Tuesday, June 23, 2009

3. Presuppositional Apologetics

Jesus employed a presuppositional apologetic method. Christian apologists today would do well to follow our Lord's example. The Savior was perfectly consistent in His teaching. As outlined above, Christ taught the doctrines which have come to be known as the five points of Calvinism. These doctrines teach that man is a totally depraved sinner and therefore salvation is 100% by God's grace. An evidential apologetical method is inconsistent with this Calvinistic doctrine, while totally consistent with the Arminian doctrine of free will. The Arminian evidentialist believes that if given enough compelling evidence, a man will reason that the Bible is the Word of God and that Jesus is who He claimed to be. He will then employ his free will to "accept Christ".
I grant the fact that evidence for the veracity of Scripture and the claims of Christ are everywhere (Rom. 1:18ff). However, because of the noetic effects of sin, corrupt man suppresses such evidence. Even if one could prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus rose from the dead and that the Bible is the word of God, this would not convince one more person to be saved, for salvation is of God's grace, not the will of man (John 1:13). It is the accurate preaching of the whole counsel of God which God employs in the salvation of souls. In His "defense of the faith," Jesus never sparred with the Romans by setting up an elaborate system of theistic proofs. Nor did He attempt to overwhelm the Sadducees with empirical evidence of the supernatural aspects of Scripture. Jesus "presupposed" the existence of the God of the universe revealed in Scripture, how could He have done otherwise, being Himself "God with us" (Matt. 1:23).
In the forty days of being tempted by Satan, Jesus knew that His best weapon against the Evil One was the self-authenticating Word of God. Three times Jesus countered the devil's temptation with "It is written..."
Not only did Jesus "presuppose" the truth of God's Word, He took it at face value. Jesus accepted as historical fact the events that modem rationalistic theologians relegate to the categories of "myth" or "saga". For example, Jesus taught the Genesis account of creation (Matt. 19:4) as an historical event. He taught the story of Jonah as an actual event and did not even hint of a possibility that Jonah's amazing experience was apocryphal or solely symbolic (Matt. 12:38-41). Our Lord also affirmed the historicity of Noah and the flood (Matt. 24:37-39). Jesus assumed the truth of Scripture, using even details of these "difficult" passages to illustrate aspects of His work. For example, Jesus used the historicity of the story of Jonah to illustrate that He would remain under the darkness of death for a time but would rise again on the third day (Matt. 12:40-41).

2. Covenant Theology

A distinctive mark of dispensationalism which distinguishes it from covenant theology is its disjointed view of Scripture. Since each dispensation represents different ways in which God deals with man, logically there can be little applicability of Scripture from previous dispensations to New Covenant believers.
While this may be the view of Scofield and Chafer, this is not the view of Jesus Christ. Jesus believed in the unity of Scripture and He applied all of God's words in His teachings. Jesus said that the Scriptures cannot be broken (John 10:35). In a nutshell, this is the fundamental difference between covenant theology and dispensationalism. Dispensationalists break Scripture into discreet units; consistent covenant theologians do not.
To discuss in detail the fact that Jesus taught from all portions of the Old Testament, establishing their continued applicability, would exceed the bounds of this essay (The reader is encouraged to note the extent to which our Lord used the Old Testament). Not only did Jesus teach from all portions of the Old Testament, His whole life and work was captive to Scripture. Matthew continually notes that the life and teaching of Jesus was in fulfillment of prophecy.
Jesus taught that His life and work was the fulfillment and the substance of all the Old Covenant shadows. For example, in that great passage in Matt. 16 following Peter's confession of Jesus as the Christ of God, Jesus responds in terms of the provisions of the Abrahamic covenant. Jesus says that the gates of Hell cannot prevail against His church as she stands upon the rock of Messiah (vs. 18). The perceptive Bible student is immediately cognizant of the fact that Jesus' words are very similar to the words of God's promise to Abraham in Gen. 22:17. "That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies." God's promise to Abraham was that his seed shall possess the gates of his enemies. In stark contrast to the pietistic retreat from society by many dispensationalists, Christ commands His servants to storm the gates of Hell. Jesus guarantees His Church success if she stands on the Rock.
A thorough discussion of how the Church of the 20th century lost her world and life view is another subject. Suffice it to say that because of the loss of a correct understanding of optimistic Covenant Theology, the Church of the 20th century has worked hard for defeat — and she has received what she worked for.

Christ's well known (but little understood) Great Commission is given in terms of the Abrahamic Covenant. The fundamental provision of the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12 is that it is through Abraham's seed that all the nations of the world are to be blessed. In the Great Commission of Matt. 28, Jesus tells His disciples that because all power has been given to Him, His Church is to go out in all the world and bring the nations under the discipline of God's law.
As the Church becomes faithful in preaching the gospel in all the world, entire nations will be blessed as they are brought under the whole counsel of God.11
Jesus also set the stage for another characteristic of Covenant Theology: infant baptism. Although Jesus never taught infant baptism as a polemic, He did tell His disciples in Matt. 19:14 not to prevent the children from coming to Him because "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Since the Church makes up the citizenship of the Kingdom established by Christ and since children received the sign of circumcision as the sign of entry into the commonwealth of Israel, it is highly illogical to believe that Jesus' work established a new order in which covenant children were excluded from the visible church structure. In addition to this, Jesus' audience had the background of centuries of Jewish history. They would have been horrified at the thought of their children being left out of God's covenant and not entitled to the bestowal of the covenant sign. I have deep respect for many of my Baptist brethren, I was one myself, but the fact remains that in the Baptist view, children of believers are trapped in some kind of limbo between the Church and the world until they make a verbal profession of Christ. They are not members of the visible Church but neither are they total pagans.
Finally, Jesus' establishment of the New Covenant showed that He knew nothing of a dispensational view of the covenant. In Matt. 26:26-28 as Jesus ate the Passover meal with His disciples, He stated that His blood and body constituted the true passover. Jesus was not establishing something radically new, He was establishing Himself as the fulfillment of all the Old Covenant shadows. Jesus did not abrogate the Old Testament passover but rather fulfilled it. Old Testament Saints celebrated passover once a year through the bloody sacrifice of a lamb. New Covenant believers are to celebrate passover often through the bloodless elements of wine and bread. Jesus' whole life, work and ministry was very much captive to God's covenant.

  1. See the excellent article: "The Greatness of the Great Commission" in Still Waters Revival Books upcoming book by Ken Gentry, Light for the World: Studies in Reformed Thought..

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

1. Calvinistic Soteriology

Calvinistic soteriology is commonly defined in terms of the acronym TULIP:
A. Total Depravity (Total Inability)
B. Unconditional Election
C. Limited (Definite) Atonement
D. Irresistible (Efficacious) Grace
E. Perseverance of the Saints

Total depravity is the scriptural teaching that man is so affected by the fall that he is totally unable to do any spiritual good and it is therefore impossible for him to do anything on his own to contribute to his salvation. Unregenerate man is spiritually and covenantally dead and cannot understand spiritual truth. He, therefore, has no capacity to choose God.
Jesus clearly shows that He taught the doctrine of total inability. In Matt. 13:11-17, He explains to His disciples the reason why He taught in parables. He tells them that they had been granted the ability to know the mysteries of the kingdom, but to others it had not been granted. Jesus was teaching that fallen man does not naturally have the ability to understand His truth. Our Lord says such ability is a gift from God. Jesus expands upon the depraved and deceitful heart of man in Matt. 15:19 "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies."
While explaining the nature of the new birth to Nicodemus in John 3, Jesus tells the learned Jewish teacher that one cannot enter the kingdom of God unless born from above. The analogy of salvation as a new birth is significant. Not one of us had the ability to choose the tune and place of our birth, our race, or any other genetic characteristics. A baby does not choose to be born by the act of his will. The baby is not able to do so. So it is with the new birth.
In John 6:44, Jesus speaks of mankind's total inability to come to Him outside of the Father's drawing grace. "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." Fallen man cannot change his own nature (and consequent spiritual inability) any more than the leopard can change his spots (Jer. 13:23), thus the impossibility of the sinner choosing God outside of the prior regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. In light of these statements it should be more than abundantly clear that the Son of Man taught the doctrine of man's total inability.

Our Lord Jesus not only taught the doctrine of election as an axiom, He also made reference to the doctrine as a presupposition. In Matthew 24, where Jesus describes the Great Tribulation — which in context clearly is a reference to an event in the first century — we are taught in verse 22, that for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short. By definition, "elect" refers to someone who is chosen by another, not someone who chooses himself.
Jesus also taught election in precept. He says in John 5:21 that He gives life to "whom He will". John 6:37 records our Lord telling the multitudes that those who come to Him are given by the Father," All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Election is also illustrated in the choosing of the twelve. Jesus tells them in John 15:16 that they did not choose Him but that they were chosen by Him. Matt. 11:27," All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."; John 3:8, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" and John 6:37-66 are also clear statements from the lips of our Lord teaching the doctrine of election.
If words have meaning, Jesus taught the doctrine of election. There is nothing in the words of our Lord to even suggest the possibility of the Arminian distortion of the doctrine which holds that election is somehow conditioned on the free actions of men. The John 6 passage is especially refreshing in a day when there is so much pressure to tickle itching ears. "And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." (John 6:65,66). Jesus was not afraid to boldly proclaim the doctrine of election, even if it meant losing followers.

Perhaps the most emotional disagreement between Calvinists and Arminians is over the extent of the atonement. The question before us is simply this: For whom did Christ die? The vast majority of evangelical Christians might respond like this: "The answer is easy: Christ died for everybody." This answer would most likely be accompanied with the obligatory John 3:16 proof text. I agree that the answer is easy, but the common evangelical response is wrong. It is wrong according to none other than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
The Arminian view of universal atonement implies that it would somehow be unfair if Christ did not die for everybody. If, however, Christ did shed His precious blood for everyone, a logical question follows: why is not everyone saved? The common response to this question is that unbelief prevents the salvation of sinners for whom Christ died and shed His precious blood. If this is so, I am compelled to point out the Arminian's predicament. Is not unbelief a sin? If Christ died for all the sins of all men then everyone will be in heaven. If He died for some of the sins of all men, then no one will be in heaven. Those are the twin horns of the Arminian dilemma. Besides, if Jesus died a death which made redemption an hypothetical possibility for everyone, then it actually secured salvation for no one. There is no comfort in a propitiation9 that does not propitiate or in a redemption that does not redeem. Calvinists limit the extent of Christ's atonement but Arminians limit the power of it.
Logical arguments aside, what does Jesus teach about the extent of His atonement? Our Lord clearly limits His atonement in His statement in Matt. 20:28 when He describes the purpose of His coming: to give His life as a ransom for many. "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." The great passage in John 10 is perhaps the clearest on this question. In vv. 11 and 15, Jesus says that He lays down His life for the sheep. Verses 26 and 27 define sheep as those who believe and follow Christ. Jesus is therefore teaching that He died only for those who believe in Him. In other words, Jesus died for the elect only.
Christ's high priestly prayer in John 17 is also instructive. Jesus did not pray for the world (vs. 9). In vs. 20, Jesus says that he is praying for "those who believe in Me." Jesus was praying on behalf of God's elect as their High Priest. Jesus, however, was not only the High Priest, He was also the sacrifice. As High Priest, Jesus is not going to pray only for the elect while offering Himself as sacrifice for every individual who ever lived. That is similar to believing Israel's High Priests offered sacrifice for Egypt and Assyria on the Day of Atonement. No, the priests offered God a sacrifice for the sins of Israel alone.
Christ's life, work, and teaching clearly demonstrate that He died for His people (Spiritual Israel) and them alone.10

Irresistible grace is the doctrine which maintains that a sinner has no capacity to refuse the special grace of God in bringing that sinner to salvation. Do the gospels reveal that Jesus taught such a doctrine?
Jesus taught that God's electing grace ultimately cannot be refused by a stubborn sinner. Man, dead in his trespasses and sins, cannot choose God. Conversely, a man who has been given redemptive grace cannot refuse such grace. In John 6:44, Jesus says that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him. The Greek verb employed here can literally be translated "drag". God's electing grace is irresistible. If God loved an individual before the foundation of the world, if Christ shed His redemptive blood for that sinner, He will not allow that person to perish. He will "drag" that sinner to salvation by the power of His gospel.
The familiar John 3 passage is also illustrative of irresistible grace. In His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus compares salvation to a new birth. It is obvious that a human child, when the fullness of time comes, cannot refuse to be born! The mother's body rather forcefully expels the child. The child is not consulted. Should we expect spiritual birth to be different? If we examine our conversion, did God beg us to come out of the womb of sin or did the power of God expel us out of the darkness and into His kingdom of light via the new birth? Jesus has given us the answer.

The five points of Calvinism are inseparably linked. If God loved us from eternity past and Christ shed His precious blood for us, it stands to reason that we are eternally secure. Did Jesus teach the doctrine of eternal security? Jesus did, in fact, teach it.
What kind of life does Jesus grant believers? Jesus repeatedly says that He grants believers eternal life (John. 3:16: 3:36; 6:47). Though so incredibly simple, many Christians miss the significance of this argument. Why would Jesus call it "eternal" life if there was a possibility of losing it?
If the reader is still not convinced, consider again John 10. Jesus says that those (the sheep) for whom He died, shall never perish and that no one can snatch them out of His hand (vs. 28). There is no more secure place than in the hand of Christ. If you believe in Christ, you are one of His sheep. If you are one of His sheep, you will never perish because the Good Shepherd has laid down His life for you and bestowed upon you the gift of eternal life. You are secure in His loving hand!

  1. See Fred DiLella's article on propitiation, in the Christian Observer December 15, 1989 (p. 18), for a concise explanation of this important Biblical doctrine.

  2. Cf. Talbot and Crampton, Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism, (Edmonton, AB: Still Waters Revival Books,1990), chapter 5.

The Five Points Of Christian Reconstruction From The Lips Of Our Lord

By Mark Duncan


There is a battle raging today between historic Reformed Christianity, which emphasizes the importance of a world and life view based upon the Bible, and dispensational pietism, which rejects a vast portion of God's Word by declaring it inapplicable to the New Covenant Church. The influence of dispensationalism has led to a truncated view of Christianity. This rejection of the whole law of God, the adoption of a pessimistic eschatology, and a lack of understanding of God's covenant purposes in history has led to a withdrawal of Christianity from the marketplace of ideas which govern a civilization. This vacuum created in our society by the withdrawal of Christian principles of government has given us widespread abortion, pornography, drug abuse, divorce, oppressive taxation, and other social ills which continue to plague our land.
Although "Christian Reconstructionism" is growing in popularity, it is being attacked from many angles. Several recent dispensational writers have associated "Dominion Theology" and "Christian Reconstruction" with New Age humanism.1 One recent dispensational work labels "Dominion Theology" as a "curse".2 Hal Lindsey, perhaps the most popular and well known dispensational writer, recklessly charges Reconstructionism with having "anti-semitic" tendencies.3

Such irrational attacks might be expected from the dispensational camp. Sadly, however, some of the most vehement opponents of Reconstructionist thought come from within ostensibly Reformed denominations. This opposition is unfortunate in that it unwittingly contradicts the confessional standards these opponents have taken solemn vows before God to uphold.4 It is apparent that the ubiquity of dispensational thought in this century has affected the thinking of men who in many respects exhibit good scholarship and sound theology.
Incredibly, one of the objections to Christian Reconstructionism from both the dispensational and the semi-reformed camps is the charge that reconstructionism is a "new" theology.5 Christian Reconstruction is not new, it is simply a return to the classic Reformed theology that characterized the writings of Calvin, the Puritans, and Presbyterian theologians of the nineteenth century. The consistent application of this theology transformed Calvin's Geneva and Puritan New England into truly Christian cultures. Christian Reconstruction is nothing more than the application of the whole of the Bible to the whole of life. Rather than being a new theology, it is actually an attempt to go back to the "old" theology believed, taught, and practiced in the Southern Presbyterian Church as recently as the late 1800's by men such as Major Robert L. Dabney.6 Reconstructionism only seems new because of the theological shift caused by the rise of dispensational ideas that have taken place this century.7

As in any theological dispute, it ultimately does not matter who does hold (or has held) to a position, what matters is the teaching of Holy Scripture. Even this question is more complex than it seems because of the dispensational presupposition that certain parts of the Bible are not applicable to the Church. One does not need the whole Bible to prove that God's Word teaches the doctrines that have come to be known as "Christian Reconstructionism". Two books, Matthew and John, will be more than sufficient to prove the point. In fact, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself demonstrate that He taught the doctrinal complex now known as the "Five Points of Christian Reconstructionism." (If there be any dispensationalists reading this who believe that the words of Jesus are not applicable to believers today, you have my sympathy, for Jesus Christ is truth personified [John 14:6]).

The five points of Christian Reconstructionism are generally considered to be:

  1. Calvinistic Soteriology. (i.e. The five points of Calvinism).

  2. Covenant Theology

  3. Presuppositional Apologetics

  4. Postmillennialism

  5. Theonomic Ethics

The Lord Jesus Christ, the infinite God/Man, the Word of God incarnate, who is the ultimate source of all Scripture, taught the doctrines that make up the five points of Christian Reconstruction. This brief booklet does not pretend to be exhaustive or technical. An exhaustive and technical treatment of all the pertinent passages in Matthew and John would require a lengthy volume. It is, however, thorough enough to prove the point. I plead with critics of Christian Reconstruction to carefully consider the teachings of our Lord. I humbly plead with my brothers who oppose Christian Reconstruction but who claim to be Reformed theologians to carefully study their heritage as well as the arguments presented herein. I submit, even if I cannot convince you of the reconstrutionist position, that vitriolic attacks against reconstructionists (who are your brothers in the faith) are much misguided. I am grieved when so many who claim the Reformed faith tolerate Arminian, Dispensational, and Charismatic theology, yet viciously attack reconstructionists and sometimes even do everything in their power to deny them entry into presbyteries.8

*Published by Still Waters Revival Books, 12810-126 St. Edmonton, AB. Canada T5L 0Y1. Printed in Canada, March, 1990. — ISBN 0-921148-09-7.© 1990 Mark Duncan.

  1. See DeMar and Leithart, The Reduction of Christianity: A Biblical Response to Dave Hunt, (Ft Worth, Texas: Dominion Press, 1988).

  2. H. Wayne House and Thomas Ice, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1988) Whatever may be said of this work, one thing is certain: the authors do not consider "Dominion Theology" to be a blessing. For a cogent reply to Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? see Bahnsen and Gentry, House Divided: The Breakup of Dispensational Theology, Dominion Press, 1989.

  3. Mr. Lindsey's latest book, The Road to Holocaust carries the subtitle: "Unchecked, the Dominion Theology movement among Christians could lead us — and Israel — into disaster..." See Schlissel and Brown, On Hal Lindsey and the Restoration of the Jews, (Edmonton, AB:Still Waters Revival Books, forthcoming, 1990) for a reply to Hal Lindsey.

  4. The reader is encouraged to study The Westminster Larger Catechism questions pertaining to the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer. Many of the Scripture proofs in the "sins to avoid" and "duties required" are taken from the Old Testament case laws. The answer to question 191 pertaining to the second petition of the Lord's Prayer sounds very "Reconstructionist."

  5. Dominion: A Dangerous New Theology, Tape #1 of Dominion and the New World Order. Distributed by the Omega Letter, ON Canada, 1987. Op. Cit. Reduction, p.138.

  6. Dabney was a major in the Confederate army, serving as Stonewall Jackson's Chief of Staff for a time. For his theological views, consult his excellent work: Lectures in Systematic Theology.

  7. For a detailed treatment of this subject see Douglas Frank, Less Than Conquerors: How Evangelicals Entered the 20th Century, Eerdman's, 1989.

  8. Even though the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America has repeatedly ruled in favor of admitting "theonomists," individual Presbyteries continue to hinder admission of Reconstructionists. A close friend and I experienced such opposition in 1989.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Political Spectrum Quiz Results

Foreign Policy:
On the left side are pacifists and anti-war activists. On the right side are those who want a strong military that intervenes around the world. You scored: 0.43

Where are you in the culture war? On the liberal side, or the conservative side? This scale may apply more to the US than other countries. You scored: 4.82

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

An essential tool for the garden

From http://planetwhizbang.blogspot.com/

Welcome To The Official Planet Whizbang Web Site
This site gives you simple plans for making your own awesome wheel hoe for way less money than what it would cost to buy a comparable new one. All the how-to information is here (with lots of great pictures). You don't need to be a metalworker to build a deluxe wheel hoe. Anybone Can Build a Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe. I'll show you how...

A great project for these cold Winter days, might need a LPG heater out in the big shed though!