March 26, 2007

We MUST Follow Men

Let me openly say that I am a follower of men. Any Christian that is not a follower of men is in sin. Anyone seeking to follow Christ (one who was certainly a man himself, but not MERELY a man) must do so through the testimony and example of the Apostles and Prophets, who were men. The Apostle Paul said this:

NKJ 1 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.

I can already hear someone saying, "yeah, but he's an Apostle! He's not saying we should follow uninspired men!" To that objector, I offer these texts:

NKJ 2 Thessalonians 3:7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you;

NKJ 2 Thessalonians 3:9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.

The "us" references Paul AND HIS COMPANIONS, such as Luke, Timothy, Mark, Titus, Barnabas, Silas etc.

NKJ Hebrews 13:7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.

The author of Hebrews is commanding (not merely suggesting or encouraging) the disciples to follow the example of their godly rulers. Since it's a command of the Holy Spirit, to not do so is sin. We follow men when they are godly examples of Christ-likeness. Insofar as Calvin was an example of theological diligence and biblical excellence, I follow him, along with the other great cloud of witnesses throughout church history. Therefore, sin not and follow men.

It is commonly said that "I am not a follower of men". Well, that person is self-deluded. They are not only following men, they are following men when they utter the proposition "I am not a follower of men". They've heard other men say that and so they echo the idea. You are a follower of men whether you realize it or not. The question for the Christian is not whether you ought to be a follower of men, but which men should you follow and how far should you follow them?

March 22, 2007

History and Theology of Calvinism Syllabus

In part 4 of Phil Johnson's series on why he is a Calvinist, he has provided a word document version of Dr. Curt Daniel's History and Theology of Calvinism. Here it is:

As Phil himself says, "this is one you will want to download." It's 626 pages of material.

Why Phil Johnson is a Calvinist

Phil Johnson, of Team Pyro fame, is starting a series on "Why I am a Calvinist" at Pulpit Magazine. The first three parts are available to read (1, 2, 3). In his first post on the subject, he says the following:
"But I don’t hear very many voices of caution being raised against the dangers of hyper Calvinism, and there are armies of Calvinists out there already challenging the Arminians, so I’ve tried to speak out as much as possible against the tendencies of the hypers."
I have tried to do the same thing and my blog is a testimony to that fact. Like Phil, I believe people should be reading the mainstream Calvinistic authors, hence all of the primary source quotes found here. In part 3 of his series, Phil mentions Erroll Hulse's book The Great Invitation. After he recommended that book on his blog several months ago, I decided to quote from that book on my blog:

Unfortunately, I think it's too late for the Reformed Baptist churches. The voices in that movement today are considerably higher in the Calvinism than Hulse. I believe David Ponter was correct when he said the following in a comment on my blog:
I am convinced that many in the Reformed Baptist moving are going higher and higher in their 'Calvinism' because of the recent attempts to re-introduce John Gill into Baptist circles, with the attempt to exonerate him of all hyperist charges. More and more are buying into his para-calvinist categories such as the denial of the well-meant offer, and that God desires the salvation of all men.

Sometimes I think folk have forgotten the work of Fuller, Carey and Spurgeon, and how Gillite-hyperism really did debilitate Baptist churches. I think some of these folk are the true revisionists.
I know of two leading and influential Reformed Baptist thinkers who deny that God desires the salvation of all mankind (one says that he wobbles on the point from day to day), and they erroneously think that such a belief is compatible with the mainline Reformed Confessions. If one denies that God wants, wills, or desires the salvation of all men, then there's no way they can consistently affirm a well-meant gospel offer. It seems to me that some of the leaders are at least on the verge of hyperism, and very few seem to be interested in considering that as even a possibility. Perhaps I've given in to pessimism, but I believe it's too late to recommend Hulse. The conceptual landscape has already been paved and Hulse's moderate interpretations of key passages (John 3:16, 1 Tim 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9 etc.) already seem ridiculous to the average Calvinist today. In fact, classical Calvinism is so thoroughly eclipsed now by Owenism that the former categories seem semi-Arminian to the those in the latter group.

Also, I don't think Phil's Spurgeonism will be a sufficient corrective to today's problem. Hyperism today is more sophisticated than an outright denial of duty-faith and our need to give indiscriminate offers. Rather, the problem today seems to involve a denial that God wills the salvation of all, and therefore he himself sincerely (or well-meaningly) offers Christ to all through the external gospel call. It also seems that mere lip service is paid to the doctrine of common grace as well. The doctrine has been gutted of any notion that God grants good things to men with a view to their ultimate well-being, i.e their eternal salvation. It's as if common grace involves nothing more than good crumbs (the common bounties of providence) falling off of the table of the elect into the hands of the non-elect, but not that God actually wills the ultimate well-being of any of the non-elect through these benevolent/loving acts. Far too many want to quickly jump to Romans 9 to talk about divine hatred and overlook the significance of what Paul says in Romans 2:4 (2) and Romans 10:1, 21. As Spurgeon said of some in his day, there seems to be a "smacking of lips over the ruin and destruction of mankind".