I think dialog possesses the greatest potential for real communication. Not debate, dialog. For me, debate is like playing a ball game...a sporting event. For example, when our Dawgs play their Vols in a sporting event, it's not to gain a better understanding of their team nor communicate our position. It's to show them who's boss...to kick some butt...in short, to win. And, to think that since it's "Christians" who debate, that they will not be in it for the competition it affords, is, from my vantage point, naive at best >>>
Thus, a game--a debate--possesses one winner--the slickest moves, the best planned responses and answers, the art of the most sweat dropped during practice runs, the home-team advantage (packed audience with my supporters), etc.
A dialog on the other hand possesses two winners at minimum and is not performed before fans. Rather it happens more times than not, spontaneously...two people made in God's image talk and hear one another. All win when authentic dialog happens.
For that reason--for dialog--I may periodically post a guest commentary. The commentary may or may not be my view. That's beside the point. Good or bad, fallacious or not, it's at least somebody's view--that somebody being a person made in God's image.
Thus, I have chosen to post a comment by Timotheos to one of my posts as a main feature for SBC Tomorrow. Actually it addresses another post more thoroughly than mine written by Keith Schooley at the The Schooley Files. Timotheos wrote well, argued well and his response oozes the kind of gracious dissent that should mark blogs, especially those whose authors name the name of Christ. I trust it stimulates dialog.
With that, I am...
That Darn Calvin
Hello Peter and Keith,
I hope you are prospering in the grace of our Lord today. I had mentioned earlier that I would take up a response to Keith Schooley's post on I Jn 2:2, and would do it at the beginning of this week, and now here it is the end...ah, well, c'est la vie. The best laid plans of mice and men...(by the way, where is that SelahV?)
In responding to Keith's post, and in our parley (I use the term loosely) over previous posts, I want to be clear on one point, which I'm sure will leave Volfan feeling a bit cheated and inconvenienced, if not convinced: I am not an apologist for Calvin, his successors nor "5 pointers" in general...although the unchaste manner with which Volfan brandishes the latter epithet might tempt one to own it simply because he does not - but it's only a fleeting temptation, brother Volfan ;~).
You, Petros, demonstrate what ought to be a truism regarding Calvin, which is, his successors have, in many instances, out done him. Such is the history of movements and followings. Your selection of readings from Calvin provide a moderated corrective to some of the excess that attaches itself to the man, and equally well demonstrates that not even the eminent Don himself - with all of his gifts and powers - was able to make easy work of Holy Writ. The Word ultimately submits neither to our interpretations nor our schemes, no matter how well conceived.
It would be a mistake, however, to draw from your selections the conclusion that Calvin still did not view the work of Christ in atonement as an actual remission of sin and as definite in its effect and scope. Calvin, not being the author nor proponent of systematic Calvinism, surely did not labor under the burden of propounding and protecting the system named for him. He was, in an important sense, no Calvinist. But he was, as Paul helm notes, "committed to definite atonement," though surely not in the familiar terms of today's Calvinist. We should not be to quick (nor happy) to run away with only part of Calvin's gown in our hands, ay?
Now a few thoughts on Keith Schooley's post regarding I Jn 2:2. First, I think Keith has provided some fine, thought provoking commentary on this passage. I appreciate it, if for no other reason than that it sharpens my own study and understanding of the word.
With regard to propitiation, John states that Jesus "Himself is the propitiation for our sins;" - that is, the actual sins of those to whom John writes have been taken away, and the present advocacy of Jesus on their behalf is predicated upon the actual removal of their sin. Concerning the actual text at hand, no "activators" which make the propitiation effective are under consideration in 2:2. As the Hebrews passage Keith cited shows, Jesus has "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Period. Hence, as the Advocate, Jesus ensures that the sin which He has put away through propitiation is not and will not - ever - be revisited. There is no chance that the Advocacy of Christ can fail because sin has actually been put away, once for all, and because of the nature of His priesthood, which is based upon an unending life. Because of the inseparable nature of His propitiation and advocacy which verses 1-2 well establishe, the assertion that wrath could still be visited upon those for whom propitiation has been made is impossible - unless one is willing to postulate that Jesus, in fact, has an im-permanent priesthood, much like what we find in the Old Testament priesthood.
It is interesting, if not a little problematic, that Keith's notion that propitiated wrath can be revisited upon those for whom the propitiation was first made is drawn from the shadows of the Old Testament rather than the glory of the New. We should not be surprised to find such a state under the Old Covenant, for "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." Hebrews 10:4. This is a deficiency of the Old which is not at all present in the New, in spite of Keith's assertion to the contrary by way of parable.
Without going into a lengthy explanation on the two parables cited by Keith, I hope it will be sufficient to note that neither parable has the atonement per se, in any respect, in view. These parables generally work to establish a single fundamental truth, which, in the case of the two mentioned by Keith, is neither the nature nor the scope of the atonement. Parables do not easily bear the weight that interpreters often put upon them, which I believe to be the case here. Furthermore, I have to squint in a very peculiar fashion at oblique angles in order to come close to seeing Keith's assertion that lack of proper wedding attire in Matthew 22:11 means "lack of proper response to the invitation." That just seems, well...extremely fanciful. Perhaps Luke 13:24 ("Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.") offers a better explanation of the scenario in Matthew 22:11-14 than Keith's statement.
I think it is also wise to bear in mind the audience to which Jesus' teachings were commonly addressed - Jews yet under the Old Covenant. This observation is not meant to blunt the point of truth, but rather to note that revelation has been given to men progressively. When Jesus came unto His own in the fullness of time, He came to the Jewish nation as one born under their covenant and law. When He spoke in parables, He spoke of the kingdom He came to bring near by His yet future propitiation. To superimpose New Covenant excellencies backwards over Old Covenant shadows is, I believe, unwarranted and anachronistic. New wine calls for new wineskins. Teachings which adhered to the Old were being fulfilled and passing away, and perhaps the greatest of these new truths was the nature, extent and effectiveness of His sacrifice over against the long, bloody and incomplete history of Old Testament sacrifice.
While I appreciate and agree with Keith's assertion that the Old Testament "sacrifice of propitiation only potentially, not inevitably, appeases the wrath of God," his reason for such an assertion is surely wide of the mark, for he states that, "The reason why [the OT sacrifice] is ineffective is solely located in the actions and attitude of the worshipper." On the contrary, Old Testament sacrifices were never meant to take away sin, but the sacrifice of Christ decidedly was and did. The promise of redemption in Christ cast its shadow over all OT sacrifices but came to its realized substance in the cross. The something "better" spoken of in Hebrews 11:39-40 is the New Covenant, ratified by both the body and blood of Messiah, and OT sacrifices are first and foremost made effective for Abraham's seed only in Christ, according to promise. Paul takes up this very truth in Galatians 3.
In light of the above discussion (which is by no means exhaustive), the concluding two paragraphs of Keith's post on I Jn 2:2 are not, I believe, well established. While virtually no one denies the critical place faith and repentance play in conversion, it seems to me most incredulous to contend that either the Father's acceptance of the Son's propitiation, or the Son's success in actually "obtain[ing] eternal redemption," ultimately rests upon the activity of a sinner.
"It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:30. Thanks for the opportunity to respond.
Grace and peace,