Nov 9, 2008

Pyro Discussion Postscript II

In my last post I wrote my comments to Chad as a postscript to the comments I made at pyromaniacs blog. Phil Johnson cut off the discussion, which I thought, was proceeding nicely, and so I have continued my commenting on the topic here. Phil thinks I violated his request, that he made at the end of his entry defending James White against the charge of being a Hyper Calvinist. Apparently many are saying this about James, other than Bob Ross, Charles (of the calvinist flyswatter blog), and I.

Phil gave several reasons for "cutting off" debate and telling all to "cut it out," and for telling me specifically a few things (including some mild scolding). Since brother Johnson "cut off" discussion on this most important topic, I have only this way of recording my thoughts and reactions. Any of these brethren who desire it, may come here and read and comment. I promise I will not "cut off" good discussion! I do, of course, reserve the right to "delete" any comment I deem beyond the grounds of Christian decency, honor, and respect. I do not suspect, however, that many of them will care to visit here and read. I certainly do not think that "Yawning" Frank Turk will want to come visit here! He thinks I do not merit his attention, like so many others in the neo "reformed" camp. They know how to "ignore" people like brother Ross and Charles, brother Ian, and me.

Lots of these brother Calvinists show very little "grace" in their dealings with (supposed) erring brothers, and yet they talk so much about "grace" and the "doctrines of grace." Such "biting" remarks as they often spew forth give Calvinism an ugly face, a proverbial "black eye," and do more to harm the spread of genuine historic Calvinism than its promulgation. It is ironic, and just plain weird and nonsensical. I have had lots of discussions in the combox with Arminian brethren, and I must confess, that I have had more sarcasm and lack of charity shown by the Calvinist bloggers, than by the Arminians.

There is a grave danger, I fear, in being too much involved in thinking about "high things." We must as Calvinists, five point Calvinists especially, I think, heed the words of Adrian Rogers who referred to "five pointers" as "wine and cheese theologians." Some of these kinds of theologians need to get out in the streets, in the highways and byways, like old D. L. Moody, and preach to sinners, instead of atheists, and cult professionals. These kinds of theologians, who spend 100% of their time (I hope I am not too guilty here myself) engaged in apologetics and debates with the cult leaders, may win a few souls to Christ among the culturally elite, as did Paul, but one wonders, humanly speaking of course, whether they would not win more souls to Christ by spending some time with hardened sinners.

Yes, apologetics has its place, and I do thank God for those, like brethren White, Johnson, Piper, etc., who do engage the leading spokesmen of the cults and false religions, but good old fashioned witnessing to the common street sinner, upon "soap boxes," might be time better spent. Each must judge his own heart before the Lord. I also know that God calls men to different areas of ministry. All I am talking about here is pragmatic results for time spent.

Has James ever written a book for lost sinners to read? The kinds the Puritans wrote? The kind Andrew Fuller wrote? Lengthy treatises to sinners to convince them of their sins and of their need for Christ? Their pleadings and urgings with sinners?

I have given thought to republishing some of these "calls to the unconverted," if the Lord opens the door, and work to spread them to sinners. I am sure that if Spurgeon were here he would spend very little time, comparatively speaking, in apologetic work, and in engaging the heretics, as he would in preaching to the sinners in the lanes and alleys.

Spurgeon, if he were here, would be giving urgent altar calls, I firmly believe. Why? Because Spurgeon was not against anything that spurred men to "decision." And, he would preach the "doctrines of grace" in a manner that encouraged sinners, and give them assurance, rather than discouraging them and producing in them doubt and fear.

But, getting back to the things Johnson wrote and the reasons why. I know Phil is busy. He announced that. Yet, in my view, that was no reason for him to "cut off" good discussion. We did not need him, did we? Are we to believe he "cut off" good discussion simply because he could not make any comments because of his busy schedule? Perhaps he felt like the "born again before faith" advocates were not doing too well in its defense?

Phil said, at the close of his initial article:

"We're not going to use the meta of this post to debate the pros and cons of supra- and infralapsarian, the question of God's demeanor toward the reprobate, or the question of whose flavor of Calvinism is better."

I do not think I violated that injuction. All I did initially was to ask a question about whether the "born again before faith" view was not an element of "Hyper Calvinism." He could have jumped right in then and said - "brother Garrett, that is a good question and one we should address soon, but for now let us not open that can of worms"? Or something similar? It was then that others jumped in and started doing what Johnson forbad. I then responded to what was said to me. Perhaps I did then, at this point, also violate his injuction. But, really, seeing that the discussion had not gotten ugly, and was healthy, I think his cutting off discussion was unnecessary and not good. But, it is his blog, as he reminded me tersely, and apparently he thought more ill would come, or be more likely to come, from further discussion than any possible good.

Phil made these comments in cutting off discussion:

"I've been planning to post about it for some time, because most of the disagreement between people posting here on the regeneration-before-faith question is rooted in a naive and fairly easy-to-correct misunderstanding of how certain terms are used, especially by older writers."

Yahoo! I cannot wait to find out what brother Johnson has in store for us! I cannot wait to find out who are the naive ones! I cannot wait to hear Johnson's oracle that is going to make it all plain and "easy" to understand! He sure put us all on pins and needles waiting for this great oracle that is going to give us his "fairly easy-to-correct" synthesis! Good journalism tactic too! Stir the interest of your readers in advance!

I also cannot wait to hear how he "defines" those "certain terms" that are used by the "old writers"! I wonder if these "old writers" will use these "certain terms" in the same way the bible uses them? I wonder if he will have them using these "certain terms" as Calvin and Luther, or after the manner of the historic Hyper Calvinists? Either Calvin, Luther, and Edwards, were in error in how they used these terms, or else their modern day "spokesmen" are in error. Often these "neo refomed" brethren will speak of how later "scholars" came to "refine" the system of Calvinism!

Johnson wrote:

"Specifically, regeneration was used differently prior to the twentieth century. It described an extended process that began with effectual calling. Modern Calvinists tend to use the word as a synonym for effectual calling."

Can't wait to hear this! I will tell you this: I believe the old divines within Calvinism, especially among Baptists and Independents, were in the habit of not viewing conversion as distinct from new birth as do the moderns! Either they were wrong and the moderns right, or vice versa. Besides, what is most important is - how do the scriptures use these terms and describe their relation to each?

Will Johnson say, like Hendryx, and the old Hardshell and Regular Baptists of yesteryear, that the "begetting" is different from the "birthing"? Will he put stages in it? Will he say, like Chad, that "conviction of sin" is an evidence of the new birth? Will Johnson say that the gospel is a means in begetting? If he says that men are begotten by the gospel, will he deny that this means begotten by believing it?

Johnson then says:

"Sort that out, and all Spurgeon's supposed contradictions make perfect sense. In short, he absolutely DID teach that faith is the result of God's quickening work in the believer, not the cause of it."

I will anxiously await this "sorting out" of what Spurgeon wrote on this topic! There has been lots of debate on this matter for years!

Does he mean, as I do, that "faith" is the "result" of God's quickening work just as is the "life"?

Phil then said specifically to me.

"But I get to have the last word here, because it's my blog and it really annoys me that someone came and spammed my comment-thread with confusing and misconstrued teaching AFTER I had asked to keep the subject out of the combox--and then challenged me on the question of whether it's off topic.

Let's get back to the real topic: James White's hats."

Brother Johnson, don't get all perturbed now! It's "no big deal really"! Chill out brother! I hate that something so minor got you "really annoyed"!

I "spammed" your comment thread because I asked a simple question? Why did you not say that about Chad and Mike, etc.? Did they not do as I did?

And, as far as "copying and pasting" what brother Ross had written on Dortian Calvinism, which had been brought up but not by me, would it have made things better for brother Johnson had I typed it all out instead of copying it by pasting? Can we not cite others in the combox? What kind of rules are these?

Also, why is brother Johnson impugning my motives? Where is Christian kindness and giving a brother the benefit of the doubt? Speaking about "brothers," I don't think any of these Calvinist brethren have ever called me brother.

Finally, but certainly not least, brother Johnson attempts to convince us that the only topic of discussion, based upon his writing to defend brother White against the charge of Hyper Calvinism, was the kind of hats James wears!

Well, the kind of welcome I got this time, from brother Johnson, though still not "up to snuff" as to gentlemanly treatment and discussion, was still better than I got months ago from his team mates, Frank Turk and Dan Phillips.

Isn't it also amazing that one of these fine specimens of Calvinistic brotherhood got really irked over my closing my comments with the word "blessings"? Are these brethren just blind to their spewings?

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