Between Whitefield and the Vatican

A winsome Oldlifer reminded me yesterday of how troubling the First Great Pretty Good Awakening was and is. He was referring specifically to George Whitefield’s sermon on Romans 14:17, “The Kingdom of God.” There Whitefield does exactly what John Williamson Nevin detected when he experienced a revival, namely, the outlook of revivalists that the church and her ordinances “are more a bar than a help to the process” of becoming a Christian.

Here are three points that Whitefield makes:

The kingdom of God, or true and undefiled religion, does not consist in being of this or that particular sect or communion.

. . . neither does [the kingdom of God] consist in being baptized when you were young. . .

. . . neither does it consist in being orthodox in our notions, or being able to talk fluently of the doctrines of the Gospel.

These are sentiments that explain why Whitefield can express the sort of disregard for denominational differences that would become common among Protestants in the so-called ecumenical movement and continue to afflict The Gospel Coalition (and which by the way would make mid-twentieth-century mainline historians and ecumenistsfans of the First Great Pretty Good Awakening):

. . . there are Christians among other sects that may differe from us in the outward worship of God. Therefore, my dear friends, learn to be more catholic, more unconfined in your notions; for if you place the kingdom of God merely in a sect, you place it in that in which it does not consist.

Whitefield is arguably one of the biggest problems facing confessional Protestants because his effort to do justice to the Spirit winds up doing an injustice to the Word and the ordinances the Bible prescribes. Consequently, when confessional Protestants become sticklers about worship or church government or even doctrine (as we tend to do with Gospel Coalition types), then followers of Whitefield construe us as as being liberal Protestants (only protecting the order of the church) or even Roman Catholic (having too high a view of the church).

Seeing support for Whitefield among conservative Presbyterians (Iain Murray, for instance, but the vast majority of Presbyterians in the U.S.A. after the Plan of Union, 1758) who subscribe the Westminster Standards, is equally frustrating since the evangelist took dead aim at the confession’s teaching (whether he knew it or not):

2. The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

3. Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto. (ch. 25)

So the line confessional Protestants walk is the real via media, between the enthusiasts who justify what they do by appealing to the Spirit (without the Word) and the Romanists (who rarely let the Spirit get in the way of the magisterium). The Reformation was about Word and Spirit, about ordinances and godliness, about a churchly pattern of piety. It is too formal for Whitefield and too loose for Rome. But that’s where we are — in the moderate middle, plain, vanilla, simple, buttoned-down (but never perfect).

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90 Comments

  1. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, Paul may have burned but not only did he advise other men who did so to institutionalize it by marrying, he also counseled self-discipline and control. He also planted churches, which was the end game of his preaching. So I’ll take Paul’s sense of the church over GW’s.

    RS: What was Paul’s sense of the church over GW’s? As with the verses given, Paul had a great desire (burning) to preach the Gospel. Indeed Paul preached and churches were started, but Whitefield preached and churches were filled as a result of His preaching.

  2. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, how is it conceivable that a person could have a perfect statement of his faith and a perfect way of worshiping his God and not be converted?

    RS: Sorry if that caused a backfire with you, but the point is that one can have the outward things in line as far as they can take them and not have true conversion. If all one looks at is a statement of faith and it was a perfect one, then they would be looking at the things the devil thinks are true (but hates). Since worship (external forms) according to the Regulative Principle is simple, it would not be so hard to think of prayer, singing, preaching, and the sacraments being done in a proper order.

    D.G. Hart: This makes no sense of the doctrine of total depravity.

    RS: But of course it does. No one has any ability to worship and love God apart from regeneration and the work of Christ in his or her soul. Man can do all the outward things and still not have love for God in his soul. So it does make sense of the doctrine of total depravity and inability.

    D.G. Hart: And it is the most cynical rendering of all professions of faith or acts of worship — as if we cannot trust anyone or anything they say.

    RS: Well, you may think of it as cynical, but I simply see it as what total depravity and inability really teaches. Apart from Christ we can do nothing (spiritual) that is acceptable.

    D.G. Hart: But when interacting with you, such cynicism is tempting.

    RS: Take a gander at a few things from Westminster. Notice all that talk about the heart and love and things like that. True worship is of the inner man and not just the externals.

    WLC Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?

    A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

    Chapter XXI Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day
    I. The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might.[1] But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.[2]

    II. Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to Him alone;[3] not to angels, saints, or any other creature:[4] and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.

    III. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship,[6] is by God required of all men:[7] and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son,[8] by the help of His Spirit,[9] according to His will,[10] with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love and perseverance;[11] and, if vocal, in a known tongue.[12]

    IV. Prayer is to be made for things lawful;[13] and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter:[14] but not for the dead,[15] nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.[16]

    V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear,[17] the sound preaching[18] and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith and reverence,[19] singing of psalms with grace in the heart;[20] as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:[21] beside religious oaths,[22] vows,[23] solemn fastings,[24] and thanksgivings upon special occasions,[25] which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.[26]

    VI. Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the Gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed:[27] but God is to be worshipped everywhere,[28] in spirit and truth;[29] as, in private families[30] daily,[31] and in secret, each one by himself;[32] so, more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by His Word or providence, calls thereunto.[33]

  3. Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    Take a look yourself:

    WLC Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?

    A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

    Chapter XXI Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day
    I. The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might.[1] But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.[2]

    II. Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to Him alone;[3] not to angels, saints, or any other creature:[4] and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.

    III. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship,[6] is by God required of all men:[7] and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son,[8] by the help of His Spirit,[9] according to His will,[10] with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love and perseverance;[11] and, if vocal, in a known tongue.[12]

    IV. Prayer is to be made for things lawful;[13] and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter:[14] but not for the dead,[15] nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.[16]

    V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear,[17] the sound preaching[18] and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith and reverence,[19] singing of psalms with grace in the heart;[20] as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:[21] beside religious oaths,[22] vows,[23] solemn fastings,[24] and thanksgivings upon special occasions,[25] which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.[26]

    VI. Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the Gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed:[27] but God is to be worshipped everywhere,[28] in spirit and truth;[29] as, in private families[30] daily,[31] and in secret, each one by himself;[32] so, more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by His Word or providence, calls thereunto.[33]

    How could anyone who hates God come up with a perfect profession of faith or pray, read Scripture, and take the Lord’s Supper? Why would they? As you say: “No one has any ability to worship and love God apart from regeneration and the work of Christ in his or her soul. Man can do all the outward things and still not have love for God in his soul.” So your Edwardseanism has your brain cramping again.

  4. Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Mortimer Adler wrote two several years apart. The first is pretty good. I haven’t read the second.

    Another couple of guys I think you would like a lot are Joseph Epstein and his older friend, the sociologist Edward Shils. Shils “Portraits – A Gallery of Intellectuals” is one of the better books I have read. Milton & Rose Friedman’s “Two Lucky People” is another great memoir.

    “The American Scholar” during the years that Epstein edited it is one of the best publications around.

  5. Zrim
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Richard, Paul’s was the kind of sense that made him seek to be affirmed by the other apostles even after an unmediated calling. But are you now esteeming GW’s ministry (filled churches) over Paul’s (only started)? More semi-revivalist virtues: numbers and results.

  6. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    D.G. Hart: How could anyone who hates God come up with a perfect profession of faith or pray, read Scripture, and take the Lord’s Supper?

    RS: I didn’t say that they could come up with it, but they could certainly ascribe to a document that it was what the Bible taught. The demons believe that God exists and because of the truth of the things they know they tremble. The demons knew who Christ was as well. Judas knew a lot of truth and was sent out to preach.

    D.G. Hart: Why would they? As you say: “No one has any ability to worship and love God apart from regeneration and the work of Christ in his or her soul. Man can do all the outward things and still not have love for God in his soul.”

    RS: One can have a statement of faith and not know what it teaches or one can have one and simply have an intellectual agreement with it.

    D.G. Hart: So your Edwardseanism has your brain cramping again.

    RS: Nah, not at all. How is your headache doing?

  7. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, Paul’s was the kind of sense that made him seek to be affirmed by the other apostles even after an unmediated calling.

    RS: But not at first. That took a few years. Don’t forget that GW was ordained.

    Zrim: But are you now esteeming GW’s ministry (filled churches) over Paul’s (only started)? More semi-revivalist virtues: numbers and results.

    RS: I am not sure why you make such false deduction and ascribe them to me. I was simply saying that because GW was not exactly like Paul is no reason to knock him. GW was a firm believer in the Church, though perhaps in a different way than you. In no way did I say or imply that I esteem GW’s ministry over Paul’s. Sigh, what are they teaching in schools and on the internet these days.

  8. Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Richard, how could you possibly agree intellectually with the Westminster Standards and not have some kind of regenerate soul? Do you know of anyone who agrees intellectually with all of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms? (You’re sober, right?)

  9. Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I was born in 1976.

    That got a belly laugh out of me – not many toddlers graduate from Temple’s film department, but then again, the Dude has always had a stroke of brilliance in him. It kind of makes me feel like I should be taking the short bus to the University of Phoenix to finish my undergrad before I am 40.

  10. Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Jed, that’s when I first heard the good news of Reformed Protestantism.

  11. Zrim
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Richard, I never forget GW was ordained, because that’s the point: ordained but not behaving in accordance with it.

  12. Posted February 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Since D.G.’s vanity (and good hair) causes him to tell everyone he is perpetually 39 I decided not to rain on his parade…

  13. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, how could you possibly agree intellectually with the Westminster Standards and not have some kind of regenerate soul? Do you know of anyone who agrees intellectually with all of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms? (You’re sober, right?)

    RS: I Cor 13:2 ” If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

  14. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, I never forget GW was ordained, because that’s the point: ordained but not behaving in accordance with it.

    RS: But of course he behaved in accordance with being ordained.

    Matthew 22:9 ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’

    Mat 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

    Luke 14:23 “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.

    2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

    2 Timothy 4:5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

  15. Jed Paschall
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    Why not run with it? After all, it would make for a much more compelling memoir. I can see it now…

    “Even from a very young age the Dude showed an affinity not only for overpriced cigars, and a contrarian’s eye for history, but also a love for cinema. However, dissatisfied with the paltry level of notoriety that filmmaking could bring him, not to mention the lack of money in the film industry, the Dude opted for a rewarding career in Academia where his talents would be truly appreciated…

    I can see landing a reading in Oprah’s book club. Besides, everyone knows memoirs are somewhat embellished. I mean, mine will most certainly make mention of how I reluctantly set aside my former passion of super-hero work for the far more rewarding career of waiting tables.

  16. Posted February 4, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Jed – I hear DTM is willing to ghost-write your memoir cheap…

  17. Posted February 4, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    Indeed Paul preached and churches were started, but Whitefield preached and churches were filled as a result of His preaching.

    Yes, the revivals did have the temporary effect of filling churches, but even according to the revivalists such as Edwards, once the revivals waned, some of these churches that were once full had waned. By the end of the Revolutionary War, America’s spiritual state was much the same as it was pre-revival. It would seem to me that the slow and steady approach advocated by more churchly expressions of Protestantism were far more suited to sustaining the spiritual health of their churches than the volatile and short lived revivals. While there was some definite good that came from the revivals, the fallout is something that has defined them as much as the spiritual fervor that typified them at the time.

  18. Posted February 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Right after he finishes Dr.K’s authorized biography “The Cosmic Eye is On the Sparrow – NDK and the Neocalvinist Resurgence in Post-Falwellian America”.

  19. Posted February 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    To echo Jed’s point, I’ll take the OPC as the current expression of Old School Presbyterianism over the PC-USA, which is much more the successor or New School Presbyterianism. I realize it’s not quite that simple, but I would stand by it in a general sense.

  20. Zrim
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Richard, he was not sent and overseen by the church in which he was ordained. This is what makes semi-revivalism semi.

  21. Posted February 4, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Richard, that’s not an answer. Plus, Paul was nothing anyway. To live is Christ, to die is gain. How can someone who is in rebellion against God believe the Westminster Confession. Sobering, isn’t it.

  22. Posted February 4, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Richard, you have no clue about ecclesiology. Being ordained in the C.ofE. means being subject to a bishop. You’re drinking again.

  23. Posted February 4, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Jed, who says that an Arturo Fuente Chateau at $4 is overpriced? What kind of tips do you receive?

  24. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Jed Paschall quoting RS: Indeed Paul preached and churches were started, but Whitefield preached and churches were filled as a result of His preaching.

    Jed Paschall: Yes, the revivals did have the temporary effect of filling churches, but even according to the revivalists such as Edwards, once the revivals waned, some of these churches that were once full had waned.

    RS: But there were still a lot of conversions during these times despite the fact that there was some waning later on.

    Jed Paschall: By the end of the Revolutionary War, America’s spiritual state was much the same as it was pre-revival. It would seem to me that the slow and steady approach advocated by more churchly expressions of Protestantism were far more suited to sustaining the spiritual health of their churches than the volatile and short lived revivals. While there was some definite good that came from the revivals, the fallout is something that has defined them as much as the spiritual fervor that typified them at the time.

    RS: But I am not sure why you seem to think that revivals and the life of the local church are so contrary to each other. Revival starts with the churches and ends with the churches, but in between people are brought into the church. The marks of true revival include solid doctrinal preaching as opposed to the new measures and excesses of those like Finney.

  25. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, he was not sent and overseen by the church in which he was ordained. This is what makes semi-revivalism semi.

    RS: Do we see from the NT that each evangelist must be sent by a local church?

  26. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, that’s not an answer.

    RS: But of course it is and it is a God-breathed and infallible answer.

    D.G. Hart: Plus, Paul was nothing anyway. To live is Christ, to die is gain. How can someone who is in rebellion against God believe the Westminster Confession. Sobering, isn’t it.

    RS: But again, one can believe the intellectual part of things and one can believe it out of self-love for what one can gain by believing it. Intellectual truth is intellectual truth. Esau sought repentance with tears and it was not granted to him, but he knew the truth about it.

  27. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, you have no clue about ecclesiology. Being ordained in the C.ofE. means being subject to a bishop. You’re drinking again.

    RS: Interesting how you think that when a person does not agree with you that means that s/he is drinking. Of course it means that at the time when one is ordained, but people do change and realize that the chief Shepherd is Christ Himself and He overrules drunken bishops.

  28. Zrim
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Richard, are you serious? Where do we see in the NT circuit riders?

  29. Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Richard, Paul was not talking about professing a confession of faith. It was no answer.

    And you’re really going to go to Esau for support? Did they teach you in seminary how to interpret the Bible?

  30. Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Richard, then a man of integrity — your holy revivalist — would renounce his drunken bishop. I’d have more respect for you if you actually conceded Whitefield was off on this. As it stands, you’re reminding me of Bryan Cross. Infallible pope, infallible Great Pretty Good Awakening.

  31. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, are you serious? Where do we see in the NT circuit riders?

    Zrim, your original post: Richard, he was not sent and overseen by the church in which he was ordained. This is what makes semi-revivalism semi.

    RS: I asked a simple question. Do we see in the NT what you are advocating in each and every circumstance? Does the NT teach us that each evangelist and each preacher was sent out by an organized church and watched over by an organized church? Are you sure you have not learned the development of doctrine from another group that you criticize?

  32. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, Paul was not talking about professing a confession of faith. It was no answer.

    RS: Yes, it was an answer. You asked if I could imagine a person having a perfect confession and not being converted. I Corinthians 13:1-3 gives us an answer, though indeed I didn’t have to imagine it.

    D.G. Hart: And you’re really going to go to Esau for support? Did they teach you in seminary how to interpret the Bible?

    RS: But of course I will go to Esau for support because it is in the context of the text in Hebrews and it is strong support for my case. Here, let me show you.

    D.G. Hart’s old post: Plus, Paul was nothing anyway. To live is Christ, to die is gain. How can someone who is in rebellion against God believe the Westminster Confession. Sobering, isn’t it.

    RS’ response to D.G. Hart’s old post: : But again, one can believe the intellectual part of things and one can believe it out of self-love for what one can gain by believing it. Intellectual truth is intellectual truth. Esau sought repentance with tears and it was not granted to him, but he knew the truth about it.

    RS: Notice that I am answering your question about how one can believe the intellectual part of the confession and still not be converted. Esau believed in God, believed that he should repent, and he believed what his birthright was. He knew all of those things but he was not converted. So yes, I think Esau was rightly used and I am not yanking him out of context.

    Heb 12:16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

  33. Richard Smith
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, then a man of integrity — your holy revivalist — would renounce his drunken bishop. I’d have more respect for you if you actually conceded Whitefield was off on this. As it stands, you’re reminding me of Bryan Cross. Infallible pope, infallible Great Pretty Good Awakening.

    RS: But you have been asking me why Whitefield did or didn’t do what he did or didn’t do. You have never asked me what I thought (or don’t recall your doing so). Of course I think it would have been better for him to have left the C of E, but he didn’t ask me what I thought. So the pope of the radical 2k theology thinks Whitefield was the pope of the Great Awakening? Sorry, I know you think it at best was pretty good, but I couldn’t type that out like that. It would cause my allergies to flare up. The Awakening that God brought in that time was truly great.

  34. Posted February 5, 2013 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Richard, Paul wasn’t talking about conversion in 1 Cor. 13. Duh. It’s not an answer.

  35. Posted February 5, 2013 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Richard, so you claim to know what Whitefield thought but hesitate to give your own opinion. Wow. You have drunk the kool aid.

  36. Richard Smith
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, Paul wasn’t talking about conversion in 1 Cor. 13. Duh. It’s not an answer.

    RS: Of course it was an answer to the question you asked. Perhaps Paul was not speaking of conversion, but he did use the language of “without love.” According to John the person that does not love does not know God. At least in my hermeneutic classes and books the analogy of Scripture is spoken of. But maybe you have a different method.

    I John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

  37. Richard Smith
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, so you claim to know what Whitefield thought but hesitate to give your own opinion. Wow. You have drunk the kool aid.

    RS: You asked the question in such a way that I thought you were asking why Whitefield did or did not do something. I have read the two-volume bio by Dallimore, some sermons, and various other things about Whitefield. He did address those things at various times because others asked those questions in his lifetime. But as one that is not a professional historian, I cannot look back in history and say that a person should or should not have done something in many instances. It is not so much that I have drunk the kool aid, but am simply not sure that anyone can make infallible judgments on another regarding things like this at such a distance. Motives are quite hard to discern in the living, but doing it for those from centuries ago it is much harder.

  38. Posted February 5, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    RS, take a look at the opening of 1 Cor. Paul calls the Corinthians, who lack love, saints. I know you like to judge the hearts of others. But you (and Whitefield) go beyond Scripture (I guess because you swallowed the Holy Ghost, feathers and all.)

  39. Richard Smith
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: RS, take a look at the opening of 1 Cor. Paul calls the Corinthians, who lack love, saints.

    RS: So your hermeneutic appears to be that if a book starts off speaking to believers that at no place in the book can Paul make a comment that would not have implications of whether one is a Christian or not. I would still argue that I Cor 5:11-13 will teach us that even if Paul spoke to saints in I Corinthians he did not mean that all of them were converted: 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler– not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

    D.G. Hart: I know you like to judge the hearts of others.

    RS: Why do you think I like to?

    D.G. Hart: But you (and Whitefield) go beyond Scripture (I guess because you swallowed the Holy Ghost, feathers and all.)

    RS: But I have not gone beyond Scripture, but instead you have because you are saying that the Holy Spirit has feathers. Are you Charismatic now and think that the dove is a real bird? It may be the case that your ecclesiology has more of that development of doctrine (that you rightly criticize Bryan over) than you realize and so you end up defending your development of doctrine more than the NT. It is in light of your development of doctrine that you think that Whitefield went beyond Scripture when in fact he was obeying Scripture and going out to the people to proclaim the Gospel to them. Your position (not you in reality, so I am not judging your heart) appears to prefer leaving a lot of people in darkness in the days of Whitefield rather than the people having someone go to them to proclaim the Gospel. The NT says go and compel them to come in. Your position appears to say stay and maybe they will trickle in now and then.

  40. Posted March 3, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    We haven’t talked much about revivalism lately, but this nugget from the Canons of Dort was brought to my attention today:

    The Third and Fourth Main Points of Doctrine

    Human Corruption, Conversion to God, and the Way It Occurs

    Article 11: The Holy Spirit’s Work in Conversion

    Moreover, when God carries out this good pleasure in the elect, or works true conversion in them, God not only sees to it that the gospel is proclaimed to them outwardly, and enlightens their minds powerfully by the Holy Spirit so that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God, but, by the effective operation of the same regenerating Spirit, God also penetrates into the inmost being, opens the closed heart, softens the hard heart, and circumcises the heart that is uncircumcised. God infuses new qualities into the will, making the dead will alive, the evil one good, the unwilling one willing, and the stubborn one compliant. God activates and strengthens the will so that, like a good tree, it may be enabled to produce the fruits of good deeds.

    Who says that the Dutch Reformed don’t account for the work of the Spirit?

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