Monday, December 31, 2007

Cowboys end the year 13-3

The only one's that beat us were the Patriots, Eagles and Skins. No true blue fan is happy to loose to the Eagles and Skins, but all in all it's been a great regular season. The highlights of the year for me have been Romo's performance, Owen's attitude, Witten & Barber's progress from good to great this year and the pass rush of Ware, Ellis and Rattliff. As for a single favorite play, that's a tough one, but give Nick Folk's kick to bet the Bills a slight edge over Romo to Witten to bet the Lions.

The downside has been the way we finished out the year. We always seem to have trouble in December. But we should get key guys back in time for the playoffs. Having Newman at Cornerback is key, and Watkins (although not a starter or hard hitter) is one of our best cover safties. We also need our center, Gurode (not that Proctor's done that bad). But the big plus will be in the wide receiver area. If we can get both Owens and Glenn in the game for the playoffs, lookout.

2008 Season for the Cowboys

Here is th list of the Cowboys' 2008 opponents:

Home: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals

Away: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers

Don't forget we get two #1 picks this year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Update on my debate with Turretinfan

Turretinfan and I have worked out a resolution and process for the debate. Here's the resolution:

Romans 9-11 teaches unconditional individual election to salvation.

Turretinfan will be affirmative and I will be negative. Further, we have worked out some of the rules. Here's what we have:

1AC - 2k words
Neg C-X of Aff (three simple questions (i.e. not multipart or highly argumentative) - answers limited to 500 words)
1NC - 2k words
Aff C-X of Neg (same as Neg C-X)
1st Neg Rebuttal (2k words)
1st Aff Rebuttal (2k words)
Audience Questions (person to whom question is directed gets 500 words, other side gets 150 word followup)
Neg Conclusion - 1k words
Aff Conclusion - 1k words

That's the visible part. Before the debate gets started we are going to do a few things.

1) I am going to update the paper I put out on Romans 9

The original, which started this whole debate, is here:

2) Turretinfan will write his own paper on Romans 9-11

3) I will give Turretinfan my comments on his paper

4) he will give me his thoughts on my paper

5) the debate will begin...

This prework is needed to focus the debate on the key issues. We don't want to talk past each other. So it's important for us to really understand each other first. But the debate will be self contained. We will be discussion what Paul had to say in Romans 9-11, not each others papers.

So that's the plan anyway. It will take a while to get to the public part of the debate, so I will provide updates as things progress.

Artwork on the Remonstrants

Here’s a link to Artwork on the Remonstrants. The wording is in Dutch, which I don’t read, but the picks are high quality.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Recap of debate on "Forced Grace"

I wanted to recap a specific aspect of a debate that took place recently. The debate spans multiple entries on multiple blogs and it went in many directions. So it might be confusing to follow in it's original locations. But I didn't want this point to be lost. So I collected the key points here.

The point I wanted to highlight is that:

  1. the concepts of libertarian freewill (LFW) and total depravity are compatible
  2. LFW is required for moral accountability.
  3. God would not justly command the impossible
  4. Grace is not forced.

In this post I plan on linking to the original discussion, giving the flow of the debate, providing the actual debate, providing some post debate thoughts which expand on the subject by talking about the difference between the law and the Gospel and finally providing a quote from Arminius on the subject.

Original Posts

Here's the lists of entries of original debate.

JC an Arminian:

Mr. Belvedere a Calvinist (my responses in the comments under Godismyjudge)

Mr. Belvedere a Calvinist (my responses in the comments under Godismyjudge)

Turretinfan a Calvinist (my responses in the comments under Godismyjudge)

Flow of the Debate

The flow of the debate is as follows:

JC an Arminian: Man has libertarian freewill and is totaly depraved, needing God's grace in order to be able to believe.

Mr. B a Calvinist: that means God is forced to give us grace in order for us to be responsible for rejecting.

Me an Arminian: Nope. God could have destroyed us without providing grace. Man is still responsible because he is free to pick between options, even if all the options available to him are evil and he's unable to do what God has commanded.

Mr. B a Calvinist: But LFW teaches man must be able to do what he is held accountable for not doing. So you have three options. 1) admit your view is that man is able to believe without grace (ie deny total depravity) or 2) admit God must give us enabling grace so we can be accountable (i.e. forced grace) or 3) admit LFW isn't required for responsibility (i.e. deny LFW)

Me an Arminian: LFW doesn't necessarily teach that man must be able to do what he is held accountable for not doing. Rather, he is held accountable for what he does, provided he could have avoided it. But the alternative doesn't have to be something good, it can be another evil.

Debate Recap

Arminians in Blue, Calvinists in Red.

JC: Thus by nature, human beings are blind and hard-hearted towards the
gospel and cannot believe in Christ of their own accord. To overcome the power
of the sinful nature, something stronger than sin must enter into the equation,
which can only come from God.
Mr. B: ...we see that if it weren't for God's grace, the human
race would be determined to fail, though it wouldn't be their faults, because
they didn't have the freedom to succeed in the Libertarian sense. And this is
inviolable for every Arminian. Now God is unjust in punishing man unless he
gives grace. And the implications are that God is forced to "award" grace in
order to justly punish the ones who reject him. But God being forced to award
grace in order to introduce Libertarian Free Will reduces grace to something God
had to do. And grace no longer becomes grace but obligation.

Me: This is a powerful argument and I am inclined to agree
with it. (JC may not, Arminians may vary on this point.) After the fall God
could have destroyed mankind, without grace.

When I read Arminius on this topic the thought process I get is that two things are fundamental for responsibility.

1) freewill

2) God's commands

The issue here is not that man is obligated to do the impossible, but rather would God (who is justice) command the impossible? On the surface these looks like the same thing. But they are not. God issued His commands to Adam, when Adam could keep them. So God wasn't requiring the impossible. But if Adam was causally predetermined to fall, God was requiring the impossible. Commanding the impossible and maintain a standard even though man ruins himself are not the same thing. I do think God could have justly destroyed mankind after the fall, but thank God for His mercy. So for mankind to be responsible he must be the causal source of his actions (ie agent causation) and he must violate God’s just commands.

Mr. B: 1. If you wish to hold to both Total Depravity and
LFW you need to find a way out of the following jam.

I) Man must be able to freely choose an act in order to be held responsible for rejecting it.

II) Total Depravity states that man in his depraved state will always reject Christ.

III) Prevenient Grace enables man to emerge out of his depravity and accept

IV) Therefore, God must give grace to every man in order to judge those
that reject him.

2. If point 3 doesn't occur, LFW doesn't come into play. But you
list "[Libertarian] free will" as your first "fundamental [requisite] for
responsibility." God is obligated to introduce Prevenient Grace in order to hold
man responsible.

Me. I disagree with I. Man is responsible if he is the
causal source of breaking God's laws. If X is required and man freely does
non X in the form of Y (such that he could have done non X in the form of
Z), man is responsible.

Post Debate Thoughts (Law v Gospel)

The key points here are that 1) LFW and total depravity are compatible, because man still has evil options 2) LFW (not the ability to do good) is required for responsibility and 3) God would not command the impossible. I think these were brought out in the debate. However, I do think a vital point was missed, for which I take the blame.

It seems to me the debate above was a bit unclear in regards to the difference between the Law and the Gospel. God has given us moral commands and also invites us to believe and be saved. These two might have been mixed a bit in the debate. When Mr. B asked me if grace was forced in order for man to be held accountable, I should have asked, accountable for what? For breaking the Law or not believing the Gospel?

We were discussing if prevenient grace was forced. The point of prevenient grace is enabling men to believe the Gospel. Prevenient grace does work with and through the law, but the end goal is belief in the Gospel. But when discussion Adam's sin and the impacts of the fall, we aren't talking about rejecting the Gospel. Rather, we are talking about disobedience to the moral law.

So does God have to give prevenient grace in order to hold man accountable? It depends. If man is being held accountable for breaking the moral law, no, God doesn't have to give prevenient grace. He could punish mankind just for breaking the law, without having to give them grace that enables faith in Christ. But if we are talking about holding man accountable for rejecting Christ, I would say that such accountability does in fact entail God's provision of enabling grace.

God gave Adam a moral command, which in a way contained all moral commands. At that time Adam was able to break the command or keep it. So God wasn't commanding the impossible. After the fall, Adam and his offspring are now unable to obey the law. But that doesn't mean God commands the impossible. Just that God doesn't change, just because mankind ruined themselves.

The Gospel however, is a new covenant. It's separate from the law. Breaking the law is a separate offense from disbelief in the Gospel. The scriptures are clear that God holds man accountable for both.

John 12:47And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
48He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

So it seems to me that since God holds man accountable for believing the Gospel, God must have provided sufficient grace to man for him to be able to believe the Gospel. This grace is what Arminians call prevenient grace.

Now notice, God could had destroyed mankind after the fall without giving prevenient grace. So grace is not forced in that sense. But for God to justly hold man accountable for unbelief in the Gospel (as opposed to just violations of the moral law) then yes, God did have to give man enabling grace. So again, God didn't have to give prevenient grace, but he did have to give it in order to hold man accountable for unbelief.

Quote From Arminius on the Subject

Here's Arminius' thoughts on the subject:

8. "That man should be rendered inexcusable," is neither the proximate end, nor
that which was intended by God, to the divine vocation when it is first made and
has not been repulsed.
9. The doctrine which is manifested only for the purpose of rendering those who hear it inexcusable, cannot render them inexcusable either by right or by efficacy.
10. The right of God -- by which he can require faith in Christ from those who do not possess the capability of believing in him, and on whom he refuses to bestow the grace which is necessary and sufficient for believing, without any demerit on account of grace repulsed -- does not rest or depend on the fact that God gave to Adam, in his primeval state, and in him to all men, the capability of believing in Christ.
11. The right of God -- by which he can condemn those who reject the gospel of grace, and by which he actually condemns the disobedient -- does not rest or depend on this fact, that all men have, by their own fault, lost the capability of
believing which they received in Adam.
12. Sufficient grace must necessarily be laid down; yet this sufficient grace, through the fault of him to whom it is granted, does not [always] obtain its effect. Were the fact otherwise, the justice of God could not be defended in his condemning those who
do not believe

Arminius does seem to think that enabling grace is needed in order for God to require faith of fallen mankind. Without prevenient grace, God could punish man for violating the Law, but not rejection of the Gospel.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Of course, Christ's birth is the reason for Christmas. Man fell, God loved us anyway and sent His dear Son into the world to redeem us. But actually, that's not the upcoming holiday I had in mind.

Consider this passage from Colossians 1:

14In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
20And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

That's right, Christ's who provided salvation and redemption by coming into the world on Christmas day, actually created the world. He spoke and the world came into being. Creation is ex nihilo, which means out of nothing. On Christmas, we celebrate the aniversery of Christ's birth. On New Years, consider celebrating the aniversery of Christ's creating us!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Need for a new Greek Text and Translation of the Bible

After reading this post on the ESV:

I gave translations some thought. I like litteral translations as well. NASB, NRSV, ESV and NET are all high quality, modern, scholorly translations. But I prefer the KJV.

The reason I like the KJV is that it's based on the Textus Receptus. Having read The Revision Revised by John Burgon & The Identity of the New Testament Text by Wilbur Pickering, I find their arguments in favor of the Byzantine texts quite convincing. Modern translations like ESV give a lot of weight to Alexandrian texts. But the KJV is based on the Byzantine, so that's why I prefer it.

The issue in a nutshell between Byzantine and Alexandrian texts is one of majority vs. age. The two oldest bibles in the world are the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. They are from roughly 400 AD. These two have quite a few differences (appox 3,000) but they do have a lot of similariaties as well. These two bibles, along with a number of old fragments make up the Alexandrian texts. They are few in number, but very old.

We have a number of Greek bibles starting from around 800 AD. Substantially all Greek texts from that point forward roughly match. These are called the Byzantine or Majority Texts. The oldest bible in the Byzantine family is the Codex Alexandrinus, which is from around 500 AD. Even though they make up about 85% of the Greek texts we have today, there are very few ancient Byzantine texts.

So the stage is set. It's the Majority vs. the Oldest. My point here isn't to get into the debate. As I said, I find the arguments for the majority text convincing. My point here is to call for a new Greek text and new translation.

The KJV is great, but it has two problems. First, it's not in modern English. Second, it's not based on all available Byzantine texts. From what I understand Erasmus used approxamatly 8 texts to pull the Textus Receptus together. Counts of the number of Greeks texts range, but they are certainly over 1,000 and could be over 5,000. For those that favor the majority text, shouldn't textual critizism be performed on all available Byzantine texts to produce a composit Greek manuscript? Then shouldn't that manuscript be transalated into modern English?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What's the difference between all these historic groups?

Ever wonder what the differences between Pelagians, semi-Pelagians, Arminians, sub-lapsarians and supra-lapsarians are? These terms often get thrown around, and people sometimes get mad when they are labeled in one group or another. The best way I can explain these differences is through a little analogy. Imagine two guys, George and Matt, are in a boat. George represents God, and Matt represents man.

(Some people may have figured out that I used "G" & "M", because my memory is bad.)


George & Matt are rowing along. Matt falls out and goes under for a bit. He comes up and thrashes around, confused and scared. George calls out, I am over here. Matt sees George, swims over to the boat, and climbs in.

In Pelagianism, all that man needs in order to be saved is for God to call them through the Gospel. Then man is able on his own to respond and save himself.


George & Matt are rowing along. Matt falls out and goes under for a bit. He comes up and thrashes around, confused and scared. George calls out, I am over here. Matt sees George, calls for help and reaches out his hand. George grabs Matt's hand and they both struggle to get Matt into the boat.

The best catch phrase for semi-Pelagianism is that God helps those who help themselves. Unlike the Pelagians, semi-Pelagians realize that man needs God's help for salvation. But they think we start the process and God meets us half way in order to help. Then God and man work together for salvation.


There's a little bit of variety in the Arminian view, so I will give two analogies.

George & Matt are rowing along. Matt falls out and goes under. Matt hits his head and falls unconscious. George dives in and gets Matt off the bottom. As Matt comes to the surface he gains consciousness, starts thrashing around, and sees George pulling him back into the boat. Matt grabs a hold of George, as George pulls Matt into the boat.

A different Arminian analogy:

George & Matt are rowing along. Matt falls out and goes under. Matt hits his head and falls unconscious. George dives in and gets Matt off the bottom. As Matt comes to the surface he gains consciousness, starts thrashing around, and sees George pulling him back into the boat. George pulls Matt onto the boat and Matt lets him.

Both Arminian views are different than the semi-Pelagian view, in that man is completely helpless and cannot initiate their salvation. But in the one view, man does something helpful. He works together with God, by grabbing hold. In the second view however, man doesn't do anything. Man can resist, but does not. Thus, man's role in salvation is non-action rather than action. Thus all the work is done by God.

Calvinist Sub-Lapsarianism

George & Matt are rowing along. Matt falls out and goes under. Matt hits his head and falls unconscious. George dives in and gets Matt off the bottom. As Matt comes to the surface he gains consciousness, starts thrashing around, and sees George pulling him back into the boat. If Matt starts to resist, George gives Matt a morphine shot to calm him down. George pulls Matt onto the boat.

The difference between Calvinism and Arminianism is that man can't resist God's saving them. If they start to put up a struggle, God causes them to change internally in such a way that they cannot resist.

Calvinist Supra-Lapsarianism

George is in the boat by himself. He says to himself, I want to rescue someone today. He goes to the shore and picks up Matt. George & Matt are rowing along. George pushes Matt out of the boat. Matt falls out of the boat, sinks to the bottom, hits his head on a rock and falls unconscious. George dives in and gets Matt off the bottom. As Matt comes to the surface he gains consciousness, starts thrashing around, and sees George pulling him back into the boat. If Matt starts to resist, George gives Matt a morphine shot to calm him down. George pulls Matt onto the boat.

The difference between supra and sub lapsarians is that in the supra lapsarian viewpoint, God chooses some people first, before He decrees the fall. Thus, some people were chosen for destruction, without having first been considered by God as sinners. The fall becomes just a means that God uses to accomplish His goal of saving some people. Sub-lapsarians on the other hand say God first permits the fall before He chooses who He will save. Thus God is choosing some people for salvation out of fallen and sinful mankind.


Theojunkie has provided a different analogy for supra-lapsarians. I like mine better, but thought I would provide his for some balance.

George and Matt are in the boat. George tells Matt, stay seated and keep your arms and legs in the vehicle at all times, else you will surely die. George paddles out to a floating dock where Damien is fishing. Damien comes aboard. George paddles on. Presently, Damien whispers to Matt, "Did George tell you to stay seated? How can you see the view if you are seated? George just wants to keep you in your place so that he can do all the paddling." So Matt, seeing that the view is better while standing, rises to his feet and stands on the point of the bow (a la that girl in Titanic)... the boat is rocking in the waves, and Matt falls in. Just like George warned him.You see, if George wanted Matt to stay ever safe, he could have done any number of things to keep him from falling... he might have not gone on the boat ride... he might have not commanded Matt to sit... he might have left Damien on the dock and not let him aboard...

For more, see TJ's comments below.

Suggested Reading List for Arminian Newbies

When I first started learning about Arminianism, I didn't know who I should read. There wasn't much out there at that time and I didn't know where to go, so I just read Arminius himself. That was hard. He's very good, but I could have used an introduction first. Here's a few books I have read over the years, and if I had to do it over again, I would have read them in this order:

Intro to Arminianism - Just Getting Started

1. Arminian Theology - Myths and Realities by Rodger Olsen

Great at explaining what Arminians believe and don't believe.

2. Life in the Son by Robert Shank

Excellent Exegeses of most passages dealing with falling from grace.

3. Free Grace a sermon by John Wesley

Gives a short critique of Calvinism.

Intermediate Arminianism - Putting the Pieces Together

4. Why I am not a Calvinist by Jerry Walls and Joe Dongell

Strong systematic approach and solid Arminian reasoning.

5. Elect in the Son by Robert Shank

A case for corporate election.

6. The Works of James Arminius

Your now ready for the big dog. He may yet be a wild ride, but give it a try. As far as putting exegeses, systematic theology and sound reasoning together, I haven't found anyone better.

Advanced Arminianism - If you Like to Ask Why, Why, Why Like a Three Year Old

7. God, Creation, and Providence in the Thought of James Arminius by Richard Muller

Great at walking through God's attributes using Arminius' reasoning.

8. The Only Wise God by William Craig Lane

Readable, thoughtful, reconciliation between God's foreknowledge and freewill.

9. Redemption Redeemed by John Goodwin

Detailed study on the Atonement.


Owens vs. Owen

Terrell Owens


John Owen


Round 1: Providence

Terrell Owens starts out strong with his views of God’s providence.

God may not be there when you want him but he is always on time. -Terrell Owens
This is God's world this is not the media's world. -Terell Owens

John Owen counters with his view of God’s providence

The providence of God protecting and governing all, but watching in an especial manner for the good of them that are his - John Owen

Round 2: Morals

Owens comes back with his take on morality:

Right is right and wrong is wrong. - Terrell Owens

But Owen counters:
The custom of sinning takes away the sense of it, the course of the world takes away the shame of it - John Owen

Round 3: Top performers

Owens recently made the top 5 list of all time touchdown receptions.

Owen bounces back as he reciently was ranked in the top 5 theologians for Indonesian Christians to read.

Round 4: Verboseness

Owens can't keep his mouth shut in front of the media, recently telling Jessica Simpson not to come to the games so her boyfriend can focus.

Owen is always talking as well. His commentary on Hebrews is roughly 100 volumes.

Round 5: Trash Talking

Owens has a hard time respecting longstanding, honorable traditions.

In Owen’s intro to the Death of Christ, he hints that Arminians are associated with Pelagians, Gnostics and Judas.

Looks like a tie. Seriously, can’t discussions about Calvinism/Arminianism take place without the anger?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

#1 For the Sins of the Whole World

In this post I plan on 1) presenting the passages that teach Christ died for the world, 2) presenting my argument, 3) explaining 1 John 2:1-2, 4) going into some detail on the word "world", 5) addressing Owen's counter definition.

The Text

The New Testament has 10 passages which teach Christ died for the world. 1 John 2:1-2 is one of them.

1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:2And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

The others are: John 1:29, 3:16, 3:17, 4:42, 6:33, 6:51, 12:47, 1 John 4:14, and 2 Corinthians 5:19.

My Argument

My argument is relatively simple.

P1: Christ died for the whole world
P2: The whole world in 1 John 2:2 means everyone
C1: therefore, Christ died for everyone

The controversy is in what the "whole world" means.

Explanation of the Passage

Forgiveness & Cleansing are Conditional

In 1 John 1, John had just finished explaining that the Father is the one that forgives sin, but He does so based on Christ's cleansing sacrifice. 1 John 1:7-9 is one of the plainest statements in scripture that the cleansing provided by Christ's blood is conditional:1John 1:7-9

7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

To be cleansed (propitiated) by Christ's blood, we must walk in the light and confess our sins. Walking in the light is a reference to following Christ by believing in Him (John 8:12 & 12:35:36) and confession of sin is saying the same thing about our sins that God does. The word for confession of sins is homologomen (literally one word). Thus repentance and faith are necessary for cleansing from sin.Christ advocates for the repentant sinner, who is a believer, by requesting the Father to forgive him based on His being the atoning sacrifice for sins. Then and only then does the Father forgive him and Christ's blood actually cleanses him.

In 1 John 2:1-2 we are about to find out a bit more about how this works.


Christ is our Advocate in heaven, because Christ is the Mediator between the sinner and the Father. Christ is seated at the Father's right hand interceding for us (also see Romans 8:34). Our sins separate us from God and the only way to the Father is through the Son.Christ's advocacy and His being the propitiation for our sins are related. He is able to advocate, because He is the propitiation for sins.

Propitiation is a clear reference back to the Old Testament atonement system. The Levitical priests would kill a spotless lamb and offer its blood to God in order to atone for the sins of the people. This process, especially the offering to cover sins, is called the atonement.

The book of Hebrews makes it clear that the Old Testament process itself couldn't take away sins, but rather shadowed what Christ actually accomplished. Christ's death and offering propitiates. But notice the passage does not say Christ has propitiated for our sins, but rather He is the propitiation for our sins. It's in noun form, not verb form. So the reference is not to the action of covering brought about through the offering, but rather the offering made to cover sins. Thus Christ’s offering can cover the sins of the world, if the condition is met, but doesn’t actually cover the sins of the world.

Not for Our Sins Only

The "our" in the phrase "not for our sins only" is a reference to true believers. Throughout the book John is careful not to include pretenders within “us”. In chapter 2 verse 3 & 4, he says "we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him and keepeth not His commandments is a liar..." Notice how John contrasts "we" with he that says. This same care to distinguish between us (true believers) and others (even pretenders) in verse 19:

1John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

The "our" then, is clearly only true believers.

Whole World
The term whole world is talking about the sins committed by people throughout the world. The passage is not talking about just part of the world. This is plain by the adjective "whole". It's not talking about the planet itself, which does not sin. Rather it's talking about the people who sin. This is plain in Greek, because the term world is genitive, meaning it possesses something. Thus the passage is not speaking of geographic regions or the planet, but rather sinners in the planet.

What in the World does World Mean?

Generally the world means one of three things: 1) the planet we live on or 2) the people living on the planet (i.e. mankind) or 3) or that which is at odds with God (i.e. worldliness).By process of elimination we can demonstrate that world refers to mankind.

As we already discovered, world in 1 John 2 can not refer to the planet, because the passage is talking about the sins of the world and Christ dying for the world. People sin, Christ died for people, not the planet itself.

The definition of that which is at odds with God (namely sinners) might be relevant. But that definition would not help the Calvinist position. If Christ died for sinners in contrast to the elect, then of course He died for the non-elect.

So by process of elimination we are left with world meaning mankind.

Contextual Limitations?

Contextual limitations limit the scope of a broad definition like mankind. This is in contrast to senses in which the definition itself (not the context) limits the extent. There are three different contextual limitations to examine, "all else", "rule", and "hyperbole".

"All else" is a contextual limitation in which one person or group is contrasted with the rest of mankind. The limitation "all else" doesn't apply in passages talking about Christ dying for the world, because we are not talking about a contrast between 2 different groups of people like 1 Cor 6:2 "the saints shall judge the world". Nor are we talking about a situation were the speaker is distinguishing himself from everyone else like John 14:22 "how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" The passages saying Christ died for the world don't have any of the telltale signs that an "all else" limitation is being applied.

"Rule" is a general principle that works in each and every case. The limitation "rule" doesn't apply, but even if it did it would not help the Calvinist. If the rule was Christ died for a person applied to everyone, then Christ died for everyone.

The limitation "hyperbole" doesn't apply, because these passages are not using exaggeration for dramatic effect. There are 10 passages saying Christ died for the world. Someone might say those passages are exaggerating and don't believe the hype. But hyperboles are rare in biblical usage. There are only 6 hyperboles using the word world, which represents 3.2% of the uses of kosmos. Hyperboles should be used sparingly, so that the effect remains. Otherwise the author is discredited as being overdramatic. Further, the 10 passages related to Christ dying for the world are not emotional outbursts or intended to persuade someone through dramatic effect.

Owen's Counter Definition

Here's how Owen defined world:

By the “world,” we understand the elect of God only, though notconsidered in this place as such, but under such a notion as, being true of them, serves for the farther exaltation of God’s love towards them, which is the end here designed; and this is, as they are poor, miserable, lost creatures in the world, of the world, scattered abroad in all places of the world, not tied to Jews or Greeks, but dispersed in any nation, kindred, and language under heaven.

We have several immediate problems with this definition. First, it's not in the list of normal definitions provided above. That sense for world is never used. If it's the correct sense for the 10 passages teaching Christ died for the world, those 10 passages alone have that definition. Never do the scriptures say the world is justified or the world is adopted or any other blessing which is particular to believers. The sense Owen urges is a "special pleading" existing only to get Owen off the hook.

Second, it appears a hybrid between the two distinct definitions mankind and planet. Owen urges us to understand the passages as the group of elect men throughout the planet. Thus world is collective with respect to the elect among mankind and distributive with respect to their location. What a mess. But world is never used in a double sense like this. Here again, we have a second "special pleading" by Owen.

Third, to get the passage from including everyone, Owen has to shift to focus to every place. But the passages saying Christ died for the world, world is not about location, but about people. Christ died for people, not places.

Owen's definition doesn't stand and we are left with 10 clear statements from the bible that Christ died for mankind.

For anyone who disagrees, thinks I make baseless assertions or wonders why it took me so long to finish up this post, please see my study on the word world:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Redemption Redeemed by John Goodwin

Interesting article on a Puritan who held to Universal Atonement.

#2 All means all

What else would all mean? Just kidding. While Arminians are aware that all can be used in a variety of ways which ends up not meaning each and every person, the basic meaning of all is the same in each of its various uses. All can be used in a hyperbolic sense. This is an exaggeration where a person says all but when pressed would clarify meaning something less than all. Another more common use for all which ends up meaning less than each and every is an implied qualifier. Someone says all, but they mean all within the context.

This second sense, an implied qualifier, is the way most Calvinists explain the “all passages”. Christ died for all “sheep”. Christ died for all “races of’ men. They typically infer this into the context from 1 of 2 factors. Sometimes they look at an element of the context which says God is actually saving this or that person. From that they infer that if all means each and every person, each and every person is saved. Thus all really means all “sheep”. Other times they look at a Jew/Gentile discussion in the context and infer that all means all “races of” men.

The Passage

Let’s look at one of the many “all” passages:

1 Timothy 2
1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

My Argument

Normally I like to form an argument by drawing a premise from the text to arrive at the conclusion. No need to do that in this case. The passage states the conclusion. This is a simple matter of grammar. Paul is saying that Jesus Christ gave Himself as a ransom for all. The controversy then is not in the words, but rather in the interpretation.

Explination of the Passage

Let's walk through the passage and see what it tells us in relation to Christ's dying for all.

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Verse 1 tells us to pray for all men. The thanksgivings here are not for the evil actions of men, but rather for the blessings God has given them. During thanksgiving, we don't thank God our sons talked back to their teacher. Rather we thank God for our son's health.

In verse 2, "all" doesn't included Satan or queen bees, but all “men” as verse 1 states. This is an example of the right way to use an implied qualification for all. The qualifier is drawn from the immediate context. I am a little embarrassed bringing up these points regarding not praying for Satan and thanksgiving. But triablogue mentioned these points on their site, so I thought I would address them.

Verse 2 indicates that Christians were having trouble with those in authority. We know this was a time of great persecution in the Church. I bring this up because those in authority were unlikely to be believers. But of course unbelievers are included in all men.

3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

The word "for" (gar in Greek) has a connecting force. It's like saying "and here's the reason is said what I did". It's used again to introduce verse 5. This shows the unity of the passage. The context is smooth, without seams which might allow for a sudden topic shift.

So why should we pray for all men? God wants you to because He wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, that is to come to faith. This passage, along with Hebrews 10:26-29, another knowledge of the truth passage, are among the two strongest against Calvinist theology. But before we get carried away, let's not forget that the focus for now is on those for whom Christ died. Let's move on to the juicy part.

5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

In verse 5, Christ is said to be the one Mediator between God and men. Men here is used in a general sense and as such can‘t exclude anyone. Let’s pretend for a second that it did mean “elect” men. Doesn’t that imply that non-elect men could have a different mediator? Could they go to Buddah? No. Men is being used generally.

This is a similar usage to “with men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible” or “we ought to obey God rather than men”. Men is being used in a general sense, so there can’t really be an implied qualification. Men is being contrasted with God. The picture here is the creation and the Creator. God on one side and everyone who is not God on the other side. Looking at this contrast we can plainly tell that no implied qualification would work.

There are other contrast passages which make this point even more clear such as 1 Tim 4:10 “who is the Savoir of all men, especially those that believe”. Rather than a contrast between men and God as we have in 1 Timothy 2, in 1 Timothy 4 we have a contrast between believers and by implication unbelievers. I brought this up to clarify the point regarding contrasts. Back to chapter 2:5.…

There can't be exceptions. Consider the similar passage in John 14: "no man comes to the Father but by me". Could this mean no "elect" man comes to the Father but by Christ? Could others get to heaven another way? NO!!! Christ is the only way to the Father, He is the only Mediator. No one can have another mediator. No exceptions.

Moving down to verse 6 we can see that the reason Christ can mediate for all is because He gave himself as a ransom for all. This is co-extensive with those for whom we are to pray, it's co-extensive with those for whom God wants to save and it is co-extensive with those who can have no other Mediator besides Christ.

The passage concludes by saying that Christ's ransom will be testified in due time. That is to say the message is being spread and will continue to spread.

Summing up what we have found regarding Christ's death for all...

Christ's death is co-extensive with the all men for whom we are to pray, including unbelievers who persecute the Church, it's co-extensive with those for whom God wills to be saved and to come to faith, and it's co-extensive with those for whom on one else can mediate. There is nothing in the context implying a qualification for all. In fact, the whole context labors against such a qualification.

A Few Objections

Let’s look at some objections from John Owens.

Owens’ argues:

P1: God’s will is either that of command or that of good pleasure
P2: In verse 4 which states God will have all men be saved, God’s will is that of His good pleasure
P3: God’s will of good pleasure always happens
C1: Therefore, either all men are saved, or there is an implied qualification
P4: not all men are saved
C2: therefore there is an implied qualification

Arminians deny P1-3 and have a different “model“ for understanding the will of God. We look at God’s will as either He want’s us to do something (in which case it may not happen) or He wants Himself to do something (in which case it always happens). God wants us to do things and He also wants Himself to handle or judge what we do. So looking at verse 4 we see that God wants to save us, but He also wants us to come to the knowledge of the truth. Because He wants us to come to the knowledge of the truth, it may or may not happen. God want us to have faith, in order that we will end up saved and He wants Himself to save those that believe.

Owens continues:

P1: all men sometimes means all “kinds of” men
P2: verse 2 introduces kinds of men, ie kings and those in authority
C1: therefore, verse 4 is talking about kinds of men

We deny the minor premise. This is talking about men within categories, not the categories themselves. Similarly, God doesn’t want to save the category Gentiles without considering any individual Gentiles in the category. But if Owens really means “some” men of all “kinds”, now we have two concepts implied into the verse to get it to work the way Owens needs it to.

We reject “some” men of all “kinds” this for three reasons:
1) the co-extensive argument above
2) Using KISS (Keep it simple silly) when it comes to scripture is a good idea. With double implications you can really get any passage to say whatever you want.
3)there is nothing in the context to support either implication.

Owens continues:

P1: Verse 1 states we are to pray for all men
P2: but we are not to pray for those who have sinned unto death (1 John 5:16)
C1: therefore we are not to pray for all men without qualification

Owens is saying don’t pray for everyone in order to take out the “co-extensive” argument. But there’s a problem here. The scope of whom we are not to pray would not only be those who have sinned unto death (ie the 1 John 5:16 person). Rather, it’s all non-elect, assuming Christ died for the elect alone. So that’s Owen’s implication here, don’t pray for anyone unless they are elect.

Let’s say we grant P2. We should still pray for all men, before they commit the sin unto death and if we don’t know if they have committed a sin unto death. What if God reveals that someone has committed a sin unto death (something like 1 Samuel 15:35 & 1 Samuel 16:1). In those cases, we should stop praying for someone to be forgiven. We might still pray that God would change them, rather than that He should forgive them. In which case we are still praying for them, which fits under 1 Timothy 2:1. In any case, this is 1) a rare exception, 2) not what Paul had in mind, 3) not as extensive as Owens needs it to be and 4) not necessarily contradictory to the kind of prayer Paul is talking about.

Owens arguments 4 & 5 are really just expanding on argument 1. I will add a little here. In relation to mediation… Christ is the mediator of all men in that He offers mediation to them and He can mediate for them. His mediation is based on His death. His being a mediator doesn’t necessarily mean He has mediated for them, but simply that He offers and can do so. Similarly His ransoming everyone means that He has provided a substitute that can be accepted by the Father on their behalf, if He mediates for them.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Change of location

For anyone who might have been following the debate I was having on triablogue here:

and more recently here:

The venue has moved to turretinfan's site, as he seems to be the main person responding at this point.

Here's his site:

and my most recent response:

Dear TF,

I am glad we can agree that divided senses shift as the topic shifts. I wonder if “ability to choose freely” could have a divided sense, but maybe it can. My concern is if it could have one, would that divided sense be of any use to you? One of the reasons I wonder this is because compatiblism and division seem at odds. That’s why I have been asking you (and Gene and Sinner Saint) for one. So I will gladly take you up on your offer to elaborate, using my necessary/sufficient distinction or anything else you would like.

BTW, I think “ability” can have a divided sense, but I don’t think it always has to have one. Further, a divided sense is more so about the scope of the context than the definition of the term.

As for God being freely good, I don’t think He is freely good. What He does is good, and what He does, He does freely. Responsibility has to do with being the source of ones actions whether they be bad (in the case of the totally depraved person) or good (in God’s case).

For more see:

Arminius Article 22:

And this argument from Freddoso in which he defends the compatibility of God’s maximal power and maximal goodness.

May are maximally powerful and good Father grant you peace,

#3 (part C - final part for #3) Christ died for those who ultimately perish

2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

Peter is prophesying about a falling away. He speaks of false teachers who deny the Lord that bought them.

My argument is simple.

P1: Christ bought the false teachers
P2: the false teachers ultimately perish
C1: therefore Christ bought those that ultimately perish

Calvinists deny P1 in two ways. First, they claim that the Lord isn’t Christ but the Father. Second, they claim that bought isn’t Christ’s redemption from sin, but the Fathers ownership of the world in general.

The second point hinges on the first. If the redeemer is the Father, it may or may not refer to Christ’s redemption from sin. For God sent His son to redeem us from sin. But if Lord refers to Christ, it’s beyond question that the passage is talking about redemption from sin.

The first counter to this argument is that on the surface it seems unlikely. New Testament references to redemption are talking about Christ’s work on the cross. It’s true that there are some OT references of the Father redeeming, but they aren’t particularly close to this text and it’s hard to see why those should be the best sense here. But rather than dismiss the objection out of hand, let’s look at the details.

The term for Lord is despotes. The word is used 10 times in the New Testament. It most common usage is that of earthy masters. But at times it is used of the Father. For example Acts 4:24:

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is
Also see Luke 2:29.

In one passage, it’s a bit controversial, but it probably refers to Christ.

19Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
22Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

So at first glance, it looks like the meaning of despotes and the interpretation of this passage can go either way.

But if we look at the parallel text in Jude 1:4 we find:

Jude 1:4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (NASB)

Here, clearly despotes is a reference to Christ. Since Jude and 2 Peter parallel each other, this is a strong argument that despotes in 2 Peter 2:1 means Christ, not the Father. This we should understand that Christ redeemed them.

In fairness, we should point out that there is a variant in the Greek text here. Notice the way the King James Version translates the verse:

Jude 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (KJV)

It looks like despotes (Lord or Master) is referring to the Father. The difference is that in some manuscripts the word “God” or “Theo” is added. This yields the difference in transition. Without Theo,Granville Sharp’s rule applies so the reference is plain to Christ.

The problem is that all the oldest manuscripts don’t add Theo. The first appearance of Theo is in manuscripts around 800. All the early manuscripts and papyruses exclude Theo. Nor is this a simple matter of Majority Text vs. Alexandrian text. Although most Bizentene texts have Theo, many do not. Further, the Latin Vulgate doesn’t have it, nor do quotations from the Church Fathers.

This reading also matches the internal witness of Jude, because just 3 verses earlier Jude calls himself Christ’s slave.

For these reasons substantially every translation doesn’t have “God” in Jude 1:4 and make it clear that the reference is to Christ. This includes the ASV, NASV, ESV, NET, RSV, NRSV, Holman, NIV and many others.

But if someone persists despite the overwhelming evidence, there is another reason to understand despotes as Christ. The context.

The passage is saying these false prophets imitate the errors of OT false prophets. The clearest description of their error is here:

18For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
19While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
20For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

They had escaped pollutions of the world, but were brought into the bondage to be servants of corruption. But how did they escape in the first place? Through the knowledge of the lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Can there be any doubt that despotes refers to Christ?