Friday, April 10, 2009

Does Clyde Know the Truth

Clyde Schinnerer's weekly religious column Let the Bible Speak is titled Knowing the Truth. As a member of the local Church of Christ denomination, he is one who claims to believe in Scripture Alone while remaining ignorant of his traditions. This week's article is one of which I think his human traditions are easily seen and make for a great example of how to recognize one's traditions. So I will simply interact with each paragraph in order to demonstrate my claim.

Before I do, I want to make this clear. I do not know Clyde personally. I have nothing against Clyde. If Clyde is going to take his understanding of the Bible into the public sphere and publish his errors, then he should be willing to defend his views publicly and receive public criticism.
As we continue looking at some of the statements some people make about salvation, some will say, "Only those predestined by God will be saved. We cannot do anything about it."
To be honest, I have never understood those who would object to this. Is there another group of people, who will be saved that are not of the elect? Does man have the power to change the number of the elect? Does God base His decision of election based on some great prediction of "Who will choose Him"?

This kind of statement also seems to confuse category errors such as man's responsibility. It also seems to deny the doctrine of Original Sin. The irony of his article is that while attempting to say that he believes his doctrines to be derived from the Bible, he seems totally unaware that his view of man and God's grace is exactly that of Roman Catholicism (If he only knew I said that!).

The idea that God is not merely offering salvation, but that through the preaching of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit takes dead sinners and raises them from the dead, granting to them faith and repentance, is completely foreign to his thinking. He simply assumes philosophically that man has some kind of autonomous free-will, and then reads that belief into the verses he cites later.
Such statements come from Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 2:7; Acts 4:28; Romans 8:28-30 and Ephesians 1:5,11 where words such as ordained, predestinate, foreordained and election are used.

A casual reading would seem to give the above understanding of those Scriptures. However, a more thorough and complete study of the Scriptures with their full contexts shows that what was predetermined was God's plan for what would happen to Jesus by Herod, Pontius Pilate and the Jews, resulting in Jesus' death for which He willingly went to the cross and "became the Author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:7-9, NKJV).
1) Was God only planning Jesus' life? What does this mean? Did God not ordain Jesus' death? Did God not actually bring this about? How is it that evil men committed an act of evil, the murder of the Son of God, according to God's plan and purpose?

2) Do these texts only speak of a plan for Jesus? How did he arrive at that conclusion? Are we saying that Jesus went to the cross to purchase a plan? This thinking historically has led Arminians to deny Substitutionary Atonement. Clyde simply has never been challenged in his own erroneous theology. Apparently, Jesus didn't actually save the elect and all those in union with Him at the cross. Jesus only made men savable. He did not actually save anyone.

3) Now let us do the obvious thing. Let's actually go and read these texts and exegete them to see if they actually say what Clyde thinks they say. However, Clyde does not do that (as he has done in the past). Instead Clyde does the typical interpretive method when a verse contradicts one's theology. He runs a muck throughout the Bible looking for proof texts (as we will later see) in order to deny the clear teaching of Ephesians 1.

4) If you read the entirety of Ephesians 1, you will see that the entire text speaks to this issue. There is nothing about a plan. Instead we see an Almighty and Sovereign God who raises dead sinners to a new life. So the Calvinist is not merely using proof texts such as Ephesians 1:5, but instead reads the whole thing.

5) Clyde totally misses the doctrine of union with Christ. When Christ died, we died. When Christ was raised, we were raised. Read this portion for your self.
Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
Eph 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
Does this really sound impersonal and just about a plan? These personal pronouns hardly allow that at all.
Peter tells us, "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him" (Acts 10:34-35), and that God is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
1) Why does Clyde get to determine the clear texts from what he considers the difficult texts. Are we really going to take texts that are not speaking about the issue of election and predestination and allow them to overthrow the texts that do?

2) Clyde again makes category errors when using texts such as 2 Peter 3:9. He seems totally unaware of the prescriptive will of God and the secret purposes of God.

Also, 2 Peter 3:9 hardly affirms his position. Please start with verse 1 and follow the pronouns. God is patient with the elect, not wanting any of them to perish. Guess what. They won't!

Now I understand that the term elect is not in the text. Are we really going to say that God is desperately wanting you to repent but fails to bring about the "manifold wisdom of God" when He fails to bring about your salvation?
It was of no "Wild goose chase" that God sent Jesus into the world, but "to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church [a nebulous group?] to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him" (Ephesians 3:10-12).
1) Irony of ironies in the first sentence. If Jesus did not die a substitutionary death for those in union with Him, who are the elect, then Jesus may have just gone on a goose chase. Has Clyde ever really read the water tight and logically demanding conclusion of the Son of God that the elect will and must be saved from John 6:35-45? That is a text that will most certainly reveal Clyde's own traditions. Traditions that he is unaware he even possesses.

2) Again, the interpretive method is revealed. In order for Clyde to defend his beliefs, he must run off to texts that are not addressing election directly and then read into those texts the philosophical free-will of man.

Now the famous ballot proclamation:
It has been said three ballots are to be cast in the election process for the soul: God votes for heaven, Satan votes for hell, and the individual casts the deciding vote.
This is just Pelagianism. No where is God seen to be casting a vote. Jesus was sent to raise the dead and to save His people perfectly. The election of your President may be decided that way. But the election of a personal people is hardly a toss of a vote.

Instead God sent His Son to save a people that He has given to the Son. The Son comes to do the will of the Father, which is to save them perfectly. The Holy Spirit is sent to apply the work of the Son in the union of the elect. For Clyde, this mighty work of God fails because of the almighty!

In conclusion, we must all be willing to see our own traditions and to acknowledge their existence. When our interpretive method causes us to run to texts that are not addressing the issue of election, and then to force our assumptions into those texts, we should recognize that we have abandoned Scripture Alone.

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