[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Anthropocentric and Theocentric

by Rose~

I keep hearing these words bandied about the blogosphere: anthropocentric and theocentric.

Anthropocentric = man-centered
Theocentric = God-centered

Some say that if we discuss man’s responsibility to receive Christ and the work that He alone accomplished on Calvary, then the gospel we teach is anthropocentric. They say that the insistence that people can respond to this gospel ... having been drawn by the Holy Spirit, before regeneration ... is an anthropocentric idea and not true Grace.

I saw an interesting discussion on Steve Camp’s blog. He has been posting a lot of articles lately about Calvinism, TULIP, Arminianism and the “Doctrines of Grace.” I really have an opinion about what is going on over there with these posts and comments etc … but I think it better to keep this opinion to myself.

There is a noteworthy observation that I wish to make. This has to do with this whole use of the words anthropocentric and theocentric and the charge against Non-Calvinists.

Blogger A said this in the February 24 post on that blog:
“Calvinism = the gospel.”
What can I say to that? I just think that is a very bad statement to make. It elevates a theological system above its proper realm. I think Spurgeon originally said this. Too bad.

I was so pleased when Blogger B came in and quoted a four point Calvinist (also would be called an Arminian by some in the blogosphere) Dr. Daniel Akin:

"Calvinism is not the Gospel. The Gospel is the Gospel. The Gospel is the death, the burial, the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the perfect atonement for the forgiveness of sins. You might argue that the basic system of Calvinism is consistent with the Gospel, but Calvinism is not the Gospel."

The next day, as this discussion continued on a new post, Blogger B repeated the statement of Dr. Akin in his own words, thus:

The Gospel is the death, the burial, the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a perfect atonement for the forgiveness of sins.

Now, while I could write lengths of disagreement on some of the things I have read from Blogger B, I just have to say “amen” to the statement above. That is the gospel. Let me repeat it:

The Gospel is the death, the burial, the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a perfect atonement for the forgiveness of sins.

Only because of this truth of the gospel can one of Adam's lost race have the life of God within him and live forever with the Father.

Next enters Blogger C, who has been seen using this word theocentric a lot around Blogdom. He makes this statement to Blogger B:

You have omitted "for whom." I suggest to you that the object of the work of Christ is equally essential as the work and the worker. Christ did not do some abstract work: Christ did something in particular for "us" (cf. 1Cor 15:3).

Blogger C says it
here. (click) (It is the 14th comment)

Now, while I don't disagree with the statement itself, he is using it to buttress the focus on the idea of the "unconditionally elect."

Who is teaching the anthropocentric message here? Since Calvinism is all about the “elect” and turns men’s thoughts to who those elect are ... and when and why did God chose them, etc… could it not be said that this is the anthropocentric, unhealthy endeavor for those who should keep our eyes on Jesus and the work that He has done?

36 Comments:

  • Rose,

    Good post. There are many bad arguments floating around on both sides of the issue. The "anthropocentiric" argument is one of them. Unless it is merely speaking of the focus of the preaching. Some churches focus more on what man is doing than what God has done and what He continues to do (read liberal churches). This truly is anthropocentric.

    As far as Calvinism = The Gospel, this is only true if the soteriology of scripture = the soteriology of Calvin. This kind of statement has it's place, but it is a bad argument to use when discussing the issue becasue it begs the question. I've also seen this argument used by free gracers.

    Good eye is spotting bad arguments, this is something we must always be aware of when discussing these issues.

    God Bless,

    Doug

    By Blogger Doug E., at Thursday, March 02, 2006 10:32:00 AM  

  • Rose,

    Your are so brilliant in the way you take obscure theological terminiology and clear away the fog!

    Thank you for explaining this to me! :)

    I never understood what the terminology referred to!

    Your insight that the belief in His dieing for a limited number gives it a certain extra man-centerdness is I think very legitimate.

    I learn so much from you!

    You have so much insight:)

    Jodie

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Thursday, March 02, 2006 11:48:00 AM  

  • I'll add what I have considered the gospel.

    GOSPEL = God's message of everything good for humanity coming out of the death, burial and resurrection of His Son

    Maybe a little cluttered but I do include the 'for humanity' because Paul says that Christ died for our sins.

    And also because 'news' implies it is a message from one party to another party.

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Thursday, March 02, 2006 11:49:00 AM  

  • I would add that the requirement that a man must believe in order to receive eternal life makes the free gift no more anthropocentric than the requirement that he must first hear.

    I echo Doug E. and Jodie's sentiments. ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at Thursday, March 02, 2006 12:15:00 PM  

  • Great reasoning, Rose~.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, March 02, 2006 1:29:00 PM  

  • Doug,
    I appreciate your graciousness.
    I too think these are not helpful words to throw around. Obviously, God is the initiator of salvation, and man is the object of salvation. (I read where Wes Kenney said that on Doxoblogy last week - so I stole it - I like it, it is so true!)
    This word is relevant, like you said, when discussing other topics, not TULIP.

    H. K.,
    You are really slathering the praise on me! C'mon, you know better! Thanks!
    I like the definition of the gospel. So true.

    kc,
    Absolutely! Man is involved here, he is the object of salvation and faith is the means that appropriate God's gift. This does not mean "he saves himself" as I also have heard.

    Dyspraxic Fundamentalist,
    Are we back to this ... three word comments?! Thanks!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Thursday, March 02, 2006 1:53:00 PM  

  • I like the initiator / object remark Kenney made.

    I would even suggest God is the finisher as well, even if man's faith is the necesarry means for it to be appropriated.

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Thursday, March 02, 2006 4:03:00 PM  

  • Hi Rose

    First, there are seven anthropocentric arguments: arguments which explore the value of nature for a good human life. These arguments concern:

    1. the instrumental value of nature for the satisfaction of basic human needs like health;

    2. the instrumental value of nature for sensual human delight, the fragrance of a flower or the songs of warblers;

    3. the aesthetic intrinsic value beautiful and sublime nature has for human beings;

    4. the instrumental value natural design has in relieving us of “aesthetic responsibility”;

    5. the role the native landscape, the “Heimat”, plays in the identity of many human beings;

    6. the pedagogic value of treating nature with care;

    7. the meaning of life and the intrinsic value or sacredness the wise, who know that the meaning of life is life itself, accord to nature.
    Number 7 is where they are all coming from.

    And the ansewer is ...CAN I GET A DRUMROLL HERE

    GOD! THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

    Good Post Rose
    Bless To our Lord

    Thank You
    Doug

    By Blogger forgiven, at Friday, March 03, 2006 6:25:00 AM  

  • I said this on Kc's blog, but here it is again:

    In a word, the reason that Calvinism is not, and cannot, be considered anthropocentric, is because while we do have a high view of election (a Scriptural view), it is still an act of God. Granted, the objects of the election are man, but our focus is upon God, and God's wholly other right to elect who He wants, in accordance with His good pleasure and mysterious will.

    It is like if you considered my writing. If I wrote a lot about...um...flowers, your love for my writing would not have to be because you love flowers. You could love me, or love my style. It wouldn't be my focus on flowers that catches your attention, or excites your favor, it would be me, my writing, my creation.

    The same is true with the Calvinistic election. We love election, because we love God. If God elected coconuts to salvation, we would still think it (election) is grand and magnificent only because it was done by Him. We do not focus upon who is elected or not (we do not know), we only delight in the fact that He, out of mercy, would even elect.

    THAT is why I disagree with your piece. It is misguided.

    awaiting the hope,
    Adam

    By Blogger nathaniel adam king, at Friday, March 03, 2006 7:14:00 AM  

  • OK, Sofyst,
    Fair enough.
    I would say that by your own explanation, I could back off from calling your theology anthropocentric. Would you still want to say that the non-Calvinist is anthropocentric?

    Does this express your thought:
    Some say that if we discuss man’s responsibility to receive Christ and the work that He alone accomplished on Calvary, then the gospel we teach is anthropocentric. They say that the insistence that people can respond to this gospel ... having been drawn by the Holy Spirit, before regeneration ... is an anthropocentric idea and not true Grace.

    You see, I think we can have some good discussions, but one view accuses the other of some silly things, like what I discuss here.

    I think more honesty is needed in discussing differing theologies.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, March 03, 2006 8:18:00 AM  

  • Doug,
    I have to think about that! It looks good, but I'm busy now, I will come back to it later. Thanks!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, March 03, 2006 8:18:00 AM  

  • Hi Doug,

    Did Thomas Aquinas develop those 7 arguments? Or if not where did they come from?

    Interesting ideas, though I'm not sure I understand each fully.

    Hi Sofyst,

    Rose may not agree with this so I hope its ok if I budge in here.

    I agree that the Calvinist viewpoint is not motivated by man-centeredness. It is clearly an attempt to gorify God by honoring His sovereign workings.

    But I'm sure you're not surprised that a Free Grace person like myself would still think the Purist (i.e. Puritan influenced~~not a cuss word) framework that understands belief as by necessity proceeding regeneration as being man's wisdom.

    I say this even though, IMO, the framework is made up of true and biblical ideas that have been slightly extrapolated and then misapplied.

    The first evidence for it being man's wisdom is that the Bible doesn't teach it explicitly~~even though if true it is totally important and fundamental.

    And while I would argue that as a system the Purist framework is beautiful and logical, it tends to render John's purpose statement and Jesus assuring statements in John functionally void.

    sincerely,

    jodie

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Friday, March 03, 2006 10:15:00 AM  

  • Hi Jodie

    Krebs Angelika, Prof. Dr., Ordinaria this is old paper that I had 1999

    Thank you

    By Blogger forgiven, at Friday, March 03, 2006 11:59:00 AM  

  • Rose, you said this:

    Some say that if we discuss man’s responsibility to receive Christ and the work that He alone accomplished on Calvary, then the gospel we teach is anthropocentric. They say that the insistence that people can respond to this gospel ... having been drawn by the Holy Spirit, before regeneration ... is an anthropocentric idea and not true Grace.

    I do not think that (the first part) would be my position at all. Calvinist discuss man's responsibility to receive Christ and the work He alone accomplished on Calvary. It is only those against Calvanist who claim we don't regard man's responsibility. We do. We recognize that if man is not responsible for that which he wills, then man cannot be 'held responsibile' (amazing how that works). Man would be nothing more than a robot if he is not responsible for what he does, or worse (damn the thought) he would be responsible for that which he shouldn't be held responsible for.

    That is why those that sin against God, are responsible for their sin. God giving each their just deserts (desserts? reward/punishment).

    Discussion on man's responsibility does not make one's teaching anthropocentric.

    EVERYONE should discuss man's responsibility.

    The second part of your statement is somewhat correct though. If you insist that man can respond to the gospel, before the Spirit gives the ability, then you do put the saving act, the 'salvation' (conversion/belief/repentance) as solely an act of man. It is not God that is doing the saving, but man picking the salvation. He is saying, 'I decide now to be saved', rather than being ripped from the fire and being saved by the Savior. Rather than being taken from the kingdom of darkness, and put into the kingdom of light, man is walking his happy butt from one estate to the other. Man initiates the act, not God.

    He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves (Colossians 1:13).

    Salvation, in this view, hinges upon man, not God, and hence is dubbed anthropocentric.

    However, if we say that salvation is of God, by God, through God, then we have a very theocentric idea of Salvation. Man is the object of salvation, that which is being saved. But God is the creator, initiater, perfecter, source and finisher of our faith.

    Heb 12:2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith,

    I think a story that my professor told me once shows this quite cogently.

    He told of him walking his son across the street. When they had reached about halfway, the light turned green and the cars started to come towards them. The professor then grabbed his son by the hand and lifted him and started to walk hastily across the street. When they arrived at the other side, the son looked up at his father and said, 'I held on good daddy didn't I?'

    This shows salvation, I think.

    The non-Calvinist, the anthropocenric person, would focus upon the child. They focus upon us and what we do in salvation. They say it is we who are holding on good to the father. It is we who grab the lifesaver and are saved.

    However, the Calvinist focuses upon the LORD. It is He who holds us up, it is He who carries us. If we were to let go, if we were to stop holding on good, it would be His Spirit below us that still keeps us up.

    The focus upon man is what gives you people (or those of your camp) the label of being anthropocentric.

    You want honesty? I will admit that my camp is sometimes TOO theocentric. That may sound heretical, but it is not so. We sometimes, in our zeal for maintaining God's wholly other-ness, focus too much on Him and not enough on us.

    By Blogger nathaniel adam king, at Friday, March 03, 2006 1:18:00 PM  

  • Forgiven,
    I read that again and all I can say is that is very interesting! Tell me how it relates to my subject, I am feeling a little dense. Thanks for contributing!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, March 03, 2006 2:20:00 PM  

  • Hi Sofyst,
    Calvinists discuss man's responsibilty to receive Christ, but if you understand the "T" the way I think you do, then I wonder how you can hold man responsible to do something that he is totally unable to do, by no choice of his own. He was born this way. That is the point. :~)

    you say:
    If you insist that man can respond to the gospel, before the Spirit gives the ability, then you do put the saving act, the 'salvation' (conversion/ belief/ repentance) as solely an act of man.

    Not true. This is one of those sad mischaracterizations of the "non-Calvinist" (I just love that term). I believe that I cannot even take a breath if not for the empowering of the Almighty. I am only able to take a step out my front door because of His enablement. As far as salvation goes and believing the gospel, I totally understand that I would not go seeking the Lord, just as the Bible says "None seeks after God ..."

    However ... God came seeking us! God is the seeker. (How's that for seeker sensitive?) He is drawing all men unto himself, and that is the only reason why some believe and are saved ... because of the drawing of the Holy Spirit of God.

    It is not God that is doing the saving, but man picking the salvation. He is saying, 'I decide now to be saved', rather than being ripped from the fire and being saved by the Savior.

    Again, if the gospel is presented and the Holy Spirit works, how is it a man "choosing God" when he is poor in spirit and sees his need? He believes on the Lord and recieves the gift of eternal life that is being handed to him. How is that picking the salvation? Is opening a present on Christmas morning earning a present or "picking a present"? No. It is receiving a present. No merit there.

    Rather than being taken from the kingdom of darkness, and put into the kingdom of light, man is walking his happy butt from one estate to the other. Man initiates the act, not God.

    So false! I have heard this many times before about non-Calvinists believing that man initaites the act of salvation and I think it is silly. (I hope that word doesn't offend you - I mean no offense.) God initiates, just like I initiate Christmas morning by buying my son the book he wants and wrapping it up nicely. He rips it open happily when I hand it to him. Did he initiate the receiving of that gift? No. He is just the object of my giving.
    However, when he gets a little older, he could be angry and reject me and not accept my gifts (I know a son who is doing this to his parents.) (read: - - - i - )

    I like the story the professor tells. I don't believe that I have to hold on to God's hand to maintain my salvation. We all here believe that we have been given the life of God and that this life cannot leave us! We shall never die! (even if we let go of the hand.)

    As far as what you say about non-Calvinits focusing on what man does . . . twittle! We entreat men to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and they shall be saved. Maybe the apostles were non-Calvinists too!

    As far as your camp being too THEOCENTRIC, and not thinking about "us" enough, I always wonder ... and I can't get a clear answer to this ... what is your message to the lost? You can't very well tell them "Jesus Christ loves you and died for you." Can you? Tell me some about this if you will. If you don't want to, so be it. No Calvinist seems to want to answer that question. ;~) :~)

    Thanks for the visit and the challenge!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, March 03, 2006 2:48:00 PM  

  • Rose,
    You really covered that well. Nice going.

    Impressed,
    Todd

    By Blogger Todd, at Friday, March 03, 2006 3:10:00 PM  

  • Rose, yes, man is completely depraved. Man can ONLY sin. Man is responsible for this sin. He is not responsible for not believing (that which He cannot do), but for sinning. His responsibility still stands (for sinning) whether or not he has been regenerated. As depraved (un-regenerated), he is responsible for only one thing, that being the sin he committs.

    Your next point is accepted. Your idea of previent grace, while I think unscriptural, is still a good way to combat my argument. Dang you for your make-believe 'graces'. ;)

    The merit is only considered if you understand 'belief' or 'faith' to be the reason that man is saved. If you think that God offers salvation to man because man believes, rather than through man's belief, then you have salvation based upon man. Man's belief. I would hesitate to say it is 'merited'. Only partly merited. Not in the sense of 'worked' to receive. I understand that faith is not work. However, the idea that man still does 'open the present' or even 'accepts the present' rather then the present being something that is not necessarily 'accepted' or 'opened' has man at least somewhat responsible.

    If you think of salvation as not really something that is 'accepted' or 'opened', then you do not really have man as partly 'responsible'. If we think of salvation as God taking man from the kingdom of darkness and putting man into the kingdom of light, we don't see where man really has to do anything. All he really has to do is sit there, God does the picking up and placing...

    However, if we think of salvation as a neatly wrapped little present, that is just laying there, granted from God nonetheless, but that must be opened or picked up by man and only THEN is it when man is taken from the kingdom of darkness...then we have a cooperative act.

    This really does boil down to monergism and synergism. Perhaps you should do a piece on that. Being the one capable of defining such big theological words so easily...

    It is a matter of whether you believe salvation to be something done to man, or is it something man allows to be done to him. That is where it all comes down to.

    'Twittle'? I like. I shall use it, with your permission of course.

    As far as the question, of whether we can tell the lost that 'Jesus loves you', I would simply ask you a question in return, 'where are we told to tell the lost such'?

    Granted, Jesus may very well in fact love the lost...who knows. But why would we even speak of such? Where are we told to go into the world and tell them that God loves them?

    Answer honestly. Show me within Scripture where we are commanded, or even an example where the gospel message was 'God loves you'.

    All I can truly see is the gospel message being 'repent and believe' or 'believe in the LORD Jesus and thou shalt be saved'.

    Simply because we now speak the message of 'God loves you, God loves everyone' this does not necessarily mean that it is a Biblical message that we are to proclaim.

    Again, it may very well be true. But you must first show me where we are at least commanded via example to give that message.

    awaiting the hope,
    Adam

    By Blogger nathaniel adam king, at Saturday, March 04, 2006 10:14:00 AM  

  • I just thought I'd share these couple of verses:

    Mar 1:14-15 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God: (15) "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!"

    Jesus went preaching the goodnews, the gospel. And what does Mark record this gospel message as being?

    The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God has come. Repent and believe in the good news!

    THAT, my friend, is the message of the Calvinist. That should really be the message of all Christians.

    If you say this message isn't good enough, I will simply have to stay with the One who thought it was good enough, that being Jesus.

    No, perhaps I can't say to the lost person 'Jesus loves you and died for you'...but, I can give the message that Jesus gave, the 'gospel' message that Jesus did. And that suits me just fine.

    Still, where do you find within Scripture where the 'gospel' message given is 'Jesus loves you and died for you'?

    I have never been able to find anyone able to answer THAT question. Strange...

    By Blogger nathaniel adam king, at Sunday, March 05, 2006 9:49:00 AM  

  • >Where are we told to go into the world and tell them that God loves them?<

    This is why I am not a Calvinist. The Apostle Paul wished himself accursed for his brethren according to the flesh. Romans 10-11

    Grace and eternal life(Knowing Him) is the gift indeed. A gift for those who simply receive and believe. yes I agree that faith is also born of God's regenerative act but we must rest on Grace.

    John 3:16 is not to be trifled with. God Loves the whole world and the floodgates are open. As Antonio posted...He has poored out His wrath on His son. All typology from the O.T should be listened to, but the floodgates are now open. All are invited. Paul did not want to put any obstacles in the way. 2 Corinthians 6:3.

    To argue against John 3:16 in any fashion is to stand in judgment of the very words of God. Something at times we all seem to do. May it not be so. May we simply accept what God says to be true and embrace the simplicity found in Christ.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Sunday, March 05, 2006 11:10:00 AM  

  • Sofyst,

    You did drop by my blog and state the following:
    __________
    "Hello, my name is Adam. I am a Calvinist. A die-hard Calvinist. Seven-pointer.

    And I have never read Calvin.

    Sure, I have read quotes of his, but that is only when non-Calvinist have tried to disprove Calvinism."
    _________
    If you are going to be a Calvinist I think you are going to have to have enough respect for him, and yourself, to learn not only his teachings but also the implications they have when they are taken through their ends.

    At least before you go out in public with it.

    But you came to the right place, and your 'strange'(as you called it) problem will soon be over. Good luck.

    By Blogger Todd, at Sunday, March 05, 2006 12:19:00 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    “They say that the insistence that people can respond to this gospel ... having been drawn by the Holy Spirit, before regeneration ... is an anthropocentric idea and not true Grace.

    If we are talking about a response, how can anyone conclude that it is based on man? A response means there was first of all an offer, which comes from God.

    I like the things you’ve said in this article. So often, Calvinism seems to assume itself as theocentric, but is it really? A person who is willing to wade through their theology can often find a man-centered way of stating the very same things, just as you’ve demonstrated. But to buttress it’s positions, Calvinism assigns derogatory theological titles to such positions (Hey, if you’re not ‘God-centered’ you must be inferior, right?) And I do not think that is entirely straightforward nor fair of them. It gives me the overall impression that Calvinism is God centered, but sometimes in an artificial, selective way that does not truly show Him as rising above everything else. Instead, it downplays other things to achieve that result.

    In other words, God is supreme: but must man be reduced to a robot in order to make Him so? And if we do not act precisely according to ‘the plan’ (what plan? -– is God caught off guard by that? Is He not a step ahead of us, even so? Can He not work all things together for good, even so? Is there a theology bold enough to see man with a free will, yet it sees God’s truly awesome sovereignty as ascending above it all? (as in Ex 18:11; Luke 1:51) These are the things that speak to me of true power, of truly having the ability and flexibility to tie all things together, to harness them and to work them for His glory in every case, no matter what.

    Or is God really so fragile that any hint of deviation from His perfect plan cannot be understood nor handled by Him, so that the very possibility must be downplayed? I’ve never thought of Him as being bewildered. That sounds like a very sheltered view of His sovereignty. In many such ways, Calvinism strikes me as being partly of steel and partly of fragile pottery: the man-centered side of Calvinism’s conclusions, though not true of God Himself, if I may give another application to your thoughts.

    By Blogger Cleopas, at Sunday, March 05, 2006 4:03:00 PM  

  • Loren,
    As you do so often, you have spoken things that make sense to me. Thank you for visiting here!

    Dear Sofyst,
    I am glad you are here. I have been real busy. I had the whole day taken up with different family things and then I stayed up half the night redesigning my own blog ... because I had it in my craw to do it ... and when you have kids (I understand you will be doing this soon?) you don't have as much time during daylight to do anything anymore.

    Anyways,
    I have really been pondering your question about why do I think that the message is "Jesus Christ loves you and died for you"? ... and I want to answer it ... tomorrow. Now I go to bed. Come back tomorrow later, if you please.

    Hi Todd! Hi BH!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, March 06, 2006 1:00:00 AM  

  • Rose~, you are up late!

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, March 06, 2006 1:05:00 AM  

  • Rose,

    From the exposure that I have had to John Wesley's writings, it would seem that your view of prevenient grace is simular to his. He was a very godly man. Though I did not agree with his position in this, I hold him up as someone to be admired for his deep,deep love of Jesus. Your love for Him is very evident in your writings as well. I am heartened by your stress on the freeness of the gift.

    Mark

    By Blogger bluecollar, at Monday, March 06, 2006 8:05:00 AM  

  • Mark, I am reading John Wesley's Forty-Four Sermons at th emoment. I cannot stand the book. He qualifies every inch of grace with an inch of law.

    Wesley may have been a great evangelist, but his theology was only a few steps away from Romanism.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, March 06, 2006 8:20:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    That was Augustes Toplady's view as well. You are in good company there. However, George Whitfield, a Calv., held Wesley in very high regard. This " road to Rome" accusation has been used by both sides of the calvinist divide.

    Dispensationism, whether founded by Darby or no, was not a force then. The people of that period, some one hundred yrs. before Darby, did not share your Dispensational sensitivities. You from that position see things through a different lens than they.

    With much respect,
    Mark

    By Blogger bluecollar, at Monday, March 06, 2006 9:28:00 AM  

  • OK, Sofyst,
    Here are a few passages of Scripture that lead me to believe that the preaching of the gospel could very effectively and properly be associated with the phrases "Jesus Christ died for you." and "Jesus Christ loves you."

    Romans 5:8
    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    Ephesians 5:2
    Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

    1 John 3:16
    This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

    John 3:16
    "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    Galatians 2:20
    I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

    1 John 4:9
    This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

    1 John 4:10
    This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.


    Now, you are right, the Bible never says: Go and tell the world that Jesus loves them. However, it says to go and preach the gospel ... and we can infer from studying the Bible that the gospel entails the love of God that prompts His grace and mercy on our behalf. Either way, that was not the point of my question. The point was "what do you say to Joe Shmo who you do not know is elect? From my perspective, I don't think of this election thing at all when I talk with people. This is not a key doctrine for me. Most Calvinists seem to think this is a key doctrine. So ... I ask again ... what do you do with this key doctrine when talking to Mr. I-don't-know-if-he-is-elect-or-not? Can you tell him that the gospel applies to him? How can you personalize the gospel with the doctrines of Grace in your mind? How can you say to someone "God loved YOU .. and he doesn't want YOU to perish." I can say this because I believe that the scripture teaches it. If you limit God's grace to a select "elect" group, you can't say this to people. You must say something like "Christ died for sinners. (and you might be one of them)" Am I wrong? Tell me why!
    :~)
    Is this a doctrine that you leave on the shelf when you witness?

    As regards to your second comment:
    You say this is the good news:
    The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God has come.

    Is this the good news? How can this cleanse from sin? Is this life-changing? What about Jesus? No cross?

    This is the message given before Christ died for sinners. This had to do with the offer of the kingdom to the nation of Israel. You know this!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, March 06, 2006 10:00:00 AM  

  • Mark, you are quite correct in what you say.

    However, the theology of John Wesley makes me very uncomfortable.

    I think maybe people are to quick to praise him for his evangelism and too slow to recognise the serious flaws in his theology.

    Interestingly, Wesley is the Arminian that Calvinists are very quick to say they respect and admire.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, March 06, 2006 10:05:00 AM  

  • Bluecollar (and Sofyst),
    Prevenient grace?
    I looked this up again (I had before but it seemed inconsequential to me.) I am not sure you are getting my meaning. What I am saying is that anything a person does, he does because God allows him. So, if he is told the good news (we are both agreed that he wasn't seeking after God, but God was seeking mankind) and he believes and receieves because of the power of the gospel and the Holy Spirit drawing all men unto God, it can be said it was of God!

    It is just a fundamental difference in our view of the Lord. I don't see Him as shutting a large group out of His invitation. I see the Bible as saying that the invitation is for ALL - the WHOLE WORLD. God has done all this is necessary for all of mankind, but if they perish, it is because they don't receive His gift.

    Prevenient grace? I don't know. Do Calvinists believe in any form of Prevenient grace? Common grace?
    I want to know! :~) :~)

    Sofyst,
    God did all the work! What is this talk of Synergism? You are right, I may need to smash that word down as well. I don't help God save me. Plither!

    Oh, and you say:
    If we think of salvation as God taking man from the kingdom of darkness and putting man into the kingdom of light, we don't see where man really has to do anything.

    I think of salvation that way too. Believing is not doing! (but you already said that you understand that. Phew!)

    All he really has to do is sit there, God does the picking up and placing...

    Why entreat men to believe the gospel then, Sofyst? Why send missionaries? Hmmmm? Maybe we should just leave them to "sit there" as you say. Is "sitting there "doing"? If "sitting there" isn't "doing", then maybe "believeing" isn't "doing" either.
    Now there's something to ponder ...
    :~) :~) :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, March 06, 2006 10:24:00 AM  

  • Bluecollar,
    Thank you for your kind words. Your thoughts are challenging and intelligent as well. I think you may well be replacing that other guy as my favorite Calvinist!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, March 06, 2006 10:26:00 AM  

  • Rose, I am about to write an article that I think you would like. Be patient, it is coming. If I build it, will you come?

    Concerning your passages. Yes, they do speak of God's love. And as I have said before, it may very well be that God does in fact love everyone. I am under the impression that love is not necessarily the opposite of hate. If it was, God, being love, would be unable to hate. Yet, He does hate. Scripture clearly testifies of such. So, perhaps, just perhaps, He can both love a person, and hate them. What does this mean? How does this work? Well, if you can say 'light' and light appear, then I think you'll understand it as well. In otherwords, I dunno, I'm not God.

    Concerning what I say to Joe Schmoe, I simply tell him the goodnews. That being, partly what I gave you as Scriptural reference of Jesus saying (which I was disheartened to see you pass of so nonchalantly - yes, it was before Jesus died, but Mark specifically called it the gospel. Argue with Mark).

    Returning, if I was to tell Joe Schmoe the gospel message, I would tell him that God is real, He created a race of people, these people sinned against Him, hence deserving punishment. Jesus though, out of love, comes and offers salvation to those that believe in Him. Those that believe in the gospel, will receive eternal life.

    There, need I have brought up whether this man was loved or not? Nope. Need I know whether this man was elect or not? Nope.

    The gospel message does not change depending upon the one addressed. That is where most fail to understand. John saying that 'those who believe will receive eternal life' is a true statement that applies to everyone. John saying that 'whoever believes will receive eternal life' is a true statement applying to everyone. We then can quote this to the pagan, without hesitancy and without problem.

    Simply tell them. Believe, repent and believe.

    If he, Joe Schmoe, so happens to ask, 'well, does God love me?'. I will respond, 'I dunno, I'm not God.'

    Rose, simple question. Does Mark call Jesus' words of

    'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!'

    Does Mark call this the 'goodnews', the 'gospel'?

    If yes, then I am perfectly fine in calling it such as well. Pardon me for accepting the opinion of Mark above you. No offense whatsoever, but I think he does have one up on you.

    awaiting the hope,
    Adam

    By Blogger nathaniel adam king, at Monday, March 06, 2006 10:36:00 AM  

  • Rose, concerning your second set of questions. You may have been somewhat mislead when I said that all man has to do is sit there. A better way of expressing this is all man CAN do is sit there. Man cannot help whatosever. Man is dead. He is unable to respond. Just as Lazarus was within the tomb, unable to come out. So, we are dead in our sins, unable to move our citizenship.

    Another picture that is painted within the Scripture is that of us being slaves to our sin.

    Someone (forget who) once said that salvation is being a slave to sin, and then choosing to be a slave to Christ.

    Now, all kidding aside, in all seriousness. I sure wish the slaves of our early American history knew that you could just choose who you wanted to be a slave to. Don't you find it kind of funny that they chose to stay slaves? That they didnt' choose to just one day say, 'you know what Masta', I wanna be free'.

    What idiocy.

    A slave hasn't a choice in the matter. He, by virtue, is unable to choose to be released of his bondage. HE IS A BLOOMIN SLAVE!!!

    We have to be bought, we have to be taken from our slavery.

    Likewise, we have to be made alive. Dead men don't decide to get up. They have to be first made a live again.

    You don't have to respond to this. I think you can respond better to my post I'm about to make, LORD willing.

    awaiting the hope,
    Adam

    By Blogger nathaniel adam king, at Monday, March 06, 2006 10:42:00 AM  

  • Methinks y'all's comments are messing up.

    By Blogger nathaniel adam king, at Monday, March 06, 2006 11:33:00 AM  

  • Sofyst,
    I blog because I want to, never because I have to! There are too many things in life that I "have to" do.

    If he, Joe Schmoe, so happens to ask, 'well, does God love me?'. I will respond, 'I dunno, I'm not God.'

    That sounds like some really effective witnessing! I would be moved ... :~)

    As far as your other statements, you kinda did an end run around my challenge.

    You also brought up another word that I will do a study on and post soon: "dead" ... you reformed really like to bring that word up selectively when discussing this topic. I can hear it coming miles off. ;~) I will see your article, though. Come back again sometime!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, March 06, 2006 11:40:00 AM  

  • You speak of 'effective witnessing'. Can I ask you where we are to 'move' anyone?

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that the Spirit's job?

    The Spirit is mysterious, isn't He?

    What also is mysterious is what actually is 'effective'. Horrid preaching and annoying preachers sometimes have more people come to Christ under their preaching than even the most persuasive arguments, I guess that throws a whole wrench in your thinking there doesn't it?

    Perhaps if you would show me where I'm wrong in saying 'I don't know, I'm not God', WITH Scripture, then I would be more persuaded than when you simply try to pass it off as though I am not being an effective evangel.

    Effective evangelism, on our part at least, is when we proclaim the gospel, NOT when we have converts.

    And do show where I did some avoiding of your questions.

    And yes, we reformed peoples like the Scriptural idea of 'death'. Or at least we use it. Only, of course, because it is used within Scripture.

    Don't you think it much better to use that illustration than the 'lifesaver' one where the people have to reach out and grap the lifesaver. At least ours is within Scripture...;)

    By Blogger nathaniel adam king, at Monday, March 06, 2006 12:07:00 PM  

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