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Untangling “Predestination” — Part 5

Those who have been following this blog site will already be aware of the fuller context concerning God’s premial justice and, in turn, the premial Atonement, into which this treatment of “predestination” is getting unceremoniously dropped. When I started this analysis back in 2008, I had not yet read the brief but trenchantly argued treatise from 1741, An Essay on Redemption: Being the Second Part of Divine Rectitude (104 pages), by John Balguy, who first coined the term “premial” (please see my “About” page at the top of this site, along with the first couple of blogs, where I quote at length the passage containing the only two instances of the new word). I first read the book in late January of 2011, so never used ‘premial’ in this exploration of predestination. Nevertheless, the contents were fully in accord with Balguy’s use of the word, so his label nicely covered the contents regardless.

Therefore, it will not be inappropriate to poise my results more precisely within the context of the premial Atonement perspective which I have already elaborated in this blog site. Readers will know that the apostolic take on the Atonement that I simply label “premial” is free of those several “penal” elements now so commonly assumed by conservative evangelical Protestants and gathered under the rubric “penal substitution” or “penal satisfaction.” This latter position was most fully developed within Calvinism, and is in fact its most characteristic doctrine, although other Protestant traditions share significant elements as well. However the so-called “Five Points of Calvinism” have amplified them at greatest length. And among these, “the doctrine of predestination” was simply embedded within “Unconditional Election.”

I have tried to show on this blog site that Penal Substitution logic is stretched entirely on an economic framework of logic that is qualified penally. This is decidedly not the framework of the New Testament explanation of the Atonement, nor, for that matter, of Justification or Reconciliation either, which do, however, likewise draw upon legal language, and thus are jeopardized no less by penal pretensions and impositions.

The fact that every one of the Five Points bears the marks of abuse by stretching on this punitive ‘rack’ will raise the presumptive expectation that what Calvinists do with “predestination” will bear the same marks of torture. Sure enough. “Predestination” is said to be necessary because a “sovereign” God’s plan to pay/satisfy for the debt of sins incurred by a limited number of chosen/elect—for to pay for the sins of all mankind would be uneconomical, hence unfitting for a prudent Sovereign—can only seem plausible on the premise that sins/debts must be paid for by someone, in any case, without fail, in other words: by a Penal Substitute. Such “prudential” logic may be worthy of a for-profit, self-aggrandizing, client-deceiving insurance behemoth; it is unworthy of a God who is Our Rock, who indemnified the whole population without exception, for the sake of His own grand reputation and Brand Name!

We have shown throughout this site that this particular construal of economic metaphors and concepts is not to be found in the Bible. Sin (even as “debt”) is never said to be “paid [for]at all. Indeed, it is exclusively the saints or believers that are said to be bought and paid for. However, their faith itself is their own willful contribution to salvation, turning as it does on their natural (and not “fallen” as such!) human response to the necessary but not sufficient testimony of Holy Writ, which requires getting “blended together with faith in those who hear” (Hebrews 4:2) in order to achieve its intended beneficial outcome. To be sure, this evidence does powerfully evoke or induce faith, but does not “guarantee” faith. This process happily accords with God’s graciousness (Romans 4:16), which, in fact, enhances and fosters human sovereignty, authority, judgment/decision-making, and choice, even if it should happen to result in a rebuff of His gentle advances. God is all about “inviting” folks to the Party of the Kingdom.

Nevertheless, as we know, comparatively few are chosen—only those who exert their own self-authorized faculty of faith—which even as Calvin so validly declared, is simply the outstretched hand (not the laboring hand, mind you!), ready to receive the Gift God is handing out.  That Gift is most emphatically not faith; that Gift is the Holy Spirit itself, which could not consequently show up early (“preveniently”) in order to create the very faith by which itself is thereupon received. The logical incoherence of such a contention should be perfectly clear. My refutation does not exclude, however (as was the burden of my above paper), that a Book inspired by the Holy Spirit may precede faith and perform the honors, without any incoherence or contradiction. (That, in particular, was the burden of my preceding “Appendix.”)

The premial justice of God is directed upon the blameless Defendant to exonerate and then repay him due restitution for his painful labors of love on behalf of the whole blamed (!) world of sinful humanity. However, no quid pro quo equivalence of “pain for pay” characterized the transaction. It was purely gratuitous, which is not to say “wasted,” but simply rationally appropriate to the intended outcome, without overreach or shortfall. It hit its mark precisely: “Now if anyone is loving God, this one gets known by Him” (1 Corinthians 8:3).

This premial rationale relieves theology of any burden to “limit” the divine outlay of beneficence or graciousness to one that accords with alleged economic rationality, much less to economic penury! After all, what the Lord Jesus Christ procured was a prize, booty, spoils, winnings, judicial damages, just deserts, not an “equivalent payment” or “commercial exchange” of any sort, as I have been at great pains to establish in this blog site from the very beginning.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,

His power no boundary known unto men;

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.                   —Annie J. Flint

This was in full satisfaction, if you will, of “the righteousness/justice of God,” as Paul was at even greater pains to establish in his epistle to the Roman believers, but which the Protestant Reformation, at yet more (and needless) pains accidently—let’s be charitable here—sabotaged in favor of a convoluted pretzel of a doctrine: Paul meant rewarding (premial) justice dispensed directly to Christ (who deserved it), thence graciously distributed for free to us (who did not deserve it) by our faith and baptism (i.e., by inclusion in Christ); Luther, et al, meant punitive (penal) justice distributed to us (who deserved it) indirectly through Christ (who did not deserve it) by his substitution. The difference between these alternatives for Christian behavior and mental stability is immense.

Perhaps we need to ponder more deeply the fact that a reward can be distributed at the good pleasure if its legitimate recipient, irrespective of particular “merits” possessed by any subsequent recipients chosen. A penalty/punishment, however, cannot be thus “freely” distributed; that would be immoral and illegal. Yet penal substitution doctrine is based squarely on this latter indefensible premise, and usually even glories in it!

The premial position, we can see, comports with a faith that is exocentric (focused on an outside object) and authentically voluntary, not an “act/work” at all, but simply proper reliance on credible evidence and testimony (so not coerced), and which ultimately comports with an election that is conditional on such faith and, by reflex, with a destiny that is potentially alienable. However, the divine ambience suffusing this perspective is as different from the effluvium of penal substitution as a loaf of bread is from a stone, or a fish is from a serpent, or an egg is from a scorpion, or a REWARD is from a PUNISHMENT.  That is, as opposite as might well be imagined.

The premial framework allows the weaving of a startlingly contrasting systematic pattern of salvation across the board. This, naturally, affects all the familiar “points” of Calvinism: all alike collapse in the absence of the mortar of penal economic necessity. The premial universe is one in which an inheritance in the Kingdom of God is free…but must be claimed with steady expectation as a right of believing children of God answering to God’s promises in His own Words, contracted by Covenant—the Bible.

The premial world is one in which sin is not passed along generationally (needing to be washed away in baptism, even from infants), nor so pervasive or perverse as to make faith impossible without the prosthetic of adventitious “regeneration” to trigger it.

The premial universe is one in which Atonement is universal and plenty powerful for its appointed objective of nurturing lovers of God, but without arm-twisting others. Élégance!

In a premial cosmos, graciousness, appealing and fetching as it may be, does not act so unseemly as to make its drawing influence irresistible as a magic spell. No spellbinding here, only the spell of unforced love. “Prevenient grace” is an encumbering artifice that ought to be perceived as an insult to the grace of Christ’s resurrection, the plain bold Report of which turned that ancient civilization upside down within decades!

A premial reality is one in which believers press on toward God’s impending Kingdom impelled by the covenantal promises and warnings of God’s living Explanation, producing rich fruits of Christ’s personality to encourage others in faith and, reflexively, secure one’s own confidence and delight in the faith once for all drop-shipped to the saints of planet earth.

In a premial creation, the dark oppressive clouds of graphically visualized punishment, wrath, and condemnation poured out on a perfectly innocent, though willing (as if he “needed” to be!) victim so as to satisfy the demanding justice of God (thereby impugning justice wholesale as exclusively penally retributive), is lifted and dispelled, permitting the cheering rays of divine benignity to burst forth and bless earth’s shores.

In a premial civilization, the repugnant spectacle of Christians playing in the dung heap of sordid pleasures, toying with the profane, venal options our culture places on the bottom shelf of easy accessibility with the click of a wayward mouse—all these pleasures of Egypt would lose their glamor under their deceptive marketing as “harmless diversions for the unconditionally elect” and be discerned for the mortal perils they are.

In a premial galaxy, the affecting sight of many a seasoned churchgoer manifesting pathological anxiety concerning their destiny as a child of God, presenting the watching world with an oddly ambiguous, if not highly unsettling testimony to the comforting certitudes of the Gospel as advertised, should be as rare as jellyfish fossils.

In short, the premial justice of God manifested supremely in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from among the mouldering dead to proliferating immortality, agrees to perfection with the heralding of an endless sparkling destiny as children of God, privileged to inherit a whole New Creation, starting with Christ’s resurrected body and proceeding to incorporate all others who believe and get immersed in him by his Holy Spirit. The fundamental heart of the New Testament Proclamation is not, therefore, “penal substitution” but “premial inclusion,” in an inconceivably marvelous destiny as “priests and kings” on the New Earth a comin’! Having announced such a future with abundant corroboration, God leaves the choice up to us whether we wish to join the Party or keep our unsafe distance and sadly perish.

June 2, 6, 8-9, 2017

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A Premial Soteriology for Neo-Calvinism?

Against the relative inner consistency of Calvinism stands, like a Gibralter, the rugged, if seemingly rough-hewn, inner consistency of Scripture—to be sure, one very difficult to embrace with tiny arms and brains, but that remains our touchstone nonetheless. Let us remain in that Explanation so that we come to know the Truth, solid as a Matterhorn, for then we shall be free from all the little short-sighted “consistencies” of lesser apostles hailing from a mundane Geneva. [8/19/09]

THE PENAL CORE MOTIVE

The weighty mass of Calvin’s soteriology hangs together and coheres due to the GRAVITY OF PENAL SATISFACTION. This is the “electromagnetic” force that keeps it all together. Dispel this gravitational force and it will fly apart and disperse into out darkness. Only the nuclear power of a premial justice holds the promise of a coherent and rationally compelling soteriology. [8/19/09]

D-DAY JUBILEE

If this 500th Anniversary of Calvin’s birth and 400th Anniversary of Arminius’s death is to be the calling of a liberating Jubilee from the Babylonian bondage of Reformed Christians, then it is but a D-Day victory and the toughest battles are yet ahead. Calvinistic theology (I don’t speak here of the excellent philosophical movements that it has fostered for various curious reasons) lies near the heart of a vast ecclesiastical enterprise and a fifth column of other non-church institutions. We are not calling for revolution but for Reformation…down to the core this time! This is gonna hurt. This has gotta hurt or it’s not radical enough. But the result will be RADICAL HEALING, so it’s worth all the pain.

We can expect a whole new glory to suffuse the magnificent array of Christian organizations that Kuyperian Neo-Calvinism has spawned. Post-Calvinism holds the promise of giving them a Second Wind of the Holy Spirit—a New Wave of Power and Redemptive Vision and Fruitful Prospects. Let us press on without fear or dread, fully expecting that God is with us in this SANCTIFYING VENTURE. But unless Neo-Calvinism transitions to Post-Calvinism in soteriology, that renewal must be throttled and stall. [8/19/09]

Anyone who holds the penal satisfaction position will suffer the natural tendency to slip into conformity with several of the points of Calvinism, to varying degrees. Sound exegesis on one or more of those topics will always inveigh against full consistency and will work a moderating influence. But this moderating factor is not equally dispersed among denominations or individuals. Only a visibly more just alternative to penal satisfaction is capable of totally vanquishing all five (and more) errors of the Augustinian/Calvinian line of development.

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A “Grace” Extracted by “Penal Satisfaction” is not the True Grace of God

In Calvinism, the limited size of the Atonement is only the beginning of tangles consequent upon its teaching of penal satisfaction.  To be sure, the size limitation amounts to a power limitation, so that the Gospel as such is not conceived as having any effect (read: power) toward the so-called “reprobate” (a term never used in Scripture to label mere sinners or unbelievers, much less Gentiles or mankind at large).  Yet on the other hand it is represented as having an absolutely irresistible power or effect upon the “elect.”  This absolutism concerning its effect on the “elect” (Calvinists call it “effectual”), coupled with its ineffectuality concerning the “reprobate” are the most that can be expected from A “GRACE” EXTRACTED BY “PENAL SATISFACTION” METHODS.  THIS PRIMITIVE “EXTRACTION PROCESS” LEAVES THE VAST BULK OF THE PULP AND ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS — THE VITAL SAP OF GRACIOUSNESS — BEHIND, LEAVING ONLY A THIN, CLOUDY “SOLUTION” THAT SOLVES FEW OF THE NEEDS OF THE HUMAN HEART OR NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE SPIRIT.

In stark contrast, THE TRUE, PURE GRACIOUSNESS IN WHICH WE ARE TO STAND IS A FREE-FLOWING, PREMIUM, WHOLE EXTRACT OF CLEAN HIGH-ENERGY NUTRIMENT DERIVED ENTIRELY WITHOUT USE OF TRADITIONAL SOURCES OF HIGH HEAT FROM DIVINE WRATH, BUT BY A SPECIAL AND PREVIOUSLY SECRET PROCESS OF CALM, COOL EXTRACTION BY THE CATALYTIC USE OF PREMIAL JUSTICE ACTING UPON THE PUREST, MOST WHOLESOME MATERIAL TREATED BY THE REPEATED IMPACT OF BUFFETING, WHIPPING, AND PIERCING, FOLLOWED BY NECROSIS AND A BRIEF INTERVAL OF RECUMBENCY.  THE RESULTING REACTION YIELDS A GREATLY AUGMENTED AND ENHANCED VOLUME OF GRACIOUSNESS WITH NO BITTER AFTERTASTE OR SOUR UNDERTONES.  [8/16/09]

The logical tangles and psychological snags of the Calvinistic system of soteriology lead directly to BEHAVIORAL SNARLS of ferocious character.  Sadly, this might be documented by cartloads of historic testimony from many a nation over nearly five centuries.  Isn’t it about time we examine the whole grim imbroglio to trace how, exactly, Calvin’s teaching of a penal satisfaction could possibly have led so consistently to punitive personalities among especially its most consistent and loyal?  [8/16/09]

Whenever the Canons of Dort or the Westminster Confession of Faith (or any other Calvinistic creed, confession, or catechism) speak of God’s “justice” (“to the praise of His glorious, & etc.”), they invariable mean His penal, punitive justice, casting always a blind eye to God’s premial justice by which He rescued and rewarded and raised the Savior himself, and through which we ourselves have been saved.  Such neglect cannot but have a distorting effect on our whole conception of God’s mission and appointed ministries to the world and the saints.  [8/16/09]

It is purely (even “sovereignly”) by God’s own wonderfully gracious desire (-θελ-) and intention (-βουλ-) that when we merely believe His chosen, if “foolish,” heralding of the Explanation of Truth (James 1:18, Ephesians 1:13) about the Cross (1 Corinthians 1:17-31), namely, that Jesus Christ was justly raised from the dead because of its injustice in killing him, due to his Father’s ultimate strategy to draw the whole world back to Himself through this exalting His sinless son in a stupendous historic exhibit of love—I repeat, that when we simply have faith in this Message, we thereby are teemed forth “to be some firstfruit of His own creatures (James 1:18), are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (which is an earnest of the inheritance of our share)” (Ephesians 1:14), to “become children of God” by His bestowed “right (John 1:12).  And why?  Simply because such a great salvation, entailing such a marvelous adoption of us as sons and hence heirs by mere faith, is “in accord with the delight of His desire, for the praise of the credit of His graciousness, which is gracious to us in the Loved One (Ephesians 1:5-6), in whom we thereby have “gotten chosen (Ephesians 1:4) “according to the foreknowledge of God, the Father” (1 Peter 1:1-2) Who is “the knower-of-hearts (Acts 15:8) and hence can see our faith and testify accordingly by giving the Holy Spirit to us to cleanse our hearts (Acts 15:7-9).

Yes, amazingly, it is GOD’S GRACIOUS WILL THAT WE SHOULD BE SAVED TO SUCH LARGESSE BY OUR THROWING OUR OWN FAITH INTO THE MIX SO AS TO REAP BENEFITS FROM THE WORD HE HAS FOLDED INTO THE RECIPE OF HUMAN SALVATION (Hebrews 4:1-3).  This having-gotten-saved-to-God’s-graciousness-through-faith is God’s prodigious present to us (Ephesians 2:8) simply because mere human faith accords with divine graciousness (Romans 4:16) hand in glove, bypassing our own actions, both good and evil!  This boon is purely “from God” (John 1:13, 1 Corinthians 1:30), and specifically His undeserved (on our part!) graciousness that we get to become His children in Christ, His chosen, only-born Son.  God figured out this whole gracious scheme!  To Him be all the credit!

The above phraseology, “from God” or “from Him” is to emphasize that what is being given by God “on faith(Romans 3:29, Galatians 3:22, Philippians 3:9, Romans 1:17) is a present (δωρον) and not a token of His indebtedness to us (Romans 3:4-5) owing to our work.  This is precisely why God selected faith as the means for triggering His gratuitous bestowal and donation of salvation, sonhood, and the Holy Spirit on us—it does not “obligate” Him as “owing” us those benefits, but leaves Him free to express His loving generosity in a manner that entails fairness and equity to all sinners alike in an impartial, non-discriminatory gesture.  [8/16/09]

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Calvin’s “Predestination” flows from his “Limited Atonement” and both, in turn, from his “Penal Satisfaction”

For Calvinists to run down the Scofield Reference Bible for “imposing” Dispensationalism on its unsuspecting readers (which it most certainly does!) is the pot calling the kettle black, since Calvinists were the very first Protestants to perpetrate such a mind-twisting imposture in the Geneva Bible. [8/15/09]

Those who posit an eternal degree in God by which He has ordained some to life and the rest to death make of Him a tyrant, and in fact an idol, as the pagans made of Jupiter.” — Jerome Bolsec, M.D. “Arrested and banished from Geneva with the warning that if he ever returned he would be flogged” for declaring the above words. Dave Hunt, What Love Is This? Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God (Sisters, OR: Loyal Publishing, 2002), p. 85. [8/15/09]

The actual logic of the matter (which Arminius, alas, did not yet quite see) is that the erroneous “predestination” of Calvin followed from limited atonement,” not the other way around. This fact was not clearly visible due to the powerful, invisible undercurrent of penal satisfaction upon which all sides unquestionably, uncritically agreed. But it was only this penal “payment that placed a “limit” on the graciousness released by the Atonement. For all sides concurred with the notion that Jesus’ suffering on the cross was the soteric commodity needing to be “economized” for its “exchange value” in ransoming/redeeming sinners by “paying for their sins.” If it was not to be improvidently “wasted” on ungrateful reprobates, it would have to be calculated, parceled out, and rationed with a thrifty eye to a productive investment and profitable payoff in dividends for the “Sovereign” Investor.

IT WAS TO INSURE THIS POSTULATED INVESTMENT THAT AUGUSTINE’S WAYWARD BRAINCHILD OF ‘ABSOLUTE DOUBLE PREDESTINATION’ WAS, AT LAST, COMPLETELY EXHUMED AND PLACED ON PUBLIC DISPLAY IN CALVIN’S INSTITUTES, etc. Thus did Augustine’s toxic dogmas come to re-infect the world and more thoroughly overturn the apostle Paul, arguably, than perhaps any other single factor in history. [8/15/09]

A gospel that does not exult and boast in the restorative, rewarding, i.e., premial justice or righteousness of God is a grossly deficientgospel”—Paul would not recognize it as good news at all! A gospel that dares to boast and pride itself in merely penal justice—no matter what the proposed mechanism (e.g., “substitution” and “imputation”) he would anathematize as “a different gospel, which is NOT [truly] ANOTHER” but rather a distortion that disturbs the saints! (Galatians 1:6-9)

THE SUBSTITUTION OF THE CROSS FOR THE RESURRECTION at the most decisive point—the turning point—of the divine plot utterly sabotages the climactic denouement into an insipid ANTICLIMAX AND “EFFECTUALLY” SAPS THE STORY OF ITS POWER PUNCH BY DENATURING ITS RESURRECTIONARY RESCUE FROM A NECESSARY ADVENT OF GOD’S OWN JUSTICE TO A BUREAUCRATIC RUBBER STAMP ON WHATEVER “SAVING” VIRTUE CAN BE SQUEEZED OUT OF THE DEADLY CROSS DUE TO ITS EXHIBITION OF PUNITIVE JUSTICE AGAINST THE INNOCENT, SINLESS, JUST, AND HOLY ONE.

Therefore, is it any wonder that SUCH PALTRYGRACE can be conceived as FLOWING FROM SUCH PENAL “SATISFACTION” AND BLOWING OFF OF INFINITE WRATH BY AN INFINITELYJUST” JUDGE TO CAUSE INFINITE SUFFERING TO HIS “INFINITELY” DIVINE AND “INFINITELY” INNOCENT SON, THAT IT CANNOT BE CONCEIVED OR IMAGINED BY CALVINISTS AS ITSELF BEING INFINITE. Believe it or not! In ‘Reformed’ mathematics ALL THOSE “INFINITES” ONLY ADD UP TO A PATHETICALLY FINITE ATONEMENT. Strange, but true…very sadly true. And this is yet another compelling evidence that penal satisfaction is a travesty of the Truth.

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From “Prevenient” to “Irresistible”: Two Falls from Grace

The proper role and priority of the Gospel about God’s graciousness to Christ Jesus was displaced in both Roman Catholic theology (Council of Trent—the decree on justification, 1547) and Protestant (even as far as John Wesley), by a teaching about “prevenient grace coming unmerited in order to move and stir the will to believe, yet is resistible. But this well-meant innovation leads to confusion and to the overreaction of Calvinism into a dogma of “irresistible grace,” which then loses its very character as graciousness altogether. We already have a word for coercive graciousnessmanipulation.” [8/13/09]

If John Calvin was so radically wrong at so fundamental a point as to argue for a penal satisfaction, it seems hardly credible that he can be correct in those many other doctrines that are dependent on the view of God dictated by a penal atonement.  [8/13/09]

So lemme make sure I have this right.  The elect don’t have the power to resist the grace of God, but the reprobate do have the power to resist the grace of God.  Do I have that right?  Okay.  Then that means the reprobate have more power than the elect do.  Am I missing something?  Moreover, they have more power without the power of the Holy Spirit than the elect have even with the power of the Holy Spirit.  My head is spinning.  [8/13/09; 8/24/09; 5/05/17]

If God honestly does not “intend that any should perish, but all to make room for repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), then why doesn’t He use some of that “irresistible grace” on them, pray tell? Here is something seriously amiss in Calvinism. The bottom line is, on the grounds of penal satisfaction, there simply is not enough grace to spare! Now Arminians don’t seem to get this. But Calvinists are generally smarter here. They see that if penal substitution is correct, salvation must be limited! Yet, sadly, Calvinists are not smart enough to notice that their atonement premise is drastically wrong. And Arminius died prematurely under harassment by his bitter, vicious enemies, or he might have come to the solution himself. Indeed, Hugo Grotius, his young contemporary supporter, caught the drift of his thought and actually attempted the first basic alteration of the doctrine of the Atonement proper since Calvin originally spelled out penal satisfaction. However, Grotius was not successful in his bid because he had no adequate alternative to an atoning necessity of a penal sort. His “governmental” or “rectoral” theory more appealed to prevailing cultural metaphors. [8/13/09]

Within the system of Calvinism, the full role of the Holy Spirit has become sidelined, marginalized as more of an “add-on” than as a fully integral component of New Covenant salvation. This may not have happened (regardless of traditional Roman Catholic suppression of the Holy Spirit by cessationism, a hold-over of Augustinianism) but for the development of forensic justification, (and particularly the doctrines of forensic imputation), incipiently by Luther and Melanchthon, more full blown by Johannes Piscator and William Ames. For these doctrines cut an alternative furrow for part of salvation to affect believers apart from the Holy Spirit. [8/14/09]

For sure, the world of unbelievers and “reprobates” can and will respond positively to this mighty Gospel. The question remains, “will Calvinists”? I need not remind my Reformed sisters and brothers that the “elect” Jews of Jesus’ day largely reprobated this Gospel as “too inclusive.” A word to the wise is sufficient. [8/14/09]

Yes, I dare to entreat my Reformed sisters and brothers to change their minds regarding the Atonement and let its truth effervesce through every other received doctrine at its own pace. I have taken many years to come around, and I’m not finished yet. But I am a fellow traveler in this restoration. Can the full Reformation be far behind? [8/14/09]

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“Double Jeopardy” Dissolved.

The Calvinistic boast of the “hard, clear logic” of their system necessarily evokes its dialectical opposite—the assertion of “mystery” wherever the system violates Scripture. This is an inescapable paradox of their violence to the clarity (“perspicuity”) of the Scriptures themselves. [8/10/09; from my note at the bottom of p. 357 of Robert Shank, Life in the Son: A Study of the Doctrine of Perseverance (1961), annotated in 1985 or 1986, Pella, Iowa.]

The alleged problem of “double jeopardy” would be an authentic concern only if God “exacted judgment” at the Cross in the first place! But a premial atonement dispels that concern entirely. Since the Cross was an event of wrongful Satanic exaction of punishment on the Sinless One, God was justified in exacting a resurrection by way of REPARATION! The torrent of graciousness that ensued has the aim of winning FRIENDSHIP FROM SINNERS! But if they should reject the invitation, it’s no skin off Christ’s back, because he did not suffer from a discrete measure of divine wrath in penal judgment in economic exchange for “just so much” human sin. CHRIST WON A FAVORABLE JUDGMENT! The Judge RULED IN HIS FAVOR, so any divine punishment incurred by those who reject and resist the exuberant favor overflowing to us is certainly not a “second” exaction of “divine condemnation,” but only a first…and a tragically needless one at that. [8/11/09]

Pity the agonizing young dissenter from Calvinism who only disbelieves their harsh, errant dogmas, yet still believes them when they say “There’s nothing better out there.” Such a person is tormented by half-hearted disbelief. Their only salvation (and it must be hard won!) is in WHOLE-HEARTED DISBELIEF OF CALVINISM IN WHATEVER IT CLAIMS AS “UNIQUE” TO ITSELF IN DISTINCTION FROM HISTORIC ‘CATHOLIC’ CHRISTIANITY. [8/11/09]

Even a crucifixespecially a crucifix, with the Savior forever mounted and pinned in NON-AVENGING AGONY WHEN HE MIGHT HAVE SAVED HIMSELF THE TROUBLE BY A SPECTACULAR RESCUE is the very image of God’s love. A cross without a bleeding, thorn-crowned, stark naked Savior leaves too much to the imagination. Like, how did the cross become…“empty”? Or did his disciples steal his body? Or was he somehow resuscitated from a swoon?

So, may every crucifix-honoring Roman Catholic take heart that this piece of religious art indeed represents, against the backdrop of the worst that Satan could do, the true, non-vindictive love exhibit of our Savior enduring torture, however long, until God Himself showed up to save him with enough salvation for all his enemies too!  True grace with true grit!  [8/11/19; 8/13/09]

It is always notoriously easy for Evangelicals to fall back into one or more prickly points of Calvinism, because so long as they continue to hold on to Calvin’s invention of penal satisfaction, all the other points follow consistently—but the more consistent the less Biblical. And the tension can be paralyzing! Not even Calvin could cross the final hurdle of ultra-Calvinism—limited atonement. By the time people convince themselves, over all the objecting testimony of the apostles and early church, that strict Calvinism is correct, their conscience is seared. Can such Calvinists be ‘redeemed’? [8/11/09]

A penal atonement must be substitutionary for the simple reason that Jesus DID NOT DESERVE the treatment he received, leading to his death. By the same token, a premial atonement cannot be substitutionary, precisely because Christ DID DESERVE his resurrection and the premium/reward that followed necessarily from God’s avenging the wrong of the Cross. That resurrection was certainly not ‘substitutionary’, of course. However, it was FOR (huper) US! Yet even the Cross was not ‘substitutionary’ since each of us too must carry our own cross! [8/11/09] Both of these epicenters of the Gospel narrative are accordingly—in diametric opposition to the popular substitutionary spin—INCLUSIONARY. And it is this unifying feature of PREMIAL INCLUSION that baptism so precisely depicts. It is this act that pictures us safely IN CHRIST when we believe the Gospel. [4/27/17]

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God’s Explanation about His resurrecting grace to Jesus Christ is the power that nurtures human faith, which, in turn, invites the Holy Spirit of grace into us.

The Scriptures, contrary to John Calvin and his imitators, do not interpose “the grace of God and the Holy Spirit”—these are linked in Calvin’s system—between “election” and “faith.” It is, to be sure, a very pious-sounding compound phrase; it is as deceptive as it is pious-sounding. And it renders the power of the Explanation of the Proclamation itself feckless! It, in effect, nullifies the proper, divinely appointed and explicitly declared role and function of the Explanation of God’s graciousness both in and for Messiah Jesus! Yet this is exactly why the Message is such an electrifying Story! It recounts the objective, historic manifestation of covenantal troth and graciousness of Israel’s God in an incomparably gripping fashion as narrative! God invested a lot of wealth in getting it right before getting it published!

To be sure, we are safe only in God’s graciousness, but we cannot actually, empirically experience that graciousness until this privileged Story about how Jesus won such a prize for us comes crashing through all our carnal defenses willy nilly! So, yes, it does require God’s graciousness for us to be liberated from our sins, but it’s the graciousness revealed in an historic report by select eyewitnesses. If we duly believe that account, then and only then does God duly deliver to us our very own personal gift of the Holy Spirit of graciousness to dwell inside our own mortal, sinful flesh and get us moving toward the destined sonship and inheritance in the New Earth. [8/07/09]

Calvinists do not have to—are not predestined to—perpetuate their momentum of past evils. The errors of Calvin and Calvinism are correctible—one and all. If the truly great and worthy achievements of the Reformed stream of Christianity are to be perpetuated, indeed, taken to a whole new level of development, implementation, and exemplary prominence, then the ‘five grand errors’, along with their corollaries, fruits, and root of penal satisfaction, must be repented of and decisively overthrown, certainly individually and, where collective repentance is sufficiently widespread and the procedures can be launched peaceably, then institutionally as well. “A COMPLETE REFORMATION ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF GOD,” will have to start with official repudiation of the Canons of Dordt.

Is this possible? But that’s the wrong question. Is it right? Is it God’s will to repent of traditions that nullify the Word of God, no matter how entrenched they are or how hallowed they seem? I don’t need to answer that. The ostensive impossibility of the task will test the measure of our faith—that would our determination to act courageously out of that priceless treasure!—in order to perfect it by mighty deeds of valor and personal integrity. This is holy war, so it behooves us to be on our best behavior and pursue our cause with non-violence and sincere love, not only for our like-minded compatriots, but for all those who have suffered the generations-long imposition of character-twisting doctrines. If there’s any blood to be spilled, let it be our own, so that the Truth of God’s salvation by His premial justice to Jesus Christ may be unsullied, untarnished—the better to perform its rescuing, redeeming work unhindered by yet further sins. [8/07/09]

It’s a grievous spectacle to behold present-day Calvinists boasting not in Christ, whose graciousness can be ours by mere faith, but in their “culture” and institutions and works of their own hands. They have conveniently forgotten their wicked works of merciless persecution, their vicious verbiage concerning their noble theological opponents who had a thing or five to teach them, and their corrupt thoughts, which “only a perfectionist” [read: “heretic”] would dare to point out as correctible flaws or resistible lusts. [8/07/09]

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Filed under The Atonement