Friday, November 07, 2008

John 3:16 Conference's Mood

I have been noticing for some time that non-Calvinists see Calvinists as being too logically minded. We make logical inferences from Scripture to believe that Jesus died for only the elect. Notice Andrew Lindsey's statement on the mood of the John 3:16 Conference.

The mood of the Conference, as best as I can determine thus far, does not seem to be vitriolic nor panicked in regards to Calvinism. From the conversations I have over-heard, Conference-goers tend to regard Calvinism as an attempt to draw systematic, logical conclusions from Scripture (rather than being based directly upon Scripture), and Conference-goers genuinely believe that Calvinists have come to wrong conclusions, which are contradicted by specific scriptural texts. Conference-goers seem to be looking to the speakers at this Conference to provide an exegetical basis from which they can offer a defense for their rejection of Calvinism.

First notice that Calvinists come to logical conclusions that are in error while the non-Calvinists have their myriad of other texts that speak clearly to the issue. Yet the Conference goers are looking for exegetical support. Ironic isn't it?

Also notice that Calvinists are drawing what they believe to be logical conclusions from ideas being taught from Scripture. In other words, what the Calvinist believes is suposedly not directly taught but only inferred as a logical conclusion. Is this the case? As Waldron argues from his lecture Substitutionary Atonement is simply come to its own. In other words, Calvinists are not arguing logical inferences but the simple definitions of words.

For instance Substitutionary atonement by definition must be limited to the Elect alone. How could it be argued otherwise? Are we going to say Jesus bore the wrath substitutionarily for those who go to hell? Of course not. This is not merely a logical conclusion, it is the meaning of the terminology itself. To say otherwise is like saying the Patriots won the game by 3 points, therefore they won the game. Although this can be stated in a logical format it is not merely a logical conclusion. It is what it is!

Christians also live vicariously through the Savior. When Paul says, Christ died for us all, therefore all died, he is clearly not speaking about every individual ever. He is referring to the elect. When Jesus died, we died. When Christ was buried, we were buried. When He was raised from the dead, we were raised form the dead. When He ascended into heaven and sat at the right hand of God, we sat in the heavenly places with Him.

Allow me to offer an illustration. Men in America love the NFL. We watch our team as if we were playing ourselves. When our team wins the Super Bowl, we vicariously live through them. We feel as though we are winning too. There is a real player-fan relationship.

We also do this with our children. When we watch our children play little league, we often live our youth again through their playing. When our child stands at the plate and strikes out, we are in some kind of mystical bond with them feeling their pain.

So let me ask the question this way. Can a lost person in hell say that Jesus bore the wrath of God for him in his place? Can he say that Christ's death and resurrection is his death and resurrection?

The question of the conference should not be whether or not John 3:16 is true. It should be whether or not we will abandon the doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement.

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