Archive for May, 2011

Here are a couple of responses to the Harold Camping rapture debacle from 2 people I highly respect. I share these sentiments …..

From Kim Riddlebarger:

“Frankly, this whole Harold Camping mess ticks me off. Since I write and teach in the field of eschatology, people expect me to say something. Yet, I’m not sure many of you will appreciate my take on this. I’m not a happy “camper.”

I see this tragic episode as one gigantic mess, which God’s people will be cleaning up for years. I, for one, am not very sympathetic to Mr. Camping, or to those who follow him. Here’s why:

1). He’s done this before. 1994? anyone??? If Camping lives much longer (he’s 89), he’ll likely do this again. As one of my favorite philosophers, Dirty Harry, once put it when his police superior questioned whether the serial killer (so wonderfully played by Andy Robinson) would continue to kill, Harry replied, “Of course he will. He likes it.” You cannot tell me that however Camping came to this particular date for the Lord’s return, and however sincere he might he be in his calculations, that the man does not love the media attention. Why else spend all that money on an “in your face” ad campaign with buses and billboards across the country? Camping likes the hubbub way too much. Since someone’s past behavior is the best predictor of their future behavior, if given the chance, Camping will do it again.

2). Camping was disciplined by his church, and never once demonstrated the slightest hint of repentance. When Camping was removed from his office for his unbiblical speculations, Camping’s response was to declare that the church age was over, and that people should leave their churches! (see Bob Godfrey’s account of this–Godfrey on Harold Camping). Harold Camping is not some grandfatherly old man who has weird views on things (every church has a few of these). This is a man, who, when he did not get his way, sought to create widescale schism and division in the church. How can we not conclude that many among his followers are schismatics who have followed their master in his sin?

3). Camping is not a theological conservative defending the faith, he’s a theological radical, and has a dangerous hermeneutic. Camping gained a following among Reformed cultural conservatives by defending the view that only men should hold the office of minister, elder and deacon, that evolutionary thought had no place in Christian colleges, and that the rampant immorality of our age cannot go unchallenged nor be accepted by Christians. Meanwhile, the “conservative” Camping was using some outlandish and distorted hermeneutical method to calculate the day of Christ’s return and telling everyone who would listen that he was right and that anyone who challenged him had no authority to do so. Since when did theological conservatives attack the perspicuity of Scripture? Or champion “private interpretation” while mocking the teaching office and disciplinary authority of the church?

4). Someone has to say it — the man is a false teacher and a kook. My sense is that Camping falls within the exhortation given by Paul in Romans 16:17 (and elsewhere) — such people are to be avoided. Camping is a false teacher, plain and simple. Anyone who repeatedly pulls the kinds of shenanigans he has should have no credibility. Non-Christians see him for what he is. Yet, Christians feel ashamed about calling him out on the same grounds–when Scripture requires that we do so! Yes, we need to pray for his repentance, and yes, we need to be merciful to those whom he has deceived. But given the way the man handles God’s word, he is self-edvidently a kook. He has no business being labeled a “teacher.” And it is tragic that he has used his vast radio empire to deceive so many.

5). The only prophecy which will be fulfilled in association with Harold Camping is 2 Peter 3:3! Scoffers will come, and sadly, Camping has given the scoffers a whole bunch of ammunition. This is why is is so vital that Christians be clear to everyone who will listen, that despite this man’s false prophecy, the blessed hope awaits all those who are Christ’s, and the day of judgment will come upon those who are not. This is a serious matter, and Christ will not be mocked.

This, then, is why it is so important to expose this man for who and what he is–a false prophet, a schismatic and a kook, lest anyone think that Jesus will not return when we least expect it, to judge the world, raise the dead, and make all things new.

And frankly, it is sad that so many Christians expect non-Christians to do our job for us.”

From Dr. James White:
On Open Letter to Harold Camping of Family Radio

Dear Mr. Camping:

In July of 2009 you and I engaged in a debate on the Iron Sharpens Iron radio program concerning your teaching that the church age had ended and that Christ would return on May 21, 2011. I trust you recall our exchange. I am also aware that you have at least seen my book, Dangerous Airwaves: Harold Camping Refuted and Christ’s Church Defended. I have been seeking to warn people about your teachings, sir, for about a decade. I know others have been warning the church about you longer than I.

Mr. Camping I am writing to seek your repentance and the most God-glorifying outcome of the debacle of your failed May 21, 2011 prophecy/teaching. I am not writing to engage in debate with you. The time for debate ended on May 22, 2011. It is now time for you to repent and seek to undo the massive damage you have done, first and foremost, to the cause of Christ.

Let me first list the items you need to repent of, openly and publicly (for you are a public person, and your teachings were disseminated all around the world).

You need to repent of your abuse of the Bible, based upon claims of latter-day opening of understandings no one else has, allegedly, ever had, based upon the horrific misreading of the books of Revelation and Daniel. The Bible is not a code book, Mr. Camping, and it never has been. You have attacked the grammatical/historical means of honoring the intention and meaning of the original authors, and in so doing, have turned the Bible into your own private playground where you, and you alone, set the rules. You decided that certain numbers have certain meanings, and you alone decided which numbers could be added to others. You told your audiences that you were simply teaching the Bible, when you were doing nothing of the sort. Unless you honor the intention of the original authors, which means doing difficult exegetical work, studying languages and backgrounds, you have no business saying you are representing the Bible. This has been your primary error for decades on end, and I know I am not the first minister of the gospel to seek to correct you about this. Your utterly fallacious means of interpretation of the Bible has led to the mockery of the Christian faith all around the world, and you alone must repent for your willful rejection of the correction offered by many to you over the years.

You need to repent of your repeated date-setting, and your twisting of those Scriptures that plainly state that we do not now know, and will never know, the date of the coming of Christ, until it happens. You have been proven wrong multiple times now, and it is time for you to admit that you have been in error every single time you have argued that we can, in fact, know.

You must repent of your many unbiblical teachings, teachings which have grown out of your rebellion against Christ’s Church. First and foremost, you must repent of your attack upon the church. You must return to the church (I would suggest the local Christian Reformed Church from which you made your original defection) in repentance and seek to place yourself under their care, repenting for your schism. You must openly and publicly abjure your teaching that Satan rules in the churches, and that all ministers of the gospel since 1988 are, in fact, servants of Satan. You must call all listeners of Family Radio to return to their churches with repentant hearts. You must instruct them to seek to learn to read the Bible aright, to seek to interpret the Bible in light of its original meanings and intention, not as a secret, gnostic code-book.

You must likewise abjure and repent of the other false teachings you have been promulgating, including, but not limited to, such teachings as Jesus having died twice, your new annihilationism teaching, etc. You once held to mainly orthodox views, but, when you refused godly counsel and went out on your own, you planted the seeds of your own destruction, which have now sprouted, over night it seems, into the crop of condemnation you now rightly face.

You must likewise repent of the perversion of the gospel you have been teaching, wherein you have not only removed repentance and faith under the guise of “works” (neither are works, both are the gifts of God to His elect by His Spirit, but remain part and parcel of the gospel call), but you clearly, in these last days, added belief in your own May 21, 2011 teaching to the gospel itself, saying that those who did not believe this teaching would experience eternal torment. You have been preaching a false gospel, Mr. Camping, and you must repent for this.

The time for haggling and debating has passed, Mr. Camping. Your teaching has been disproven, and your only hope is to be found in complete repentance from your false teachings. I fear if you seek to rescue your reputation, you will end your life under the wrath of God. Your unwillingness to listen to counsel has already caused great damage to the cause of Christ. You have one final chance for redemption, sir. Do not remain stiff-necked. Repent and turn from your ways.

James White
Alpha and Omega Ministries

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(Taken from “The Institutes of Christian Religion” )

11. Perseverance is Exclusively God’s Work; It is Neither a Reward Nor a Compliment of our Individual Act

As to perseverance, it would undoubtedly have been regarded as the gratuitous gift of God, had not the very pernicious error prevailed, that it is bestowed in proportion to human merit, according to the reception which each individual gives to the first grace. This having given rise to the idea that it was entirely in our own power to receive or reject the offered grace of God, that idea is no sooner exploded than the error founded on it must fall. The error, indeed, is twofold. For, besides teaching that our gratitude for the first grace and our legitimate use of it is rewarded by subsequent supplies of grace, its abettors add that, after this, grace does not operate alone, but only co-operates with ourselves. As to the former, we must hold that the Lord, while he daily enriches his servants, and loads them with new gifts of his grace, because he approves of and takes pleasure in the work which he has begun, finds that in them which he may follow up with larger measures of grace. To this effect are the sentences, “To him that has shall be given.” “Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things,” (Matth. 25: 21, 23, 29; Luke 19: 17, 26.) But here two precautions are necessary. It must not be said that the legitimate use of the first grace is rewarded by subsequent measures of grace, as if man rendered the grace of God effectual by his own industry, nor must it be thought that there is any such remuneration as to make it cease to be the gratuitous grace of God. I admit, then, that believers may expect as a blessing from God, that the better the use they make of previous, the larger the supplies they will receive of future grace; but I say that even this use is of the Lord, and that this remuneration is bestowed freely of mere good will. The trite distinction of operating and co-operating grace is employed no less sinistrously than unhappily. Augustine, indeed, used it, but softened it by a suitable definition, viz., that God, by co-operating, perfects what he begins by operating, – that both graces are the same, but obtain different names from the different manner in which they produce their effects. Whence it follows, that he does not make an apportionment between God and man, as if a proper movement on the part of each produced a mutual concurrence. All he does is to mark a multiplication of grace. To this effect, accordingly, he elsewhere says, that in man good will precedes many gifts from God; but among these gifts is this good will itself. (August. Enchiridion ad Laurent. cap. 32.) Whence it follows, that nothing is left for the will to arrogate as its own. This Paul has expressly stated. For, after saying, “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do,” he immediately adds, “of his good pleasure,” (Philip. 2: 13;) indicating by this expression, that the blessing is gratuitous. As to the common saying, that after we have given admission to the first grace, our efforts co-operate with subsequent grace, this is my answer: – If it is meant that after we are once subdued by the power of the Lord to the obedience of righteousness, we proceed voluntarily, and are inclined to follow the movement of grace, I have nothing to object. For it is most certain, that where the grace of God reigns, there is also this readiness to obey. And whence this readiness, but just that the Spirit of God being everywhere consistent with himself, after first begetting a principle of obedience, cherishes and strengthens it for perseverance? If, again, it is meant that man is able of himself to be a fellow-labourer with the grace of God, I hold it to be a most pestilential delusion.

12. Man Cannot Ascribe to Himself Even One Single Good Work Apart From God’s Grace

In support of this view, some make an ignorant and false application of the Apostle’s words: “I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me,” (1 Cor. 15: 10.) The meaning they give them is, that as Paul might have seemed to speak somewhat presumptuously in preferring himself to all the other apostles, he corrects the expression so far by referring the praise to the grace of God, but he, at the same time, calls himself a co-operator with grace. It is strange that this should have proved a stumbling-block to so many writers, otherwise respectable. The Apostle says not that the grace of God laboured with him so as to make him a co-partner in the labour. He rather transfers the whole merit of the labour to grace alone, by thus modifying his first expression, “It was not I,” says he, “that laboured, but the grace of God that was present with me.” Those who have adopted the erroneous interpretation have been misled by an ambiguity in the expression, or rather by a preposterous translation, in which the force of the Greek article is overlooked. For to take the words literally, the Apostle does not say that grace was a fellow-worker with him, but that the grace which was with him was sole worker. And this is taught not obscurely, though briefly, by Augustine when he says, “Good will in man precedes many gifts from God, but not all gifts, seeing that the will which precedes is itself among the number.” He adds the reason, “for it is written, ‘the God of my mercy shall prevent me,’ (Ps. 59: 10,) and ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me,’ (Ps. 23: 6;) it prevents him that is unwilling, and makes him willing; it follows him that is willing, that he may not will in vain.” To this Bernard assents, introducing the Church as praying thus, “Draw me, who am in some measure unwilling, and make me willing; draw me, who am sluggishly lagging, and make me run,” (Serm. 2 in Cantic.)

A great and very accurate article.

Acceptable Calvinism (by Bill MacKinnon)

Well, it has finally happened. Calvinists in the SBC are finally being told to hit the road. We have felt our unwelcome for some time now but until recently no one has had the courage to simply tell us to go. I considered posting links, but let’s face it, you know where to go to find your favorite anti-Calvinist commentary.

Now of course the folks I (and you) have in mind will object, claiming that they never said that they wanted all Calvinists to leave the SBC. They will no doubt claim that they work fine with Calvinists and are even friends with some of them. Technically, I have to admit, this is true. I have not truly seen any universal calls for the exit of all Calvinists from the SBC. There are, it seems, some Calvinists who are welcome to remain. It does not take long to find out which Calvinists those are, but I thought I would do the heavy lifting, and compile all the necessary attributes of “acceptable Calvinists.”

Acceptable Calvinists do not hide their Calvinism when they are looking for a ministry position, but if and when they do find a ministry position, they must hide their Calvinism thereafter. They must by no means try to persuade anyone else of their theological position. They must not, under any circumstances, become associated with the Founders organization. They must never refer to themselves as Reformed. Reformed Baptists have been told to take a hike from the SBC.

Acceptable Calvinists should be at most, 4 pointers. Now some may argue that 4 pointers are not Calvinists at all in the truest sense of the word, but that is not a debatable point. They must not hold to limited atonement, nor should they believe that regeneration precedes faith. If anyone ever refers to you as a Dortian Calvinist, you have most certainly not been complimented, and have strayed out of the “acceptable” zone.

Acceptable Calvinists must not use the term elder, but rather the BFM approved term of pastor. They must not seek to introduce a plurality of elders into any congregation in which they serve. If they feel strongly about this, they must become Presbyterians.

Acceptable Calvinists must not abandon the altar call, nor may they call into question its effectiveness or biblical-ness. They must never disparage Charles Finney. Everyone knows that Calvinists in the main are not evangelistic, so acceptable Calvinists must work doubly hard to prove that they are soul winners. Acceptable Calvinists must also not abandon the Sinner’s Prayer, nor terminology such as “ask Jesus into your heart to be your personal Savior.”

Everyone knows that Calvinists have a tendency also to be moderationists, but acceptable Calvinists are never moderationists. Acceptable Calvinists should never enthusiastically promote their soteriology, lest they be called “aggressive”. But they may, and should, aggressively promote abstentionism.

Acceptable Calvinists must be very careful about who they listen to. Patterson? Fine. Piper, maybe. Driscoll? Absolutely not. They must never speak positively about Acts 29. They must not attend Calvinistic conferences and it would be best if they did not associate with other Calvinists at all.

Acceptable Calvinists must realize that they are a tiny minority in SBC life and must never aspire to anything more than that. They must never repeat the insidious rumor that Calvinism was once much more widespread in the SBC.

Finally, acceptable Calvinists must acknowledge that while they will be allowed to remain in the SBC, they are not truly Baptists. Baptists, we are given to understand, are not Calvinists, because Calvinism is a man-made theology and Baptist-ism is straight from the bible. Baptists are biblicists; Calvinists are not. Baptists, are disciples of Christ; Calvinists are disciples of Calvin.

Epilogue: While I have listed these things in a somewhat lighthearted (and admittedly marginally sarcastic) way, I do not believe I have taken liberties with the underlying truth of these sentiments, as I have seen them in the anti-Calvinist, anti-Reformed wings of the SBC blogosphere. The question is: What do you think?

The reason I posted this is because I have, and am still, dealing with this very issue.