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2007.03.23

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Steve Grose

G'day from Oz Peter,
I like your analogies Peter, but I think there is something even deeper than relational depth in the wonder by which we are saved. I think the hymn I sought the Lord, gives an aspect to that depth:
I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me.
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
No, I was found of Thee.

Thou didst reach forth Thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm vexed sea.
’Twas not so much that I on Thee took hold,
As Thou, dear Lord, on me.

I find, I walk, I love, but oh, the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee!
For Thou were long beforehand with my soul,
Always Thou lovest me.

CH Spurgeon has a wonderful sermon on the passage in Acts 16:14 A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was spoken by Paul.

He speaks of how the Lord sovereignly, beautifully, graciously, opened her heart, so that she could respond freely (by His Sovereign grace) to the wonderful gospel of Christ.
I think it is that wonderful action of God, opening the heart, that allows the interaction with God as the heart responds to the Lord.
Yet it is most free.

Or as the 1689 Baptist Confession of faith says CHAPTER 10
OF EFFECTUAL CALLING
Paragraph 1. Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, He is pleased in His appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call,1 by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ;2 enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God;3 taking away their heart of stone, and giving to them a heart of flesh;4 renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ;5 yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.6
1 Rom. 8:30, 11:7; Eph. 1:10,11; 2 Thess. 2:13,14
2 Eph. 2:1-6
3 Acts 26:18; Eph. 1:17,18
4 Ezek. 36:26
5 Deut. 30:6; Ezek. 36:27; Eph. 1:19
6 Ps. 110:3; Cant. 1:4


Perhaps man's heart IS stoney!
And then, by grace it becomes free to act in the mans best interest and as God would have it act.

Or in chapter 9 When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin,7 and by His grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good;

Every Blessing,
Steve

Richard Coords

Steve,

Question for Acts 16:14: Did God OPEN or CHANGE her heart?

In other words, did God secretly swap out her old heart for a brand new heart, so that with a new heart, she might irresistibly repent and believe in the Gospel?

Or, did God "open" her lost, fallen and unregenerate heart so that she might repent, believe and be saved?

In God's Prevenient Grace, Jesus seeks, draws and knocks while the Holy Spirit kicks, pricks, pierces and opens unregenerate hearts so that the lost might see the Light of the Gospel and be saved.

Keith Schooley

Nice analogy, Peter. One of the main sticking points, I find, is the description of us being "dead in sins" in Ephesians 2. Calvinists interpret "dead" as being insensate. But the description of being "dead" in Ephesians 2 is hardly insensate; it is simply not being spiritually alive to God.

peter lumpkins

Steve,

Welcome from Down Under, my Brother Steve! And know I very much appreciate your enlivened comment. It enriched me as I read thru. I'm especially moved by the hymn.

Also, I agree with you that analogies inherently suffer of inadequacy. I have found that whenever we attempt to think analogously, specifically about our Awesome God, inevitably we are a pint low. Thus, I heed the caution.

One quick point of clarity: you had mentioned that there may be "something deeper than the relational depth" about which my little story of rock & rogue portrays concerning the way our Lord involves Himself graciously in our lives. My question is, what is deeper than the very Being of God Himself?

To borrow Tillich's famous line, God, Who is "the ground of all being," is the Triune God of eternity (of course, I don't think Tillich was trinitarian, at least in the orthodox sense). Consequently, if God is eternally Triune, God is eternally relational, never not expressing Himself relationally between the Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

Having said that, when we contemplate Aslan's "deeper magic" about God, there seems nothing deeper than the Relationalness which He is. It should give us no surprise that, having uniquely created us in His image, the way we connect to Him is relational (person to Person) rather than reactional (Cause and effect).

For me, this view allows us breathing room to be human moral agents, possessing capacity for a give and take dialog with God (free will, if one prefers), while at the same time, acknowledging God's sovereign initiative in the relationship. As you rightly point out, God found me; I did not find Him.

May our Lord grant us all to know Him better. With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

Richard,

Great questions always. I trust this weekend will be a gracious one. With that I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

Keith,

Glad to see your schedule slowed abit. We've been anticipating your posts. I have not read it yet but know it's up.

I think you are right, Keith. Calvinists seem to overplay the ball in Eph 2 about "deadness." There are other descriptions the NT employs about our condition of depravity--"sickness" "blindness" "lostness" "darkness" none of which demand, as you put it, our being "insensate."

Interestingly, James Arminius agreed with Dortian Calvinists on their view of total depravity, a little fact most of my Founder brothers do not care to recognize.

Grace, Keith. With that, I am...

Peter

selahV

What a sad state of life for Rock. It seems so lonely. selahV

Timotheos

Try as I might, brother Peter - even with an Originistic squint here and there - I just can't seem to make the analogous connections you suggest in the Story of Rock and Roll...er, Rogue :-). If Rock and Rogue exist, perhaps it is only as faeries in the netherworld of speculative debate, bearing but a gossamer veneer to the substance. And this "Mover," well, he is confusing to me, and I am having a devilish time tracing his image, though it seems to be more a reflection of mine than his.

Rock and Rogue, being the faeries that they are, seem much more suited as emblems of the mist which tirelessly obscures, rather than illuminates, rapprochement to the reality.

And so (though what follows are not your words, Peter) the mist is made the thicker with ongoing imprecision, whether by the undefined (and apparently pejorative) employment of terms like "insensate" on the one hand, or, on the other hand, the spinning of pseudo-dichotomies between equally true and congenial actions as "open" and "change," both of which are attributed, by revelation, to the members of the triune Godhead.

And on and on we go...

From one of the idiots telling the tale,

Timotheos

selahV

Timotheos: Isn't Peter just saying that Rock can't do a blessed thing without God in a relationals sense if Rock adheres to the belief that he cannot do a thing in and of himself? And Rogue has a more flexible movement within his life (I'm assuming Spiritual life) as he relies totally on God but is able to freely interact with Him? I don't know, I'm just another idiot, so perhaps I have oversimplified his analogy. selahV

peter lumpkins

Timotheos,

Always good to hear from you. But, what disappointment to me that the way I greased the pan just didn't fry your tators, Timotheos. Shame on me!

I agree with SelahV's implication that perhaps you may be attempting to pull more out of the little theo-fairy tale than was intended.

The way I see it--and, this isn't at all misty to me--Calvinists many times, because of their insistence upon regeneration prior to faith, coupled with irresistible grace, end up with God's redemptive iniative on our behalf looking more like a Cause-Effect process than a Person to person process. If that is so, then at least from my perspective, God's dealing with us resembles His dealing with a rock or any other inanimate object. That's all.

As for your concern about "insensate," Timotheos, I rightly don't know what to say. If it is a perjorative term, it's got to be the most impotent perjorative term I think I've ever encountered. We poor nonCalvinists already are scouring the English language for suitable terms that remain unoffensive to our Reformed Brothers, believe me! Insensate--I never dreamed--would qualify.

Grace. With That, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

SelahV,

You have not at all oversimplified. Neither are you wrong about the little tale but precisely right!

Peace and Grace! With that, I am...

Peter

Steve Grose

Peter,
the calvinist position does not rule out the relational at all, but rather comprehends it and and overwhelms it. I think that is why the hymn I quoted is compelling.. it speaks of that relationship as initiated by God in grace.
Again, please allow me to remind you of the 1689 confessions statement "renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ;5 yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace."

Rather than nullify that fact that redemption has the purpose of reconciliation (and that salvation is for reconciliation with God), the Reformed position actually goes further, and dignifies that reconciliation, in that God does for us what we could not do for ourselves.
What does this mean or the individual?

Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the message of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Well given that we are appointed to eternal life.. it means:
we are

Loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know;
Gracious Spirit from above, Thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace! O this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.
In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.

Heav’n above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green!
Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen;
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as I now know, I am His, and He is mine.
Since I know, as I now know, I am His, and He is mine.

Things that once were wild alarms cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms, pillowed on the loving breast.
O to lie forever here, doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear, I am His, and He is mine.
While He whispers in my ear, I am His, and He is mine.

His forever, only His; Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heav’n and earth may fade and flee, firstborn light in gloom decline;
But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine.
But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine.

Brethren, lets not debate God's reconciling love, lets enjoy it wholeheartedly!
Steve

selahV

Steve: were we debating God's love? selahV

Richard Coords

Steve,

When does Acts 13:48 indicate that the appointment took place?

Calvinists answer that it took place from eternity past, with no support from the context at hand, which leads to me to the same conclusion at Acts 16:14:

The divine comedy is that Bible never states what Calvinism requires. Calvinists must embellish, as "open" becomes "changed", just as "ordained" becomes "foreordained," and the list literally goes on and on.

Timotheos

Peter,

Nobody likes their own tators fried by another, particularly when they're left in the fat a bit too long :-)...but then again, I've been known to hold someone else's tators under longer than they woulda liked. Tsk tsk.

I know your analogy was not intended as a sweeping generalization, although such language could be construed as such and too often is. God's initiative in redemption is certainly more than cause and effect, but just as certainly not less. I just don't know any Calvinists who are either so reductionistic or mechanistic. Maybe I'm too sheltered.

Insensate is a very fine word, capable of multiple meanings and quite at home in theological discourse...but Keith, I believe, does a disservice to both the term and to Paul's theology of deadness to pin unqualifying equivocation of the two upon hapless Calvinists who can't seem to recognize a difference due to their own theological prejudices. While I am in no way offended by Keith's use of "insensate" to describe the Calvinist's seemingly insensible sense of deadness, it seems to me neither illegitimate nor inaccurate, all things considered. Perhaps I protest the indiscriminate largeness which is assigned the term in the mouth of the Cal's, as if insensate really meant something like absolutely dead in every sense of the word.

"...simply not being spiritually alive to God" is no simple thought, and is not, at any rate, as simple and narrow as our brother might have us think (at least, that's what I think).

Timotheos

Timotheos

Richard,

I think Cal's would answer that the appointing in Acts 13:48 takes place prior to the believing, which is pointedly and unambiguously established in the grammar of the verse itself. That God has granted His grace to those He has saved and called (His chosen) in Christ Jesus from all eternity is just as clearly taught by Paul in II Timothy 1.

It is past odd that you see this as a divine comedy, rather than as a display of the manifold wisdom of God which is in accord with the eternal purpose He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

"The divine comedy is that [sic] Bible never states what Calvinism requires." Perhaps you might rethink what heaven finds amusing, what the Bible actually does state, and where Calvinistic theology might harmonize with what the biblical text (and context) may require. "Never" is an absolute negation very hard to truthfully maintain by a finite creature such as yourself.

Eternally His,

Timotheos

Keith Schooley

Timotheos--

My use of the term "insensate" was a response to my seminary professors who insisted that the common "life preserver" analogy was wrong, and a better analogy would be someone drowned and lying on the bottom of the ocean. Or they would say that a non-regenerate person could no more respond to the gospel than a corpse could respond to a pretty girl. In short, what they made of the "deadness" metaphor was simply and wholly a matter of being, well, insensate: lacking sensation or awareness. The term was not intended perjoratively, but merely as a description of what my Calvinist professors, many of whom I respect deeply, taught me. To me, this was analogous to what Peter was calling "rock."

However, if that were what Paul meant in Ephesians 2, he certainly has an odd way of describing the "dead." Frankly, I think this way of understanding "deadness" belies a modern materialistic mindset. We think of the dead body left behind; the ancients thought of the spirit in Sheol/Hades: unable to do anything, on their own, about their dead condition, but not unable to respond to stimuli.

Timotheos, I've enjoyed our dialogues in the past, as well as your comments on Peter's blog and mine. I've thought of you as one person among a hundred (on both sides) who could discuss this issue with grace and charity. If I were ever to be persuaded that I was wrong, it would have been by someone like you. But you seem of late to be more inclined toward lofty pronouncements that insinuate dishonesty (or at least unfair rhetoric) on the part of those who disagree with you. Please be aware that Peter and I are describing Scriptural truth as we genuinely see it, and not without some understanding of the position we reject. Perhaps we do so badly. But I don't see where you have grounds to call words like insensate "perjorative," when you are employing "gossamer," "faeries," "mist," "netherworld," "imprecision," and "pseudo-dichotomies."

peter lumpkins

My brother Steve,

Thanks again for your comment. I appreciate your focus on the 1689 Confession. That Confession probably is the most influential Baptist Confession in our history. It's pedantic style and theological sophistication account, at least in a large way, for its popularity.

For me, though, it drinks too deeply from Westiminster's well, changing virtually only a few ecclesiastical portions--"Baptistizing" it, if you will.

At least as great and far less like Westminster is The Orthodox Creed (1678). This Confession retains a mild Calvinism without the Dortian insistence that humans lack free-will. Also, it seems less dependent upon philosophical determinism and its obsession with "secondary causes."

I do agree that debate spawns little edification between Brothers & Sisters in Christ. But , for me, dialog is entirely different, which is precisely what I hope to always achieve here at SBCT.

Grace today, Steve. With that, I am...

Peter

Timotheos

Keith,

Points well made and taken. I will be away from the computer for a while, but hope to respond to your points with a bit more depth, and certainly a bit less loft :-).

Grace and peace,

Timotheos

selahV

I'm so proud of you guys. I'm always bragging on the civility of discussion over here, no matter the differences of opinion, theology, viewpoint and doctrine. You all just proved me correct again. selahV

peter lumpkins

Timotheos,

Good morning. I want to make a very short comment and then sign off and allow you and Keith to continue. I learn from you both, please know.

Timotheos, you lamented our use of "[insensate] as if insensate really meant something like absolutely dead in every sense of the word."

If I had a nickel, my brother, for every time one of my Calvinist talking partners said of Paul's words in Ephesians 2.1 "Dead means dead. Period!", I honestly think I could buy a Ford Pinto with pretty good rubber and little rust. How insensate does not fit well the insistence on absolute lifelessness, I cannot understand.

Faith for today. With that, I am...

Peter

Timotheos

Good Afternoon Keith and Peter,

Well, this has been an interesting thread, if for no other reason than what it reaffirms about the necessity of patience and humility (of course I speak only of my own need here) when conversing with others. I undoubtedly need more of both.

My first reactions to the way I "heard" Peter's post and Keith's comment were born of growing weariness over what I thought (and still generally think) were standard misconstruels of a particular theological viewpoint. Hence, my use of the phrase, "apparently pejorative." But after further reflection on Keith's post and subsequent protestations, I see that pejorative was not an accurate nor fair assessment. My bad.

I am left, nevertheless, with an unpleasant aftertaste one sometimes gets from an underdone, under seasoned dish of, say, tators! :-), and this is really the crux of my objection. I do not think that Rock and Rogue represent competing visions of how God and man interact in redemption, but this is how they are portrayed in this post.

Contrariwise, we are not presented the dilemma of siding with either in Scripture simply because these views, as far as the biblical portrait is concerned, are more complimentary than anything. One group cannot, I believe, claim Rogue as their man, and another Rock, and remain true to biblical revelation.

I would resist Keith's use of the term insensate if by that use he is agreeing with what I see as a very reduced representation of cause and effect in Peter's analogy of "Rock" (with apologies to Peter for finding fault with his admittedly brief analogy). Now, to be sure, I have no qualms whatsoever asserting that dead means dead - does it not, brethren? Sapphira most definitely fell "dead" in Acts 5, and I would guess she was pretty insensate when they hauled her out of there.

We are as surely spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins, and yet not completely insensate, either physically or spiritually, as the following verses indicate. The kind of death Paul speaks about in Ephesians 2:1 allows for both walking (vs. 2) and living (vs. 3), even while dead! So we are dead in a very true sense but not in an ultimate, complete sense.

In my mind, and I think in Paul's as well, this state of affairs leaves us very much in a position similar to Rock's (I did say "similar"). We have natural stone hearts which need to be "taken out" and "replaced." We have need of quickening, and God...quickens. The life that we were absolutely bereft of, is supplied by the Life giver. And here, I might even be tempted to say that Rock (in some ways) is transformed into Rogue...but I will resist the temptation and deliver myself from lengthy explanations and qualifications. :-)

If in making lofty pronouncements I have insinuated dishonesty on anyone's part, I would have to be honest myself and confess that sometimes - sometimes - the only conclusion that makes sense to me is that unfair rhetoric is purposely being used by those who should know better than to speak in such sweeping generalities, for example, or in unfairly reduced caricatures. This is the stock in trade for theological debate these days, and it does little to advance true understanding among children who claim the same Father and membership in the same household. I don't think that either you, Peter, or you Keith, practice that kind of rhetoric, and I certainly don't believe you to be dishonest, but...money for the Pinto notwithstanding, this post (and some comments) left me wondering...

And besides, how can anyone find fault with a word like "gossamer?" "Faery?" "Netherworld?" Such cool words, full of imaginative power...can they even be used pejoratively? :-) Say it ain't so...or maybe it is.

Grace and peace,

Timotheos

Keith Schooley

Hi, Timotheos,

A gracious response, to be sure. Please forgive me if I was not gracious in my own comments. I think we all get weary of what we feel are over-simplifications and misrepresentations of our positions.

In lieu of an actual response, may I direct you to the latest post on my blog, http://schooleyfiles.blogspot.com/2007/03/does-your-theology-honor-god.html I hope you'll find it something of an olive branch. God bless.

Timotheos

Thank you, Keith, for the very generous and kind response. Your words are, like apples of gold in settings of silver, fitly spoken, and a convicting challenge in particular to believing bloggers who often appear to be slow to hear, quick to speak and quick to anger - which, of course, is the exact opposite of our brother James' pointed instructions. Have a lovely day.

Grace and peace,

Timotheos

Keith Schooley

Thanks, Timotheos. God bless.

Steve Grose

Richard and Peter particularly,
Please forgive my tardiness in response, as I have been chasing my tail a fair bit this week, trips to Sydney, several folks suffering with cancer etc. an evangelistic outreach with Answers in Genesis people tonight... its been a busy week!
Timothotheos has spoken well.... and I couldn't add to what he has said without detracting from it (is that lazy? :) )
I understand your positions gentlemen. I diasagree, but I understand. :)
Steve

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