Good Friday and Easter According to Bloodgood

I’m still a metal head and still a fan of Bloodgood.  Check out this stage presentation of the crucifixion and resurrection (might not be suitable for young children)

I had the pleasure of seeing Bloodgood when I was in college. It was a small show in a fire hall. It was raining and we were waiting outside to be let in, all getting wet and feeling pretty miserable. The band showed up and had them let us in immediately to get out of the rain. After a few minutes, they came out and started playing and everyone got excited. When they finished the song, Les (the lead singer) told us that they would be right back after they got their “rock and roll clothes” on. Everyone then realized that it had only been the sound check. Normally, that would have happened long before anyone came in, but the band refused to let us stay out in the rain. They performed these two songs too (“Crucify” and “The Messiah”). Les dressed up like Pilate but there was none of the theatrics that appeared in their bigger concerts (like in this video). It was still very powerful. Genuinely good God loving people, doing it for all the right reasons. Sadly, Les Calrson tragically and unexpectedly lost his son shortly after releasing their new CD .  May the hope of the resurrection comfort his family this Easter.

 

Great Follow-up Comments by David Martinez on the Recent Conversation Between James White and Austin Fischer

You can read the post at SEA here.

David does a fine job exposing White’s spurious debate tactics.  James White has truly made an art out of poisoning the well as Martinez well points out (See post below for more evidence).  And again, we see the tired old assumption that one cannot possibly disagree with Calvinism on Biblical grounds.  Why?  Because Calvinism is so obviously Biblical, of course.  So any disagreement with Calvinism must be driven by some sort of ulterior motive or disrespect for Scripture.

David also does a great job easily dispatching the horrible Calvinist prooftexting of John 17:9.  I will borrow one of White’s favorite superlative phrases and agree with Martinez in my “utter amazement” that Calvinists still try to use this passage to support Calvinism.  I’m amazed, truly and utterly amazed!

Related:

Those in Glass ivory Towers Shouldn’t Throw Stones

Five Part Series Responding to C. Michael Patton’s “The Irrationality of Calvinism” (Highlights Several Problems With Calvinist Argumentative Techniques and Fallacious Debate Tactics).

The Fallacies of Calvinist Apologetics (14 Part Series on Apologetic Fallacies Typically Employed by Calvinists Like James White)

Was Jesus Really Tempted in All Points As We Are?

The writer of Hebrews makes this amazing claim regarding Jesus:

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15, NASB)

This is very comforting to know that Jesus understands our plight and struggle with temptation, yet did not fall to temptation.  Since He conquered sin, He was able to offer Himself as the sinless Lamb of God on our behalf that we might be forgiven through faith in His blood (Rom. 3:25). It also good to know that because He conquered temptation, we can conquer temptation through Him.

But something seems a little off in what the writer of Hebrews is saying.  Can Jesus really relate to our struggle with temptation?  Isn’t there a significant difference?  I believe that Philippians 2:5-8 makes it clear that Jesus did not rely on His deity to overcome sin or remain steadfast in His mission.  Instead, He relied on prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, just as we can.  But there is still a major difference.  Jesus did not have to deal with the inward pull of the sinful nature.  He had no sinful nature.

We can say that Jesus resisted external temptation (like from the devil in the wilderness), but can we say He resisted internal temptation?  If not, how then can we look to Him as an example to follow and a champion of resistance against sin that we can emulate?  How can Jesus relate to the powerful inward pull of the sinful nature in temptation without having a sinful nature?  The writer of Hebrews isn’t saying that our struggles and Jesus’ struggles are exactly the same (Jesus doesn’t face all the same struggles we do, but we don’t face the same struggles Jesus did either.  Indeed, Jesus faced intense struggles that no man can properly relate to).  So it is not meant to be an exact comparison as far as the specifics of temptations we might face in life, though it does seem to plainly be a deliberate comparison regarding the “sorts” of temptations and struggles we might face in life.  But still, how can Jesus relate to both internal and external temptation without the presence of the sinful nature?

I think the first clue  may be found in the narrative of the wilderness temptation.  Jesus commits himself to fasting for 40 days in the desert (and presumably praying).  In Matthew 4:2, we are told something that should go without saying: “he was hungry.”  Talk about an understatement!  Forty days without food would certainly create a strong hunger.  Indeed, one would feel like they were starving to death.  We immediately see that Satan’s first temptation attacks Jesus’ internal weakness of being hungry, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (vs. 3).  Here is a powerful lesson on the nature of Jesus’ temptation. [1]  It wasn’t only external, but internal.  Jesus never faced the internal pull of the sinful nature, but He did face the internal pull of intense hunger and desire for food.  This internal pull was in no way sinful.  It was natural to His humanity, but also unnatural as it was such an extreme hunger resulting from 40 days without food.  So this internal pull was very powerful, yet innocent.  However, if Jesus gave into His hunger at this moment it would have resulted in sin.  So in the wilderness temptation we have at least one example of powerful outward and inward temptation being faced and conquered by Christ.

Another example would be in the garden before Jesus’ arrest.  Jesus was dealing with a great deal of internal fear and anxiety over the events that He was about to endure.  The Bible makes this extreme level of anxiety very clear in Luke where it tells us that he sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44).  We know that this is a description of a rare, but real medical condition called “hematidrosis” or “hemohidrosis.”  It is the result of tiny capillaries in the sweat glands rupturing and can be brought on when someone is under extreme duress.  Jesus was again experiencing extreme internal pull to avoid the mission God had set for Him to accomplish.  This pull is further manifested in His prayer to the Father, that if there be any other way to accomplish His redemptive work, that the Father take away this “cup” of extreme suffering He was about to endure. But once again, though Jesus faced this strong internal pull to retreat from His divinely appointed mission, He still conquered temptation once again in fully submitting His will (and His human weakness) to the will of the Father. [2]

For these reasons, I think we can fully affirm what the writer of Hebrews is saying.  Even though Jesus did not have to deal with the inward pull of the sinful nature while resisting temptation, He did have to deal with tremendous internal temptation as well as external temptation, and was “yet without sin.”   What a marvelous Savior and High Priest, familiar with our weaknesses and an “ever present help in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:15-16, cf. Psalm 46:1)

Related: Does Jesus Really Understand What I am Going Through?

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[1] My guess is that this is not a novel interpretation of this difficult passage, though I don’t recall having personally ever read anyone take this particular approach.

[2] These are just two representative examples plainly expressed in Scripture.  No doubt there were many other times Jesus faced and overcame internal temptations without those temptations needing to have arisen from a sinful nature, which Christ did not possess (whether recorded in Scripture or not).

Is God Like a Black Hole in Calvinism? Ex-Calvinist Austin Fischer Responds to John Piper

Austin Fischer Responds to John Piper About Leaving Calvinism

I think Mr. Fischer makes a valid point about how Piper’s claims do seem to plainly paint God in a way that seems at odds with Scripture and seems to threaten His aseity.

Here are a few other posts that make similar observations:

Dr. Thomas McCall Takes on John Piper And The Calvinistic View of God’s Sovereignty

Big Trouble in Little Geneva

John Piper on God Ordaining All Sin And Evil Part 1: An Arminian Response to Piper’s First “Question”

Where the New Calvinist Movement is Heading- Hyper Calvinism?

I found this comment after a post by a Calvinist at this blog:

There are three books every born again child of God should read (1) the Bible (2) The Reign of Grace by Abraham Boothe (3) An Antidote to Armianism by Christopher Ness. There is no such thing as a “Reformed Christian” because you are a christian or a non christian and if you have not been led by the Holy Spirit to a belief in the doctrines of grace (which is a being raised from the dead, not a reformation) then you believe another gospel and you are anathama.

It is comforting but not true to believe that someone can believe in free ill [sic.] and be saved

Good stuff.  First, read the Bible (refreshing).  Second, read two Calvinist works so that you can be sufficiently brainwashed into ignoring what you just read in the Bible about God’s love for the world, desire for all to be saved, the possibility of apostasy from genuine faith, etc.  Basically, all those pesky parts that blatantly contradict Calvinism.

Anyway, as long as you read those books “after” you read the Bible, you can avoid the heresy of believing in free will which would make it impossible to be saved (never mind that you have no choice about what you believe in the first place).  Oh, and if God hasn’t caused you to embrace Calvinism, you are clearly not saved.

Of course, this is just one voice among many Calvinists and might be considered rather extreme.  However, it should be noted that this is the first comment in the thread.  One would expect that at least one Calvinist would set this fellow straight on his hyper Calvinism, but  not a single one takes this hyper-Calvinist to task.  It seems that Mr. Owen is really onto something (though I disagree with his claim in his initial article that the old time Calvinists were not as anti-Arminian as the YRR movement.  That is hardly the case).  It does seem that things are trending in this direction of “non-Calvinists aren’t Christians” among Calvinists.  Hopefully, more Calvinists like Paul Owen will sound the alarm before this sort of extremism really does become the norm.

Excerpt From Austin Fischer’s New Book About Why He Left The New Calvinist “Young, Restless and Reformed” Movement

You can read the excerpt here

Here are a few interesting comments left in response to the new book,

Beakerj wrote:

Austin, as one out of church for the last 2 years due to not being able to deal with, nor yet truly dismiss ,the calvinist god, I am reading your book with bated breath. It’s not a journey I have made willingly. So far you are the only person who has ever described what it is like to have the whole Bible become linguistically unreachable & impossible when the tenets of calvinism undermine normal meanings of words like love…for this alone I am grateful, & feel less strange. I can’t figure out why this doesn’t happen for everyone. I get left with an unreachable, unknowable God who frankly scares me to death. We’ll see how I get on. I’m not hopeful but I’m still trying. [Link]

Luke Breuer wrote:

It’s fascinating that AW Tozer both said that our conception of God is the most important thing about us, and simultaneously failed to mention God’s servant-nature (in his Knowledge of the Holy), as expressed by Jesus’ coming to earth to serve and not be served, with Jesus being the “exact representation” of God, per Hebrews 1. It strikes me that truly becoming more like the Calvinist God would make you into someone not many people would want to be around. Someone who meticulously controls everything instead of delegating authority to others? Someone who thinks it is perfectly fine to use some people as a means to an end? I know that a standard response is that when we “become perfect as our father in heaven is perfect”, that this is only done in some respects; such an ‘explanation’ just seems like special pleading. [Link]

Bev Mitchell wrote:

This is a great book. I read it through in a couple of sittings. It’s honest, clear and non-argumentative. Yet you come away understanding that the author has really thoroughly considered, and walked, the Calvinist road until he decided that too many mysteries were piling up in the wrong places. He recognizes, and clearly explains, that his new position (not specifically defined) has mystery as well, but these are mysteries that he believes are more true to the whole of Scripture and, to his thinking, also more reasonable. [Link]

I haven’t read the book yet, but hope to be able to buy it soon.  It sounds great.

Calvinist Election Refuted in Romans 11: A Concise And Devastating Article By A Professor of New Testament And Greek

Article by Günther H. Juncker, re-posted from SEA

According to Calvinism, Rom 11:5-7 teaches double predestination. On the one hand there is a “remnant” that is elect and has been “chosen” for salvation from before the foundation of the world. And on the other hand there is “the rest” who are the non-elect, or reprobate, who have been created and irreversibly predestined to hell. The reprobate by definition cannot be saved because God does not want them saved. He does not love them (rather he “hates” them) and Jesus did not die for them. These God justly “hardens,” like Pharaoh, to keep from salvation since God does not want them saved but in hell.

According to Paul, however, “the rest” who are not elect and not “chosen” can be saved. In fact, many of them will be saved. Saving them is, from one angle, the very point of the Gentile mission! If Paul is correct then Calvinism is, in a word, refuted. Clearly if “the rest” can be saved, then they are not the reprobate of Calvinistic double predestination theology. The fact that some are “chosen” does not entail that others are irreversibly reprobated or “rejected.” Since the chosen “remnant” actually comes from the ranks of “the rest” it is thus not enough to say, as any Calvinist could say, that the existence of a remnant proves that God has not rejected Israel. It is specifically “the rest,” described in detail in the immediately preceding paragraph (Rom 10:16-21), that God has not rejected. But how to be sure? Simple. Follow the pronouns in Romans 11 to see what Paul himself actually says about “the rest.” God loves them. He shows mercy to them. He desires that they be saved. Some of them can and will be saved.

1I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3“Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” 4But what is the divine response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. 7What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; 8just as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, Eyes to see not and ears to hear not, Down to this very day.” 9And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, And a stumbling block and a retribution to them.10Let their eyes be darkened to see not, And bend their backs forever.” 11I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 12Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! 13But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. 15For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. 17But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 22Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? … 28From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

Truly, this passage should be an eye opener for those who have not taken God’s salvific, propitiatory agape love for the entire world (John 3:16; cf. 1 John 2:2) seriously enough. In short, if Rom 11:5-7 is not describing the reprobate of Calvinistic double predestination then it is safe to say that there are no such people. What Calvin meant by terms like “elect” and “chosen” and “hardened” has nothing to do with what Paul meant by these terms. The Calvinist system is foreign to Paul and twists Paul’s terms to mean things that they never meant. Same goes for expressions like “vessels of wrath” that for Calvin meant reprobate and irreversibly predestined to hell; whereas for Paul it simply meant presently under God’s wrath but able to come out from under that wrath through faith in the Gospel (cf. Rom 2:4-5). In fact, for Paul all believers were once “vessels of wrath” (Rom 1:18-3:20; cf. Eph 2:3)! In other words, if the so-called “reprobate” can be and are being saved and grafted into the Olive Tree, then there is no such thing as the “reprobate” as Calvinism understands the term. May God spare us from dogmatic interpretations that distort the Gospel and diminish God’s goodness, love, and mercy toward the whole cosmos and every single person in it!

“I can prove that Calvinistic double predestination is biblical. Let me begin by redefining some of Paul’s terms in Romans . . . .”
Dr. Günther H. Juncker
Professor of New Testament & Greek
Toccoa Falls College
Toccoa Falls, GA 30598
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