an interesting verse for my Calvinist friends

NAU  Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.

The word for purpose here is a very interesting word. Thayer defines it this way:

counsel, purpose … especially of the purpose of God respecting the salvation of men through Christ

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Everything in religion depends on the nature of the start

“Everything in religion depends on the nature of the start. You may start ‘out of faith’, from an utter abandonment to God, and an entire dependence on Him, and in this case a righteousness is possible which you will recognize as ‘righteousness of God’, God’s own gift and work in you; or you may start ‘out of works’, which really means in independence of God, and try to work out, without coming under obligation to God, a righteousness of your own, for which you may claim His approval, and in this case, like the Jews, all your efforts will be baffled. Your starting point is unreal, impossible; it is not truly ‘out of works’, but only ‘as out of works’; it is an idea of your own, not a truth on which life can be carried out, that you are in any sense independent of God. Such an idea, however, rooted in the mind, may effectually pervert and wreck the soul, by making the Divine way of attaining righteousness and life offensive to it; and this is what happened to the Jews.”

James Denney, “St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans,” in The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), 668. Phrases like this, ‘in italics’ represent my translation from the Greek.


does this strike you as funny?

The latest 9 Marks eJournal is out. There is an article by Owen Strachan attempting to sketch the history of the doctrine of conversion in America. In the article, he cites George Whitfield in the line of the classic Calvinistic preachers who believed in conversion of a Calvinistic sort, the kind where a man is first regenerated (i.e., converted), then has faith given him, after which he is expected to respond to God’s invitation, repent and believe, in order to be converted after having already been converted.

Here’s the quote from Whitfield

But thus it must be, if Christ be not your righteousness. For God’s justice must be satisfied; and, unless Christ’s righteousness is imputed and applied to you here, you must hereafter be satisfying the divine justice in hell-torments eternally; nay, Christ himself shall condemn you to that place of torment. And how cutting is that thought! Methinks I see poor, trembling, Christless wretches, standing before the bar of God, crying out, Lord, if we must be damned, let some angel, or some archangel, pronounce the damnatory sentence: but all in vain. Christ himself shall pronounce the irrevocable sentence. Knowing therefore the terrors of the Lord, let me persuade you to close with Christ, and never rest till you can say, "the Lord our righteousness." Who knows but the Lord may have mercy on, nay, abundantly pardon you? Beg of God to give you faith; and, if the Lord gives you that, you will by it receive Christ, with his righteousness, and his All. (From The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield, London, 1771-1772, accessed here online.)

And here is Strachan’s following paragraph:

Like Edwards, Whitefield told his hearers to entreat the merciful Lord for pardon. He simultaneously explained the righteous character of God, detailing the way Christ has accomplished his mission of salvation, and implored his audience to close with Christ. The sermonic material was always God-centered. Whitefield made it clear that conversion occurs by God’s pleasure, yet that hearers were still responsible to respond.

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an unfortunate example of depravity

Perhaps you’ve seen this story. It’s about a man who altered a document in the American National Archives and gained some fame as a Lincoln scholar by making it out that Lincoln pardoned a Civil War deserter on the very day Lincoln was assassinated.

It is a reminder to us that for a price (the price of our pet sins) we may do something that will bring shame to us. For Christians, such deeds will also bring shame on the name of Jesus Christ, so we should be doubly cautioned.

In thinking about this, I was reminded of the line in Isa 59.7… “Their feet run to evil…” But read the whole chapter. It is mostly an indictment of the depravity of men. That is us, my friend.

But the chapter is also a message of God’s grace:

Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:


Isaiah 59:15 Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. 16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. 17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke. 18 According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence. 19 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. 20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. 21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.

I realize that some of this is probably eschatological, but the promise for men is that there is righteousness outside ourselves that can be imputed to us and we can be saved. Praise the Lord for his works, and his mighty deeds among the children of men!

And note the next words in Isa 60…

Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. 2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.



A somewhat disturbing point is emerging about the new kind of fundamentalism we are supposed to be having. I am wondering if this point is a variant of something that has been criticized elsewhere as ‘Fundamentalism Plus’ (or ‘IFBX’, as in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist eXtreme).

The point that is emerging is that the new kind of fundamentalism is oriented around Calvinism to the exclusion of those who would consider themselves fundamentalists but non-Calvinists. It also may explain the overtures being made by fundamentalists towards certain conservative evangelicals.

Similar charges have been made before, only to be dismissed by the change agents. I admit some of those previous charges have been made quite clumsily (at best). Nevertheless, new evidence is appearing that suggests there might be something to the charges.

Consider the following:

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