Whole Counsel Theology

Sunday, May 21, 2006

You are SCUM.

Get your attention? I hope so. I have become increasingly disenchanted with what passes for evangelistic preaching nowadays, or evangelism in general. We make passing references to Scripture, tell people how to "have a full and meaningful life" or tell them that "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life," or something similar.

Well, so what? I'm convinced that a lot of people are just happy with their lives and the foolish meanings they have in them, and most people nowadays probably couldn't care less that God has a plan for their lives. Who is this God anyway? Why should they care what He thinks? This objection sounds all too familiar.

Understanding something about God is critical, that He is holy and perfect, that we need to be both, and have fallen grossly short.

However, the thing that is largely missing from our presentations that bothers me most is a powerful confrontation of the sin in a person's life. We gloss over things with statements like the above quoted ones from known Gospel tracts, putting a statement out front that is designed to cater to something man would want (a good plan, a meaningful life, or something else) rather than the clear offense of the Gospel and what the Bible says about our state of sin.

The Bible teaches that we are DEAD in our sins, and that we are EVIL, completely opposed to God, HATING HIM, and wanting NOTHING to do with Him. THIS is the state of man without Christ, not merely having a problem or only being separated from God. Man, apart from Christ, is under God's WRATH, and in danger of HELL. Spurgeon put it better than I ever could:
Ho, ho, sir surgeon, you are too delicate to tell the man that he is ill! You hope to heal the sick without their knowing it. You therefore flatter them; and what happens? They laugh at you; they dance upon their own graves. At last they die! Your delicacy is cruelty; your flatteries are poisons; you are a murderer. Shall we keep men in a fool's paradise? Shall we lull them into soft slumbers from which they will awake in hell? Are we to become helpers of their damnation by our smooth speeches? In the name of God we will not. It becomes every true minister of Christ to cry aloud and spare not, for God hath set a day in which he will "judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel." As surely as Paul's gospel was true the judgment will come.

Do I seem a little upset? I hope I do, because I am. We have dumbed the Gospel down so much, trying to "encapsulate" it so that our culture can stand it to some extent, and we've lost the force of it. We are evil, sinful, rebellious, rotten sinners who have mocked, insulted, hated, and blasphemed God and deserve nothing but His wrath and justice. Where do I get this? I get it from the BIBLE, which is the thing we need to be giving people when we share Christ with them. If we don't, then we have no power. How can I make this statement? Have a look:
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Why is it then, that we don't bring the Word of God, preached/declared expositionally to people if we want God to save them? Hmm? Is not the Gospel the power of God unto salvation? Why then do we not take the passages of Scripture that deal specifically with salvation (our state before God, the need for atonement, repentance, faith, etc) and expose those to people, demanding their submission to them? WHY, I ask you? WHY do we NOT do this?? Perhaps we don't think they are so bad; maybe we think that they can just choose Jesus if they feel like it and that their state isn't TOO deplorable. Well, I'll tell you what: that is NOT the teaching of the Bible, and we need to repent of this kind of evangelism. Where does the Bible indicate such a wretched state of man that I've described so far? I'm glad you asked.
Romans 3:9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,
(10) as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one;
(11) no one understands; no one seeks for God.
(12) All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."
(13) "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips."
(14) "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."
(15) "Their feet are swift to shed blood;
(16) in their paths are ruin and misery,
(17) and the way of peace they have not known.",
(18) "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
(19) Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.
(20) For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

I simply cannot understand Christians not affirming Total Depravity unless they are ignorant of what the Bible teaches, or they are flat out rejecting its teaching for some reason. I DEFY anyone who would say that man has a will that is free in the sense that we can choose God on our own, and I stand on the clear teaching of Scripture to back me up. It simply is NOT true. Without the Holy Spirit changing us, we cannot choose God. It will NOT happen.

The Bible says in this passage and a few others besides that we are not able to submit to God's commands. Romans three is very clear; no one is good (neither Jew nor non-Jew). No one is righteous, no one seeks God. After saying this, Paul goes into one of the most thorough and condemning descriptions of the human race found in the whole of the Bible. There are others, but this one I think takes the cake. We are BAD, and to say otherwise is against the Bible's teaching.

"But wait," you might say, "I know people who do good things! Besides, doesn't the fact that the Bible commands us to do something make it possible for us to do it?"

Two answers exist. First, I will respond to the first statement with a question -- good in whose eyes? The Bible makes very clear how God views our "righteous acts"! Not only that, our flawed perspective of right and wrong causes us to view a person's "good deeds" from the wrong angle. Instead of seeing "all the good" someone is doing and seeing the "little sin" that is there, we should be seeing the fact that everything a person does is sin! Since everything that is not from faith is sin, and that without faith it is impossible to please God, we MUST conclude that people who do not have faith in Christ are sinning in everything they do. They constantly fail to glorify God in everything, and therefore are continually sinning. Apart from the saving work of Christ, the Bible makes very clear what we are:

We are scum.

There is NOTHING good in us that God looks down and sees as a reason to save us -- NOTHING! The Bible indicates clearly that NO ONE does good! Since this is the case, the electing grace that is discussed in the Scriptures MUST be Unconditional. There isn't anything good in us that would be a condition for election anyway (never mind the Scriptures that address this fact, but this is a subject of a later post).

To the second question, I offer a resounding NO. There are many passages of Scripture that indicate quite the contrary. In that last link, Joshua demands the people of Israel to choose to worship the LORD -- and then turns around and tells them that they CANNOT DO IT. Who of us can be holy apart from Christ's work in us? Who of us can be perfect? NONE of us can. By the same token, none of us can choose Christ without God making it so we can. It is that simple.

I think George Whitefield said it very well:
Come, ye dead, Christless, unconverted sinner, come and see the place where they laid the body of the deceased Lazarus; behold him laid out, bound hand and foot with graveclothes, locked up and stinking in a dark cave, with a great stone placed on top of it. View him again and again; go nearer to him; be not afraid; smell him, Ah! how he stinketh. Stop there now, pause a while; and whilst thou art gazing upon the corpse of Lazarus, give me leave to tell thee with great plainness, but greater love, that this dead, bound, entombed, stinking carcase, is but a faint representation of thy poor soul in it natural state;...thy spirit which thou bearest about with thee, sepulchered in flesh and blood, is literally dead to God, and as truly dead in trespasses and sins, as the body of Lazarus was in the cave. Was he bound hand and foot with graveclothes? So art thou bound hand and foot with thy corruptions; and as a stone was laid on the sepulchre, so there is a stone of unbelief upon thy stupid heart. Perhaps thou has lain in this estate, not only four days, but many years, stinking in God’s nostrils. And, what is still more effecting, thou art as unable to raise thyself out of this loathsome, dead state, to a life of righteousness and true holiness, as ever Lazarus was to raise himself from the cave in which he lay so long. Thou mayest try the power of thy boasted free will, and the force and energy of moral persuasion and rational arguments (which, without doubt, have their proper place in religion); but all thy efforts, exerted with never so much vigor, will prove quite fruitless and abortive, till that same Jesus, who said ‘take away the stone” and cried “Lazarus, come forth,” also quicken you. This is grace, graciously offered, and grace graciously applied.

May God grant that we get back to this kind of evangelism, confronting sinners in their sin with the truths from God's Word and with God's Word itself.

The Gospel and God's Glory are at stake.

SDG

11 Comments:

  • My wife mentioned to me that I might have sounded arrogant when I said that I would defy anyone who would oppose the doctrine I stated in this post about man's depravity.

    May I seek forgiveness for such an impression from anyone who would take it, but let me assure you, I am not boasting about my own abilities here.

    I do not defy anyone based on my thoughts and rationale; they are fallible and useless in and of themselves. However, the Bible is very clear, and with its authority and clarity I would challenge anyone who would dare oppose the doctrine of man's depravity so clearly contained in Romans 3, 8, and John 3, among other places.

    Let's not kid ourselves. Let's take a step back from the our preconceptions, beg God for understanding, and then take Bible in hand, and using proper hermeneutical methods, interpret the Scripture rightly.

    I think we'll be amazed at what we'll find. God certainly has amazed and humbled me many a time, and I pray that such times would become more and more frequent.

    For His Glory,
    David Hewitt

    By Blogger David B. Hewitt, at Monday, May 22, 2006 9:57:00 PM  

  • I understood it as a challenge to a reader who would disagree -- and well they should be challenged.

    So, my comments in regards to your post:

    Psa 7:11b God is angry with the wicked every day. [KJV]

    Should we shy away from the truth for fear that they wouldn't tolerate hearing it? The ill patient who doesn't like the diagnosis might get a second, more palatable opinion after all. Besides, selfish concern for one's own life and soul is an improper and insincere motivation to save it!

    You are right, sir, when you quote the apostle that he was not ashamed of the Gospel, and no sooner does he get those words down in ink than he says these also:

    v.18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men ... [ESV]

    Oh dear, the wrath of God. So much negativity with Paul, why would anyone listen?

    Why is the Gospel of Paul so different than the Gospel of the modern preacher? Why must we flatter a man to get him near the cross?

    Job knew of men who knew not the wrath of God, though he knew it intimately. Wicked men who lived to an old age, who spent their days in prosperity, and what was their response?

    Job 21:15 What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him? [ESV]

    You don't get to choose the contents of the Gospel. You can't separate the wrath of God from the love of God; or His Justice from His Mercy. There is no Good News without the Bad News. That's what makes it so good! The sugar-cane Gospel will only rot men's souls in the end, men who were never warned to flee the coming wrath because their pastor was too afraid to tell them the truth.

    By Blogger brigand, at Friday, May 26, 2006 5:18:00 PM  

  • Dear David,

    I saw your defiance, and it seems to depend on the (1) truthfulness of the Bible and (2) the fact that the Bible is the word of God.

    Let us assume for the sake of argument that the Bible IS the word of God.

    How do you know that God is truthful?

    If in reality God is truthful, He will say in the Bible that He is truthful (Heb 6:18).
    If in reality God is a liar, He will say in the Bible that He is truthful (Heb 6:18).
    Either in reality, God is truthful or He is a liar.
    Therefore, in both cases, He will say in the Bible that He is truthful.
    Consequently, you cannot prove the truthfulness of God by quoting the Bible, because both a lying God and a truthful God would affirm that they are truthful.

    If you followed the argument, you can see that you cannot prove the trutfulness of God from scripture without begging the question (i.e., presupposing what you are trying to prove).

    Now, you may say that you believe that God is truthful by faith.

    However, it does not follow that something is true because I believe it. For example, I may believe the proposition "the tooth fairy exists" is true, yet it does not follow that the proposition is true because I believe it. Similarly, just because one believes that God is truthful, it does not follow that God is truthful.

    Thus, your defiance rest on the truthfulness of God, which cannot be proved from Scripture without begging the question, nor does one's believing God to be truthful entail that He actually is truthful.

    So, if one cannot prove the truthfulness of God, neither can one prove the truthfulness of Scripture, and if one cannot prove the truthfulness of Scritpure, neither should one be defiant.

    Thanks for letting me comment
    A non-defiant believer

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, July 18, 2006 11:54:00 AM  

  • Anon:

    A believer in what would be my first question. :) Yes, this is based on the presupposition that the Bible is inerrant and that it speaks of God truthfully. If you can't go there, then you cannot have any argument from Scripture.

    Is there evidence that the events recorded in the Scriptures are accurate? Of course! The promises of God -- have they been demonstrated to be true in the lives of His children? Yes again!

    When God works in someone to make him/her a believer, He changes someone.

    The evidence for the reliability is very overwhelming; archaeology and various streams of apologetics have helped us in that matter, such as this book by Josh McDowell.

    I do maintain however that someone must be convinced by God of this by Him and Him alone. I have seen reviews by people who would seek to throw all evidence aside and ignore it all; the only answer is that God must convince someone -- as He has in me! :)

    Anyway, I hope that helps.

    SDG,
    DBH

    By Blogger David B. Hewitt, at Tuesday, July 18, 2006 2:27:00 PM  

  • Dear David:
    Josh's book demonstrates that God has at times spoken truthfully (e.g., fulfilled prophecies, archaelogically, etc.) However, it does not follow because God has spoken truthfully at times, that He always tells the truth. That is to say, it does not demonstrate that it is impossible for God to lie (Heb 6:18).
    Moreover, any proficient liar will sometimes lies and sometimes tell the truth; otherwise, lies, which are false statements intended to decieve one's hearer, would not serve their purpose. For example, let us assume that person X lies all the time, one would immediately know that the truth is opposite of what person x has stated. However, if person x sometimes lies and sometimes tells the truth, it would be difficult to ascertain whether the person was telling the truth or lying.
    In sum, the truthfulness of God cannot be proved by scripture, and the truthfulness of God (i.e., His inability to lie) was not proved by Josh. Moreover, I do not know of any contemporary Christian apologist or philosopher who has done so. They all seem to presuppose God's truthfulness.
    I am glad that God has convinced you, but given that you have not proved the truthfulness of God, nor has Josh, it may be the case that you were convinced by a God who lies at times. Hence, maybe, the "truth" of Calvinism of which God has convinced you is in fact one of His deceptions.. Here is the kicker, you cannot appeal to Scripture to substantiate your Calvinism as truthful because God Himself maybe a liar. It would seem that you would need to prove the truthfulness of God outside of Scripture before you can even start to propagate or defend Calvinism.

    Last but not least, an appeal to an experiential change does not verify the truth of a claim. For example, Mormons can appeal to a change after coming to Mormonism, yet it does not follow that Mormonism is true. Similarly, appealing to a change does not prove that Christianity or Calvinism is true. Truth is what is said about an experience; Experience is not a criteria for truth; otherwise, all regligions would be ipso facto true because they are all experienced.

    Thanks Again for letting me comment
    Anon

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, July 18, 2006 4:35:00 PM  

  • Anon:

    Please direct future correspondence on this issue to email, as it really doesn't pertain to the topic of this post.

    The post was saying that someone must affirm how bad we are as these Scriptures say because that is what the Bible says. If someone claims to hold to the inerrancy of the Bible (as I do) then they must ascribe to this doctrine (not to mention to the other doctrines of "Calvinism"). The reason is, if the Bible is interpreted correctly (per the context and grammar) then a person arrives at those conclusions.

    As far as "proving" that God is good or that He never lies is asking to do something that the Bible doesn't do. The Bible never tries to prove God, nor to prove He is truthful; it simply states that He is truthful always, and that God exists. For God not to be truthful would violate His very essence, for as the Scripture says, there is no darkness in Him.

    You also failed to answer my original question -- a believer in what and why? I do permit anonymous comments, but I don't understand why someone would hang on to anonymity. I only allow them because some friends of mine didn't want to create blogger accounts in order to comment here.

    In any case, the Bible stands. Nothing ever found has refuted it, archaeologically or otherwise. :)

    If you would like to continue this conversation, please do so in email.

    SDG,
    David Hewitt

    By Blogger David B. Hewitt, at Wednesday, July 19, 2006 11:51:00 AM  

  • Dear David,

    I like yourself believe that the Scripture is inerrant; I believe that the Bible is the Word of God;I believe that noone can be saved apart from the finished work of Christ on the cross (i.e., I believe in exclusivism). I believe that people need to know that they are sinners and are in need of a Savior as Johnathan Edwards rightly preached. I believe that man is not saved BECAUSE of man's will. That is to say, I think Arminianism is mistaken inasmuch as it places the salvation ultimately on man's will.

    I just thought that someone who would defy anyone, even though he wasn't an apostle nor was he Christ, should be cognizant of his philosophical and theological presuppositions, which are governing his hermeneutic.

    My only goal was to demonstrate that you cannot backup Calvinism or your defiance until you first demonstrate what you are presupposing, so you ought not to be so defiant.

    In the same manner, that your philosophical and theological presuppositions govern your defiance, so they also govern your hermeneutic. For example, endemic to Calvinism are the following philosophical commitmants: anthropological view concerning human nature and the will, determinism, voluntarism, occasionalism, substance dualism, epistemological divine illumination, etc.

    None of these philosophical positions are taught in scripture; rather, Calvinists use these philosophical presuppositions when they interpret scripture so that they can justify their Calvinism. As soon as one attacks one of these presupposition,Calvinism crumbles.

    As for the statement "they must ascribe to this doctrine. . . The reason is, if the Bible is interpreted correctly (per the context and grammar) then a person arrives at those conclusions," this statement is false.

    You ought to have said "if they hold to the inerrancy of the Bible . . . AND HOLD THE SAME PHILOSOPHICAL PRESUPPOSITION WITH WHICH I INTERPRET SCRIPTURE," then they must ascribe to this doctrine. . . .

    By the way, quoting James 1:17 doesn't help your case because you haven't proven that God is truthful (i.e., it is impossible for Him to lie). Wouldn't you expect a lying God to say that there is no darkness in Himself? Sure.

    By asserting the Bible stands, you haven't proved anything unless your prove that God is truthful.

    Jews also can make the claim that there are no archaelogical inerrancy in the Old Testatment; therefore, Judaism is true, and therefore, Jesus cannot be the Christ. The sword cuts both ways.

    By the way, there was a 13th century theologian who was able to prove that God is truthful apart from the Bible, but you are probably not interested because He was Catholic.

    As for why anonymity? Because it helps one concentrate on the arguments posed and not on the person; thereby, avoiding your committing a genetic fallacy.

    Please keep doing what you doing, just be a bit more humble and less defiant.

    Love in Christ
    Anon

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, July 19, 2006 2:24:00 PM  

  • Dear whoeveryouare, (grin)

    Ah, now I understand where you are coming from! Admittedly, I was a bit lost before and misunderstood nearly everything you were saying. Now that I know the following:
    "I like yourself believe that the Scripture is inerrant; I believe that the Bible is the Word of God;I believe that noone can be saved apart from the finished work of Christ on the cross (i.e., I believe in exclusivism). I believe that people need to know that they are sinners and are in need of a Savior as Johnathan Edwards rightly preached. I believe that man is not saved BECAUSE of man's will. That is to say, I think Arminianism is mistaken inasmuch as it places the salvation ultimately on man's will."

    ...it helps. :) Anyway, on to the rest of your comments.

    "I just thought that someone who would defy anyone, even though he wasn't an apostle nor was he Christ, should be cognizant of his philosophical and theological presuppositions, which are governing his hermeneutic.

    My only goal was to demonstrate that you cannot backup Calvinism or your defiance until you first demonstrate what you are presupposing, so you ought not to be so defiant."


    Sounds like a good idea to me. I am aware of my presuppositions (well, most of them), however -- sorry if I wasn't clear on it before. :) I am willing to distance myself from nearly all of them. "Distanciation" (as D.A. Carson calls it in his book Exegetical Fallacies) is something all of us must learn to practice. All of us have presuppositions, and as you have said, being aware that we have them and what they are is something critical to interpreting the Scriptures properly.

    With that said, however, I am not willing to distance myself from one of my presuppositions -- and that is that the Bible is the Word of God and is inerrant. Further, from that presupposition then we can determine that God is truthful, and that He is the only God. You see, I'm a presuppositionalist. :) Though I think that other areas of apologetics can be useful, the Bible can stand on its own, and God can and does use its words (and of course the power of His Holy Spirit) to make dead sinners become spiritually alive.

    Telling me to prove that the Bible is true, that God is honest, etc, is like telling me to prove that 2 + 2 = 4. It just does; mathematics is just true. Of course, we can see the effects of mathematics as it develops into physics and into the computer that I am using right now, and we'd know if 2 + 2 = 4 was a false statement pretty fast because buildings would start to fall down. :) In any case, I agree with this statement found over at monergism.com:

    "For Christians we adopt the Word of God to evaluate all other beliefs, and must regard it with certainty. Reason must be the servant of Revelation (God’s Word). It is a view that places the Christian worldview and it’s basic assumptions over against the non-Christian worldview and basic assumptions! Presuppositionalism presents reason and evidences within a biblical framework."

    So, there is where I'm coming from by and large. I hope that informs our discussion a bit. Now, on to more of your comments:

    "In the same manner, that your philosophical and theological presuppositions govern your defiance, so they also govern your hermeneutic. For example, endemic to Calvinism are the following philosophical commitmants: anthropological view concerning human nature and the will, determinism, voluntarism, occasionalism, substance dualism, epistemological divine illumination, etc.

    None of these philosophical positions are taught in scripture; rather, Calvinists use these philosophical presuppositions when they interpret scripture so that they can justify their Calvinism. As soon as one attacks one of these presupposition,Calvinism crumbles."


    They only govern my hermeneutic if I let them. Truth be told, I am not famaliar with all of the terms you've used of presuppositions. As I stated previously, I am going to rely on only one presupposition, and that is the one that states that the Bible is inerrant. In fact, my basis for defiance was that presupposition if you rememember. :) From my post:

    "I DEFY anyone who would say that man has a will that is free in the sense that we can choose God on our own, and I stand on the clear teaching of Scripture to back me up. It simply is NOT true. Without the Holy Spirit changing us, we cannot choose God. It will NOT happen."

    Notice the key phrase! "I stand on the clear teaching of Scripture to back me up." THAT is the foundation for what I'm saying. Using proper hermeneutical methods, one arrives at the conclusion I stated in my article. Those methods are mainly those of context (at the textual level predominantly, though there are others) and grammar. I need no other rules or presuppositions to try to fit that text into. It says what it says in its context, period.

    That being said, to say that if you attack one of the presuppositions then it crumbles is really not true. You'd have to defeat the Scriptures to defeat "Calvinism." If someone is using context properly then they'll reach conclusions akin to the one in my post.

    It isn't because it is my post or my "presupposition" either. I wasn't always a "Calvinist" but I've held to inerrancy long before I was a "Calvinist." When I began examining the texts, I had to come to those conclusions. The longest one of those (as is for most I guess) was the "L" but context again triumphed! I'll be posting an exegesis of John 10 later on that will address that one. Anyway, on to more!

    "As for the statement "they must ascribe to this doctrine. . . The reason is, if the Bible is interpreted correctly (per the context and grammar) then a person arrives at those conclusions," this statement is false.

    You ought to have said "if they hold to the inerrancy of the Bible . . . AND HOLD THE SAME PHILOSOPHICAL PRESUPPOSITION WITH WHICH I INTERPRET SCRIPTURE," then they must ascribe to this doctrine. . . ."


    That is only necessary if people don't believe the Scriptures to be inerrant and therefore wouldn't be the means by which to judge our doctrines and practice. Of course, if such a person were to come to this blog, I would think he'd figure out pretty quickly what I think about the Scriptures (given my blog description). However, I will admit that such a statement isn't completely obvious, so it doesn't hurt to say it.

    "By the way, quoting James 1:17 doesn't help your case because you haven't proven that God is truthful (i.e., it is impossible for Him to lie). Wouldn't you expect a lying God to say that there is no darkness in Himself? Sure."

    Actually, that was 1 John 1:5, not James 1:17 that I cited. Of course you would expect a lying god to say it, but....

    "By asserting the Bible stands, you haven't proved anything unless your prove that God is truthful."

    ...here is the thing. Being a presuppotitionalist, I just say the Bible stands, period. God is truthful because the Bible says He is. ;-)

    "Jews also can make the claim that there are no archaelogical inerrancy in the Old Testatment; therefore, Judaism is true, and therefore, Jesus cannot be the Christ. The sword cuts both ways."

    Well, I suppose they could say that, but then they are arriving with different presuppositions as I'm sure you would agree. I'd probably ask why they think He is not the Christ, and then go places like Isaiah 53 and ask who they think it is talking about.

    "By the way, there was a 13th century theologian who was able to prove that God is truthful apart from the Bible, but you are probably not interested because He was Catholic.

    As for why anonymity? Because it helps one concentrate on the arguments posed and not on the person; thereby, avoiding your committing a genetic fallacy."


    It doesn't matter to me who wrote it if it is true, and if it is true, then I'd be interested. Bring it on! If an atheist tells me I should do something, and it turns out what he said is in agreement with the Bible in what it commands, then I need to do it! The messenger is not nearly as important as the message. One other thing -- why do you suppose I'd reject it just because a Roman Catholic wrote it? Are you doing a bit of genetic fallacy of your own? :)

    By making the above statements, you are presupposing that I'd be opposed to what this person said just because I'm not a Catholic, but rather a "Calvinist." Granted I have many disagreements with Rome, but even "Calvinists" and Rome agree on a few things, of course. Perhaps this would be one of them!

    Further, you're clearly well versed in philosophy and it would seem you are attempting to use man's reason (which is tainted by sin) to come up with evidences for the Bible. This is exactly why we must use presuppositionalism as a means of apologetics. Our reasoning, being corrupted by sin, is not perfect. The Scriptures are, and therefore are an appropriate judge of our rationale. So, you would understand that while I'm interested in hearing/reading what this person has said about proving something about God without the Bible, that I'm not jumping for joy. :) Without the Bible being used (or at least agreed with) the conclusions will likely be sketchy.

    It doesn't matter to me what your background is either. I just like to know who it is that I'm conversing with, though I have an idea who you are. :)

    "Please keep doing what you doing, just be a bit more humble and less defiant."

    Being more humble -- sound advice to be sure. Thank you for the reminder to be just that! Also, my defiance wasn't that I was trying to say my reasoning was any better than anyone elses. It is just that the Bible says "A" and therefore Jesus (and in this case, the apostle Paul) says "A." Therefore, those who say "not A" are incorrect, and I would defy such people -- not because I am coming up with anything, but in fact because the Bible would defy them.

    Well, this has been a rather long reply, and I'm sure I've repeated myself once or twice. If you're still reading, I hope it explains a few things. :)

    Thanks again for dropping by!

    For the Glory of Jesus,
    David Benjamin Hewitt

    By Blogger David B. Hewitt, at Wednesday, July 19, 2006 11:44:00 PM  

  • Dear David,
    I am glad that your Calvinism would not prevent you from learning from a non-Calvinist. That made my day.

    You are correct that I had presupposed that it might. I am glad that I was mistaken. Had I made my statement in the indicative mood as opposed to the subjunctive mood, you would have been correct that I was committing a genetic fallacy.

    By the way, the statment "you are attempting to use man's reason (which is tainted by sin) to come up with evidences for the Bible. This is exactly why we must use presuppositionalism as a means of apologetics. Our reasoning, being corrupted by sin, is not perfect" is self-stultifying.

    For that statement is not found in Scripture (although you will find similar sentiments concerning the noetic effects of sin taught in Augustine and Aquinas) and insofar as it is not found in Scripture, it is "man's reason." In other words, you are hoping to avoid man's reason by appealing to a philosophical presupposition (i.e., reasoning that arises from man) that we ought not use man's reason. Unless you want to claim some privileged epistemic position (e.g., The notion of presuppositionalism was directly given to you by God; thereby avoiding man's reason), then your presuppositionalism is nothing more than another example of man's reason.

    Here is the problem, if the noetic affects of sin are so deleterious to man's reasoning, it is also deleterious to yours because you are a man. Moreover, if you want to say that it is only deleterious to unregenerate man, then you have begged the question in favor of regenerated man, thereby giving yourself an epistemic priviledged position.

    In addition, there are regenerate men, Calvinists and non-Calvinists, and they disagree with each other as well. If regenerated people no longer suffer the inimical noetic effects, then all believers should agree, but they don't unless of course, one wants to maintain that ONLY regenerated Calvinists are believers. But there are disagreements even among the Calvinists. Thus, it does not seem to be the case that that regenerated man has rid himself of the noetic effects of sin.

    I hope that our dialogue was beneficial to both of us. You won't hear from me again as I don't want to be irksome. Hopefully, you can see why the presuppositionalist position does not avoid the noetic effects of sin.

    Deus te benedicit
    Anon

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, July 20, 2006 10:32:00 AM  

  • Nice site.

    I've been following this interesting discussion and I had an immediate question based on your response:

    You said, "...here is the thing. Being a presuppotitionalist, I just say the Bible stands, period. God is truthful because the Bible says He is"

    If you just replace the word Bible with the Koran then it begs the question, "How is one to adjudicate between the two revelations if we just say that it stands? If you continue to live in that epistemic bubble how can you make contact, relate, make a truth claim with competing ideas and or worldviews that make the same type of claim?

    My two pesos?

    By Anonymous David M, at Thursday, July 20, 2006 12:55:00 PM  

  • Sorry this has taken a while, but I'm out of town, and am not able to respond as quickly as I would like. That and I've been reading a lot lately. :)

    Anyway, I'll respond to Anon first, and then David M second.

    Anon said:
    "I am glad that your Calvinism would not prevent you from learning from a non-Calvinist. That made my day."

    Glad to hear it. Sorry to hear my response was such a large factor in determining the kind of day you had. ;-)

    "You are correct that I had presupposed that it might. I am glad that I was mistaken. Had I made my statement in the indicative mood as opposed to the subjunctive mood, you would have been correct that I was committing a genetic fallacy."

    True, you did use the word "probably" and not "definitely." I'll cut you some slack then. :)

    "By the way, the statment "you are attempting to use man's reason (which is tainted by sin) to come up with evidences for the Bible. This is exactly why we must use presuppositionalism as a means of apologetics. Our reasoning, being corrupted by sin, is not perfect" is self-stultifying."

    Not really, and I'll explain this below.

    "For that statement is not found in Scripture (although you will find similar sentiments concerning the noetic effects of sin taught in Augustine and Aquinas) and insofar as it is not found in Scripture, it is "man's reason.""

    Agreed, were it not found in Scripture then it be man's reasoning. Yet, several verses inform this idea, Aquinas and Augustine aside. The reason is that this is just another expression of the doctrine of Total Depravity. Of course, Christians no longer are totally depraved, but we do still have sin in us. John says as much. Further, James makes an interesting statement related to it over in his letter. Our sins come from our own desires -- but to whom is James writing? It is clear that he is writing to Christians. Our desires, even though we can now desire Christ since we have been regenerated, are not yet perfect. Our tendency to sin is still present (though it is not dominating). That being the case, our reason is adversely affected. Our persuppositions (since they are ours) will still be tainted with sin, since we are still tainted with sin. This is why we must escape them when it comes to interpretation of the Bible. Honestly, sometimes (and I wish more often) when I come to deal with and/or teach a Bible passage, a feeling of fear overcomes me. I know that I could mess it up because of the sin I still war against. I pray, begging God that He would speak from His word and that He would not allow me to mess it up. Also, Philippians 2:13 can inform our discussion as well. Since we cannot even will for God's pleasure without God's working in us, then if our thinking and reasoning is to be pleasing to Him, it too must be acted upon by God's grace. For if it truly is man's reasoning (in and of itself), then it is not pleasing to God.

    This indeed is the main problem with relying on philosophical arguments and not relying on exegesis of Scripture. When we do the latter, we are forcing our presuppositions to follow the exegesis. If we rely on the former, often we will use them as the backdrop for our interpretations, which is very, VERY dangerous.

    "In other words, you are hoping to avoid man's reason by appealing to a philosophical presupposition (i.e., reasoning that arises from man) that we ought not use man's reason. Unless you want to claim some privileged epistemic position (e.g., The notion of presuppositionalism was directly given to you by God; thereby avoiding man's reason), then your presuppositionalism is nothing more than another example of man's reason."

    Nope, not claiming that I was given a privilieged epistemologic position. I never did have the stomach for gnosticism. ;-) However, since the Bible is the only real source of information that we can be guaranteed is without error, we need to go to and start with it. We must derive our rationale from it as I reasoned above. Of course, we cannot get away from using man's reason completely (otherwise neither of us would be writing this article, for we must have decided to do so and have put forth reasoned arguments), but what we must do is subit our reasoning to the Scriptures in every way. Where we fail to do so, error runs rampant. Also, please note that I'm not really talking about things like physics and mathematics, though as it is clear, over the ages, man has adjusted his thinking on many things with regard to science. The Bible, however, remains a constant (though people's views on it often fluctuate, but this is caused by either sin, traditions/presuppositions, or a lack of hermeneutical knowledge and application). Anyawy, moving on:

    "Here is the problem, if the noetic affects of sin are so deleterious to man's reasoning, it is also deleterious to yours because you are a man. Moreover, if you want to say that it is only deleterious to unregenerate man, then you have begged the question in favor of regenerated man, thereby giving yourself an epistemic priviledged position."

    I've discussed this mostly in my above comments in this response. I would say thay my rationale and reasoning is improved as a regenerate person (as it would be for all regenerate people), but that it certainly not perfect because I do indeed still sin (see above comments).

    "In addition, there are regenerate men, Calvinists and non-Calvinists, and they disagree with each other as well. If regenerated people no longer suffer the inimical noetic effects, then all believers should agree, but they don't unless of course, one wants to maintain that ONLY regenerated Calvinists are believers. But there are disagreements even among the Calvinists. Thus, it does not seem to be the case that that regenerated man has rid himself of the noetic effects of sin."

    You've raised an issue that has grieved me greatly. I in no way would suggest that only Calvinists are Christians; that would put me in the rank of hypers for one, and would also deny the doctrine of sola fide in that perfect soteriological knowledge would be a requirement for salvation.

    I mentioned three things above that I do believe are the causes of all division amongst Christians.

    First, I mentioned sin. No believer is completely sinless, and sometimes the old man will still rebel against God's revelation and defiantly believe something else. God does bring conviction of course, though this is not always a quick process that immediately brings about repentance for a particular act or understanding. I would have to think it is quick more often than not, but the issue seems to be unusually true when it comes to......

    ...the second issue, which is a presupposition or tradition. Often the things we believe about the Bible, whether they are based on the text or not, are deep-seated, and the Spirit of God tends to work gently to unseat them. The process can be quick, but often is slow (I've heard of people struggling with something for months -- but struggle with it they did!).

    Lastly, the issue of a proper hermeneutic comes out. Most people nowadays do NOT know how to interpret the Bible -- which ALWAYS must be in its context, and knowing some grammar and perhaps some Greek or Hebrew doesn't hurt either. However, the most important rule by FAR is that of context. Failure to understand that will lead to many an error in interpretation.

    "I hope that our dialogue was beneficial to both of us. You won't hear from me again as I don't want to be irksome. Hopefully, you can see why the presuppositionalist position does not avoid the noetic effects of sin."

    It has been beneficial; thank you for dropping in! You were not irksome; it was my fault as I misunderstood your original position (which might have been helped had you identified yourself, but oh well). ;-) In any case, on to David M's comments, at least one of them:

    "If you just replace the word Bible with the Koran then it begs the question, "How is one to adjudicate between the two revelations if we just say that it stands? If you continue to live in that epistemic bubble how can you make contact, relate, make a truth claim with competing ideas and or worldviews that make the same type of claim?"

    This I think is an excellent question. The reason the Bible stands is because it does. :) However, we can indeed relate to other worldviews, but we must start with where they are in their presuppositions. A Muslim for example will state that the Koran is without error -- but then that book would deny the deity of Christ, as well as the fact that He was cricified. This is in direct opposition to the Bible so it must be rejected, but when working with a Muslim it might help to ask why they thought he wasn't -- especially when there is evidence in the Bible that He was (crucified) and evidence from history too. Contradictions between what two people believe are a great place to start. :)

    For the Glory of Jesus,
    David Benjamin Hewitt

    By Blogger David B. Hewitt, at Sunday, July 23, 2006 4:57:00 PM  

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