August 27, 2010

On Obama and A Popular False Either/Or Dilemma

To posit that EITHER 1) Obama is a Muslim OR 2) Obama is a Christian is a false either/or dilemma since there is a tertium quid; namely, the option that 3) Obama is sincere in his profession to be a Christian but sincerely wrong about that, which is actually the case with millions of Americans to varying degrees.

While the consideration of the third option may offend some people, they should rather take this constructively as an opportunity to examine themselves by Apostolic standards for a change (2 Cor. 13:5).

August 26, 2010

Donald Davis Grohman on the Doctrinal Differences Between the Saumur Theologians and Francis Turretin

Also, it should be pointed out again that the doctrinal difference between the Saumur theologians and Turretin do not involve any of the fundamental tenets of the Reformed faith. Turretin himself mentions this fact in a letter to Jean Claude which we shall consider later in this thesis. As we have seen various times in this chapter, Turretin refers to the Salmurians as fellow Reformed pastors and theologians, and the Salmurians certainly view themselves as being within the Reformed tradition. In fact, Amyraut goes to great lengths in attempting to prove that the orthodox Reformed theologians are in agreement with him. Thus, even though this controversy was a serious and lengthy one, nevertheless it was entirely an internal dispute within the Reformed churches concerning nonfundamental matters.

It might seem that in a sense the doctrinal differences between the Salmurians and the orthodox theologians are only theoretical. The "universalism" of the Saumur theologians is merely hypothetical, and in the final analysis, the Salmurians accept the particularism of the Reformed doctrine of predestination: namely, that only the elect are granted faith and salvation. In fact, since hypothetical universalism was basically intended to be a new way of presenting the doctrine of predestination so as to make it seem less objectionable, it was often called a new method rather than a new doctrine. However, if one examines the arguments on both sides, it becomes apparent that there are certain real differences between the two positions.
Donald Davis Grohman, The Genevan Reactions to the Saumur Doctrines of Hypothetical Universalism: 1635–1685 (Th.D. thesis, Knox College, Toronto School of Theology, 1971), 120–121.

These statements concur with Richard Muller's perspective as seen here and here.

August 21, 2010

Richard Muller on Permissio and Permissio Efficax

permissio: permission; specifically, permission as distinct from active or effective willing. The concept of a divine permissio was denied by Calvin* but accepted by virtually all later Reformed theologians, including Beza and Zanchi, as a means of explaining the origin of sin and the continuing instances of sin in the course of human history. God does not will positively that sins occur but permits creatures to exercise their will in a sinful way. The concept appears also in the Lutheran scholastic systems, though Lutheran opposition to the doctrine of a decretum absolutum, or absolute decree, of predestination rendered the origin of sin and the continuing presence of sin less of a problem for Lutheran than for Reformed orthodoxy.

permissio efficax: effective permission or willing permission; especially, the providential concursus (q.v.) underlying evil acts of human beings; a concept typical of Reformed theology, which will not allow a bare or ineffectual permission on the part of God and which will acknowledge no realm of activity outside of the will of God. God therefore is viewed as positively willing to permit the free agency of human beings and as supporting their acts with his providential concursus even when those acts go against his revealed will.
Richard Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), 222.

See also David's posts on Divine Permission of Sin.

*I question whether Muller is correct that Calvin denied the concept of divine permission. Certainly he denied the concept of an unwilling divine permission, but not the concept as such. He probably followed Augustine on the idea. See some Calvin sources here (click).

August 16, 2010

William Perkins (1558–1602) on the Love of God

Object. Election is nothing else but dilection, or love: but this we know, that God loves all his creatures; therefore he elects all his creatures.

Answer. I. I deny that to elect is to love, but to ordain & appoint to love. Rom. 9.13. II. God doth love all his creatures, yet not all equally, but every one in their place.
William Perkins, "A Golden Chaine," in The Workes of that Famous and Worthy Minister of Christ in the University of Cambridge, Mr. William Perkins (London: Printed by John Legatt, 1626), 108.
Which loved us. That is, the Churches of Asia, and by portion all other Churches, being parts of the true Church.

The love of Christ hath three degrees: the first is called a general love, whereby he loves all his creatures, as they be his creatures: and this love is common to all his creatures.

The second degree is the love of mankind, in that he was content to become a redeemer for mankind, not for any other creature, no not for the Angels, which fell as well as man.

The third degree, which is most principle, is that whereby he loves his elect and chosen children, which is that love whereby he accepts of them to life everlasting.
William Perkins, Lectures Upon the Three First Chapters of the Revelation (London: Printed by Richard Field for Cuthbert Burbie, and are to be sold as his shop in Paules Church-yard, at the signe of the Swan, 1604), 39–40.
Now see the meaning: I love. Christ loveth the creatures two ways: first, as a Creator: secondly, as a redeemer. As he is a Creator, he loveth them with a general and common love, whether the creatures be reasonable or unreasonable. As Redeemer, he loveth them with a special and peculiar love, not common to all, but to that part of mankind only which is elected and chosen to salvation. And of this last love he speaketh here: as if he should say, As many as I love, communicating with them my righteousness and life eternal: I rebuke.
William Perkins, Lectures Upon the Three First Chapters of the Revelation (London: Printed by Richard Field for Cuthbert Burbie, and are to be sold as his shop in Paules Church-yard, at the signe of the Swan, 1604), 326.
Now God being a faithful creator, tenderly loves all his creature[s].
William Perkins, An Exposition of the Symbol or Creed of the Apostles (London: Printed by John Legatt, Printer to the University of Cambridge, 1595), 66–67.