a distraction. There were lots of amazing special effects during that part, but I don’t think it added anything to the story.

    Overall review:
    On a scale of 1 to 10 I give this movie a 7. Not as good as LWW which I would give maybe a 9. Still, it’s definitely worth seeing. I recommend it, and appreciate the job they did, and the fact that they are putting these on the big screen.

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    Quiz: Are you an Arminian?

    Somebody has come up with a quiz to test if you are an Arminian or not. It's actually pretty funny...if you have a thick skin. Warning: If you are a Charismatic Calvinist, you could fail this too. :)

    Link: Are You an Arminian?

    From the quiz: If your total is more than -5, you are either a full scale Arminian, or you are on your way. But it is still not too late for you to be given repentance… pray about it.

    I scored a -44!


    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Audio Link: In Search of Truth

    The website In Search of Truth has a 4 part series by Bob Waldron critiquing Calvinism. Here is the direct audio link: Calvinism Series

    Waldron is a pastor/professor/missionary who comes from a Church of Christ background (the acapella guys). This is a good series, although I do have a couple of reservations. Here is an overview on each of the four lessons:

    1) God's Sovereignty and Total Depravity - Waldron explains the Calvinist concept of Sovereignty - that God "controls" everything, and how this is not a scriptural view. He addresses Total Depravity and refutes it from what I would call a Semi-Pelagian view.

    2) Calvinism and TULIP - Waldron gives a little history on John Calvin, and then goes through the 5 points. He represents Calvinism very fairly and doesn't create straw men. He is easy to understand.

    3) Neo Calvinism #1 - Waldron argues that modern Calvinists have modified the system to make it seem not as harsh, and as a result are not as consistent as the old school Calvinists. He goes on a couple of tangents unique to the Church of Christ in this lesson (baptism, and complaints about instruments used in worship).

    4) Neo Calvinism #2 - This lesson is on the differences between Imputed Righteousness (Calvinist view) and Imparted Righteousness (View of some Arminians). Waldron argues for the Imparted view, and makes some very good points. Imputed Righteousness advocates say salvation "covers" sin, where as Imparted Righteousness advocates say salvation "cleanses" sin.

    Friday, May 09, 2008

    Who did Jesus die for?

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. -John 3:16-17

    Who did Jesus die for? Did he die for everyone as Arminians believe (Universal Atomenent), or did he die for the elect as Calvinists believe (Limited Atonement)?

    There is overwhelming evidence in scripture that Jesus died for everyone, And there is little to no evidence in the Bible to support the Limited Atonement view. Out of the five points of TULIP, L is the weakest link. It is a point that consistent Calvinists must argue out of philosophical necessity without the affirmation of scripture. This is no doubt why there are many 4-point Calvinists - people who love the logic and elegance of Monergism, but can't bring themselves to advocate a view that is so contradictory to what the Bible teaches about the extent of Jesus' sacrifice for humanity.

    The Bible is clear: Jesus died for everyone. It is a simple truth. Scripture is so clear on the universality of the atonement that it amazes me that anyone who reads the whole Bible can attempt to limit the love and sacrifice of Jesus.

    There are no verses in the Bible that specifically state that Jesus died only for the elect. Limited Atonement proponents instead refer to passages that speak of Jesus dying for "His sheep" (John 10:27) or for "His Church" (Eph 5:25). Calvinists argue that if Jesus died for a specific group, that precludes the possibility that He died for everyone. This is a weak argument because it comes from the necessity of the Calvinist system, and ignores the many passages that clearly do state that Jesus died for everyone. The Bible is full of verses that say Jesus died for all (John 1:29, John 3:16, John 4:42, Romans 5:15-18, Col 1:19-20, 1 Tim 2:5-6, 1 Tim. 4:10, Heb. 2:9, 2 Pet 2:1, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:14).

    We need to look at scripture in context, without imposing an unsupported philosophical system upon it. If we look at the big picture, it becomes absurd to attempt to limit Jesus sacrifice based on the misreading of a verse that mentions a specific entity for whom Jesus died. For an example let's apply the Calvinist's limiting logic to Galatians 2:20 (bold mine):

    I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

    If we look at the small picture here in this passage, Paul says specifically that "[Jesus] loved me and gave himself for me." Without referring to the overall context of the Bible, one might legitimately argue that Jesus only gave himself to Paul. However, when we look at the big picture we know that this is a false limitation imposed on the verse. Jesus died for more than just Paul, because other verses say he did.

    This same truth applies to any verse that states Jesus died for a specific entity. It is necessary to look at the big picture to fully appreciate the sacrifice that Jesus made. It is not adequate to look at one passage that says Jesus died for "Paul" or for "sheep", when other passages clarify and enlarge the context, and clearly state that Jesus did indeed die for all.

    We know that Jesus died for the whole world, because the Bible says so. That is an assurance we can build on.

    Monday, May 05, 2008

    Prayer for a friend

    My friend in Christ, Orval Halley, needs the healing hand of God. He's very sick with pancreatic cancer, and will not live much longer unless God heals him.

    Halley was my pastor for about 12 years. He has been a blessing to me and my family. He "retired" from his pastorate about 4 years ago to pursue full time missions in the 10-40 window. Pastor Halley is a man who is sold out for the kingdom. He has a commitment to God that I have seen in few other people.

    If God places it on your heart, please pray for him and his wife Roberta, and for their extended family. I believe that God has more for him to do in this life.

    [update: Pastor Orv went to be with his Father on 5-9-08]

    Sunday, May 04, 2008

    The Hermeneutics Quiz

    Here's an interesting quiz that measures how you interpret and apply Scripture.

    The Hermeneutics Quiz

    Here's my results:
    "You scored between 20 and 52, meaning you're a conservative on The Hermeneutic Scale."

    "The conservative hermeneutic group scores 52 or lower. The strength of this view is its emphasis on the authority, ongoing and normative authority, of all of Scripture. It tends to operate with the line many of us learned in Sunday school: "If the Bible says it, that settles it." Such persons let the Bible challenge them with full force. Literal readings lead to rather literal applications. Most of the time."