T.U.L.I.P.-Had Enough of It Yet?

To folllow is yet another synopsis of T.U.L.I.P., just in case you haven’t ever read about it before. Cough…

CalvinHaving previously written about the Total Depravity of man, it wouldn’t be conducive to rehash the doctrine in all its detail. However, we will touch briefly on some points that may have been vaguely made then.

“Man is nothing: he hath a free will to go to hell, but none to go to heaven, till God worketh in him to will and to do his good pleasure”

These are the words of that great preacher, George Whitefield, who was as hearty an evangelist as any who’ve walked God’s creation. There has been quite a bit of talk concerning man’s “free will” over the ages, this age being no exception. For most of us who’ve grown up in the Church, we’ve been taught from the very beginning that we have free will. Not necessarily has such been disseminated in those particular words, but the idea is that we’re people born capable of choosing good over evil by nature. Biblically speaking, nothing could be further from the truth. I do not deny the idea of free volition or free choice. But we must define free. With this particular article I would like to give a general overview of the whole free will/Calvinism/Arminianism/Doctrines of Grace controversy, so-called.

If you’re new to these terms, then many of the things I’m about to discuss will be foreign to almost all you’ve been taught concerning salvation, etc. It will be challenging. It will be, quite possibly, offensive in one way or another. Please know, though, that is not the intent. The intent is to bring ourselves to a point where, if the Bible dictates, we can cast aside our traditions and embrace what the Scriptures say. Saying that, please note that there are a few things we finite men will never know this side of eternity. The Scriptures say, “the secret things belong to the Lord our God.” This will not be a comprehensive treatment of the aforementioned subjects, as each subject has thousands of books written on them by many different authors anyway. Rather, this will be a type of summarized introduction to what we call The Doctrines of Grace or the 5 Points of Calvinism.

There was once a Great Ruler in the Land of Man who ruled with flawless wisdom and perfect justice. Not only did He rule the Land of Man, but He founded and created it. No one could govern with such power, nor could anyone command such respect as He. He was not a lawbreaker, but the Lawmaker. With each judgment handed down to lawbreakers, He was found to be true and just in whatsoever He determined. Though He was a powerful ruler, He was not a tyrant; rather He was One truly concerned for the well-being of His people.

There were 3 men who didn’t the like the law of the Ruler, so they set out to overturn it. On hearing of their plans the Great Ruler, with swift precision and accuracy, apprehended the law breakers and locked them up with the shackles and bonds of their own making. While awaiting their judgment, the Great Ruler determined beforehand what He would do for their treason against His perfect law. All 3 men were guilty of crimes against the Great Ruler, worthy of death. Upon entering the place of their judgment the Great Ruler thundered out the ways in which the 3 men had transgressed His law.

In a shocking turn of events the Great Ruler called out the names of the First and Third men, saying, “I have granted you pardon. Now go and consider the greatness of my mercy and proclaim the goodness of my law.” The two men broke into weeping, thanking the Ruler for His judgment. Saying no more, the Second man was taken to the place of execution where he received the due punishment of his lawbreaking.

From this story we can ascertain one thing: All 3 men were guilty and worthy of death for their treason. But what else can be deduced from such a simplified illustration? You might say, “Why did the Ruler not grant pardon to the Second man? That’s not fair!” But He was MORE than fair! All 3 men were guilty and could have justly been thrown to the death penalty for their treasonous affairs against the Great Ruler’s law. Yet, the Great Ruler, in His mercy, showed grace. He was in no way obligated to free any of them. Yet He did. He was the Lawmaker. He was not guilty of breaking the law. Who could accuse Him of being “unfair”? None. The fact that He pardoned one of them does not show “unfairness”, but great undeserved mercy!

Such is also true of our salvation. We cannot boast. Why? “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”-Ephesians 2:8,9. I fear that Christians have become so desensitized to these “common” verses, that they miss the full impact. No man can boast of His place in Christ! Why? For it was a gift given by God, not commandeered by the spiritual prowess of man! Dead men cannot move to obtain God in and of themselves. Though the preceding illustration is by no means the best, it still speaks to what Paul has to say in reply to the common objections to the belief in God’s absolute sovereignty in the salvation of men (Romans 9, my emphasis added):

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills,and he hardens whomever he wills.19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

This passage very clearly deals with the sovereignty of God in the salvation of man. So much so, it is of little value at this time to expound on the particular passage, in that this is merely an introduction to what is known as Calvinism. And since this is intended to be compact, I will simply state what the 5 Points of Calvinism consist of, with a few brief comments, leaving future articles to go into detail concerning such. The 5 Points of Calvinism can also be summed up in an acronym known as T.U.L.I.P. Before giving you the summized meanings of these doctrines, it’s important to set the backdrop. It’s also important to note that these doctrines were by no means “new”. In fact, these are the very doctrines as set forthy by the Apostles, as found in the Scriptures. But the particular articulation of thoughts behind the acronym T.U.L.I.P was uniquely fashioned in response to the teachings of a Jacob (Or Jacobus, or James) Arminius.

Born in 1650, Arminius was recognized by his suitors as a very intelligent young man. This afforded him education, which was not so easily attained in such a time. To make a long story short (and for a more succinct treatment of this you can go here.), Arminius engaged in professing certain doctrinal standards while teaching his students, yet practicing and perpetrating others outside the classroom. Later, in 1609, he died. But not without leaving his damnable heresy behind. A group of young students known as the Remonstrants perpetuated Arminius’ errors as can be found in their later 5 Articles.

At first glance, one might think, “What’s the problem?” But, with a closer look, we should see that the implications are much much bigger than initially pondered. I will briefly state the ideas of the Remonstrants (i.e. Arminianism), then give a general overview of the 5 points of Calvinism.

Though Article 1 of the Remonstrants’ position sounds tenable, it is quite sly in applying terms like incorrigible not to all men, but only to those who are unbelieving. It’s too much to go into for now, but the whole truth of Total Depravity puts all men under the wrath of God, rendering them incapable of NOT being incorrigible. Their 2nd Article asserts that Christ died for all men without exception, thus touting the idea that Christ’s death makes all men savable, but only by their decision to believe upon Him. Such a thought is an assault on the efficacy and purpose of Christ’s vicarious sacrifice on behalf of His elect. Article 3 rightly notes that man does not have saving grace in and of himself, and needs to be “born again” by the Holy Spirit. However, the Arminian idea (which is wrong) behind such a notion is that one can attain this regeneration, since it is not irresistible, which brings us to the next thought. Article 4 says (emphasis mine):

That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of all good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without prevenient or assisting, awakening, following and cooperative grace, can nei­ther think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements, that can be conceived, must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. but respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible; inas­much as it is written con­cerning many, that they have resisted the Holy Ghost. Acts 7, and else­where in many places.

The problem with such an assertion is that it denotes that God and man cooperate with one another and together effect salvation in a man! Herein lies the problem with Arminianism. It is Man-centerd and blasphemous, yet parading as innoncent and inclusive. Lastly, Article 5, and it would only be consistent to come to such a conclusion, says that man, if he does not keep his faith up, can fall away from the grace of God. Well, based on the idea that man can attain salvation cooperatively in the first place, it’s not such an illogical point to assert that he could also, by uncooperation, lose it!

Mind you, the 5 Points of Calvinism, as formally articulated in the Canons of Dordt, as much as they were called such, came after Calvin’s time. And, as has been previously noted, the doctrines behind such formal articulations had been long into play by the Apostles, as laid down in the Scriptures. For example, Augustine, Athanasius, and others were all proponents of the doctrines, as they saw them in the Scriptures. Needless to say, here are some brief definitions of those letters found in T.U.L.I.P.

T- Total Depravity

Because Adam was the representative of all mankind, when he forsook the commandment of God, and ate of the fruit, he did plunge all men into an irreversible state of spiritual death. This death renders all those born of woman, other than the perfect Lord Jesus Christ, spiritually dead, incapable of knowing, doing, or even desiring those things which are pleasing to God. By nature, man is at enmity with His Creator, thinking only of himself, and the gratification of his sinful flesh. (Romans 5, Ephesians 2:1, etc.)

U- Unconditional Election

God, in the mere good pleasure of His own will, not constrained by anything other than His Own good purpose did, before the foundation of the World, elect a people unto and for Himself, to the “praise of His glorious grace.” He did so and gave a people unto His Son, Jesus Christ, to believe on His Name and to escape the wrath that was to come through the transgression of Adam. In eternity, this is the Covenant of Redemption. The historical outworking of this Covenant, it is known as the Covenant of Grace. (Ephesians 1, John 6:37, 44 (etc.), John 17, etc.)

L- Limited Atonement

Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, came to earth to “save His people from their sins.” His death was a vicarious sacrifice, actually purchasing the Church of God with His own blood, securing their justification before God and satisfying His demand of perfect obedience to His Law. His death was for the elect, and the elect alone. This limits the Atonement in its extent, whereas the damnable heresy of Arminianism limits the Atonement of the Lamb of God in it’s efficacy (but praise God only in their defective theory!) (Matthew 1:21, Acts 20:28, etc.)

I- Irresistible Grace

Since man is born dead in His sin, incapable of doing right or seeing rightly, it takes the powerful, sovereign, irresistible grace of God to raise the man from the dead. On the removal of such a dark veil from the natural man’s eyes, God’s grace is “simply irresistible”. God replaces man’s heart of stone, with a heart of flesh. A heart that desires to be right with God, and would not, nay could not, resist such an offer as the forgiveness of and deliverance from sin. This call is an effectual call of God, always resulting in the way God has desired, never returning unto Him as void.(Isaiah 55:11; John 5:21, 6:37,44; Romans 8:29-30, etc.)

P- Perseverance of the Saints

It is only logical and consistent (not to mention Biblical) to conclude that if man is inacapable of earning salvation, or even cooperating with God to get it, then it must all be a work of God from start to finish. That being the case, it is impossible for man to render salvation lost, or to fall from a state of grace. If a man apostasizes, falls away, or renounces Christ, he has merely proven he never was in Christ to begin with. Such is the teaching of the P in T.U.L.I.P. Many today believe what’s known as “once saved always saved”, but it falls thoroughly short of the biblical doctrine presented here. Those who belong to Christ will ultimately be conformed to Christ, growing in the grace and the knowledge of Him. That it may be said, “those who persevere to the end shall be saved.” (John 6:39; Philippians 1:6, etc.)

I leave you with this quote from Dr. C. Matthew McMahon:

A tulip is a flower with 5 petals, all intertwining, and without which, it would not make up a complete flower. If one petal is removed from the flower, it ceases, for all intents and purposes, to be complete. It is the same with the essential doctrines of salvation. Each doctrine is essentially linked to the others. If one of them is removed, then the whole system falls into absurdity and contradiction. (Thus, there would be no such thing as a 3 point Calvinist or a 4 point Calvinist (like Amyraldianism)–it would be better to say they are confused Arminians.)

4 thoughts on “T.U.L.I.P.-Had Enough of It Yet?

  1. I happen to come across this article and it is well appreciated, but with all due respect, it is a caricature of Arminianism, and doesn’t deliver on what it intends to prove doctrinally. Much is asserted, but dismally demonstrated.

    It seems to me that a surface reading, a Reformed reading of Romans 9 may look promising. Upon close inspection, however, it falls short of what Paul is getting at. I’ll try to explain briefly.

    I’m not too sure if your citing Romans 9 beginning with v. 6ff was deliberate. If so, then it is quoted out of context because the first five verses sets the thematic tone and thesis, not just for chapter 9, but for chapters 9-11. It is quoted out of context because in vv. 3-4 Paul says, NAS Romans 9:3 “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises…” The relative pronoun “whom” in v. 4, is governed by its nearest referent. Yes? In this case, the privileges (i.e., “adoption as sons”), are said to belong to Paul’s ethnic “brothers by race, according to the flesh”: those for whom he could have wished himself accursed (9.3). Throughout Rom. 9-11, these Jews who have rejected Christ as Messiah are consistently described by Paul in this section (Rom. 9-11, not just selectively 9) as the “Esaus,” “hardened,” “vessels of wrath,” “branches broken off” (11.17), “hardening” (11.25), “enemies,” (11.28), etc. That it has reference to the same group addressed consistently can be scripturally glean from Paul reminding his hearers at the beginning of each of the three arguments he develops: 9.1-5; 10.1; and 11.1. As you can see, Paul maintains and restricts the focus of the referent to those Jews that are without Christ beginning in 9.1-5.. To be faithful to sola scriptura, is it fair to say that, we can suggest a different group is in play, only when scripture itself signals such a change in reference? As I see it, such textual signposts are absent. A Reformed reading, then, would at best seem most unlikely because, in Reformed theology, these are designated as the “reprobates.” Further, their spiritual condition is without redemptive promise and irreversible. But how could it, when the first five chapters God has already “promised” these very so-called “reprobates” “adoptions as sons.” If so, then this necessitates God delivering on His promise.

    Do we find Paul prophetically expounding some sort of reversal/change of their spiritual condition? It seems that, that is the point of Paul’s climactic conclusion of this argument in Rom. 11, especially v. 25 where Paul places a numerical limitation on the hardening motif found in Rom. 9: “that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (11.25). The word “until” seems to be a deferred particle, and presupposes a change of some sort. Moreover, of the “reprobates” Paul continues, “From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies [“allegedly reprobates”], but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers (v. 28). Reformed theology teaches that the spiritual condition of the reprobate is irreversible, unconditional, and eternal, while these concluding verses, in tight correspondence with Rom. 9.1-5, teach that instead, their plight if reversible, conditional, and temporal.

    Finally, just want to mention that the N.T. does teach “apostasy.” The typical response, as the article asserts, “If a man apostasizes, falls away, or renounces Christ, he has merely proven he never was in Christ to begin with,” seems question begging. Why not think that the apostate did come to share in Christ genuinely. Such a response, again, commits one to an a priori theory where such folk were not saved. Not only does this seems to me to be assuming what must be shown, but it seems meaningless. How so? Well, if such a person was not genuinely saved, then no apostasy was committed. Because, you can’ “fall away” from something that one never partook of? Does this make sense. To “fall away” in some way presupposes to go from one condition to another. But again, if no real conversion was realized, then it seems that their falling away was from unbelief to unbelief. Quite tautologous and unintelligible it seems.

    Thanks for reading, and hope you can shed light on this response.

    A.

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  2. Hi, Anonymous. You wrote:

    I happen to come across this article and it is well appreciated, but with all due respect, it is a caricature of Arminianism, and doesn’t deliver on what it intends to prove doctrinally.

    1. Could you briefly, then, give your definition of Arminianism (as opposed to the points made by the Remonstrants provided in the article), so that I may avoid (if I agree) erecting a mere caricature of it in the future? Thanks.

    2. Again, as I stated in the article itself, it was not intended to be exhaustiv or polemical, really. Rather, informational.

    You stated:

    Much is asserted, but dismally demonstrated.

    Maybe instead of just asserting this, you might demonstrate point by point how I failed to demonstrate said assertions. Furthermore, this article is in synopsis form as I would rather it be a stepping stone to those much greater than me who have gone before in articulating these matters. I don’t pretend to be some professional theologian, just a fella who thinks God is sovereign, and cannot fail in any of His endeavors…including the salvation of men.

    You continued:

    It seems to me that a surface reading, a Reformed reading of Romans 9 may look promising. Upon close inspection, however, it falls short of what Paul is getting at. I’ll try to explain briefly.

    I’m not too sure if your citing Romans 9 beginning with v. 6ff was deliberate. If so, then it is quoted out of context because the first five verses sets the thematic tone and thesis, not just for chapter 9, but for chapters 9-11. It is quoted out of context because in vv. 3-4 Paul says, NAS Romans 9:3 “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises…” The relative pronoun “whom” in v. 4, is governed by its nearest referent. Yes? In this case, the privileges (i.e., “adoption as sons”), are said to belong to Paul’s ethnic “brothers by race, according to the flesh”: those for whom he could have wished himself accursed (9.3). Throughout Rom. 9-11, these Jews who have rejected Christ as Messiah are consistently described by Paul in this section (Rom. 9-11, not just selectively 9) as the “Esaus,” “hardened,” “vessels of wrath,” “branches broken off” (11.17), “hardening” (11.25), “enemies,” (11.28), etc. That it has reference to the same group addressed consistently can be scripturally glean from Paul reminding his hearers at the beginning of each of the three arguments he develops: 9.1-5; 10.1; and 11.1. As you can see, Paul maintains and restricts the focus of the referent to those Jews that are without Christ beginning in 9.1-5.. To be faithful to sola scriptura, is it fair to say that, we can suggest a different group is in play, only when scripture itself signals such a change in reference? As I see it, such textual signposts are absent. A Reformed reading, then, would at best seem most unlikely because, in Reformed theology, these are designated as the “reprobates.” Further, their spiritual condition is without redemptive promise and irreversible. But how could it, when the first five chapters God has already “promised” these very so-called “reprobates” “adoptions as sons.” If so, then this necessitates God delivering on His promise.

    The portion quoted was indeed deliberate, but not to divorce the passage from its context. Again, brevity was my goal. As to your thoughts on the matter, I’m not sure how the fact that Paul is addressing unbelieving Jews here takes away from the doctrine of unconditional election at all. Does God not save the Gentile the same manner in which He saves the Jew? Does this “purpose of election” differ from Jew to Gentile? Has not the whole book of Romans discussed both? No Reformed person (that I know of) denies that this passage does have in mind ethnic Israel, but it has little bearing on the application of the doctrine of unconditional election from this passage. One good treatment, IMHO, is Dr. John Piper’s The Justification of God, from which I’ll quote a small excerpt on page 27:

    Piper
    …since God’s free and unconstrained election of Israel from all the nations of the earth (Deut. 7:6) embraced from the outset his intention to bless Israel for centuries in unique ways among the nationsand in the last days to purify and save the whole people, his fulfillment of this intention is just as free from human constraints as the initial election of Abraham. We may infer from Romans 9:6ff that God has employed four thousand years of redemptive history to teach that he is free and not bound to save anyone because of his Jewishness nor to condemn anyone because of his non-Jewishness.

    You also wrote:

    Do we find Paul prophetically expounding some sort of reversal/change of their spiritual condition? It seems that, that is the point of Paul’s climactic conclusion of this argument in Rom. 11, especially v. 25 where Paul places a numerical limitation on the hardening motif found in Rom. 9: “that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (11.25). The word “until” seems to be a deferred particle, and presupposes a change of some sort. Moreover, of the “reprobates” Paul continues, “From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies [“allegedly reprobates”], but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers (v. 28). Reformed theology teaches that the spiritual condition of the reprobate is irreversible, unconditional, and eternal, while these concluding verses, in tight correspondence with Rom. 9.1-5, teach that instead, their plight if reversible, conditional, and temporal.

    No. Not a reversal or change of their spiritual condition. Rather an already/not yet thing. Eschatologically speaking, those Jews according to the flesh, who embrace Christ as Messiah, trust in Christ for salvation, never were reprobate. In fact, in light of their salvation, they’ve been shown to be Elect. We’re all (Jew & Gent) by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2). However, among the children of wrath are both the Elect and the Reprobate. A passage from O. Palmer Robertson’s The Israel of God will be most helpful here concerning Romans 11:25 (pgs. 176-178):

    1.”Hardening in part has happened to Israel” (v. 25). The
    phrase “in part” (apo merous) is often misinterpeted as having a temporal meaning. The passage is thus read, “For a while hardening has happened to Israel.” But this interpretation has little support to it. It is doubtful that the phrase has a temporal meaning anywhere in the New Testament. [there’s a footnoted citation here in the book] The phrase declares either that “partial hardening” has happened to Israel or that “part of Israel” has been hardened. Either of these understandings would fit in with Paul’s earlier discussion of a remnant from Israel that will be saved. Probably the apostle is saying that a part of Israel has been hardened. But in either case, “in part” does not have temporal meaning. This phrase does not provide an exegetical basis for the idea that God intends to initiate special saving activity in Israel at some time in the future.

    2. “Hardening…has happened…until the full number of the Gentiles has come in” (v. 25). Initially it might seem that the word “until” (achris hou) implies that the hardening of Israel will stop after the full number of the Gentiles has been realized. [footnoted citation] However, the meaning of “until” in Romans 11:25 has been wrongly estimated. As a matter of fact, the term by itself cannot settle the question of a distinctive future for ethnic Israel.

    As confirmation of this understanding, the nature of the “hardening” must be considered. Paul uses the terminology of hardening earlier in the chapter. He asserts that the elect in Israel obtained salvation, but that the rest “were hardened” (v. 7). By modifying the phraseology of his supporting quotation from the Old Testament, the apostle underscores divine sovereignty in this hardening. Instead of maintaining the negative form of the assertion om Deuteronomy to the effect that God has not given Israel a heart to know, eyes to see, or ears to hear (Deut. 29:4), Paul turns the phrase into a positive affirmation: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not” (Rom. 11:8 NASB).

    Hardening in t his earlier verse in Romans 11 is clearly bound up with God’s sovereignty in electing some in Israel. Those who are not chosen are hardened by God.

    The same terminology of hardening is found in John 12:40, which explains why the Jews did not believe Jesus’ message: “For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: ‘He has blinded their eyes and [hardened] their hearts'” (vv. 39-40).

    Other New Testament passages usig the terminology of hardening may refer either to men hardening their own hearts in sin or to God hardening their hearts (cf. 2 Cor. 3:14; Mark 3:5; 6:52; 8:17; Eph. 4:18). The situation is similar to the hardening of Pharoah’s heart as related in the Exodus narrative, which attributes the hardening sometimes to God and sometimes to Pharoah himself.

    In any case, the “hardening” that has happened to part of Israel according to Romans 11 fits integrally into the historical outworking of the principle of election and reprobation. The hardening refers not merely to hard-heartedness on the part of Israelites, but instead to the very mystery of election. From among all the people who are dead in their sin, God in the sovereignty of his grace has elected some to everlasting life, while the rest have been hardened.

    Among others, 1 Cor. 15:25 is a great example of why the term “until” doesn’t always necessitate that a change is coming. “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” Surely Christ doesn’t STOP reigning after his enemies are under feet.

    You concluded:

    Finally, just want to mention that the N.T. does teach “apostasy.” The typical response, as the article asserts, “If a man apostasizes, falls away, or renounces Christ, he has merely proven he never was in Christ to begin with,” seems question begging. Why not think that the apostate did come to share in Christ genuinely. Such a response, again, commits one to an a priori theory where such folk were not saved. Not only does this seems to me to be assuming what must be shown, but it seems meaningless. How so? Well, if such a person was not genuinely saved, then no apostasy was committed. Because, you can’ “fall away” from something that one never partook of? Does this make sense. To “fall away” in some way presupposes to go from one condition to another. But again, if no real conversion was realized, then it seems that their falling away was from unbelief to unbelief. Quite tautologous and unintelligible it seems.

    Thanks for reading, and hope you can shed light on this response.

    A.

    Concerning apostasy, I never denied that the N.T. teaches apostasy. Also, I do believe that there are those who sincerely *think* they’re genuinely sharing in Christ. These are also those who in Matthew 13 immediately sprang up, but because there was no root they died. And, YES, according to the Totality of Scripture (the Analogy of Faith/Scripture), we certainly would believe (a priori to this particular passage) that the person must not have been ever truly saved if they do no “persevere to the end.” Why? Because God does not fail in His efforts to save. Can a man who is born again, be un-born again? It’s certainly easy to embrace a REAL FALLING FROM GRACE, if one rejects Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, et al; however, in light of those doctrines, and in comparison to the thorough-saving God of Scripture, and His ability to finish what He has started (The Author AND Finisher of our Faith), I’d have to say that anything less than the Perseverance/Preservation of the Saints is unorthodox. A man can “fall away” from what he has professed. But, profession doesn’t necessarily equal possession. Not sure what “tautologous” means, and forgive my lack of intelligence.

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  3. Josh, wanted to thank you for your reply, and hopefully I can provide some feedback, and clarify where I’m coming from. If it’s o.k., I would like to get to the heart of the matter, and go straight into the scriptures, and tackle some points that you made. Fair enough?

    1. You stated that you are “…just a fella who thinks God is sovereign, and cannot fail in any of His endeavors…including the salvation of men.” And to this, I heartedly agree. But ultimately, this statement requires qualification, and I would leave it up to scripture to fill in the nuts and bolts of what this statement amounts to. I would suggest first showing this from the text, rather than assume. Otherwise, the other option is confessional worship.

    2. In my accusation that you quoted Rom. 9.6ff out of context, you replied by stating: “Again, brevity was my goal.” This is fair as far as it goes. However, you can be brief, but at the same time not leave a crucial portion of that passage, which can severely take another trajectory entirely, which in turn can take on a whole new theological meaning. In retrospect, my argument on Rom. 9.1-5 did not receive any response. Moreover, it was the heart of my reply! Concisely, these first five verses are insuperably crucial because it shows that the unbelieving-unsaved-hardened portion of Israel will experience a re-direct of their spiritual status. How do I know this? Here is the argument once again.

    3. Paul is lamenting over his fellow Jews (“sungenes” [9.3] = belonging to the same extended family or clan, related, akin to [BDAG]), many of whom do not believe in Jesus Christ (9.3). In the immediate pro-ceeding verse, however, Paul says that they nevertheless belong to a people who possess divine promises, and goes on to affirm them: “NAS Romans 9:4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises.” Note that the antecedent of the relative pronoun hotines (9.4), that is to whom the privileges belong (including “adoption as sons”) are said to belong to those for who he could have wished himself accursed (9.3). That is, the unbelieving, “hardened” (9.18), and “lopped-off” (11.20) portion—as richly described and developed in the following narrative. Therefore, Paul’s insistence (according to the Greek syntactical arrangement, 9.3-4), that a largely unbelieving people remain the objects of a valid divine commitment already contains within itself the presuppositions demanding a transformation. And that is exactly what we encounter in the argument as Paul develops it. If no removal of the “hardening” is forthcoming then this makes a mockery of God’s sovereignty. The decisive evidence for this is scripturally accounted for in the broader context, and we see such a transformation envisaged in 11.25-26. Romans 11.11-24 implies that the unsaved portion (i.e., “broken-off” reprobates), will one day experience a spiritual rejuvenation. Moreover, Paul contrasts the “reprobates’s” spiritual regeneration from the elect when he states: (1) “their fullness” contrasted with “their defeat” in v. 12; (2) “their acceptance” contrasted with “their rejection in v. 15; (3) their “holiness” of even the broken-off branches in v. 16; the hope that these branches might be grafted in again in v. 24.

    4. If you wish to respond to this, please support your assertions with scriptural citation, as your last reply contained more assertions and theologized confessional opinions rather than *showing* scripturally what you believe. For, those are the assumptions that are here in question.

    5. While it is interesting that you quoted Piper’s work on this topic, I think it will be good to get up to speed on what’s been said concerning this piece of work. His work has been severely criticized because, it is only by limiting his discussion to 9.1-23 that he is able to maintain his thesis that election in that passage concerns individuals and their eternal destinies. The argument advanced (see 3 above) destroys this concept, especially when the effect of Paul’s argument is intended to be cumulative (9-11). Further, the “hardening” motif that pervades 9.6ff, is inescapably and ultimately-immediately connected with 9.1-5. So that, Paul’s explanation as to why such fellow Jews are not saved are explained throughout the temporary “hardening” motif in 9.6ff, of which, Paul also states are the recipients of soteriolgical blessings (see 9.3-4). And of course, such spiritual reversal is envisaged in 11.25-26. I’ll turn here shortly.

    6. Interestingly, you quoted another author whose works have already been schematized and debunked. Worse, Robertson follows along your lines of just affirming assertions without *showing* how he scripturally reached desired conclusion. Josh, read his explanation very, very carefully, I implore you. Notice that he doesn’t derive one scant of scripturally evidence for his theological conclusion on Rom. 11.25. He just summarizes the options but doesn’t *show* how he objectively and exegetically reached one of the alternatives. Not only is this question-begging, but he offers no evidence whatsoever for thinking that the alternative should be taken adjectivally. In fact, you cite him saying, “Probably the apostle is saying that a part of Israel has been hardened.” It seems that Robertson capriciously just sides with the choice because, well, just because he does. The mistake is that he sides with a choice of interpretation, to a conclusion that such is the meaning without offering any evidence. It “probably” may mean “a part of Israel,” and then again, it may not. Humbly, if you think that this is exegesis, then you need to state a clear definition of it. Robertson’s work is clearly not reflective of any methodological exegesis. Rather, it appears that he simply, by “probable” means at that, sides with want he wants the text to say. It stands to reason, then, his work is hardly “helpful,” as you seem to put it. This is just a poor choice of sources. So then, what is the evidence that the phrase “part of Israel” (11.25), should be taken in the form that I originally argued for.

    7. The Greek construction naturally suggests a reversal of the present situation. That is, Israel’s partial hardening will last until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in—and then it will be removed. A couple of points converge upon this conclusion: (1) The phrase apo merous, is to be taken adverbially, modifying either the verbal concept present in porosis, or gegonen, which in turn would still mean that “a partial hardening has come on Israel” (11.25, cf. Godet, Michel, Schlier, Westerholdm, etc). This adverbial modifying phrase is reinforced because it is adverbial in the other occurrence in the same letter (cf. Rom. 15.15). The strength of this argument lies within the scope of the immediate context, rather than jumping to an example outside the letter. In Rom. 15.15 it is clearly adverbial (see the Gk), with the narrative frame of the same letter. The syntax taken this way, Paul is placing a numerical limitation on Israel’s hardening; (2) The second line of evidence is that various translation committees support this translation: NEB, NIV, ESV, HCSB, NASB, NKJ, and NET; (3) Other Pauline passages outside of Romans, in this case, are adverbial (cf. esp. Rom. 15.15, and v. 24; 2 Cor. 1.14; 2.5). Comically, Robertson shoots himself in the foot by citing the most authoritative Lexicon (BAGD, 507) to support my claim that Rom. 15.24 has a “temporal significance”! And then irresponsibly dismisses it as “highly uncertain” without argument—typical. Moreover, it must have missed him that he doesn’t even consider Rom. 15.15 (in the same footnote), which is additionally clearly adverbial. (4) The preposition “until,” (11.25) occurs over 40 times in the N.T. It is agreed that eleven of these do not count in this category because they involve a spatial rather than a temporal concept. However, of the 37 remaining occurrences, approximately 25 clearly denote a period of time that will come to an end and be followed by a change of those circumstances denoted (Lk. 1.20; 4.13; Acts 1.12; 3.12; 7.18; 13.11; 20.6, 11; 22.22; 27.33; Rom. 1.13; 1 Cor. 11.26; 15.25; Gal. 3.19; 4.2; Phil. 1.6; Heb. 3.13; 6.11; Rev. 2.25, 26; 7.3; 15.8; 17.17; 20.3, 5); (5) Despite Robertson’s pessimism of Israel obtaining a “distinctive future,” this adverbial option is further reinforced in the overall broader context of this section in Romans (9-11); Eg., in the beginning section (9.1-5, esp. vv. 3-4), Paul has already shown that the hardened portion of Israel will experience God’s faithful and sovereign restoration (see 3 above). The main exegetical reason that these reprobate-unbelieving Jews are the objects in Rom. 9.3-4 that will receive “all the special favors of the Lord” as Robertson puts it (172), is because the hardening narrative (9.6ff) immediately proceeds these promises (vv. 3-4). Any disjunction or disconnection attempted is a burdened the Calvinist must textually shoulder. The whole point of the olive tree metaphor (11.16-24) is to teach that rebellious and Messiah-rejecting “natural branches” will one day be grafted back in again (11.23, “God is able to graft them in again”); (6) If, as some might illogically argue, that these natural lopped-off branches are the elect, and there salvific status (is “already/not yet”), then why were they lopped-off from the rich soteriological sap of the tree? Worse, If these branches allegedly are the “elect” then Paul would be affirming that all Jews would be saved. But this move can be easily dismissed because it would turn Paul’s prediction into a purposeless truism: after all, the very concept of those who are elect will be saved, are they not? The remnant (11.5), which is the believing portion are already saved. This portion throughout Rom. 9-11 is contrasted with the “hardened” who Paul explains are the “Esaus” and lopped-off natural branches which God promises will be “able to graft them in again” under the condition that “if they do not continue in their unbelief” (11.23a).

    8. Finally, your citation of 1 Cor. 15.25 to support the idea that a change in circumstances is not necessarily relevant. First, this example clearly does not denote a change in circumstances because of the contextual support. But in Romans 9-11 is a different situation, delineates a different topic of discussion. This is what I call the fallacy of irrelevant contexts; when someone cuts & paste two passages together and brings over one meaning and impose it on a text especially when they are not talking about the same issues. So the example you bring is invalid. I anticipate that I might fall under the same accusation for citing 2 Cor. 1.14, and 2.5 for my adverbial option above. If so, then granted—they can be dismissed. But that is why I prefer, along with Robertson, to cite Rom. 15.15, and v. 24 preferably because it falls within the scope of the same letter, and the immediate context would always have precedent.

    9. In closing, in your response concerning apostasy, I truly suspect that perhaps you may hold to a method aligned with sola ratione. You make the startling, scripturally unsupported claim that, those who have apostasized “are those who sincerely *think* they’re genuinely sharing in Christ.” You go on to allege, “A man can ‘fall away’ from what he has professed. But, profession, doesn’t necessarily equal possession.” Exactly. My point stands: you cannot fall away from what you do not posses. Notice that, you highlight crucial points in asterisks, and italics as though it was scripture(?). This seems like an exaltation of *reason* within a confessional (not biblical) stance. With all due respect, you don’t cite a single passage in which scripture tell us that folk that apostasized “thought” or “professed” they were saved. I’m hoping that you can provide one example where the word “apostasy” is clearly used *in connection* with the author stating that they themselves “professed” they were saved. Exegetically, please italicize these points (to avoid ambiguity) when you cite scripture. So far though, from what I can tell, they are humanistically derived. Overall, I think that the authors of scripture assumed, a priori, that what can be lost and neglected is “salvation” itself: “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2.3). Your response reflects the typical Calvinistic cliché, but I see no textual evidence in Hebrews, or in the other apostolic warnings for that matter, that believers “self-professed” their salvation. In scriptural contrast, which is contradicted by you, indicative statements in the original language shows that their conversion is completely divine-dependent. But let us entertain your proposal for the sake of argument. Suppose that believers’ salvation are “self-professed” as you autonomously assert, how can the inspired author genuinely warn his hearers without being deceptive? That is, would the apostolic warnings then be to encourage his readers to persevere in their unbelief. Is God then jarring his people to continue holding to a false profession? Might you be suggesting the fantastical claim that, God could warn his people to diligently encourage folk to maintain, a false profession—in spite His omniscience? Your response seems to lead to a frontal assault on God’s omniscience.

    10. “And, YES, according to the Totality of Scripture (the Analogy of Faith/Scripture), we certainly would believe (a priori to this particular passage)” that my starting point for my thesis is Heb. 2.3 where God himself assumes, a priori, that his readers can neglect, not an alleged profession of faith, but, as the very word of God infallibly declares expressis verbis, *salvation* (Gk. soteria Heb. 2.3).

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  4. A.,

    Sorry for taking such a long time in approving your comment. I tried several times on Saturday, but it ended up disabling the site. Somehow, (I Told the Creator of the Blog about it) it works now. Thanks for the response.

    First, I truly appreciate your taking of time to respond with great thoughtfulness.

    Second, I’m not here to get into an exegetical argument because it could go round and round…even our exegesis is guided by our hermeneutic.

    Thus, albeit that I disagree, I will be happy to look over that with which you’ve responded, so long as you can kindly point me to the materials that have guided you to said conclusions.

    Fourth, thanks again for engaging me in this context, I only wish all Christians (whether wrong or not) would be so zealous for the truth.

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