Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Where in the World is Paul Manata?

Paul Manata's "Aporetic Christianity" blog mysteriously disappeared awhile back, and I wasn't able to find him for a few months. But now, at last, I've tracked him down! He has been posting HERE since April.

I'm thankful for the work of Reformed philosophers like James Anderson and Paul Manata. Any Christian who is interested in logic and philosophy will find the work of these men to be an invaluable resource.

The video below is an old debate between Manata and atheist Dan Barker. It's both informative and fun to listen to.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Three Good Reads in Reformed Theology

I've been enjoying these and finding them very beneficial.

#1 The first "good read" is this group of extended quotations from some leading theologians regarding the secret and revealed will of GodThis is direct source material, so you can get it from the proverbial horse's mouth. I like this bit from Calvin:
"In fine, give up all fondness for your puerile dilemma, for the Scriptures assure me of the secret will of God; asserting what I have learned from them I do speak of an ascertained truth; but because I do not reach so great a height, I reverently adore with fear and trembling what is too sublime for the angels themselves. Often therefore in my writings I admonish my readers, that on this subject nothing is better than a learned ignorance; for those rave like madmen who arrogate to know more about it than is fit."
And this one from Jonathan Edwards caught my attention:
"... all that own the being of a God own that he knows all things beforehand. Now, it is self-evident, that if he knows all things beforehand, he either doth approve of them, or he doth not approve of them; that is, he either is willing they should be, or he is not willing they should be. But to will that they should be, is to decree them."
Apparently Edwards never met an open theist! God alone knows if Edwards will ever meet one in the future (think about it).


#2 A second "good read" is Paul Manata's Free Will, Moral Responsibility, and Reformed Theology - A Contemporary IntroductionLots of deep philosophical stuff here. Manata has a gift, and I am grateful that he uses it to advance good theology! He argues that Reformed Theology is, by definition, both deterministic and compatibilistic, and decidedly unaffirming of libertarian free will. It's all worth reading and considering, and well documented, too.


#3  The third "good read" is David Ponter's response to James Anderson's attempt to reconcile the Free Offer of the Gospel with a provisionally Limited Atonement using Newcomb's Paradox (see here and here). It's a deeply complicated argument, but worth thinking about. To me, this is a little bit like Gandalf vs. Saruman (I won't say which one is which). Although James Anderson is a personal hero for expounding so brilliantly on theological paradox, in this case I concur with Ponter (also a personal hero for expounding brilliantly on historic Moderate Calvinism) in his closing remarks:
"Anderson wants to argue that if a moderate Calvinist insists that limited atonement precludes a sincere offer, he must accept that election likewise precludes a sincere offer, for the same reasons. However, a proper rebuttal rejects the assumed univocal relationship between limited atonement and election in relation to the sincere offer, such that one can counter that limited atonement is incompatible with the free offer, while election is not. The only avenue Anderson can have, as I see it, is to attempt to claim that we should see election as equally incompatible with a sincere offer (given our assumptions?). But on what grounds could he suggest that? and does he really want to argue that in the first place? Perhaps Anderson might say both election and limited atonement bare a paradoxical relationship to the sincere offer. My reply would be limited atonement and the sincere free offer entail a contradiction (you cannot offer what you are not able to give), while election and the free offer entail a paradox (one offers, by revealed will, what one does not intend to give, by secret will). We would say we are warranted in rejecting the contradiction, while retaining the paradox. Anderson could only claim that one can indeed sincerely offer what one is not able to give."
The issues in these three "good reads" are tied together, and each of them has bearing on both hyper Calvinism and Arminianism (mind you, I'm not saying any of the people mentioned in this post are hyper Calvinists - far from it - only that the issues covered have direct bearing on refuting that error). To be balanced, I believe we must hold to the paradox of God's revealed and secret wills which are united perfectly in the glorious mystery of His eternal wisdom; we must hold to the paradox of compatibilism so that man is responsible for his actions under the total sovereignty of God; and we must hold to the Free Offer of the Gospel backed up by an infinitely powerful atonement, which, paradoxically, is not intended to save all people. Thank God it saves some!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thank You

THEOparadox recently passed the 3 year mark, and I want to take a moment to say a sincere "thank you" to the folks who read, comment, and link to this blog.

First, to all of you who read this blog, THANK YOU. It is an honor to have these articles and resources considered thoughtfully and used for the glory of our great God. Even if you read with skepticism or to disagree, I am grateful that God uses anything here for your good and blessing.

Second, to those who take the time to comment, THANK YOU. It is always encouraging to know that a post has edified a brother, or sparked further thought. It is even encouraging to be corrected and challenged. Commenting requires real thought, and your thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated.

Third, to those who link here . . . THANK YOU! THEOparadox receives many visits from search engines, and your links are part of the reason for that. My hope and prayer is that God will use the site to help spread the knowledge of Christ, and to encourage solid Biblical theology, inspiring deeper delight in Christ and stronger service for Christ.

Here is a quick sampling of some sites that link here:

An Open Book - deep thoughts by Matt Rose
aprilNandy - April and Andy Miller will encourage you
Baptism and the Big Picture - Matt Viney explores baptism, apologetics, culture, and all things Biblical
God Does Exist, All Know it - presuppositional apologetics by Mike A. Robinson
Ma's Blog - the musings of a child of God by His Sovereign Grace, wife, homemaker, homeschooler, and mother of six
Pericope de Adultera - defending the canonicity of John 8:1-11

Many others could be added. However, I don't think I've previously mentioned any of the sites listed above.

All of the thanksgiving and praise ultimately go to God alone. How immeasurable is His grace! How unfailing are His mercies! Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cross-Centered Humility: A "Glorious Spiritual Destitution"

". . . The great irony is that the door through which we experience the profundity of God’s love is the complete humiliation and abasement of ourselves at the foot of the cross. . . . The blessing of knowing God in the fullness of his love comes to us to the degree that we become poor in spirit. This glorious spiritual destitution belongs to those who hear what the cross teaches us about man and his nature."

William P. Farley, Outrageous Mercy, pp. 70-71

This book is a wonderful admonition toward a Cross-Centered and Gospel-Grounded worldview. Highly recommended reading.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Paul Washer Sermon Clip - The Work of the Holy Spirit

This is a bonus video for my fellow Charismatic Calvinists and Reformed continuationists. Paul Washer advises openness with regard to the demonstrative work of the Holy Spirit, and also warns against the charismatic "circus" that has become so prevalent in the modern day charismatic apostasy. He presents a beautiful balance of a Biblically grounded desire for the Spirit's ongoing work . . . if you can receive it.

NOTE: I don't think the words written on the screen, "Paul Washer believes in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Contrary to most denominations in this nation," are warranted by the words recorded here. Paul Washer doesn't mention the "baptism" in the Holy Spirit. That phrase means different things to different people. I recommend listening to Washer's own worlds without paying attention to what has been added to the screen by the maker of the video.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Paul Washer: Come to Christ, He is Mighty to Save!

One of my favorite Paul Washer videos, with a moving testimony of grace and forgiveness. Tomorrow I will post a bonus video, which you might find REALLY SHOCKING.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Paul Washer: Jesus Christ is Everything

"The problem today . . . is not a lack of zeal for missions . . . the problem is much greater: a lack of zeal for God and for the glory of God."

Friday, July 15, 2011

COMING SOON: Gospel Defibrillation with Paul Washer

Each day next week, a short but shocking Paul Washer sermon jam will be posted. It's Gospel "defibrillation" to help awaken our hearts from the hardening and stupefying effects of this dark, compromising age. 

Rise up, saints! Put on your armor! The ends of the ages are upon us, and we must be found faithful for our Savior's sake! Shake off your sins! Look to the cross! Clothe yourselves with Christ and get ready for the fight!

May God help us to awaken, arise, and endure for His great Name and His great glory!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

John MacArthur on the Paradox of Salvation

The following THEOparadoxical thoughts are excerpted from John MacArthur's article, "Is Your Salvation Secure?"

"Contemporary Christianity has a shallow view of salvation. Many people don't understand the security of the believer. God, in eternity past, chose us to believe in the truth (2 Thess. 2:13 ). Now we have to show a response. I don't fully understand how those two come together. Some people think that the people who go to hell go there because God rejected them. But the Bible says that people go to hell because they reject the gospel (John 3:18 ). That may not make sense to us, but it shouldn't matter. God is smarter than us. Would you want a God who is our equal? I wouldn't!
The paradox regarding God's choice and man's responsibility isn't the only paradox in Scripture. For example, who wrote the book of Romans? Paul did, but so did God. Did they take turns writing verses? On the one hand, every word is pure and from the mind of God. Yet, every word also came from Paul's heart and his vocabulary. How could Romans have been fully written by both God and Paul? We know it was, but we can't explain it fully.
Is Jesus God or man? He was both. Christ was not a blend of God and man. He was 100 percent Himself. He was fully God and fully man. We can't figure that out.
How about this: Who lives your Christian life? Paul said, "I discipline my body and make it my slave" (1 Cor. 9:27 ). He also said, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20 ). Which is the right answer? Both you and Christ live your life.
Most major doctrines in the Bible have an aspect that we cannot fully explain. When we try to bring God down to our level, there is still much we won't understand. We simply can't resolve everything in our minds. So the reason anyone goes to hell is because he rejected Christ and is completely responsible. But when a person comes to Christ, it's because he was chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4)."

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Leading Creationist will Speak at my Church

Dr. Gary Parker
Dr. Gary Parker will speak at Lakeside Community Church on July 24, 2011. At 9:30am, he will teach an age-integrated Sunday School class covering the controversial phrase, "He descended into Hades" from the Apostles' Creed. He will speak on Biblical and scientific creation at the 10:45am service.

Dr. Parker has worked for both Answers In Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research. His testimony is included in the following video from the Institute for Creation Research, along with those of Drs. Thomas Kindell and Jobe Martin.

His Answers In Genesis bio can be read HERE

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Awe-Inspiring Disparity

"Indeed, experience shows that it is only the mature Christian man who can begin to see the "size" of his Father. He may previously have thought that the comparison of the relationship between the toddler and his grown-up father with his own relationship toward God was rather an exaggeration of the gulf, in intelligence at least. But in his growing maturity he is likely to see that Christ, in His kindness of heart, has certainly not exaggerated the awe-inspiring disparity between man and God."

J.B. Phillips, Your God is Too Small

Friday, July 08, 2011

"A New Day"

I found this original song by Alex Jordan very meaningful and encouraging. You may want to check out Alex's AMAZING Reformed Theology links and his excellent blog.

... every morning He shows forth His justice;
each dawn He does not fail ...
Zephaniah 3:5

Remember my affliction and my wanderings, 
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
"The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
Lamentations 3:19-24

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Heaven Will Be Humbling

Recently, while I was having lunch with some brothers in Christ, we discussed the process by which God reveals His Truth to us. One mentioned that when we start to see a Biblical Truth or doctrine clearly, there is usually a simultaneous recognition of some wrong thinking we have embraced, which needs to be changed. And this humbles us.

I thought . . . Wow! Heaven will be so humbling!  So much light all at once, correcting so many wrong assumptions and misunderstandings! So many humbling discoveries. But the humbling will be glorious, for we will be REJOICING IN THE TRUTH even as we are made aware of our own glaring errors and misconceptions.

So let us live in light of that day, hoping in Christ and humbling ourselves before the revelation of Him. Day by day, let us continually replace humanistic thinking with Biblical thinking, as our minds are renewed in Christ. Being humbled in this life is great practice for the next.

II Peter 3:13-18 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Piper on Marriage

"So I start with the assumption that my own sin and selfishness and cultural bondage makes it almost impossible for me to feel the wonder of God’s purpose for marriage. The fact that we live in a society that can defend two men or two women entering a sexual relationship and, with wild inconceivability, call it marriage shows that the collapse of our culture into debauchery and anarchy is probably not far away.

I mention this cultural distortion of marriage in the hopes that it might wake you up to consider a vision of marriage higher and deeper and stronger and more glorious than anything this culture—or perhaps you yourself—ever imagined. The greatness and glory of marriage is beyond our ability to think or feel without divine revelation and without the illumining and awakening work of the Holy Spirit. The world cannot know what marriage is without learning it from God. The natural man does not have the capacities to see or receive or feel the wonder of what God has designed for marriage to be. I pray that this book might be used by God to help set you free from small, worldly, culturally contaminated, self-centered, Christ-ignoring, God-neglecting, romance-intoxicated, unbiblical views of marriage.

The most foundational thing to see from the Bible about marriage is that it is God’s doing. And the ultimate thing to see from the Bible about marriage is that it is for God’s glory. Those are the two points I have to make. Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. And ultimately, marriage is the display of God."

-John Piper, This Momentary Marriage, pp. 20-21 (Online PDF Version - FREE!)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Quick Marriage Primer

Why marriage is hard:
Because I'm selfish, and I don't particularly like dying.

bride and groom suitcases
Why marriage is good:
Because God made it for His own glory and for our good.
Because it is God's parable of Christ and the Church.

Why a Christian's marriage is always hopeful:
Because God changes hearts and minds.
Because suffering is a tool God uses to shape us into Christ's likeness.
Because God has poured His love into our hearts.

Why marriages fail:
Unbelief. Pride. Stubbornness. Unforgiveness. Selfishness.

Why marriages last:
God. God. God. God. God. God. God. God. God.
Faith. Hope. Love.

Why marriages end - the right way:
People die.

Why only one marriage will last forever:
Because the Church is Christ's bride, we are on our way to the marriage of the Lamb, and He HATES DIVORCE

Saturday, July 02, 2011

God's Sovereignty in Proverbs

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

Proverbs 20:24 A man's steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?

Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever he will.

Proverbs 21:30 No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the LORD.

Proverbs 16:4 The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

Proverbs 16:1 The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.

Apparently Solomon - the wisest man who ever lived (other than our Lord) - was a Calvinist and a compatibilist. Talk about insight and foresight.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Sermon: Screams from the Cross

This message was preached by Jonathan Christman at Heritage Baptist Church in Owensboro, Kentucky. It brings the cross into sharp focus. If you don't want to face the reality of your sinful condition, the violent horror of divine judgment, and God's all-powerful, sacrificial love for sinners, don't watch this. 

On second thought, if you lack the desire for these things, definitely DON'T MISS this video.

JC from MCTS on Vimeo.