Spectrum of Christian Theism

Doctrine matters.  It has been well-said that it’s important to know what you believe, and why you believe it.

This becomes especially serious when the various subjects and ramifications of belief increase in importance.

For example I may “believe” that chocolate ice cream is superior to vanilla ice cream.  I may even have occasion to defend this belief, and attempt to persuade others to agree with my point of view.  But at the end of the day it really matters very little which ice cream preference I have, and I may even change my mind.  This type of belief is quite peripheral, and I frankly don’t order my life around my food preferences.

There are, however, more central or “core” beliefs that have far reaching consequences in my mind, and in the way I live.  And no subject is more significant than a man’s beliefs about God; one’s conception of Deity.

I’m firmly persuaded that the Biblical data, which represents God’s own Self-disclosure, sets forth the kind of God that is best described by what is commonly known as Calvinism, which is nothing more or less than a doctrinal summation of the God of the Bible as He has revealed Himself.

Yet the spectrum of Christian theism is very broad indeed, encompassing a vast array of overlapping, and sometimes competing systems of thought.  I found the following quote to be a helpful summary of the broad sweep of Christian theistic thought:

There are in reality only two types of religious thought. There is the religion of faith, and there is the religion of works. We believe that what has been known in Church History as Calvinism is the purest and most consistent embodiment of the religion of faith, while that which has been known as Arminianism has been diluted to a dangerous degree by the religion of works and that it is therefore an inconsistent and unstable form of Christianity. In other words, we believe that Christianity comes to its fullest and purest expression in Reformed Faith.

In the early part of the fifth century these two types of religious thought came into direct conflict in a remarkably clear contrast as embodied in two fifth-century theologians, Augustine and Pelagius. Augustine pointed men to God as the source of all true spiritual wisdom and strength, while Pelagius threw men back on themselves and said that they were able in their own strength to do all that God commanded, otherwise God would not command it. We believe that Arminianism represents a compromise between these two systems, but that while in its more evangelical form, as in early Wesleyanism, it approaches the religion of faith, it nevertheless does contain serious elements of error.

We are living in a day in which practically all of the historic churches are being attacked from within by unbelief. Many of them have already succumbed. And almost invariably the line of descent has been from Calvinism to Arminianism, from Arminianism to Liberalism, and then to Unitarianism. And the history of Liberalism and Unitarianism shows that they deteriorate into a social gospel that is too weak to sustain itself. We are convinced that the future of Christianity is bound up with that system of theology historically called “Calvinism.’ Where the God centered principles of Calvinism have been abandoned, there has been a strong tendency downward into the depths of man centered naturalism or secularism. Some have declared – rightly, we believe – that there is no consistent stopping place between Calvinism and atheism.

The basic principle of Calvinism is the sovereignty of God. This represents the purpose of the Triune God as absolute and unconditional, independent of the whole finite creation, and originating solely in the eternal counsel of His will. He appoints the course of nature and directs the course of history down to the minutest details. His decrees therefore are eternal, unchangeable, holy, wise and sovereign. They are represented in the Bible as being the basis of the divine foreknowledge of all future events, and not conditioned by that foreknowledge or by anything originating in the events themselves.

I strongly encourage the reader to consider the entire article from whence the snippet above was taken, which is located here.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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The Doctrines of Grace – Loraine Boettner

For a guy named “Loraine” he sure does hit hard

Total Depravity

1. Statement of the Doctrine.
2. The Extent and Effects of Original Sin.
3. The Defects in Man’s Common Virtues.
4. The Fall of Man.
5. The Representative Principle.
6. The Goodness and Severity of God.
7. Scripture Proof.

Unconditional Election

1. Statement
2. Comments by Calvin, Luther, and Warfield
3. Proof from Scripture
4. Based on the Doctrine of Original Sin
No Injustice is Done to the Non-Elect
5. State of the Heathens
6. Purposes of the Decree of Reprobation
7. Arminians Center Attack on this Doctrine
8. Under no Obligation to Explain all These Things

Limited Atonement

1. Statement of the Doctrine.
2. The Infinite Value of Christ’s Atonement.
3. The Atonement is Limited in Purpose and Application.
4. Christ’s Work as a Perfect Fulfilment of the Law.
5. A Ransom.
6. The Divine Purpose in Christ’s Sacrifice.
7. The Exclusion of the Non-Elect.
8. The Argument from the Foreknowledge of God.
9. Certain Benefits Which Extend to Mankind in General.

Efficacious Grace

1. Teaching of the Westminster Confession.
2. Necessity for the Change.
3. An Inward Change Wrought by Supernatural Power.
4. The Effect Produced in the Soul.
5. The Sufficiency of Christ’s Work — Evangelicalism
6. Arminian View of Universal Grace.
7. No Violation of Man’s Free Agency.
8. Common Grace.

Perseverance of the Saints

1. Statement of the Doctrine.
2. Perseverance Does Not Depend Upon the Person’s Good Works But Upon God’s Grace.
3. Though Truly Saved the Christian May Temporarily Backslide and Commit Sin.
4. An Outward Profession of Righteousness Not a Guarantee That the Person Is a True Christian.
5. Arminian Sense of Insecurity.
6. Purpose of the Scripture Warnings Against Apostasy.
7. Scripture Proof.

HT: The Highway

Particular Redemption – Loraine Boettner

Absolute Dominion is pleased to offer Loraine Boettner’s work on Limited Atonement (Particular Redemption) for the edification of His people. To God be the glory, great things He has done!

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. – 1 John 4:9

Limited Atonement

Loraine Boettner

1.

Statement of the Doctrine.

2.

The Infinite Value of Christ’s Atonement.

3.

The Atonement is Limited in Purpose and Application.

4.

Christ’s Work as a Perfect Fulfilment of the Law.

5.

A Ransom.

6.

The Divine Purpose in Christ’s Sacrifice.

7.

The Exclusion of the Non-Elect.

8.

The Argument from the Foreknowledge of God.

9.

Certain Benefits Which Extend to Mankind in General.

HT: The Highway

No Degrees of Deadness

by John Samson

The company is not doing well this quarter. Sales are down. Potential customers are not buying. The sales team manager needs to get things moving. Someone has to make a sale and quickly. What is the sales team leader to do? Well one thing he could do is to send his team down to the morgue and have his sales team get some sales amongst the dead, selling their nasal sprays, their foot massager machines and their electronic toothbrushes. But sadly, things don’t go too well. The dead seem to have no interest in anything the sales team has to say, in spite of the positive smiles and highly developed and well rehearsed sales pitch. Even at the morgue, no sales are made; for one simple reason, the dead are, how shall we say it? … errr.. dead!

A silly scenario? Yes, of course! But lets think about this as it relates to man’s condition outside of Christ. He is not vibrant and healthy; nor merely under the weather a little, and not just extremely sick about to breathe his last breath. God says that man is actually dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). The Greek word for dead here is necros, meaning dead like a corpse. There are no signs of spiritual life. It is a hopeless case.

DEAD MAN WALKING – Born D.O.A. (dead on arrival) unless a man is born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Outside of Christ, he has a zombie like existence. He is dead but walks around. He goes to tennis games or movie theaters or even to church – just never to Christ. Its not in him to do so because he is dead spiritually. He cannot come to Christ not because of some physical handicap but because of a morally depraved heart that seeks only independence from Christ. He may at times wish for the benefits of belonging to the kingdom of God – but never does he want the King of the kingdom.

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On Limited Atonement

Turretinfan lays out an excellent refutation of a Roman Catholic video which accuses Calvinism of being a “heresy” by objecting to Limited Atonement. It’s worth noting that Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Arminianism all walk hand-in-hand in their embrace of an unscriptural synergistic soteriology, thereby rejecting the Biblical doctrines of grace which declare that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the eternal praise and glory of the One True and Living God alone. In other words: “Salvation is of the Lord”.