Postmillennialism and Reformed Confessionalism

Forgive me for not wading completely through the over two-hundred comments on THIS THREAD before I posted this. But I’m not sure this was even discussed over there.

In his article, How Many Points?, Richard Muller rightly argues that Calvinism=The Reformed Faith “as defined by the great Reformed confessions.” These confessions are listed as The Second Helvetic Confession, The Three Forms of Unity, and the Westminster Standards (he also mentions are the Geneva Catechism and the Scot’s Confession).

Of them Muller writes:

All of these documents, in addition to standing in substantial agreement on the so-called five points — total inability to attain one’s own salvation, unconditional grace, limited efficacy of Christ’s all-sufficient work of satisfaction, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints — also stand in substantial agreement on the issues of the baptism of infants, the identification of sacraments as means of grace, and the unity of the one covenant of grace from Abraham to the eschaton. They also — all of them — agree on the assumption that our assurance of the salvation, wrought by grace alone through the work of Christ and God’s Spirit in us, rests not on our outward deeds or personal claims but on our apprehension of Christ in faith and on our recognition of the inward work of the Spirit in us. Because this assurance is inward and cannot easily or definitively be externalized, all of these documents also agree that the church is both visible and invisible — that it is a covenanted people of God identified not by externalized indications of the work of God in individuals, such as adult conversion experiences but by the preaching of the word of God and the right administration of the sacraments. Finally, they all agree, either explicitly or implicitly, that the “thousand years” of Revelation 20 is the kingdom of grace established by Christ at his first coming that extends until his Second Coming at the end of the world.

I’ve highlighted what I’d like to focus on. This sentence is a broad outline of the amillennial position, the view I hold. In the conclusion of his article Muller asserts that the amillennial view of the end of the world is in fact a “point” of Calvinism and the Reformed faith.

It’s easy to figure out that Dispensational Premillennialism counters the covenant theology of the Reformed confessions and is therefore a position that counters Calvinism. Muller explains:

The problem of multiple dispensations of salvation is clearly related to the problem of the millennium. Such a teaching assumes not only that salvation has been administered differently in various ages of the world but, contrary to the Reformed Confessions’ understanding of Scripture, also that one church has not existed “from the beginning of the world,” will not “last until the end,” and has not been universally “preserved by God against the rage of the world” (BC, XXVII). Does this approach to salvation indicate anything in relation to the five points? At very least, it implies that the perseverance of the saints and, above all, the understanding of that perseverance as the perseverance of God for his saints, is not a teaching universally applicable to the people of God. And, granting that a multiplication of covenants bars the way to a perseverance of the saints throughout the history of God’s people, it must also introduce conditions for the election of the chosen people in past dispensations. Entrance into these other covenantal arrangements rests on obedience or decision — rather than obedience resting on the covenant itself and on the unconditional election that is its foundation.

But by saying that the confessions teach that “the ‘thousand years’ of Revelation 20 is the kingdom of grace established by Christ at his first coming that extends until his Second Coming at the end of the world”, Muller also disqualifies from Calvinism all who believe in a yet-to-come millennial kingdom (a golden-age if you will) on the earth. He may have had postmillennialism in mind when he wrote:

Various forms of millennialism militate against the irresistible grace and the perseverance identified in the five points by placing the church into an interim condition before the fullness of the grace and lordship of Christ is revealed.

Here are some questions to consider and discuss:

Do the Reformed Confessions teach, explicitly or implicitly, the amillennial view of last things?

Is postmillennialism counter-confessional?

Can postmillenarians be called Calvinists or Reformed?

If we say that we are able to call postmillenarians Calvinists, then isn’t Muller wrong about the amillennial view being a “point” of Calvinism?

And for kicks and good measure consider the following section from Chapter XI of the Second Helvetic Confession:

We further condemn Jewish dreams that there will be a golden age on earth before the Day of Judgment, and that the pious, having subdued all their godless enemies, will possess all the kingdoms of the earth. For evangelical truth in Matt., chs. 24 and 25, and Luke, ch. 18, and apostolic teaching in II Thess., ch. 2, and II Tim., chs. 3 and 4, present something quite different.

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About Rick

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60 Responses to Postmillennialism and Reformed Confessionalism

  1. Zrim says:

    I have always wondered about this notion that eschatology is somehow out of the purview of Reformed confessionalism, that a liberal latitude is allowed, a “generous orthodoxy,” if you will. It seems that I tend to hear as much from those who have some vested interest in hedging their “golden age” bets (e.g. Covies, theonomists, transformers, varied theocrats of one stripe or another).

    Call it a form of ecclesiastical PC, but I suppose I’d rather say, over against “post-millenarians are not Calvinists or Reformed,” that forms of eschatology which veer from an amillenial one do not truly comport with a consistent and genuine Calvinism per Muller’s own argumentation. In other words, I agree, I just would prefer a better way to express it.

    (Maybe this also relates to notions of writing new confessions. But, contra Riddlebarger and even Clark, I have yet to be convinced that new forms are needed. I, for one, would be very supportive of tying up loose eschatological ends, but the prospect of new writing seems fraught in ways very different from the original writings, and I don’t know that new writing proponents always have that in mind…remember, I said I am not yet convinced, which is not intended to say I agree or disagree one way or another.)

  2. Joe Brancaleone says:

    I am an amillennialist. One of my good friends is a postmillennialist (until he can be convinced otherwise). He is going through a Sunday School class at our church right now on eschatology. I’ve come to see that there is a massive amount of overlap between amillennialism and postmillennialism, more than I realized. Essentially, many many postmillennialists do affirm that the kingdom of God expressed as the millennial age is not something only yet to come in the history of the world. It was indeed inaugurated at the first advent of Christ and extends until his second coming at the consummation. A two-age paradigm a la Vos is also not necessarily incompatible with postmillennialism. The main distinction between the two eschatologies simply is whether and to what degree the gospel will be successful in the world between the two advents. One’s answer to that question determines which camp one falls into.

    Also, as a really interesting factoid I learned from another source, did you know there is in fact such a thing as “pessimistic postmillennialism”. It was a view of some Dutch theologians in the past (I don’t know who). Basically it means that the millennium already happened, and it ended when Christendom ended, at about the time of the French Revolution (1780’s) is when Satan was loosed for a little while to deceive the nations again.

    for what it’s worth,
    joe

  3. Rick says:

    Hey Joe (where you going with that gun in your hand? Sorry, I had to)

    The degree of Gospel sucess is not the difference- The Gospel will be 100% sucessful (his Word does not return to Him void). What that sucess looks like is the difference. Postmillennialism is and over-realized eschatology of triumph over every sphere of life in this life.

    Thanks for commenting!

  4. Joe Brancaleone says:

    I would also add that as an ammillennialist I differ from postmillennialists on what constitutes “gospel success” in the world. To maintain that we can only consider God’s gospel a success if the majority of the human population are converted in a certain period of time, and whole nations are discipled, is to put words in God’s mouth so to speak. In the sense that we are imputing our own notions of triumph and success on to the purposes of God.

    I think the NT perspective was that the events transpiring throughout the book of Acts WAS a clear record of gospel success in the world. It was the height and breadth and width of creation to which the gospel proclamation rang out and harvested converts all the way from the lowest of slaves to Caesar’s own household. From Spain to Arabia, and that by the end of the first generation of the Christian movement. From a first century Jewish-Christian’s view of history and God’s interactions with the world up to that point, he or she would hardly have words to express the amazement at how God opened the floodgates of mercy upon the entire known world. Us bloggers in the US are further testimony of those being called out of darkness “from the ends of the earth”, showcasing the continual triumph of the gospel in this present evil age. So, it’s almost as if postmillennialists have an incipient “church growth movement” mentality when it comes to raw numbers determining the triumphant hope of one’s eschatology.

    my two cents
    j

  5. Joe Brancaleone says:

    Hi Rick, thanks for replying. I think my second post further clarifies what I see as the difference.

    As to what you said about gospel success, playing the devil’s advocate I think a postmillennialist would respond by saying that you are equivocating on the concept of “gospel success”. A postmillennialist understands that both amil’s and postmil’s, as good Calvinists, know that God’s Word never returns to him void and always accomplishes His purpose. The postmil merely speaks of “gospel success” in the limited sense of a greater degree of visible overthrow of unbelief among the nations in time and space.

    j

  6. RubeRad says:

    “pessimistic postmillennialism”

    Interesting — never heard of that one! Conversely, I have never heard a convincing distinction between “optimistic amil” and “postmil”.

    I did not see in Muller’s article any exclusion of postmil; rather, I saw the text that you bolded as inclusive of both amil and postmil.

    I think you can be postmil and reformed, but it’s an added tension that has to be maintained against 2K (it certainly doesn’t fit with the stronger “W”2K, but all reformed Christians should assent to at least some form of 2K).

    Now Bahnsen said that it’s possible to be a theonomist, and yet not be postmil — but there’s not much point. You end up theorizing that “such and such OT model is what civil law should be modeled on, but it’s never gonna happen.” I have at at least two friends that fall into this camp.

    Note also that the Joint Federal Vision Statement stops just shy of explicitly mandating postmilleniallism (read the sections “As the waters cover the sea”, and “The Next Christendom”).

    So causality flows backwards (Theonomy, or FV, pretty much imply postmil), but not necessarily forwards (postmil does not logically require Theonomy or FV).

  7. Rick says:

    OK Joe, fair enough – It just bothers me when posties accuse us of being pessimists and of having a view that the Gospel will by and large fail. My glib response is “no, it will have complete success.”

    More later on this.

    Thanks

  8. Rick says:

    Arrg, I couldn’t stay away.

    The timing of the millennium has always distinguished the postions of “post” and “a” – what Muller describes in what I highlighted is the traditional amillennial postion – which is not the tradition postmillennial postion.

    The Question is: When is the age of final blessing as described by the prophets?

    Amil: It is here now in principle. It began with the first coming of Christ.
    Post: In the future on this earth.

    While the postmillenarian may say that we are heading there, he cannot say that these blessings began with Christ’s first coming because the millennium is defined by clearly evident widespread triumph and peace. If we don’t see Lions lying with Lambs (so to speak) then we’re not in the millennium.

  9. RubeRad says:

    Why does “millenium” have to be defined as “age of final blessing as described by the prophets”? It seems to me the clearer Rev 20 definition for the millenium would be the time span during which Satan is bound in the pit, and “may not deceive the nations”, which binding occurred with Christ’s victorious resurrection, and which will end at the second coming (or a shortly before, depending on what “he will be released for a little while” means)

  10. Rick says:

    Rube, we parallel the age of final blessing foretold by the prophets, at least in part, with the millennium of Revelation 20. Riddlebarger, Venema, and others have made this case in there respective works. A bound Satan is a characteristic of the age of final blessing. So, I’ll go along with you on this and ask the question again:

    When is/was Satan bound?

    Amil: Now. He was bound at Christ’s first coming.
    Postmil: In the future. Or we are gradually getting there, perhaps seeing the beginnings of it. If Satan were completely bound now we would have widespread gospel triumph and peace.

    Somebody page Dr. Keith Mathison to ask him when the millennium begins (or began).

    Regardless of one’s view of the timing of the millennium, Postmillennialism still conflicts with the theology of the cross taught in the confessions. Amillennialism is, in the words of Pastor Stellman (on this page), “suffering in this age, glory in the next.” This is what the confessions teach. I mean, would a 3-forms confessing Christian still be able to confess HC 52 in some future age of peace and prosperity?:

    That in all my distresses and persecutions, with uplifted head I look for the very same person, who before offered himself for my sake, to the tribunal of God, and has removed all curse from me, to come as judge from heaven.

    The Postmillennialist envisions a world, on this side of glory, where distresses and persecutions have ceased for the Christian.

  11. Zrim says:

    I can’t help but discern hefty doses of Modern, positive optimism in post-mil. You know, “progress,” and all that. I still say it doesn’t comport to the best of the Reformed tradition the way amil does, as it seems quite smitten with this idea of “Gospel success” which leaves it way too vulernable to human-made defintions. Take this odd “pessimistic postmill” definition: it seems to help make the point that when it is left to man to define the terms of success, he comes up with some whacky stuff about the French Revolution. Yeow. Jospeh Smith’s got nothing on some of us.

    And I don’t usually register with the term “optimistic amil,” since it implies something pessimistic about it. I see nothing but optimism in good amil’ism.

    …”all reformed Christians should assent to at least some form of 2K.”

    One the problems I see is that a lot of people use the term “two kingdoms.” But this seems un-useful, since almost everyone ostensibly agrees that there are two kingdoms. It’s what happens after such an agreement that we can go in different directions. For example, Covies believe in two kingdoms. The DRC’s Chellis calls himself a C2Ker (contra W2K). The difference is that where W2K (I think) better reflects the true spirit of the Protestant Reformation by saying, “None saves but Christ,” the Covies descend from the Scottish Reformation and say, “None reigns but Christ.” Ultimately, the latter helps derail us from the Gospel as it emphasizes reign over salvation. Fundamentalism believes in two spheres, one being holy and the other unholy (i.e. no triadalist middle ground); Liberalism believes in two spheres but collapses them so that all is holy, etc. Yes, I am implying that C2K works just as much against the whole Gospel, in the final analysis, as Fundamentalism and Liberalism. Heck, throw in Revivalism as a culprit-against-the-Gospel, as it pits experience against revelation (Liberalism pits reason over revelation, so there’s another whammie against it).

    So I, for one, am not satisfied by simply a “two kingdom view,” even when aligned with a Presbyterian and Reformed tradition (read: Covies). I still want to know what how those kingdoms are viewed; what the implications are; how their natures are perceived in themselves individually and in relation to each other, etc

  12. RubeRad says:

    Postmil: In the future. Or we are gradually getting there, perhaps seeing the beginnings of it. If Satan were completely bound now we would have widespread gospel triumph and peace.

    I think you might be putting words in postmiller’s mouths. “Satan bound” = “Satan not able to deceive the nations” = “The nations are now able to take advantage of the free offer of the gospel”. If things are getting better (I don’t think they are), it could be because of global increases in sanctification as the church grows and society is has more Christians in it (no, Zrim, stop! Put away the knife!)

    Regardless of one’s view of the timing of the millennium, Postmillennialism still conflicts with the theology of the cross taught in the confessions. …The Postmillennialist envisions a world, on this side of glory, where distresses and persecutions have ceased for the Christian.

    Now that I agree with, and that’s why I’m not postmil; a world full of Christians leaves Christians with no sense of exile, no need to hope for a better land, whose designer and builder is God. How is such a Christian supposed to understand “in the world, but not of the world”, or “do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”?

  13. RubeRad says:

    Don’t get me wrong, some (many?) postmillers certainly do have your words in their mouths; I’m just saying it’s not logically necessary.

  14. Rick says:

    Don’t get me wrong, some (many?) postmillers

    How about “most.”

    Rube, I think you’re changing traditional postmillennialism. I can’t help it if some posties are starting to lean more to our side, if they lean much further they won’t be postmill anymore.

    Postmillennialists (since the coining of the term “amillennial”) have by and large scoffed at the idea that Satan is presently bound. This is what originally separated the two views.

    Again, paging Dr. Mathison… seriously, somebody must know him.

  15. RubeRad says:

    Rube, I think you’re changing traditional postmillennialism.

    That could be — I’m a pretty ignernt guy. But I chose to hear your question not as “Is regular postmil confessionally reformed?”, but as “Is it possible for any postmil to be confessionally reformed?” Let’s make a little room in the Outhouse — don’t worry, it will never be a big tent…

    Postmillennialists (since the coining of the term “amillennial”) have by and large scoffed at the idea that Satan is presently bound.

    I didn’t hear that from the postmiller (an OPC RE) that worked my debate last spring.

  16. Rick says:

    Rube, your Amill guy was a baptist? You know, with TULIP, covenant theology, and Amillennial eschatology being so “in” among our baptist brothers, one of these days they’re all going to wake up Reformed. I find Reformed Amillenarians make the best case for Amillennialism because they can do it from a more robust Redemptive-Historical hermeneutic.

    The postmiller in your debate was a smart guy not to go in that direction. I’ll have to listen to it, but I assume it wasn’t needed for his case – or Gene didn’t make him defend it – ?

  17. Zrim says:

    “…with TULIP, covenant theology, and Amillennial eschatology being so “in” among our baptist brothers…”

    How do covenant theology and Baptists go together? I hear things like this and am never quite sure how it works. It sounds like a Republican for more government or higher taxes.

    If such a phenomenon is true, why don’t they just jump in with both feet instead of dabbling their toes and be done with it? I mean, isn’t that what Baptists are all about anyway?

  18. Rick says:

    Zrim, Covenant theology as opposed to dispensational theology. These baptists have “new Covenant Theology” which still allows them to be baptists. Others, like Gene Cook, are almost Klinean… but have not “jumped in with both feet.”

    So Covenant theology and Baptists can go together… but it’s not a match made in heaven.

  19. Zrim says:

    “If things are getting better (I don’t think they are), it could be because of global increases in sanctification as the church grows and society is has more Christians in it (no, Zrim, stop! Put away the knife!).”

    I think it comports with an Amil POV to say things are not getting better, no matter what the criterion. There is nothing new under the sun; man and his world are not getting any better or worse as time either proceeds or retreats (take that, sunny, optimistic Modernity and pessimistic, “chicken-little” Dispies!). Man is the same sinful beast he has always been, and his world is consequently the same as it ever was.

    In fact, the case could be made that what drives a lot of innovation (read: contemporary, felt needs, seeker sensitive hooey) is this erroneous idea that man, etc. has changed, thus needing all sorts of tailored ways to “meet him where he is at.”

  20. Zrim says:

    Rick,

    It is likely a function of my feeble mind, but sure seems to me that if you want to “maintain the retain” of covenant children from the font you’d stay fairly well away from covenant theology, old or “new” (whatever that means).

    They must be master knitters, as this gives a whole new meaning to “patchwork quilt.”

  21. Rick says:

    Zrim,
    Bring it up with a Baptist. They somehow make it work for them. Kind of like how Postmills make Reformed confessionalism work for them. 😉

  22. RubeRad says:

    Rube, your Amill guy was a baptist?

    Yes, and as you note, he’s also big on Covenant Theology (and a confessor of the London Baptist Confession), but he just can’t get over that last hump to start sprinklin’ babies.

    Gene’s whole case was basically an exposition of the NT usage of “age”, e.g. “this (present, evil) age” vs “the age to come”. I thought he pretty solidly beat the Postmil guy (although not as much as he demolished Theonomy)

    I think it comports with an Amil POV to say things are not getting better, no matter what the criterion.

    Come on, “no matter what the criterion?” Are you saying we don’t have a higher standard of life (housing, food, health, medicine, longevity, literacy, blogging, …) than the ancients?

  23. Zrim says:

    Rube asked,

    “Come on, ‘no matter what the criterion?’ Are you saying we don’t have a higher standard of life (housing, food, health, medicine, longevity, literacy, blogging, …) than the ancients?”

    Ouch. You know, the bruise on my sternum just healed from an older neo-Kuyperian in my church who shot the same question back at me when I suggested these things. I’ll answer you in the same way I did him: The question itself betrays a form of cultural and historical arrogance. It is the sort of thing that makes us think Iraqi’s will welcome us with rose-pedal parades as we bring them our cultural-political paradigm. Oops.

    His question was, “Are you seriously telling me that you wouldn’t rather live here and now instead of in Jesus’ time and place?” My answer was, “Of course I’d prefer my time and place…but only because it is mine, not because it is better.” There is a big difference in those criteria.

    Careful, these assumptions are the ones that drive contemporary prejudice against tradition and history; they drive the eschewing of reaching back into our history to learn; they drive the arrogance of Modernity and progressivism; they drive Evangelicalism, Liberalism and Revivalism; they drive Transformationalism of all sorts; they drive theologies of glory; they work against the best of confessionalism; they make us think we are the center for Gospel deployment, when perhaps it is the West that needs the Gospel the most.

    There are prices to be paid for your litany of “higher standards of life,” you know; with any advancement comes a set back. This is very hard for Americans to see, I think. You are right, we don’t have polio, but we do have Britney Spears and Camden, NJ. You need to look at all the conditions before quickly concluding either that our time and place is superior or that things are better than they were…

  24. RubeRad says:

    Hey, you opened the door with “any condition”. I think health, wealth, and welfare are pretty objectively improved in the modern, and are criteria pretty much every person ever will hold as pretty high priorities. What criteria are you going to put forth?

    Or put it this way: if you could rocket into the past, and make people understand what life is like now, and you could bring people back to the present with you, how many do you think would prefer to stay in the past?

  25. Zrim says:

    Was there anything in what I just said that made any sense?

    I hope they all would be wise enough to know that everyone has a time and a place and would refuse my invite to come back with me. (And as for me, in case you are about to ask, I will remain in my time and place and also refuse Mr. Future’s invite.) But it sort of depends: am I going back to a yet Modern time in which everyone has these arrogant assumptions about the future? If so, I will likely gather up more than I won’t. If it is a pre-Modern world, maybe the opposite.

    I am not arguing with you that we don’t have improvements in our time. That would be absurd. But you can’t convince me that we have lost at least as much as we have gained.

  26. LO says:

    Hey guys,

    Interesting thoughts all around. I don’t have a conclusion to add, but rather wanted to point out another way to look at the same question: common grace. Kline, in his second article on Rev. 20 (see the last 6-7 paragraphs), perhaps raises the same point as Muller, but does so from the lens of how the eschatological views handle common grace.

  27. Kazooless says:

    Not sure if anybody will see this being that I am reading and responding so late after the initial thread, but here goes.

    First of all, I am not fully decided as an amil or postmil.

    Now, I’d like to see some links to documentation that there is only one “traditional” postmil view AND that view only looks for a future millennium.

    If believing that satan has been bound from being able to deceive the nations since the ressurection means that one is amill, then I guess I’m amill. I definitely believe that.

    Gene Cook definitely didn’t completely demolish theonomy at that debate. Sure, he was a better showman, but that doesn’t mean he had better content. God is SOVEREIGN over ALL spheres in this (HIS) world. Ergo: theonomy. 😉

    Why can’t there be a large percentage of the population be confessing Christians and yet there is still trial, tribulation and suffering? Seems to me for example that before the 2nd advent, people will always be getting sick and diseased. They will always have to struggle against their sin nature. My understanding of the postmill view is that there will still be non Christians, so there will still be opportunity to suffer at their hands.

    And lastly, I think to determine if times are better now than later, you need to define better by looking at what glory will be like. No more effects of sin come to mind. No more tears.

    So what about liberty? Is that something we could look at as defining the world as better? Western civilization has been a blessing to this world. Tyranny is significantly reduced and reducing. Legal slavery is gone. When was the last time a society anywhere in the world openly accepted and practiced human sacrifice? It ebbs and flows and different nations have their highs and lows, but overall when looked at with a ‘world’ view instead of a US view, it seems to me that this world IS better than it used to be. Still, there is a long way to go. But we Americans are so short sighted and we look only at our own country and our own generation and then interpret the scripture through that light.

    Anyway, those are the main points of thought I came up with after reading through this thread.

    Blessings all. Oh yeah, did I mention that Gene Cook didn’t demolish theonomy? 😉

    Kazooless

  28. RubeRad says:

    Well, if the definition of “demolish theonomy” is “change a theonomist’s mind”, then I guess he didn’t. I didn’t take a tally, but I bet he won over everyone who came undecided or uninformed.

  29. Kazooless says:

    For the record, more than one person told me that they had more to think about now that they actually heard some of the arguments.

    I wouldn’t mind some day doing another one, but more general against an opponent who doesn’t change his position during preparation and show up without announcing it. I had to argue against a completely different position than we talked about in the beginning, not that defeating the natural law pish posh theory is all that hard. 🙂

    Kazoo

  30. Zrim says:

    Kazoo,

    “…it seems to me that this world IS better than it used to be.”

    I still don’t register with this notion, especially in light of so much of what you yourself admit. I don’t understand how a brief survey of history, compared with the state of things today, renders a conclusion that we are either better or worse off as an age. When someone begins to tick off examples of “better,” they can be countered with “worse” ones. Vice versa. I understand neither sunny views nor cloudy ones.

  31. Kazooless says:

    Maybe it would help to consider specific ideas that a posty pulls from scripture instead of the generic description of “better.”

    A common quote from a posty would be the one about righteosness covering the earth as the waters cover the sea. Maybe taking a look at even more specific examples they use from scripture, understanding how they expect that to bear out specifically in history, and then judging that would be best.

    I don’t know for sure really, since this is one area I’ve never sat down and studied out for myself.

    Cheers,

    Kazoo

  32. Echo_ohcE says:

    Toilet paper, running water, and air conditioning.

    Fruits of the separation of church and state.

    Fruits of science ceasing to be heresy.

    Fruits of the end of the tyranny of Rome over Western civilization.

    Fruits of the Reformation. The world is a better place.

    E

  33. Zrim says:

    “Toilet paper, running water, and air conditioning.”

    Just last week, in the evening, we had a professor from Kuyper College preach glorifed Americanism. The point was that “grace abounds here in the west because we see peaceful transitions of power but is fairly scant in icky places like third world countries.” Seems grace is being read through worldly lenses, if you ask me, things like toilet paper and democracy instead of Word and sacrament.

    “Fruits of the separation of church and state.”

    The silent theocracy of America.

    “Fruits of science ceasing to be heresy.”

    Rationalism; the QIRC.

    “Fruits of the end of the tyranny of Rome over Western civilization.”

    Western civilization also gave us pietism; revivalism; Liberalism; the Religious Right. Tyranny comes in all kinds of forms.

    “Fruits of the Reformation. The world is a better place.”

    Trent sustained. The world is the same as it ever was. The Church endures and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her, to wit, the Reformation. But remember, as good as it was, the Reformation was not the advent of the Church. The Church has always been on earth but the world hardly seems “better” for it. How does the presence of the Church mean the world is a better place? When light shines in darkness it doesn’t make darkness go away or change darkness per se.

    You’re a-gonna hate this, Echo, but I make pretty much no room for Reformed versions of forward-looking postmil-triumphalism or backward-looking Fundamentalism. Yes, the Reformation was a very good thing, but I hold out no Golden-Era dreams of either the past or the future.

    I just ran across some fairly relevant qoutes from Horton’s “Covenant and Eschatology” last night…I should lay those down at some point.

  34. Kazooless says:

    Zrim,

    Seems to me after your last post that you are strongly attached to a bias that won’t allow you to consider anything as “better.”

    Posty or not, this world has been blessed thanks to the growth of the church. Captives have been set free more and more. If a person’s life is “better” when Christ comes into it and “saves” him and “sets him free,” then I think that can be muliplied to groups of people, too.

    A deacon in my church told me recently that in 1980, only 8 countries fed the rest of the world. 7 out of 8 of them were British colonies (including Britain). Japan was the eighth, copying America. I’d say the other countries were blessed thanks to the protestant church (british colonialism).

    But, I doubt very much I will have any affect on the color of your glasses. Mine are rose. 🙂

    Kazoo

  35. Zrim says:

    Kazoo,

    I keep picturing post-it notes when you say “posties.” My desks are riddled with them these days. Alas, my desks are no better for their presence and never get as organized as I would like (little joke, that).

    Yes, you are right, my glasses and bias are fairly set. But you say that like it is a bad thing? Yes, it keeps me from saying “things are better,” but it also keeps me from saying they “are worse.” I realize what I am saying seems “defeatist,” but I am equally “sunny” when folks want to overcast things, get all worried about the sky falling and their first-borns being eaten, looking for devils under every doily, etc.

    Man, an amillenial eschatology is one bad-a$$ bias. I think I’ll keep it.

    “If a person’s life is “better” when Christ comes into it and “saves” him and “sets him free,” then I think that can be muliplied to groups of people, too.”

    What do you mean by “better”? Do you mean to say there is a one-to-one correspondence between one’s eternal status and his temporal one? Do you mean to say that we believers can transcend our humanity? Are you saying I don’t have to live in un-victory, that whatever my felt need is I can surpass the unbeliever: money, relationships, health, smarts, vocation, etc. and so on?

    Before we pass on victory and abundance to the inhabitants of the earth, maybe we should just be sure first that we as individuals have that access.

  36. Echo_ohcE says:

    Zrim,

    I think you need a new nickname: Determined Cynic.

    You said that Word and Sacrament are grace, not toilet paper.

    Toilet paper is a manifestation of God’s grace too. We call it common grace, not special or redemptive grace. Your comment seems to leave no room for common grace as a category.

    To me, toilet paper and air conditioning represent common grace. The point I was making is that when the tyranny of Rome over the West ended, people were allowed to begin using their minds, and the fruits were many. The world became a better place when the Pope ceased to rule the world.

    America is not a silent theocracy. The notion is absurd. Huckabee certainly wants that, but he’s apparently quite ignorant about how our country works.

    I don’t know what QIRC stands for or means, nor why my declaration that science ceasing to be heresy being a good thing would lead you to throw a charge of rationalism at me. Am I quite right in thinking that in so doing, you present us with a false dichotomy: either be a rationalist or think that science is heresy? I don’t see how you’ve left us any other options. Of course, I utterly reject such a dichotomy, and I suspect you do too, which is why the rationalism charge is quite silly, tee hee, tee hee.

    Trent sustained what, exactly? What did Trent sustain? The tyranny of Rome? No it didn’t. The Reformation flourished, and remains flourishing 500 years later. Rome ceased to be the only church in the West. The Pope ceased to rule the West. He ceased to rule the church. That tyranny is over. Tyranny is obviously not done away with, but that tyranny is. Ding dong the wicked witch and what not.

    You say that the church has been here for 2000 years, and the world doesn’t seem better for it.

    Well, I say, it DOES seem better as a direct result of the church, the true church being present on earth. Sure, the Reformation wasn’t the advent of the church. Of course. I didn’t say or even imply that it was. The Reformation came about because God’s people cannot be squashed, stamped out, or ruled by an antichrist forever. (I mean a Pope.) The Reformation didn’t fall out of the sky.

    But just because I point to the Reformation as bearing good fruit of common grace for the whole world, doesn’t mean that I’m implying that the church only began with the Reformation. I think you’re missing five or six premises to prove that point.

    You said: “You’re a-gonna hate this, Echo, but I make pretty much no room for Reformed versions of forward-looking postmil-triumphalism or backward-looking Fundamentalism. Yes, the Reformation was a very good thing, but I hold out no Golden-Era dreams of either the past or the future.”

    Echo: ha ha ha!!! You’re so funny Zrim, assuming that I’m going to hate that. The implication is that I see the Reformation as a Golden Age, and that makes me a triumphalist fundamentalist, and probably a theonomic postmillennialist tranformationalist too. Ha ha ha!!!

    I hold to no golden age theory. Ha ha ha!!! And nothing I said implied that I do.

    I think it’s downright hilarious that since I said that the Reformation bore good fruit by bringing the tyranny of Rome over the West to an end, you can’t understand that apart from thinking that I’ve asserted that the Reformation era was some Golden Era to be irrationally adored and worshiped. That’s just hilarious! It’s so irrational! Oh, NOW your charge of rationalism makes sense! Apparently the USE of reason makes you a rationalist in your eyes!

    Yes, please instruct me from Covenant and Eschatology about where I have gone wrong. That’s a great book, albeit hard to understand, and I was very pleased to be able to sit in on hours of lectures from Dr. Horton himself about the material contained in it, which really helped me out a great deal with understanding it. So if you’ve got some quote from it that you find relevant to this discussion, I’m all ears.

  37. Kazooless says:

    Zrim,

    You said:

    What do you mean by “better”? Do you mean to say there is a one-to-one correspondence between one’s eternal status and his temporal one? Do you mean to say that we believers can transcend our humanity? Are you saying I don’t have to live in un-victory, that whatever my felt need is I can surpass the unbeliever: money, relationships, health, smarts, vocation, etc. and so on?

    No, not at all. I am not a word of faither (anymore) or a felt need guy, etc. Here are a couple examples of what I mean by better:

    Ephesians 2:1-10

    1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
    4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

    “Better” here means that we are alive and no longer dead. We have been saved and created (enabled) to walk in good works.

    Romans 5:1-4

    1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have[a] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

    “Better” here means that we can rejoice, even in tribulations.

    Galatians 3:13-14
    13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”[h]), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

    “Better” here is no longer being cursed, but blessed. Wouldn’t you agree that it is “better” to be blessed than cursed?

    And finally,

    Romans 6:5-6

    5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

    “Better” here means that we are set free from the bondage of sin. If set free from its bondage, then set free from its effects. A specific example would be if a murderer is brought to Christ, he will stop murdering, so the future victims won’t be murdered. This is “better” for him AND the potential victims. Right? Now, expand that to hundreds, thousands, millions of people, and the world all the sudden became a “better” place. There are over 2 billion professing Christians today.

    So, that is how I define “better.” And, the last example is a very small specific instance that I think you at least have to admit is a possibility of the world being a “better” place thanks to Christianity. Simplified, sin=bad, declining sin=better, becoming a Christian individually declines sin, so as a group, the world effects of sin is less, therefore “better.”

    How’s that?

    🙂

    Kazoo

  38. RubeRad says:

    Kazooless (we ought to take up a love offering and buy you a kazoo),

    We’ve been around the “more Christians, better world” carousel a few times already, although I prefer to say more carefully “more Christians AND more sanctification = less sin = better world”.

    Perhaps the best place to find what has gone before is this post, which zrim wrote (and titled) specifically to challenge Echo & I on this point (see especially the first comment, which is quite possibly the best thing ever written).

    I have a post in draft elucidating some further thoughts on “more sanctification=>better world”, I should wrap that up. Every time I think about working on it though, I just feel so, I don’ know, “fuzzy”? (That’s an inside joke between me and Kazooless)

  39. RubeRad says:

    Echo: QIRC is scratched on the wall of the Outhouse, as a term coined by Dr. Clark, which stands for the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty, and which goes hand-in-hand with QIRE, the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Experience.

  40. Zrim says:

    Echo,

    Thanks for the suggestion, but I think nicknames are supposed to roll off the tongue. If TP and running water are evidences of grace, we should throw in Xanax for your sake. (Is there more grace in Europe where they use running water for their TP? It appears the Outhouse is quite grace-free). My response to you was simply to make the point that for every example pointed to in order to evidence “progress” there can be one to counter it, and vice versa.

    Again, the resistance I have in this whole thread reminds me of the exchange I have had with neo-Kuyperians in my own church. Question: “Are you seriously telling me that you’d not rather live here and now than in Jesus’ time and place?” Answer: “Of course I’d prefer my time and place; but I prefer it because it is mine, not because it is better, as your question clearly implies.” When children declare their mother or father to be “the best dad/mom in the whole world,” the proper response is to take it figuratively and not literally; the declaration is meant to convey love, loyalty, etc. If a parent takes the declaration literally—that somehow the child is making an objective and measurable conclusion he can’t possibly make, since he is both unable to know what it is like to be the child of every other parent in the world and able to, in his child-ness, be anything but subjective—it is inappropriate to say the least. In the same way, when we make statements that imply ours is literally “the best time and place,” we do better to understand such utterances through more subjective lenses than objective. In other words, it is as silly to think our time and/or place is superior to other times and/or places as it is for a parent to take a child’s utterance of love and loyalty to be a literal conclusion about his parenting.

  41. Zrim says:

    Kazoo and Rube and Echo (and all who yet contend the world is better because we are here),

    Did you catch 60 Minutes last night? If you did, try telling the people of the Congo the world keeps getting better. Conversely, try asking Helio Castroneves the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Seems like it is good to be Helio.

  42. Kazooless says:

    Zrim,

    How about actually addressing my last comment that answered your question of my definition of better. I used scripture to define “better.”

    Your resonse?

    Kazoo

  43. Zrim says:

    Kazoo (anybody else have images of little, green men floating around, you know, a Flintstonian kind of thing?),

    I think Rube did for me, actually. You seem to be of his persuasion that “more Xians = better world,” or, more precisely as he puts it, “more Xians, more sanctification = better world.” And like he said/posted, we have covered that ground, etc.

    I’d hope a murderer would be stopped by law, not grace (those categories, as you know, are very important to distinguish between). I mean, do you really want to suggest to your sheriff that Joe Converted should be just fine now that he is one of us? I think Pat Robertson tried a similar line of thinking when he vied for that Tammy woman to be stayed from execution because she converted. Methinks you (much) over-realize grace. I’d say something about being more sinner than saint, but I don’t want anymore nickname suggestions from Echo.

    (I recall a pastoral-care class I took way back in my first days of being a Calvinist seminarian. We were having a session at the local Christian drug rehab center, Pinerest. A fellow student who was a former drug addict was going on and on about how he no longer was due to his conversion, citing passages like you do. I tuned out until the shrink interrupted him and made a point about real people having real problems needing real solutions and not a lot of Bible-babble. It was the most Calvinist thing I’d heard all day, from a shrink and not from a Reformed seminarian! Seems our man was still enebriated on the whole “Jesus is better than beer” theology.)

    Did you read my post (Scott Clark on grace)?

  44. Echo_ohcE says:

    Zrim,

    You need to learn to engage arguments.

    Someone makes a good point, such as that you have no category for common grace, and you make some cynical statement about neo-Kuyperians or some bitter business about some guy babbling on about Jesus being better than beer, and how a secular psychologist is more Calvinistic than a revivalist.

    You’re like a bitter old man who never listens to anything anyone has to say, but just keeps spouting the same lines over and over again like a broken record.

    But I think I understand why you behave that way. The CRC is not a reformed denomination, but thinks it is. I can understand why you would think and speak the way you do, since you’re surrounded by liberals calling themselves reformed.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Try a reformed church.

    E

  45. Zrim says:

    Echo,

    And as I have said it before I will say it again: the point of this blog is not to “build my apologia” (scroll down to the comments where I point you to the “About” tab). I have very little interest to pretend to be anything but a regular believer engaging in conversation out loud. I realize this is frustrating for those who might fancy themselves to be more than that, but I will leave erudition to those who are erudite.

    I am not sure what sort of connections to the CRC you are trying to make. But it sounds like a lot of frustrated swiping, simplistic correlatives, etc. If it makes you feel any better, here is my take on my denom: It is a good thing I am not a parochial denomationalist because I am not wild about my own; she is on a trajectory toward broad Evangelicalism; lately I have come to say out loud what I have suspected for some years–my time with her is limited; I owe much to her, especially to my local church, and, as she continues as she does, leaving her will only be with great lament and very little joy whatsoever. I like thinking about it in these terms and not the way a “Fundamentalist learning to be a Presbyterian” does, namely, tossing out slurs and accusations and loaded language, etc. The problem with the CRC is not her resident “Liberals” or “Fundamentalists,” but their common heritage of Evangelicalism. (The “liberal/fundamentalist” categories are social/cultural/political terms, not theological ones; when those terms are used by one for another I know I have no seat at the table since the nomenclature should be confessionalism/Evangelicalism, not liberalism/fundamentalism…I was going to link here a note I wrote to RSC that he agreeably posted along these lines, but it appears that was on his old site and has evaporated…Rube, little help?) In other words, use of the L-word just reveals an understanding that is less than useful. It must be hard clenching your fists, Echo, what with so much bare-knuckled jabs and hooks. But like I said earlier, if TP and running water is your example of how the world is getting better, Xanax would be another good one for your sake.

    And…he wasn’t a secular shrink but a Christian one. Pinerest is a Christian organization here in GRusalem.

  46. Kazooless says:

    Zrim,

    I almost put in there that the assumption was it was an unconvicted murderer. I am all for the due process of law based on God’s unchanging moral standards of justice. So the hypothetical would be to a murderer that wasn’t ever found out, convicted, etc.

    Now, wrt a sinner becoming a Christian, such as the hypothetical murderer, or the drug addic, what exactly are you saying? I wasn’t quoting scripture to just babble on, but to use the scripture itself to define “better” for you, AS YOU ASKED.

    Are you saying that it isn’t true that Ephesians chapter two teaches us that we once walked in dardness but now we walk in good works? Are you saying that the scripture is just babble and unimportant to you? I don’t get it. Are you saying that it is NOT BETTER to walk in good works instead of darkness?

    Yes, I am using the equation that Rube mentions, but I was giving you arguments in support of that thesis and I thought you would interact with my specific arguments. I thought that was part of what your blog was for, to interact about these things.

    Anyway, if not, no big deal. I’m just interested in being familiar with more than my own view on different topics.

    Blessings,

    Kazoo

  47. Echo_ohcE says:

    Kazoo,

    Zrim is not interested in interacting with arguments, because as he said, he’s not engaging in apologia, but conversation. By apologia, he means having an honest conversation with someone and taking what they say seriously and honestly and interacting with what they have said. By conversation, he means spouting off his rhetoric of anti-evangelicalism, rehearsing the same lines over and over again, to the exclusion of engaging with what people actually say. So if you’re looking for him to interact with your argumentation, you’re only setting yourself up for frustration, because he simply isn’t interested in talking to you as if you were a human being.

    E

  48. Kazooless says:

    Bummer. Thanks Echo.

    I’ll be posting another question for you on the other topic a little later. I appreciate your answer.

    Jeff

  49. Echo_ohcE says:

    I agree, it is a bummer. I haven’t wanted to believe it, but I am forced to that conclusion.

  50. Rick says:

    Kazooless,

    I’m sorry I (the original poster) was nowhere near the blogsphere when you left your orginal comment.

    But, I’ve been away so long that I forgot what it was like to be here. So, perhaps I’ll read through some of this stuff here and figure out if I can’t put some of my thoughts here in response. No promises – what kept me away is still keeping me from the kind of committment a well-thought out answer would require.

  51. Zrim says:

    kazoo asked, “Are you saying that it isn’t true that Ephesians chapter two teaches us that we once walked in dardness but now we walk in good works?”

    No, I am not saying that. I am saying that we seem to have a difference as to the interpretation of such statements.

    “Are you saying that the scripture is just babble and unimportant to you?”

    No, the problem isn’t the Bible, it is how it gets employed.

    “Are you saying that it is NOT BETTER to walk in good works instead of darkness?”

    Good works are better than evil.

    Kazoo, my point was simply that to quote verses just doesn’t help me. Your contention seems to be that we are ontologically better for having faith. To make your point you simply quoted some verses. But verses have to be read through an interpretation, etc. Someone could tell me he thinks our will is free to choose between righteousness and evil and quotes some verses. But Reformed hermeneutics demand we be aware of our bias, our lenses, etc. You were not, in fact, offering arguments but simply verses. I have nothing against the Bible (seems silly to have to say such a thing). The Bible was used during the Reformation and nobody on either side, thankfully, was satisfied by simply quoting it.

    But I don’t believe we are ontologically better for our faith. Grace doesn’t overwhelm nature (again, did you read the RSC post?), I still live subject to death, just like everyone else, including unbelievers. I live in the already-not yet tension.

    Maybe my question about what you mean by better needs its own question: do you believe we are ontologically better for our faith? I would assume you do, based on what you have said so far. I don’t; I believe that I at once have nothing in common with unbelievers (already), yet I have everything in common with them (not yet). Such is the tension of being a pilgrim.

  52. Echo_ohcE says:

    Kazoo,

    For my part, I think Zrim might have a point here about the claim to some ontological status. However, I’m not so sure you should back off of the claim.

    What I mean is, to be SURE, our future glorified status is a different ontological state.

    Ontological, as I understand it, would refer to a different state of being.

    A lot of people, I think, would like to say that there are perhaps 4 or 5 ontological states.

    The first is God. Definitely an ontological kind of existence. (Now I will be accused of being Aristotelian.) This ontological state is not now nor ever will be available to us. This is infinite Being.

    The second is man.

    Third, animals.

    Fourth, plants.

    Fifth, rocks and such.

    It seems to me that the change that will take place in us when we are glorified is significant enough to perhaps classify it as a different ontological status. After all, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. We shall be changed, and be given new, Spiritual bodies. (That capital S is deliberate.)

    However, glorification has already begun in us in our regeneration and sanctification. We have not attained glorification, but certainly that work has begun in us, because glorification is perfect union with Christ, consummated union with him, by the Spirit. But this same Spirit already dwells in us and is at work in us.

    If you count being made alive spiritually, after having been dead spiritually, then perhaps it is correct to say that some ontological change has begun to take place.

    I suspect Zrim is saying that you are implying an ontological change, when we really haven’t changed at all, we’re just forgiven. We have moved to a different legal state, not a different ontological state. I would tend to agree with that, but I wouldn’t want to be quite so absolute about it.

    To be sure, we have changed to a different legal status, but some different ontological status might be appropriate here. If not a different status ontologically, then the change to a different ontological status (from corruptible to incorruptible) has at least begun to take place.

    However, while there might be some room here, I’ve never thought about it before, and I’m really just shooting from the hip here. I haven’t read Clark’s post.

    More than that though, you’re trying to talk about the world being ethically better, and Zrim has asked you if you mean that we Christians are somehow ontologically different.

    I suggest to you that you might call Zrim out here on having a missing premise. What about the world being ethically better implies that Christians must have a different ontological status? For my part, I fail to see the connection. This tendency in Zrim’s comments is the reason for my comment above. You didn’t mean to imply that Christians have a different ontological status, only that the world is ethically a better place thanks to Christians being in it, bearing witness. Zrim has not interacted with that claim, but has invented a new one, and is arguing against that.

    For my part, I see the world as being blessed – temporally through common grace – as a result of Christianity, or more importantly, because of Christ. We are, thanks to him, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, giving light to the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

    Don’t despair, I feel your pain.

  53. Echo_ohcE says:

    By the way, the WCF in 33 doesn’t allow for a postmill position, because it affirms that the day of judgment could come at any time. That’s amill right there.

    The amill position: Someday, Christ will return and judge the living and the dead. Throw out all the charts.

  54. kazooless says:

    Zrim said:

    “Your contention seems to be that we are ontologically better for having faith.”

    “Maybe my question about what you mean by better needs its own question: do you believe we are ontologically better for our faith?

    I’m not trying to get in a fight. I just feel like I’m not getting my point across. What you say that I quoted above isn’t quite right. I can see how you can get that impression from ‘some’ of my comments, though.

    Let me try to be a little more clear.

    First, I was responding to your question: “What do you mean by “better”?”

    I proceeded by first going to the scripture and trying to get descriptions of things that “I” have always read in a way that meant to me “Gee, it seems like scripture is telling me that one situation is better than another.” So after each scripture I gave you, I tried to explain what I saw in each and how I arrive at the conclusion that one state is better. Some of them talked about ‘states’ and that is probably where you get the ontological question. I know what ontological means and all, but for purpose of this discussion, I think that trying to label each of these descriptions with a category of some sort makes it more difficult to wade through. I’d rather keep it simple in this case and take it on the surface.

    The sampling of scripture I gave you wasn’t to ‘prove’ a point or make an ‘argument.’ They were the foundation to the yet to come argument. So, maybe you can go back and deal with each of the references I gave and let me know if where you think I’m off in my reading of them (Sincere request, not being sarcastic here).

    Ontological?

    BEING alive, yeah, I can see where you get that on this one.
    HAVING peace. I’m not sure. Is this ontological? I guess not.
    REJOICING. This seems like an action to me, not a state of being.
    BEING BLESSED. This could go either way, no?
    SET FREE. Seems like this is talking more about our walk than our being.

    But the first one, being alive, in context verse 10 tells us the result is that we should walk in good works (not our own, I know).

    Okay, let’s drop the state of being part, because even if that is true, my argument really is centered more on the action part of things. Here is what I argued again:

    So, that is how I define “better.” And, the last example is a very small specific instance that I think you at least have to admit is a possibility of the world being a “better” place thanks to Christianity. Simplified, sin=bad, declining sin=better, becoming a Christian individually declines sin, so as a group, the world effects of sin is less, therefore “better.”

    Now, to clarify this a little more, when i am talking about sin, I am focusing more on deeds and word, instead of thought. The outward actions that qualify as sin.

    I think that this is an important admission on your part. You said:

    Good works are better than evil.

    This was your answer to my question:

    Are you saying that it is NOT BETTER to walk in good works instead of darkness?

    I’m not trying to twist your words into something that makes my argument fly, just trying to bring in the relevant part of both our comments for ease of reading.

    You agree that good WORKS are better than evil WORKS. So, forget about the other scripture for a moment. Let’s focus on Eph 2:1-10. Well, maybe the Romans quote ties in as well. So here’s another genuine question for you. Do you agree that generally when a person becomes a Christian, there walk becomes less filled with evil works and more filled with good works? I assume you do, since this I think it qualifies as a (simplistic) description of sanctification.

    So, if my logic is correct, and maybe there is a problem here I’m not seeing, but…

    If good works is better than evil works AND a person’s life is increasing in good works and decreasing in evil works THEN a person’s life is increasing in better works OR more simply put, a person’s life is better.

    I am guessing you might disagree with this last bit. Maybe.

    If that last argument is coherent, then why can’t we leap to: 1 better person equals better SO 1 million better persons equals better SO 1 billion persons equals even better?

    I know this was long, but I don’t want to keep talking past each other. If you feel like it and want to reply, that would be great. If this is too much and you’ve moved on to other subjects, that’s fine too.

    Thanks much and blessings,

    Kazoo

    ps haven’t read, but planning to.

  55. Echo_ohcE says:

    Kazoo,

    All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel.

    Rube and I have both tried to have this discussion with Zrim to no avail. It led me to question if he even believes in sanctification. I still don’t know. Good luck pinning him down on this one.

    E

  56. Pingback: Being Christian « The Confessional Outhouse

  57. Zrim says:

    Kazoo,

    I am all for keeping things simple and, with you, also not for fighting for its own sake. I guess I think I have said whatever I can up to this point. It feels to me like it is getting into the sort of minutae I am just no good at doing, sorry. I know that will automatically make me disingenuous, bitter, etc., etc. to some folks, but there it is.

    For the record, I believe in sanctification just like I believe that good is better than evil. That some still aren’t sure if I believe in sanctification is more evidence, to my mind, that some have gotten much too tangled up in minutae to be able to grasp points being made. In other words, the question isn’t whether sanctification is a reality but just what its nature is; if one doesn’t think I believe in sanctification (or isn’t sure), it is probably because one is straining at a gnat.

  58. kazooless says:

    Zrim,

    Fair enough.

    God Bless,

    Kazoo

  59. Echo_ohcE says:

    Zrim,

    There is such a thing as blurring distinctions and not being concerned enough about the details.

    E

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