Amazing that Americans Might Need Grace

Amazing Grace is now in the realm of civil religion (right there with Battle Hymn of the Republic), what with President Obama’s performance last weekend and the almost entire failure of the chattering classes to worry about what the president’s singing means for the separation of church and state (notice comments by Larry Kudlow and Scott Simon at Huffington Post). On the personal level, I like President Obama since he seems to be having fun as chief executive. But it also troubles me that he seems to be the typical boomer, too aware that he is president to act presidential. Think David Letterman always letting us know that he was aware that he was on camera instead of simply performing. President Obama seems to be a guy who had being president on his bucket list of things to do before he died. And now he is enjoying his time as president. From Beyonce and Prince performing in the White House, to being interviewed by Mark Maron on WTF (sorry c,e), to singing a few bars of Amazing Grace all alone.

But aside from the people who don’t worry about the separation of church and state, will the gay advocates really be comfortable with the president singing a song that implies severe and eternal torments for sinful activity (like homosexual sex?):

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come,
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

Are any progressive Americans (or obedience boys for that matter) willing to sign up for being a wretch and in need of saving grace?

How many proponents of a better future are willing to contemplate death, especially death as a penalty for sin?

How many non-Calvinists are willing to affirm that God’s grace is monergistic?

How many Americans think about eternal life as a never-ending P&W worship service?

President Obama on one day celebrates same-sex marriage, the next day he sings a song written by a Christian who would have never countenanced homosexuality.

Is this a great pretty good country or what?

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58 thoughts on “Amazing that Americans Might Need Grace

  1. cw l’u – You beat me to it. The only monergism they are thinking of is the state acting upon the individual.

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  2. And let’s be honest: an equally cynical, insincere, and theologically vacant president who was “conservative” would have sent a certain type of dumb Evangelical-American into paroxysms of eschatological ecstasy had he busted out a few bars of the Baptist National Anthem.

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  3. How many non-Calvinists are willing to affirm that God’s grace is monergistic?

    How many non-Calvinists know what “monergism” means? Hellenophones excepted.

    Synergism v. monergism- patently divergent sets of theological propositions.

    The individual affirms dependence on the Trinity (Jesus Christ in particular, but understood as part of the Trinity). He does the good works God has instructed us to do. The good works (which also serve as evidence of faith) glorify God. In glorifying God, they bring sanctity and result in salvation.

    Is an acceptable formulation for the Reformed? If it needs tweaking, how?

    Where does being willing to affirm that God’s grace is monergistic? come into salvation? Is it necessary? Or is it instead praiseworthy and useful, in that it serves as a reminder, or encourages others to accept Christ?

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  4. And do not hesitate to supply your own neuter 3rd-person pronoun or proximate demonstrative (your choice) when reading or quoting the penultimate paragraph.

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  5. Kevin in Newark
    Posted June 29, 2015 at 9:35 pm | Permalink
    How many non-Calvinists are willing to affirm that God’s grace is monergistic?

    How many non-Calvinists know what “monergism” means? Hellenophones excepted.

    Synergism v. monergism- patently divergent sets of theological propositions.

    The individual affirms dependence on the Trinity (Jesus Christ in particular, but understood as part of the Trinity). He does the good works God has instructed us to do. The good works (which also serve as evidence of faith) glorify God. In glorifying God, they bring sanctity and result in salvation.

    Kevin of New Jersey: My understanding is that “result in salvation” is putting the horse behind the cart. Salvation is already a done deal: Decided, Decreed, Preordained, Elected, whathaveyou.

    But of this whole boring theologistical mess, how can one know for sure that this is how God’s Will works, and that any other reading is wrong? Is it worth breaking up the Church over, or keeping it apart?

    Maybe we have the freedom to resist God’s grace. Maybe his Grace is so awesome, it’s irresistible–a not unreasonable proposition. God is awesome, the awesomest of the awesomest. Yo.

    So what if God bestows this irresistible grace upon every man at the hour of our deaths, amen? Hell would be empty, no?

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  6. Hart,
    Here is me responding to Publius the other day:
    MichaelTX
    Posted June 23, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink
    Publics,

    You said: “In that view, the sinner wants to be the center of the action and wants the final say.”

    The Catholic view excludes this.

    Trent session 6: Canon 1. “If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.”

    One can not come to and respond to God’s wooing without God gracefully moving that soul to be able to move and respond.

    Would you call this monergism, Hart?

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  7. Obama not monergism.

    “Grace is not something we deserve. BUT we have to receive the grace or not. HOWEVER we need to honor the grace or not.”

    Thus the typical false “evangelical” gospel.

    “He was a good man.”

    No grace needed, or was it grace that made him so good?

    Even though the pope is not a Christian (yet), surely the pope would agree that grace is not something we deserve. Perhaps the pope would agree with Billy Graham that God has grace for all good people in all religions, so that this grace accepts them without them knowing that their justification is because of Christ’s death.

    The obituaries for the three popes are all ready to go.

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  8. “President Obama on one day celebrates same-sex marriage, the next day he sings a song written by a Christian who would have never countenanced homosexuality.”

    It’s just that in addition to the Lord holding President Obama himself accounting on that day, who other humans might the Lord have expected to engage President Obama (as a professing Christian) in disciple accountability?

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  9. tvd-

    So what if God bestows this irresistible grace upon every man at the hour of our deaths, amen? Hell would be empty, no?

    Gregory N. might have advocated something along these lines, but I think Augustine believed quite differently. Diversity of opinion amongst the great gives us a lot of leeway – although I don’t think we should hope unreasonably.

    In the end, we’re speculating. If you actually run the numbers using the Church’s requirements and Pew (etc.) stats, it looks rather bleak (barring unknown last minute contrition, which is likely significant, but who knows).

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  10. Kevin in Newark
    Posted June 30, 2015 at 12:13 am | Permalink
    tvd-

    So what if God bestows this irresistible grace upon every man at the hour of our deaths, amen? Hell would be empty, no?

    Gregory N. might have advocated something along these lines, but I think Augustine believed quite differently. Diversity of opinion amongst the great gives us a lot of leeway – although I don’t think we should hope unreasonably.

    In the end, we’re speculating. If you actually run the numbers using the Church’s requirements and Pew (etc.) stats, it looks rather bleak (barring unknown last minute contrition, which is likely significant, but who knows).

    “Eternal damnation remains a possibility, but we are not granted, without special divine revelation, the knowledge of whether or which human beings are effectively involved in it.”–JPII

    Certainly not worth counting on, true, but a possibility.

    CCC •1058 The Church prays that no one should be lost : ‘Lord, let me never be parted from you.’ If it is true that no one can save himself, it is also true that God ‘desires all men to be saved’ (1 Tim 2:4), and that for him ‘all things are possible’ (Mt 19:26).

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  11. Those who “church water” newly born American infants have little room to complain about a lack of church/state separation…..in the old days, before confessional revision, they watered every child, even if the parents did not agree—submit or be exiled or be killed

    http://time.com/3938050/orthodox-christians-must-now-learn-to-live-as-exiles-in-our-own-country/

    Dreher of course is not talking about Christians but about Romans Catholics. Why would Christians only now be learning that they are citizens of heavens and that you can’t be hybrid citizens with divided loyalties to two different kingdoms? Answer—even now, many are saying, sure we can. America with marriage polygamy would always be more exceptional in terms of liberty than any other place not America….

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  12. ckc – The individual affirms dependence on the Trinity (Jesus Christ in particular, but understood as part of the Trinity). He does the good works God has instructed us to do. The good works (which also serve as evidence of faith) glorify God. In glorifying God, they bring sanctity and result in salvation.

    [1] Is [this] an acceptable formulation for the Reformed? [2] If it needs tweaking, how? [3] Where does being willing to affirm that God’s grace is monergistic come into salvation?

    DG – “kevin, how about monergism is true?”

    ~ So your response is 1(No) – 2(“Monergism is true”) – 3(it is necessary to affirm it for salvation) -?

    Why not have the OPC add that phrase to the Creed? Who’s to stop you? ~

    I expect your position is in fact 1(Yes) – 2(None necessary, but it is praiseworthy to read about and affirm “monergism”) – 3(Explicitly affirming monergism is a sign of God’s grace).

    Would be great to get a clear response.

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  13. tvd –

    “Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.”

    Prayed daily by tens or hundreds of millions. But it is an imperative, a petition, motivated by hope and charity, and I think the act of requesting demonstrates our need.

    Actually, how does the request not carry the assumption that God alone (the mono) is capable of doing the work (ergon) necessarily for souls “being lead” into heaven?

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  14. CT, this is “church planting” in the eyes of all the Catholics (except for MTX who is a serious contributor to Old Life.)

    Kind of like when P&R churches decide to hit the bold mission fields and set up shop in a gas station across the road from a thriving Evangelical establishment.

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  15. Maron’s podcast interviews are good — some very good. I got tired of his TV show after a handful of episodes. It’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” without the colorful supporting cast.

    And Maron is no Larry David.

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  16. don’t know CT, true for a few here ?, but hopefully mostly here….according to Paul’s custom, reasoning and persuading about the kingdom of God from the Scriptures for the Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless, but wisdom from above is reasonable.

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  17. Dear Friend [Erik]:

    Twould’st thou considereth leaving the cozy pew at our overstocked church of 150 members in order to plant a new church just around the block?

    It can be considered sort of a request, but you have been chosen, anointed in a special way to lead us onto yonder mission fieldes.

    Blesseth thou.

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  18. Kent – CT, this is “church planting” in the eyes of all the Catholics (except for MTX who is a serious contributor to Old Life.)

    A large portion of my Scotch-Irish and English family was Presbyterian in the 17th-20th centuries, and both of my Swiss German lines were Swiss Reformed.

    I am here in part because I want to understand what their religion might have meant to them.

    My questions are sincere – why not just answer them?

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  19. Since Amazing Grace is neither written nor authorized by the Lord Jesus, it is better to use it in the 21st Century American Civil (anti-christian) Religion. The church would be better served in substituting Psalm 50, for Amazing Grace. But just like the children of Israel, the one thing the church will not do is depart from its own idolatry — how can someone stop something they don’t think they’re even doing. The children of Israel didn’t think that the high places in Dan and Bethel were sinful, yet, the habitual summation of the kings of Israel after Jeroboam was “and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD departing not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat that made Israel to sin”.

    The current climate is entirely the fault of the presbyterian churches. It was the presbyterians that taught the secularists how to treat a constitution as a living document. You can’t blame Rome for that. The presbyterians used Orwellian new-speak 150 years before Orwell when they dropped the Psalter for their man-made counterfeit songs, all while claiming to receive and adopt the WCF which in chapter 21 limits (based on the teaching of the Scriptures) the songs of praise to the psalms alone. Psalms doesn’t mean the Psalms, it means what-ever Synod or GA wants it to mean. So if anyone objects to the SCOTUS reading of the ACA or the constitution, just remember where they learned how to do it.

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  20. Kevin,

    I doubt Kent had you in mind.

    You’ve arrived on a Catholic/Prot battlefield that is thoroughly scorched at the moment.

    How scorched? The dirt and rocks are on fire.

    Nothing new has been said by either side in months.

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  21. Andrew,

    That’s a novel analysis.

    Hard to blame the Presbyterians for everything when the Methodists and Baptists were around in droves…

    Maybe by “current climate” all you intended was the current climate in church music?

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  22. Sorry Kevin, I hadn’t realized you were on here from that angle. You haven’t said anything that causes me to have to dismiss you.

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  23. Kent – no problem, I can understand the desire (or necessity?) to dismiss when overwhelmed with pages of arguments (or enigmatic quips) not clearly targeted at what anyone actually thinks.

    TN – That explains why there are so many landmines. I’m curious what the ‘good old days’ your comment implies were like.

    To run with the metaphor, if cultivation is to occur again, there may be a need for fertilizer from the moderator.

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  24. Kevin,

    The good old days were more focused on intra-reformed debate and the Catholics who came were of a general higher level of rigor and quality.

    The guys at “Called to Communion” have pretty much written us off as hopeless so they don’t come around. “Not enough agape”, they would presumably claim.

    We’ve also scared off most reformed people because of how caustic we get with each other (and newcomers who get off to a bad start — the ganging up on people thing).

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  25. Kevin,

    Not sure how many changes of course the moderator still has up his sleeve.

    Me getting the boot may very well be one of them. We’ll see.

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  26. Kevin in Newark
    Posted June 30, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink
    Kent – CT, this is “church planting” in the eyes of all the Catholics (except for MTX who is a serious contributor to Old Life.)

    A large portion of my Scotch-Irish and English family was Presbyterian in the 17th-20th centuries, and both of my Swiss German lines were Swiss Reformed.

    I am here in part because I want to understand what their religion might have meant to them.

    My questions are sincere – why not just answer them?

    Polemicists make for lousy apologists, it seems. When half your religion is about what you’re not [Catholic], you tend to lose the skill to tell people what it is. Indeed half of the other half of Protestant orthodoxy is how they differ with other Protestant sects; the rest is how they differ with each other!

    And that, my friend, is the lesson on offer here. It’s a structural thing.

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  27. Kevin, this isn’t the place to understand what your Scotch-Irish and English Presbyterian forefathers believed. I would suggest reading your Bible and the following documents to understand what your forefathers (and some of us) believe the Bible to teach:
    – The Westminster Confession of Faith
    – The Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms
    – An older book of church order from that time period
    – A history on The Killing Time, in Scottish history – perhaps Dr. Hart could recommend a good one.

    I know you mentioned having visited an OPC church and the worship is mostly similar but an RPCNA church would sing the Psalms exclusively and a capella as your forefathers did – it is a wonderful and some, including myself, would say THE appointed content and way to sing in public worship. Any Christian would appreciate such a service – even if they don’t agree with the reason behind the practice. If you have an RPCNA church close enough to attend, the minister there would be glad to explain the Scottish Covenanter history to you.

    All that said, I hope you stick around.

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  28. KiN,

    Is this clear?

    CHAPTER 10
    Of Effectual Calling

    1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, 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; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

    2. This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.

    3. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

    4. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess. And, to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.

    What Presbyterians added (in contrast to what Roman Catholics added at Trent).

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  29. I meet with some baptists who sing the Psalms. But we sing in English, which is kinda like “doing our own thing.” And Andrew, we don’t have “sacraments” either.

    The call for biblicism as the regulative principle cuts in all directions

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  30. CT,

    Thanks for the reply, and the reading recommendations – At the OPC church I picked up what I hope would be found acceptable ’round these parts: Westminster Confession of Faith (“for Study Classes”) by GI Williamson (P&R Publishing, 2nd ed., 1964/2004). Can you confirm this matches your recommendation?

    My interest is more than genealogical, I just think that’s the easiest to relay that I’m not here to cause trouble.

    In more detail, basically I think culture is based on “cult” – the way we worship and what we believe determines to a great extent our actions, whether politically (or as some here would seem to want to have it, apolitically), in terms of the arts, influence on the development of our cities and regional economies, etc.

    The Reformation has had a huge impact – obviously – on our country. I care about the country and the people in it. My family is a part of that, but equally importantly is that very few families here are uninfluenced by it.

    Also, the influential these days are often involved in nonsense and worse, and it helps to know where people are coming from if there is any chance of calling them back to order or at least predicting their actions. Catholics I understand (even if the CiNOs, Catholics-in-name-only, alarm and depress me). Protestants I have limited familiarity with, although I usually get along with them if they are serious and sincere.

    Regarding theology, it would help if people would answer questions, but hey, no one is under any obligation to answer questions they aren’t interested in.

    So, it’s a mix of very closely related interests and motivations. Texts can only get one so far.

    And I just looked up RPCNA psalm singing on Youtube and enjoyed a quarter hour of lovely singing. Thank you for the recommendation. I also prefer the texts of liturgical music to come verbatim from the psalms and other biblical texts (as with most plainchant), although as a singer (and husband of an organist) I see the value in organ accompaniment.

    There is an RPCNA church in Ridgefield Park NJ (right near the GW Bridge); I will visit when I get a chance.

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  31. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 30, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Permalink
    KiN,

    Is this clear?

    CHAPTER 10
    Of Effectual Calling

    1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, 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; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

    Dr. Hart, can you do the “as they come most freely” bit? sounds like “free will.” I know you’re “Elect” and all, and I guess most of the rest of us poor sucks aren’t, but I’m having finding where the Catholicism or anyone else has a problem with this.

    effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

    Anyone here gathered have a problem with this? Sounds like an uncontroversy, D.

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  32. Kevin,

    The GI Williamson book on the confession is a good one. Those recommendations along with Dr. Hart’s The Lost Soul of American Protestantism would take you a long way down the road to understanding the things you mention as would getting to know the ministers and elders at the OPC church you visited as well as the RPCNA. You’ll probably make some great friends in those men along the way.

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  33. Protestants I have limited familiarity with, although I usually get along with them if they are serious and sincere.

    How generous of you, Kevin.

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  34. DG: KiN, Is this clear? [WCF10:1-4] – What Presbyterians added (in contrast to what Roman Catholics added at Trent).

    Q@DG(KiN): Is the Reformed position that they “added” to the faith? WCF10:1-4 seems essentially compatible with what came before it.

    Q@DG(KiN): I take your response to be an explanation of “monergism.” Is the following summary agreeable to the Reformed?:

    Man can’t overcome Original Sin without God’s offer via the Incarnation, or attain sanctification without the grace which comes from the Holy Ghost and the Word.

    Him whom God sees will enter heaven, “being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, is
    thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered” – answering and embracing being actions on man’s part; but actions dependent on God as creator who is omniscient and the only one whose intentions over history have any real impact (i.e., He has fixed or predetermined the end of history).

    If this is “monergism,” I reiterate (slightly edited for clarification) my questions:

    DG – How many non-Calvinists are willing to affirm that God’s grace is monergistic?

    Qs@DG(KiN):
    [A]Where does being willing to affirm that God’s grace is [explicitly] “monergistic?” come into salvation?
    [B]Is it necessary [to explicitly affirm “monergism”]?
    [C]Or is it instead praiseworthy and useful [to do so], in that it serves as a reminder, or encourages others to accept Christ?

    KiN – Re: “Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.” –
    [D]how does the request not carry the assumption that God alone (the mono) is capable of doing the work (ergon) necessarily for souls “being lead” into heaven?

    It would be great to get through this as a basis for discussing free will and determinism.

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  35. Kevin: Protestants I have limited familiarity with, although I usually get along with them if they are serious and sincere.
    Seth: How generous of you, Kevin.

    Seth, sincere apologies if I could have put it better.

    I don’t know whether the term “Protestant” is part of the issue, but I see people here use it regularly. “Reformed” is just a subset of “Protestants,” right? Excluding Anglicans, Methodists, perhaps some Lutherans? I’ll adopt whatever vocabulary is acceptable.

    You’ve got to admit I was much harder on un-serious Catholics (they “alarm and depress me”).

    What is your reaction to those who call themselves Reformed but are not “serious and sincere” – I see them made fun of all the time here.

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  36. I should add that most people I meet in North Jersey & NYC are simply not religious, or treat religion as something like hair color – things are probably quite different in Michigan and elsewhere.

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  37. Kevin,

    In response to,

    Man can’t overcome Original Sin without God’s offer via the Incarnation, or attain sanctification without the grace which comes from the Holy Ghost and the Word.

    It’s a serious and risky task to “speak for the Reformed position,” but I would revise that statement to:

    Man can’t overcome Original Sin without God’s offer via the Incarnation, or attain sanctification without the grace which comes from the Holy Ghost and the Word.

    God accomplishes these things. Jesus overcame sin, any overcoming we may appear to do is his work in us. And our sanctification is never “attained” until we are glorified (we will all be changed).

    Also, monergism is necessary for salvation in the sense that there is no other way anyone can be saved. However, affirming monergism is not necessary for salvation.

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  38. Kevin, Calvinists believe that humans are dead in their trespasses and sins, just like Paul taught. The only way that a dead man can embrace Christ is by the enlivening of the Holy Spirit. Once quickened, the regenerate person does indeed freely embrace Christ. But you can’t change your will to want Christ if you’re dead. The Zebra can’t change it’s spots. I can’t not like ice cream. No freedom there. I can freely choose vanilla or chocolate twist.

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  39. Calling All Calvinists-

    DG- Once quickened, the regenerate person does indeed freely embrace Christ.

    You’ve termed it Calvinist, but it reminds me of (what little I know of) the Dominican (predetermination) position in the Dominican/Jesuit arguments over grace and free will.

    Why not this (just sketching out ideas) – God as all-knowing creator has planned out time & the universe – only his intentions make any difference in the course of history, and the end is fixed – when we do his will, it is termed ‘freedom’, when we do not it is termed ‘slavery’ or sin. Freedom is the state in which sanctification takes place, and our moral character is built.

    Our moral character is the primary causal element in doing His will (alongside the grace continuously supplied to those regenerated). It is predetermined, but nonetheless both “free” and truly ours. This ownership (or participation in ownership) arises from the role we play as agents of His will.

    It could be likened to doing our jobs as employees – in carrying out the wills of our employers, we act, and in acting, participate in morality (good/evil) and build habits of action (including moral habits of action, virtues).

    Is the account above acceptable within a Calvinist system? Do you understand it to be acceptable within a Catholic system?

    To continue, we nonetheless can opt out of freedom and into slavery (and this may be where it diverges from a Calvinist system).

    Slavery requires a master, which is the Devil (at least in circumstances you, DG, recognize as adequately ‘unusual’), whom we cannot resist with assurance if unregenerated.

    God has foreknowledge of this opt-out of freedom (or opt-in to slavery), and permits it. It is ours, not His. He is not the cause, because it is an evil, evil being non-participation in His will.

    It seems to me the parable and explication Jesus gives of the Sower address this-

    Some do not hear the Word and are lost. Others hear but do not heed, and are lost.

    Others are regenerated, but fall away: they “hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”

    And some with ‘a noble and good heart [moral character] retain it [the Word]’… and flourish – (and if you don’t like the plant metaphor, you may take issue with Him and not me).

    I imagine this debate has taken place on the internet before, and am happy to be pointed to a source which you think settles it in favor of a Calvinist position.

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  40. Kevin in N—–http://booksataglance.com/author-interviews/response-from-tom-nettles-regarding-prevenient-grace-gods-provision-for-fallen-humanity-by-w-brian-shelton

    This is one of the more recent debates about the topic from the web. Even though Nettles is not “Reformed” in that he is not sabbatarian and does not agree that water baptism is what fullfills (or replaces infant circumcision), on the matter of human inability and the need for God’s effectual call to create hearing, he is very much in line with the Reformed confessions.

    II Peter 1:1 a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ: To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Newton was a slave trader
    the Americans traded slaves
    therefore the American flag should be burned

    while we all sing Newton’s song Amazing Grace?

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  41. Kevin,

    It sounds okay mainly. I’m not wild about “moral character” especially as a causal element. I’d rather talk about the work of the Holy Spirit.

    And I’m not sure that freedom is the most handy. I think people always have free will to choose. They don’t have the freedom to choose their nature. Regeneration gives a new nature so that someone can now please God by seeking to obey his law and glorify him. But freedom is not central to the Reformed understanding of sanctification:

    1. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

    2. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.

    3. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

    By the way, the Dominicans were always much more Augustinian than the Jesuits, not sure about the Franciscans. Of course, the papacy was spooked by full-bore Augustinianism (read Jansenism).

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  42. I do think it is important, and not simply for the sake of polemics with Romanists, to make a distinction between “sanctification” and “regeneration”. And between “union with Christ” and “regeneration”. I know that Calvin himself did not make this distinction with his use of the word “regeneration” but the passing from death to life (two states) is first of all a matter of justification and not of the new birth,

    As for “monergism”? God alone does both. God alone joins the elect to Christ’s death. God alone changes their hearts and effectually calls to believe the gospel.

    The Arminian Southern Baptist Lemke equates regeneration with eternal life . When Lemke suggests that faith precedes regeneration from texts like John 3:16, 36; 6:51, 53-54, 57; 11:25 20:31, he gets it wrong by assuming he equates regeneration with eternal life.

    But “eternal life” is not the present reality which we call the new birth but instead an eschatological reality–those who are now justified are legally entitled already to the life of the age to come.”

    Many Bible texts make no sense if regeneration is equated with eternal life. (Mark 10:17, 29-30; Romans 2:6-7, 23; Galatians 6:8; 1 Timothy 6:19; Titus 1:2; 3:7; James 1:12; Revelation 2:10).For example, Jesus, responding to the rich young ruler states, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers…for my sake and the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time…and in the age to come regeneration (eternal life)” (Mark 10:29-30).

    http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2011/01/founders-journal-whosoever-will-matthew-barrett-on-steve-lemke-part-ii-by-peter-lumpkins.html

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