Is the Traditional Statement Semi-Pelagian?

Adam Harwood, Ph.D.

Adam Harwood is Associate Professor of Theology, occupying the McFarland Chair of Theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also Director of the Baptist Center for Theology
and Ministry and Editor of the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry.

This article was first published to JBTM 10.1 (Spring 2013). Footnotes can be viewed in the original journal article.

Shedding a false charge can be difficult. Consider as an example McCarthyism in the 1950s. A person publicly accused of belonging to the Communist Party had difficulty shaking the accusation. “You’re a Communist. Prove you’re not!” How does one disprove such an accusation? Those who affirm “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” (TS) find themselves in a similar situation. Claims have been made that the TS is, or appears to be, semi-Pelagian. This chapter seeks to disprove the charge in four ways. First, historical and theological definitions of semi-Pelagianism will be provided and will be shown to be contradicted by claims in the TS. Second, it will be demonstrated that the theological claims made at the Second Council of Orange (529) fail to indict the TS as unbiblical. Third, the historical-theological context of fifth-century semi-Pelagianism suggests that the historical debate has no connection to the current conversation among Southern Baptists regarding the TS. Fourth, errors will be
exposed in an early assessment of the TS.

Historical and Theological Definitions of Semi-Pelagianism Which are Contradicted by the Traditional Statement

According to The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, semi-Pelagianism “maintained that the first steps towards the Christian life were ordinarily taken by the human will and that grace supervened only later.”1 The TS explicitly argues against this view. Consider this line from Article 2: “While no one is even remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, no sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.” Article 2 is clear that sinners are saved through a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel. This drawing of the Holy Spirit described in the TS occurs prior to the response of the sinner. In this way, the TS prohibits the semi-Pelagian understanding of a sinner taking the first steps toward the Christian life.

The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology explains that the term semi-Pelagian first appeared in 1577 to describe the fifth-century view which rejected Pelagian theology and respected Augustine but rejected some of the implications of his views. Fifth-century semi-Pelagians “affirmed that the unaided will performed the initial act of faith.” The “pivotal issue” in semi-Pelagian theology is “the priority of the human will over the grace of God in the initial work of salvation.”2 Article 4 of the TS contradicts this view, “We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement.” The TS states that God takes “all of the initiative in providing atonement.” The TS in no way prioritizes “the human will over the grace of God in the initial work of salvation.”

Lewis and Demarest’s Integrative Theology explains, “The semi-Pelagians claimed that sinners make the first move toward salvation by choosing to repent and believe.” Also, “The semi-Pelagian scheme of salvation thus may be described by the statement ‘I started to come, and God helped me.’” The idea that sinners initiate their salvation apart from God’s grace is ruled out by the words of the TS. Consider again Article 2, “While no one is even remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, no sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.”3 Also, this sentence from Article 4 bears repeating, “We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement.” The TS is clear that sinners do not “make the first move toward salvation.” Rather, God takes all of the initiative in providing atonement. Article 8 explains that “God’s gracious call to salvation” is made “by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.” Sinners are saved by responding to the drawing of the Holy Spirit through the gospel.

One more definition, this one from a Reformed perspective, will be provided in order to reinforce the argument that there is a broad consensus on the term semi-Pelagianism. The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology defines semi-Pelagianism as follows: “A term which has been used to describe several theories which were thought to imply that the first movement towards God is made by human efforts unaided by grace.”4 This definition is consistent with those already provided and is contradicted by statements in the TS as demonstrated above. The following chart illustrates our findings:

The Decisions of the Second Council of Orange Which Fail to Indict the TS as Unbiblical

Immediately after the release of the TS, there were online accusations that the TS affirmed semi-Pelagian views. Some of those online essays included appeals to the Second Council of Orange (529). The appeal to this council to support the accusation of semi- Pelagianism will be addressed in two ways.5 First, the decisions from the council will be compared to the TS. Second, the thesis of an historical study of the fifth-century controversy will be considered. In both cases, it will be demonstrated that the decisions of the Second Council of Orange fail to indict the TS as unbiblical.

The decisions of the council compared to the Traditional Statement

At the outset, it is important to understand that the Second Council of Orange is not authoritative for Southern Baptists. The decisions of the council addressed differences between western and eastern theology on the exercise of the will in the context of monastic life (see the next section in this chapter) one millennia before the birth of the Baptist tradition. Even if the decisions at Orange were considered binding for Southern Baptists, then the question arises as to which decisions were violated by the TS and in what way? The decisions were finalized as a list of canons.6 In comparing the Canons of Orange to the TS, it will be demonstrated that there is both agreement and contradictions between the two documents. Further, the contradictions between the two documents are theological differences which result from the fidelity of the TS to the BFM. Below are five replies to this charge of semi-Pelagianism based on the Canons of Orange.

Southern Baptists reject baptismal regeneration (salvation via water baptism). But baptismal regeneration was affirmed by this council. Canon 5 refers to “the regeneration of holy baptism.” Also, Canon 13 states: “The freedom of will that was destroyed in the first man can be restored only by the grace of baptism.” The Canons of Orange are not consistent with the BFM. For that reason alone, the council should be regarded as nonbinding for Southern Baptists.

Canon 4 requires an admission of the working of the Holy Spirit. Article 2 of the TS states: “(W)e deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.” That sentence clearly affirms the work of the Holy Spirit, who draws the sinner through the Gospel.

Canon 5 denies that faith “belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace.” The TS makes no claim that faith belongs to us by nature. Rather, Article 4 states that by God’s grace, we are united “to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.” This means that a person’s union with Christ is by God’s grace (a gift) and through the Holy Spirit. These claims remove any idea that faith could “belong to us by nature.”

Canon 6 affirms that God’s mercy is a gift of God’s grace. So does the TS. Consider Article 4 of the TS, “We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement.” Article 4 of the TS is clear that salvation is a gift of God’s grace and He takes the initiative in providing atonement.

Canon 6 states, “(I)t is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought.” Canon7 emphasizes this by stating that no one can be saved by “assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” The ministry of the Holy Spirit must be acknowledged in one’s understanding of a sinner’s regeneration. The TS repeatedly refers to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in bringing a sinner to repentance and faith in Christ. Consider these claims in the TS:

Article 2, “(W)e deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.”

Article 4, “We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation… in freely offering the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.”

Article 5, “We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is a new creation in Christ and enters, at the moment he believes, into eternal life.”

Article 8, The call to salvation is made “by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.”

The TS clearly acknowledges the necessity of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the work of God to bring a sinner from death to life. It is unclear how a charge could be sustained that the TS teaches otherwise.

These comparisons demonstrate that it is neither helpful nor accurate to charge the mi-Pelagianism based on the Canons of Orange. Next, the historical-theological context of fifth-century semi-Pelagianism will be considered to see if its views are consistent with the TS.

The historical-theological context of
fifth-century semi-Pelagianism

Rebecca Harden Weaver published her Ph.D. dissertation through the North American Patristic Society under the title Divine Grace and Human Agency: A Study of the Semi-Pelagian Controversy. Weaver’s careful historical-theological analysis makes a compelling case that the decisions of the Second Council of Orange (529) wrongly characterized the views of the
opponents. In other words, the fifth-century semi-Pelagians did not teach the views they were accused of teaching. If this is the case, then this renders impotent any appeals to the Canons of Orange against the TS.7

The semi-Pelagians, whose views are best illustrated in the writings of John Cassian, understood salvation as the struggle for perfection within the monastic disciplines. Which group of Southern Baptists defines salvation in terms of eastern monasticism? None. The fifth-century, eastern monks questioned how God would judge and reward spiritual life apart from the exercise of the human will. The Augustinian reply (and the later decision by the Second Council of Orange) was a reply to this question about this monastic struggle for perfection, not a reply to contemporary Southern Baptists who differ over Calvinism.

Conclusion Regarding the Second Council of Orange

Contemporary Southern Baptists who view the Second Council of Orange as a model for discussing Calvinism within the SBC will be disappointed. First, the council affirmed baptismal regeneration (salvation via water baptism), which is inconsistent with the BFM. Second, the council did not resolve the question of whether certain people are predestined by God to salvation. Third, if Weaver is correct in her reconstruction of historical events, then the council addressed the semi-Pelagian view of the perfection of saints not the salvation of sinners. In those three ways, the canons against semi-Pelagianism do not apply to the TS.

An Early Assessment of the Traditional Statement

Less than one week after its public release, Roger Olson, professor of theology at Truett Seminary in Waco, Texas, commented on the TS. In the blog post, he made three errors before concluding that certain statements in Article 2 “can be interpreted in a semi-Pelagian way.”8 First, he begins with a false premise which ends in a wrong conclusion. Second,

Olson links the TS with people who deny an important claim which the TS affirms. Third, Olson wrongly regards the non-use of an Arminian phrase as a denial of divine initiative. Each of those errors will be detailed below. If Olson erred in his assessment of the TS, then his claim that the TS can be interpreted in a semi-Pelagian way should be considered inaccurate.

Beginning with a false premise
leads to a wrong conclusion

Olson moves from a false premise to a wrong conclusion in order to charge the TS with semi-Pelagianism. First, he wrongly assumes that Southern Baptists are limited to only two biblical options for addressing the issues in Article 2: Calvinism and Arminianism. Next, Olson notes the failure in Article 2 to include two theological concepts which are used in debates between Calvinists and Arminians. Arminians acknowledge the bondage of the will and counter it with prevenient grace. Because Article 2 fails to acknowledge both the problem (bondage of the will) and the solution (prevenient grace), Article 2 should be regarded as neither Calvinist nor Arminian. Olson’s error is that he regards the only other option to be semi-Pelagianism. Must one choose between Arminianism or Calvinism in order to affirm Christian views? According to Olson, yes.

Olson was wrong to require this Arminian-Calvinist theological grid. Article 2 failed to engage the bondage of the will because such a view belongs to a philosophical-theological system which obstructs a clear reading of Scripture.9 Such doctrines are neither helpful nor necessary for Article 2. The TS summarizes a biblical view of the impact of sin on people without importing the bondage of the will. How? Doctrinal statements which reject the Calvinist-Arminian framework are not obligated to employ doctrines belonging uniquely to that system, such as bondage of the will. It is not enough to argue that the TS fails to employ the terms bondage of the will and prevenient grace. In order to make a case against the TS as unbiblical, it must be demonstrated that the views are required by the words of the Bible. Olson did not attempt to make such a case.

Olson’s false premise is that the TS, a distinctively Southern Baptist doctrinal statement, must employ an Arminian doctrine (prevenient grace) to answer a doctrine belonging to Calvinist-Arminian debates on the will. Otherwise, he wrongly concludes, the Southern Baptist document is semi-Pelagian. Advocates of the TS reject the notion that Baptists must borrow from Arminians to defend against Calvinists.

Wrongly linking the TS with people who deny
an important claim which the TS affirms

Olson links the TS with people who deny divine initiative in salvation, but the TS explicitly affirms divine initiative. In his blog article, Olson writes,

(T)he statement’s mention of “the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel” … can be interpreted in a semi-Pelagian way. Semi-Pelagians such as Philip Limborch and (at least in some of his writings) Charles Finney affirmed the necessity of the gospel and the Holy Spirit’s enlightening work through it for salvation. What made them semi-Pelagian was their denial or neglect of the divine initiative in salvation (except the gospel message).10

Olson claims that “the Holy Spirit’s work of drawing sinners to salvation through the Gospel … can be interpreted in a semi-Pelagian way.” How so? Olson explains that Limborch and Finney, whom he labels as semi-Pelagians, affirmed the need for the Holy Spirit and the gospel. At this point, Olson has only established that any doctrinal statement which affirms
the need for the Holy Spirit to use the gospel in order for sinners to be converted should be regarded as semi-Pelagian. That would include both the TS and the BFM. But Olson continues, “What made them semi-Pelagian ….” It is unclear to whom was Olson referring. Olson is probably referring not to advocates of the TS but to Limborch and Finney. Thus, “What made [Limborch and Finney] semi-Pelagian was their denial or neglect of divine initiative in salvation.” Even so, Olson implies that if the TS denies or neglects divine initiative, then it should be regarded as semi-Pelagian. But the TS affirms divine initiative in salvation. In that way, the TS is innocent of Olson’s charge.

Wrongly regarding the non-use of an Arminian phrase
as a denial of divine initiative

In his blog post on Article 2, Olson writes,

The problem with this Southern Baptist statement is its neglect of emphasis on the necessity of the prevenience of supernatural grace for the exercise of a good will toward God (including acceptance of the gospel by faith). If the authors believe in that cardinal biblical truth, they need to spell it out more clearly. And they need to delete the sentence that denies the incapacitation of free will due to Adam’s sin. Leaving the statement as it stands, without a clear affirmation of the bondage of the will to sin apart from supernatural grace, inevitably hands the Calvinists ammunition to use against non-Calvinist Baptists.11

Olson identifies “(t)he problem with this Southern Baptist Statement” as “its neglect of emphasis on the necessity of prevenience of supernatural grace (…).” Previously, Olson noted the problem with Limborch and Finney was their “denial or neglect of the divine initiative in salvation.” Olson has not established that the TS denies or neglects divine initiative in salvation.
But Olson apparently thinks this is the case since the TS does not mention “the prevenience of supernatural grace.”

It is true that the TS does not use this Arminian phrase “prevenience of supernatural grace.” But any concern that Article 2 neglects an emphasis on God’s grace should be assuaged by the following declarations in the Statement:

“…no sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.” – Article 2, sentence 4

“We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement…” – Article 4, sentence 1

The language of the TS comforts neither Calvinists nor Arminians because Article 2 fails to mention either the bondage of the will or prevenient grace. The reason the theological language of Calvinism and Arminianism is not employed is simple. The TS describes the theology of Southern Baptists who identify with neither of those theological systems.

Olson’s dedicated and intense study of the Calvinist-Arminian framework over a prolonged period of time has resulted in both help and hindrance. The help is found in Olson’s recent books. One is a masterful explanation of Arminianism. The other is a devastating critique of Calvinism. These books are outstanding.12 Unfortunately, the help is accompanied by a hindrance. Olson now places all doctrinal blocks into one of only three holes: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Unbiblical. Because the preamble of the TS explains it was prompted by the rising influence of Calvinism within the SBC, Olson skipped the Calvinism hole. Next, he tried to fit the TS into the Arminian hole. When the TS mentioned neither the bondage of the will nor prevenient grace, Olson knew it wouldn’t fit in the Arminian hole. Olson reasoned the TS must fit into the third hole. But, as argued above, that would only be the case if one accepts the premise that there are only three options: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Unbiblical. The TS reflects a fourth option, Southern Baptist theology which maintains faithfulness to the Bible but disregards certain commitments of both Calvinism and Arminianism.

Summary

The claim made by Olson was then echoed by an SBC Seminary President, who wrote that the TS appears to affirm semi-Pelagianism.13 This chapter attempted to disprove the charge in four ways. First, standard definitions of semi-Pelagianism were provided which are contradicted by claims in the TS. Second, the decisions of the Second Council of Orange fail to indict the TS as unbiblical. Third, the historical-theological context of the fifth-century debate suggests no connection to the current discussion regarding the TS. Fourth, particular errors were exposed in an early assessment of the TS.

The aim of this chapter has been to defeat a false charge. It has been demonstrated in several ways that the TS does not affirm semi-Pelagianism. Perhaps those who were accused of semi-Pelagianism for affirming the Traditional Statement will one day be exonerated like those who were wrongly accused of Communism in the 1950s.


This article was first published to JBTM 10.1 (Spring 2013). Footnotes can be viewed in original journal article.

96 thoughts on “Is the Traditional Statement Semi-Pelagian?

  1. Why would anyone even care if a Calvinist called them “semi pelagian”?

    Seriously, who cares? Calvinists label all non Calvinists heretics anyway. To say that the image of God gives us the freedom to choose is completely Biblical.

    1. Carl
      Why would anyone even care if a Calvinist called them “semi pelagian”?

      br.d
      I know what you’re saying Carl
      But behavioral experts will tell you that the reason a person plays some kind of ploy is because they’ve found it works for them.
      This is common with different types of bullying behaviors in the work place.
      The people who play those games wouldn’t bother if it didn’t give them what they were looking for.

      So there are Christians who – not knowing any better – will try to prove they aren’t whatever the Calvinist is claiming
      So this tells us the reason Calvinists do it – is because its a useful tactic to manipulate people – in order to draw them into the net.

      1. Except If you read the Article, Roger Olson who was first to call the Traditional Statement Semi-Pelagian, isn’t a Calvinist. So, you might want to stop using that falacious argument

  2. It appears that man goes to hell because of his refusal to accept the offer. So… man is more powerful than God to easily dismantle God’s Predistination and Election. Therefore the fallen man has a share or counterpart to present before God (whether to open the door of his heart or not to open) in obtaining God’s plan of Salvation. This made a Semi-Pelagian – goes off the rail of the non-negotiable God’s Grace and Plan for the Salvation of the fallen man.

    1. Calvinist double-speak talking-point #1:
      -quote
      It appears that man goes to hell because of his refusal to accept the offer.

      br.d
      Actually – Calvin’s god specifically designs select people as vessels of wrath – specifically for eternal torment in a lake of fire – for his good pleasure. And accomplishes that by not permitting them to accept an offer he never intends for them.

      Calvinist double-speak talking-point #2:
      -quote
      So… man is more powerful than God to easily dismantle God’s Predistination and Election.

      br.d
      Yea right
      And that’s about to happen when Calvin’s god infallibly actualized every desire and impulse in man’s brain!

      Calvinist double-speak talking-point #3:
      -quote
      Therefore the fallen man has a share or counterpart to present before God (whether to open the door of his heart or not to open) in obtaining God’s plan of Salvation.

      br.d
      Calvinists do love their DOUBLE-SPEAK!

      Calvinist double-speak talking-point #4:
      -quote
      This made a Semi-Pelagian – goes off the rail of the non-negotiable God’s Grace and Plan for the Salvation of the fallen man.

      br.d
      Yup – Calvin’s god’s grace is manifest in DESIGNING the vast majority of his creatures for eternal torment – for his good pleasure!

      Where can we sign up for Calvinist grace! :-]

  3. So I guess it’s OK for Leighton Flowers to falsely call all Lutherans, Classical Arminians and Calvinists heretics and Manachean Christians in order to “own the Calvinists”.

  4. Matt
    May 26, 2020 at 7:53 am

    Except If you read the Article, Roger Olson who was first to call the Traditional Statement Semi-Pelagian, isn’t a Calvinist. So, you might want to stop using that falacious argument

    br.d
    Dr. Olson’s mistake is addressed in the article.

  5. Hi Leighton, I had a question related to ability and faith. You have repeatedly pointed to the faith of the Roman centurion, Syro-Phoenician woman among others in receiving healing/salvation, arguing that these examples provide powerful evidence against the Reformed understanding of faith as a gift. In your experience, and if I may ask, what have they said to you in response? I have in mind James White among some of the other figure-heads. I read your article on effectual faith here on the site and someone raised the point in the comment box but there did not seem to be any engagement on it from Reformed commentators, hence my question here. Thanks, TR

    1. Hello TR and welcome

      Dr. Flowers – due to a busy schedule is normally not here to interact with people.
      You may however find him on Facebook – if you are a facebook user.

      On your question – if I understand it – you’re wondering what responses Dr. Flowers gets from prominent Calvinists.
      Dr. Flowers – you may know – used to teach Calvinism – and so he would be familiar with the standard responses on that subject.

      But one question to ask yourself is how would you provide any concrete evidence to know one way or another?

      Take John Calvin’s interpretation of the “wheat and tares” for example.
      For Calvin, tares are people who have been specifically designed as vessels of wrath
      And further – they are divinely deceived – being given a false faith.

      Calvin states it this way:
      -quote
      But the Lord…….. INSTILL INTO THEIR MINDS a SENSE of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption.
      (Institutes)

      -quote
      He only gives them a MANIFESTATION of his present mercy. (Institutes)

      So something so simple as to have concrete evidence – to know if he has been given a TRUE faith or a FALSE faith is not available to the Calvinist.

      It would seem even more impossible for him to determine something even more complex – i.e. whether faith is a special gift or not.

      The whole business is totally theoretical.
      Does that makes sense?

      1. Thanks for the welcome BR.D. I was speaking specifically about the standard/official Reformed responses to the “What great faith”/Roman Centurion argument (if we can call it that) and not so much thinking about the epistemological implications of their worldview (which I would agree, does not lend itself to rationality). It appears that they don’t have any comeback? Maybe they argue that the Roman Centurion was already saved? As far as I can tell, Calvin did not address the argument, nor did Luther, but it might not have even been posed back then. But maybe James White or other debaters have. Which is why I was asking for input. I am not on FB…

      2. AH!
        I see what you mean.
        I did a little googling on Matthew 8:10 looking for a reformed article – and found one at ligioneers – but it didn’t have anything to do with defending the Calvinist (and I would say Gnostic) idea of faith as a gift.

        Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like I can help.
        Sorry about that!

  6. Right, exactly re Ligoniers, they reference the centurion’s great faith without addressing its implications. I have looked everywhere I could online for their position on Matt 8:10 as it relates to the effectual faith debate but my search has come up empty. Isn’t that a bit strange? Maybe a Calvinist on this forum can pipe in? JTLEOSALA, RHutchins? Thanks much, just trying to understand.

    1. Well – for me it speaks of an aspect of Calvinism I find superfluous anyway.
      The underlying core foundation of the doctrine is Universal Divine Causal Determinism.
      Where a THEOS causes whatsoever comes to pass.
      So it would follow – a person would have to be caused to have faith – in accordance to the underlying doctrine.

      However, to simply support the underlying doctrine – its not necessary to call faith a gift.
      But if we’re going to call something Calvin’s god caused a gift – then we can easily call everything that is divinely causes a gift – including sins and evils.

      Since its not necessary to call it a gift in order to support the underlying doctrine – I have a suspicion that one of the reasons they want to call it a gift is so they can use Ephesians 2:8-9 as a proof-text.

      The more proof-texts they have – the more the underlying core doctrine appears biblical.
      That’s why I think the business of calling faith a gift for them is superfluous
      And that might explain why you’re not finding much on that subject.
      If its not essential to the underlying core doctrine, then its not that important to them.

      But that’s just my surmising :-].

    2. TR writes, … the “What great faith”/Roman Centurion argument…It appears that they don’t have any comeback? Maybe they argue that the Roman Centurion was already saved?”

      We know that The Roman Centurion despite being described as “a just man, one who fears God” would have died as a sinner without the preaching of the gospel and subsequent faith to believe in Christ for his salvation. Thus, it is God who prompts the Centurion to send for Peter who preaches the gospel to the Centurion and the others with the result that “the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” Because Christ had died on the cross, salvation is now dependent on one hearing the gospel (of Christ’s death) receiving assurance and conviction from the gospel and then “In Christ you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,…” The Centurion was not saved and could not be saved (despite his fear of God) until he heard the gospel.

      1. RH – you’re thinking of a different centurion than TR is asking about
        He’s asking about the centurion to whom Jesus said “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”

        The thinking here is – since this faith was more than sufficient for the supernatural act of divine healing – is serves as a scriptural example of faith sufficient for salvation.

      2. br.d writes, “TR is asking…about the centurion to whom Jesus said “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”

        Ooooops!

        Then, “The thinking here is – since this faith was more than sufficient for the supernatural act of divine healing – is serves as a scriptural example of faith sufficient for salvation.”

        The faith shown by the Centurion in Matthew 8 involves more than just healing. The Centurion says, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.” Then, “…only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority,…” So, the Centurion recognizes his unworthiness and Christ’s authority. He shows all the signs of being drawn by God to Christ. The conclusion seems to be that the Centurion would be one of the first converts following Jesus/ death and resurrection. I wonder if the Centurion of Acts 10 might have been or might have known the Centurion of of Matthew 8.

        I don;t see what TR’s issue is?

      3. rhutchin
        He shows all the signs of being drawn by God to Christ.

        br.d
        That’s interesting – because so don’t all of the Calvinists whom Calvin’s god has given the gift of FALSE faith.
        Must be interesting – to one day wake up – and discover one has been divinely deceived for years.
        Being given the gift of FALSE faith
        And thousands of daily FALSE perceptions – that at the foundation of the world you were designed for something other than the lake of fire.

        I wonder if Calvinist pastors prepared their congregations for that inevitability?

      4. br.d writes, “Must be interesting – to one day wake up – and discover one has been divinely deceived for years.”

        Of course, the sleep of death is in view here and one awakes to judgement day. What do such people then say – “‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ Then Jesus will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

      5. br.d
        For the Calvinist – it must be interesting – to one day wake up – and discover one has been divinely deceived for years.

        rhutchin
        Of course, the sleep of death is in view here ….etc

        br.d
        No – here “waking up” is loose terminology – and implies coming to a realization.
        And this specifically applies to the Calvinist whom Calvin’s god has deceived – giving him the gift of FALSE faith.
        Who goes through his life having thousands of divinely inspired FALSE perceptions of election, salvation and TRUE Christianity.
        Only to “wake up” and discover he was divinely decieved.

        Since Calvin’s god designs the MANY specifically for that end – I wonder how Calvinist pastors prepare their congregates for that inevitability?

      6. br.d: “For the Calvinist – it must be interesting – to one day wake up – and discover one has been divinely deceived for years.”
        br.d; “No – here “waking up” is loose terminology – and implies coming to a realization.”

        If one has truly been “divinely” deceived, why would he wake up in this life and discover he had been so deceived?

      7. rh
        If one has truly been “divinely” deceived, why would he wake up in this life and discover he had been so deceived?

        br.d
        All part of Calvin’s god’s plan – and it can be “in this life” – or it can be at any point.
        Eventually the Calvinist will wake-up and recognize – all of those years – he was divinely deceived.

        Thousands of FALSE perceptions throughout his life – of himself as elect and saved – only to discover he was one of the MANY designed for the lake of fire.

        Since Calvin’s god designs the MANY for that end – I wonder how Calvinist pastors prepare their congregants for that inevitability?

  7. The TS ,Article 1, has, “We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment
    inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin…We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will…”

    The TS is fuzzy on the issue of “faith.” It is because the TS says, “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will…” that it opens itself to the charge of being semi-Pelagian. Is a person born with or without faith? In reading the TS, one might assume (because the TS does not state this) that people are not born with faith – faith can only be received on hearing the gospel. However, if this is true, why does the TS say “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will…”? Without faith, the person has no free will with respect to salvation – the person’s free will has been incapacitated by Adam’s sin. Free will regarding a salvation choice can only be restored by faith (that faith conveyed through the gospel).

    By saying, “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will…,” the TS, perhaps inadvertently, makes faith necessary to salvation but not sufficient to produce salvation. The TS makes the will necessary to salvation, and joined with faith, it is the will that then becomes sufficient to salvation – faith, by itself, is never sufficient for salvation. The fuzziness of the TS language regarding faith makes it liable tot the charge of being semi-Pelagian.

    1. Calvinist statement
      -quote
      The fuzziness of the TS language regarding faith makes it liable tot the charge of being semi-Pelagian.

      br.d
      Too funny!
      Straining at a gnat of Pelagianism – while swallowing the camel of Stoic/Gnostic/NeoPlatonism! 😉

    1. You know Carl – I think its totally hilarious to watch Calvinists point the finger at other people – like Josh does in that article – claiming that any notion of creaturely functionality that is not under the direct control of an external mind is a heresy.

      But when you really press them about how this relates to sins and evil – they end up running in the same exact direction and hiding behind that which they accuse others of.

      They’re so afraid people will connect the dots and see man as a “Robot” or “Puppet” in their theology
      They’ll spend 1% of their time making accusations against notions of creaturely freedom – and then be forced to spend the other 99% of their time trying to tap-dance around a spider web of evasive language tricks – trying to create a FACADE of creaturely freedom sufficient to make man appear culpable.

      I get a kick out of watching them trying to manufacture semantic facades of the very human freedom they want to accuse others of appealing to.

      They obviously don’t want people to discern them doing it – hence all of their evasive language games.
      But the whole business entails hiding behind some appeal to “mere” permission which doesn’t exist in their system.

      I find their abject DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS quite hilarious! :-]

      1. br.d writes, “claiming that any notion of creaturely functionality that is not under the direct control of an external mind is a heresy.”

        Because of sovereignty, everything is under the direct control of God – else He would not be God. The issue contested is how God exercises His sovereign control.

      2. rhutchin
        The issue contested is how God exercises His sovereign control.

        br.d
        Nah!
        The issue contested is about all human functionality: (i.e., impulses, desires, hundreds of daily false perceptions, etc) all occurring irresistibly and infallibly within the human brain – which has no control over them – totally determined by – and under the control of – an external mind.

        Who wouldn’t want that! :-]

  8. I get what Josh is trying to say, and on the whole I agree. Pelagius was just the wrong framework to build on for his point.

    I like Josh. A swing and a miss on this one, though.

    What IS it with these guys’ fixation on Pelagius? No doubt Hitler was a Pelagian! Ghengis Kahn? Pelagian! Stalin? Pelagian!

    1. Carl
      What IS it with these guys’ fixation on Pelagius?

      br.d
      Yup!
      I see the same thing in political strategy – associate people you want to damage with Russia – the current political boogee-man.

      The strategy is to use straw-man facades as a form of weaponry against anyone with an apposing position.

  9. Oponents here will not accept that their soteriology is tilted towards Pelagius. That’s fine. Anyone does not want to bear that name just like naming your child after the name of Judas Iscariot.

    1. Following that line of reasoning – the Calvinist can name his child Senaca, Valentinus or Plotinus

      Senaca: Stoicism
      Valentinus: Gnosticism
      Plotinus: NeoPlatonism

      Dr. Kenneth Wilson – The Foundation of Augustinian Calvinism
      -quote
      Augustine of Hippo’s early influences from Stoicism, Neoplatonism, and Manichaeism ultimately determined his final theology, with his later deterministic interpretations of scripture reverting to his pre-Christian Manichaean interpretations.

      That would be fine – but we understand they won’t because they would be too clearly associated with paganism.

      1. “Dr. Kenneth Wilson – The Foundation of Augustinian Calvinism -quote
        Augustine of Hippo’s early influences from Stoicism, Neoplatonism, and Manichaeism ultimately determined his final theology, with his later deterministic interpretations of scripture reverting to his pre-Christian Manichaean interpretations. ”

        Dr. Wilson does not seem to recognize the significance of Augustine renouncing his ties to Stoicism, Neoplatonism, and Manichaeism when he embraced Christ and the Scriptures. Dr, Wilson does not allow the Scriptures to trump whatever Augustine may have believed. Wilson insists the Augustine was as heavily influenced by his earlier experiences after his conversion to Christ as he was prior to that conversion. That would work if Wilson could support his argument from Augustine’s writings – however, Augustine’s writings don’t seem to provide this support. James White has been going through Wilson’s dissertation and matching up Wilson’s claims with the references Wilson provides from Augustine’s writings. White has been reading Wilson’s claims and then reading Wilson’s references to the works of Augustine – They don’t match up.

      2. RH – whenever you use the word seem in a statement – its an indicator that statement is designed to produce an appearance rather than provide substance. In this case you use the word seem multiple times.

        Since White’s responses have all been superficial on the subject – I doubt Dr. Wilson has anything to worry about with White’s comments.
        Dr. Wilson submits his work to a body of peer reviewed scholarship – most of which agree with his findings.

        I don’t think you’re going to find any evidence to show: “Augustine renouncing his ties to Stoicism, Neoplatonism, and Manichaeism”

        In fact scholarship finds the opposite evidence:

        Author, Stephen MacKenna (The Influence of Plotinus Traced In St. Augustine):
        Within Augustine’s confessions, we have evidences of at least two mystical meditation experiences, which clearly follow the NeoPlatonic model. Mystic meditation was a practice emphasized by the NeoPlatonist’s to aid the believer in becoming assimilated into the “one”.

        Martin Hudale – (The Matrix of Mysticism: An In-depth Exposé of)
        “In his Confessions VII,10, Augustine imitated the Plotinian plan of introspective mysticism. Here he wrote about an alleged episode of introspective contemplation and ecstatic visions of God.”

        Augustine’s personal correspondence:
        Augustine corresponded by letter to a close friend Nebridius, who praises how Augustine’s letters: “speak of Christ, Plato and Plotinus”.

        Authors Anna S. Benjamin and L. H. Hackstaff, (Saint Augustine: On Free Choice of the Will)
        “Indeed, it is not too great an exaggeration to say that Neo-Platonism provided Augustine and the Christian Platonists who followed him with the theoretical substructure on which their theology was built. It seems that Augustine never abandoned the Platonistic matrix of his Christian theology.”

        Dr. Peter Nathan (Augustine)
        “During the course of Augustine’s lifetime, the blurred boundaries between Christianity and paganism, and between faith and philosophy, were redrawn. Paradoxically, this created a world in which paganism seemed simply to disappear…….Augustine’s adoption of the new philosophy was wholehearted. The new world of dualism aroused in him a desire to retreat from society to a life focused on the pursuit of the spiritual and, with it, of the truth he believed philosophy could provide.”.

        Dr. Kum-Lun Edwin Lee, (Augustine Manichaeism and the good)
        “Augustine’s notion of concupiscentia is also linked directly to the Manichaean idea of evil as a disturbance of a person’s inner tranquility. By the time he wrote De uera reliqione, Augustine had imported into that notion a strong sexual overtone by equating concupiscentia with the Manichaean term libido, which implies sexual desire. But gradually, due to his conviction that personal evil is inevitable (a view shared by the Manichees and demonstrated in his conceptions of consuetudo and concupiscentia), Augustine assigned determination of one’s destiny to the jurisdiction of God.”

        Martin Hudale – (The Matrix of Mysticism: An In-depth Exposé of)
        Concerning Augustine’s handling of scripture, the Gospel of John for example: “Starting in the sixth verse, Augustine adds his own interpolation of the apostles inspired words by inserting his own Neo-Platonic version of what John the Apostle meant to write…….only one of many examples of how Augustine attempted to reconcile biblical Christianity with his Neo-Platonic philosophy.”

      3. br.d writes, “RH – whenever you use the word seem in a statement – its an indicator that statement is designed to produce an appearance rather than provide substance. In this case you use the word seem multiple times.”

        When I use the word, “seem,” it means that I cannot draw a definitive conclusion from whatever information I have.

        Then, “Since White’s responses have all been superficial on the subject”

        LOL!!! Let’s see. James White reads a statement written by Wilson in Wilson’s own dissertation and sees the little footnote at the end of the statement which would, under normal circumstances, indicates a relationship to Wilson’s statement. White looks up the material referenced in the footnote (usually some writing by Augustine) and reads it to his audience and notes that the footnoted material has nothing to do with Wilson’s statement. br.d calls that superficial. One wonders what is not superficial to br.d.

        Then, “In fact scholarship finds the opposite evidence:”

        In none of the cited references do the authors provide the actual words written by Augustine. Wilson does the same thing providing only a footnote to the referenced material leaving it to the reader to look up and substantiate Wilson’s claims. When White actually looked up the footnoted references, what did he find – no relationship to that which Wilson had claimed. So, perhaps br.d will provide the referenced material noted by the cited authors so that we can substantiate their claims. Of course, if br.d did that, his efforts would be superficial.

      4. br.d
        RH – whenever you use the word seem in a statement – its an indicator that statement is designed to produce an appearance rather than provide substance. In this case you use the word seem multiple times.

        rhutchin
        When I use the word, “seem,” it means that I cannot draw a definitive conclusion from whatever information I have.

        br.d
        Right – Its an indicator that statement is designed to produce an appearance rather than provide substance.

        rhutchin
        LOL!!! Let’s see. James White reads a statement written by Wilson in Wilson’s own dissertation and sees the little footnote at the end of the statement which would, under normal circumstances, indicates a relationship to Wilson’s statement. White looks up the material referenced in the footnote (usually some writing by Augustine) and reads it to his audience and notes that the footnoted material has nothing to do with Wilson’s statement. br.d calls that superficial. One wonders what is not superficial to br.d.

        br.d
        White sees a little footnote – that’s good!
        Not enough detail provided here to show anything – except an opinion on Whites comments

        As I said – since White’s responses have all been superficial on the subject, I doubt Dr. Wilson is worried about any comments White makes.

        And I don’t think you’re going to find any evidence to show: “Augustine renouncing his ties to Stoicism, Neoplatonism, and Manichaeism”

        In fact scholarship finds the opposite evidence: (see quotes above)

        rhutchin
        In none of the cited references do the authors provide the actual words written by Augustine.

        br.d
        DUH!
        Not necessary – the intent was to show a consensus on Augustine’s Syncretisms – held by the preponderance of scholarship.
        White comments are not going to change that! :-]

        rhutchin
        Wilson does the same thing providing only a footnote to the referenced material leaving it to the reader to look up and substantiate Wilson’s claims.

        br.d
        Like I said – since Dr. Wilson’s research is scrutinized by peer reviewed scholarship – I certainly don’t think anything White comes up with is going to be substantive. Do you have anything substantive?

  10. “The faith shown by the Centurion in Matthew 8 involves more than just healing. The Centurion says, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.” Then, “…only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority,…” So, the Centurion recognizes his unworthiness and Christ’s authority. He shows all the signs of being drawn by God to Christ. The conclusion seems to be that the Centurion would be one of the first converts following Jesus/ death and resurrection. I wonder if the Centurion of Acts 10 might have been or might have known the Centurion of of Matthew 8.

    I don;t see what TR’s issue is?”

    RHutchin,

    So, if the origin of this gentile’s faith was a gift of God through His drawing, why did Jesus call it “great” and contrast it with the little faith he had seen elsewhere in Israel? Did He not understand that the comparatively weaker faith He had seen in Israel- including presumably in His hometown- was also by God’s design, whether the latter was expressed through secondary causes or not?

    1. TR writes, “So, if the origin of this gentile’s faith was a gift of God through His drawing, why did Jesus call it “great” and contrast it with the little faith he had seen elsewhere in Israel?”

      When Jesus spoke of “little faith,” He was addressing His disciples and was referring to their trust in God’s providence to provide for there needs. Most believers today could similarly be described as having “little faith” considering all the books written to strengthen faith. In the case of the Centurion, Jesus was contrasting the Centurion’s attitude toward Him with the Jewish leaders who saw the works Jesus performed and knew that only God could do those works yet denied that Christ was God.

      Then, “Did He not understand that the comparatively weaker faith He had seen in Israel- including presumably in His hometown- was also by God’s design, whether the latter was expressed through secondary causes or not?”

      I am sure He did. Jesus knew that God was omniscient and knew all things that were to come about in the future. He also knew that God had an eternal purpose for everything that was to happen and that denying the Jews a faith in Christ was part of that purpose. God could easily have done for the Jews that which He did for Lydia – opened her heart – providing the means for the Jews to respond to the things Jesus was teaching.

  11. No, in the case of the centurion it was not about attitude, you are reading your systematic into the text: Jesus truly marveled (Matt 8:10) at his faith because he believed that “just say the word” would suffice, meaning, that he had faith that Jesus could heal at a distance, something no one else had expressed before even in Israel and what made the quality of the faith, “great”.

    So, you argue that while Jesus knew of the Father’s salvation plan for the elect, He was nevertheless surprised. Yet, John 5:19-20 says:

    “Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.”

    The Father shows the Son all things that He himself does. “All things” includes granting the centurion “great faith” under your systematic…

    So why was Jesus surprised at the centurion’s faith?

    1. TR writes, “No, in the case of the centurion it was not about attitude, you are reading your systematic into the text: ‘

      Matthew 8 – “The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

      The phrases “I am not worthy,” and “I also am a man under authority,”‘ I think these phrases express his attitude. You tell me what you think these phrases express and I will use your terminology.

  12. What the phrases express is his willingness to humble himself, for the sake of accuracy. But many of the sick had humbled themselves to come to Jesus for healing, but He only commended the centurion and the Syrophoenician woman for “great” faith. So Jesus’ marvelling was not about attitude, but rather sheer faith.

    1. TR writes, “So Jesus’ marvelling was not about attitude, but rather sheer faith.”

      That’s fine. My point was that the Greek word translated as “marveled,” does not have to mean surprised.

  13. Jesus Christ was 100% human and also 100% God. If He chooses to activate His Humanity, of course He would be surprised at the Roman Centurion’s faith which He called as “Great Faith”. TR must also remember that Jesus also spoke of His inability to know about the Second Coming of the Son of man. This was so, because He is speaking from the Human side of His identity which is limited in knowledge, but in His Divine Nature of course nothing escapes from His knowledge.

    1. Careful now. The second coming is one thing and was Jesus openly spoke of not knowing its timing. But faith and the acts of God (including giving them faith under your system) are covered by John 5:19-20 which says:

      “Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.”

      The Father shows the Son all things that He himself does. “All things” includes granting the centurion “great faith” under your systematic…

      So given this, why was Jesus surprised at the centurion’s faith?

      1. TR asks, “So given this, why was Jesus surprised at the centurion’s faith?”

        I don’t think “surprised” is the best translation of the Greek word. Jesus expresses “wonder” or “astonishment” at the reaction of the gentile Centurion as opposed to the reaction of the Jews to Him. Then Jesus makes the point, ““And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Jesus knows the eventual outcome – gentiles enter the kingdom and Jews do not. No wonder, we read in the next chapter, “And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”

      2. But many Calvinists were divinely deceived – having been given a gift of FALSE faith.

        At the foundation of the world – Calvin’s god – as the divine potter – designed them to be vessels of wrath.
        Infallibly determining them to have thousands of FALSE perceptions of election and salvation through-out their lives.

        And those Calvinists put their hands on their heads and shouted: “Why didn’t my Calvinist pastor prepare me for this!”

      3. TR : Mark 13:32 “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels, neither the Son but the Father”

        1. How do you reconcile this verse with the one you cited in John 5:19-20 ? Jesus is telling us here that the Son (Himself) does not know the timing of His coming. Are you insinuating that the Son is lying nor insincere of His very statement here by saying that the Father shows Christ ALL things including granting “great faith” to the centurion?

        2. You again asked the same question: “So given this, why was Jesus surprized at the centurion’s faith?” – I have already answered that in the above thread.

    2. JT
      Jesus Christ was 100% human and also 100% God.

      br.d
      Nothing unique to Calvinism there – that is standard orthodoxy – but lets see what comes next here.

      JR
      If He chooses to activate His Humanity…., of course He would be surprised at the Roman Centurion’s faith which He called as “Great Faith”.

      br.d
      Now here is another good example of Calvinism’s practice of DOUBLE-THINK.
      If Jesus Christ is 100% God – then there is never a point at which Jesus Christ is ever less than 100% God.

      This is called an “Ad-hoc” invention.
      We must compromise LOGIC, and scripture in order to preserve the paradigm.
      Because the paradigm is more sacred than LOGIC and scripture.

      JT
      TR must also remember that Jesus also spoke of His inability to know about the Second Coming of the Son of man. This was so, because He is speaking from the Human side of His identity which is limited in knowledge, but in His Divine Nature of course nothing escapes from His knowledge.

      br.d
      Here we have the FALLACY of Composition:
      If something is true of one particular part – then it must also be true of every other part

      In other words – if Jesus doesn’t know [A], then he must not know [B], [C], [D], etc.

      Unfortunately we must diminish Jesus – in order to preserve the doctrine – because the doctrine is more sacred than Jesus.

  14. Br.D fails to argue with Jesus’ humanity. He only focuses to the Divine side of Jesus Christ (He might be denying Jesus’ humanity. If he does that then he is an anti-christ according to I John 4:2-3) but cannot explain and no explanation given in response to Why Jesus Marvelled at the Centurion’s faith; given that Jesus is Omniscient. He said :”we must diminish Jesus – in order to preserve the doctrine – because the doctrine is more sacred than Jesus.” – Did I deminish Jesus? I just said being 100% human like us. He is limited in knowledge that is why He was amazed of the Centurion’s Faith. There is no God that dies physically, but because He was in Full human, He is subject to become hungry, tired, thirst, and to die. Br.D argues by just reflecting here his logic but faild to back up his claims with scripture support.

    1. JT
      Did I diminish Jesus?

      br.d
      Where does scripture explicitly state that Jesus’ humanity can be “activated” or “deactivated”?

      This is obviously and ad-hoc invention.
      It adds a conception to the text of scripture that is never stated by scripture
      Obviously – the reason we must treat scripture and Jesus this way – is for the sake of the theology – because the theology is sacred.

  15. RHutchin wrote: “I don’t think “surprised” is the best translation of the Greek word. Jesus expresses “wonder” or “astonishment” at the reaction of the gentile Centurion as opposed to the reaction of the Jews to Him. Then Jesus makes the point, ““And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Jesus knows the eventual outcome – gentiles enter the kingdom and Jews do not. No wonder, we read in the next chapter, “And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!””

    Distinction without a difference. One does not wonder at something one already knows. Your systematic is contradictory as per John 5:19 which you have not addressed.

    1. TR writes, “Distinction without a difference. One does not wonder at something one already knows. Your systematic is contradictory as per John 5:19 which you have not addressed.”

      John 5 has, “Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.”

      This agrees with John 6, ““For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

      The issue is still the sense of the Greek word that is translated as, “marvel.” Does it mean “surprised’? I don’t think it necessarily does. When Jesus is said to marvel and say, ““Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!.” I don’t think His statement necessarily reflects His surprise at learning something He did not already know.

      1. Ἰησοῦς ἐθαύμασεν = Jesus Marveled

        In Luke – the NAS interpreters render ἐθαύμασεν as: “surprised”
        And in numerous places in Matthew – the NAS interpreters render ἐθαύμασεν as “Amazed”

        From the Greek: Thauma
        NASB Translations
        Amazed, astonished, marvel, surprised, wonder.

      2. RHutchin wrote: “The issue is still the sense of the Greek word that is translated as, “marvel.” Does it mean “surprised’? I don’t think it necessarily does. When Jesus is said to marvel and say, ““Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!.” I don’t think His statement necessarily reflects His surprise at learning something He did not already know.”

        Merriam Webster entry on “marvel”:

        1. to become filled with surprise, wonder, or amazed curiosity

        2. to feel astonishment or perplexity at or about

        Merriam Webster entry on “astonishment”:

        a feeling of great surprise and wonder : the state of being astonished

        RH, are you exegeting the text honestly?

        “Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, AND SHOWS HIM ALL THINGS THAT HE HIMSELF DOES; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.”

        Why did Jesus marvel at the centurion’s “great faith”, if the Father shows Him all things that He himself does, including giving the centurion great faith (under Calvinism)?

      3. See also my post – where the NASB interpreters do include “surprise” as one of the general ideas of the Greek word used here.

        It would make sense – after the miracles of Egypt and the Jews deliverance, and then after that – the occasional divine miracles inherent within Jewish history – that Jesus would expect Jews to have a background in which faith is an integral part. And he wouldn’t expect that to be the case with gentiles who don’t have that form of faith as part of their history.

        So Jesus telling a Gentile like Cornelius: “you people will not believe unless you see signs and wonders” is an indicator of what Jesus expected in regard to Gentile faith. And thus why Jesus would be surprised and declare this Gentile’s faith as greater than what he has seen with Israel.

        So to assume Jesus is surprised goes quite naturally with the context.

      4. TR writes, “Merriam Webster entry on “marvel”…RH, are you exegeting the text honestly?”

        It it proper exegesis to appeal to a modern 21th century dictionary to understand a Greek word used in the 1st century? Let’s look at how the word is used elsewhere in Matthew.

        Mt 8 So the [disciples] marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
        Mt 9 “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”–then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”…Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.
        Mt 9 And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, “It was never seen like this in Israel!”
        Mt 15 So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
        Mt 21 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”
        Mt 22 Jesus said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.
        Mt 27 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.

        Your question, “Why did Jesus marvel at the centurion’s “great faith”, if the Father shows Him all things that He himself does, including giving the centurion great faith (under Calvinism)?”

        Are we to think that Jesus is expressing His new found knowledge of what God is doing and is amazed that God is doing these things? I don’t think so. I think the word conveys the meaning of Jesus giving His approval to the actions of the Centurion and expressing His admiration for the actions of the Centurion – the Centurion had said, ““Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority,…” It is a teachable moment and Jesus is using it to condemn the Jews.

      5. RH
        It is a teachable moment and Jesus is using it to condemn the Jews.

        br.d
        Calvinist lesson #66:
        Always blame your hammer when it hits the nail

        Calvinist lesson #67
        Always blame your hammer when it doesn’t hit the nail. :-]

      6. RHutchin wrote:

        “It it proper exegesis to appeal to a modern 21th century dictionary to understand a Greek word used in the 1st century? Let’s look at how the word is used elsewhere in Matthew.

        Mt 8 So the [disciples] marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
        Mt 9 “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”–then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”…Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.
        Mt 9 And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, “It was never seen like this in Israel!”
        Mt 15 So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
        Mt 21 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”
        Mt 22 Jesus said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.
        Mt 27 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.

        Your question, “Why did Jesus marvel at the centurion’s “great faith”, if the Father shows Him all things that He himself does, including giving the centurion great faith (under Calvinism)?”

        Are we to think that Jesus is expressing His new found knowledge of what God is doing and is amazed that God is doing these things? I don’t think so. I think the word conveys the meaning of Jesus giving His approval to the actions of the Centurion and expressing His admiration for the actions of the Centurion – the Centurion had said, ““Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority,…” It is a teachable moment and Jesus is using it to condemn the Jews”

        There is no fundamental difference between the Greek usage of the word and the English dictionary definitions I showed you above. Thanks for sharing all those verses, they actually prove my point, not yours, i.e., that marvel and surprised/astonished are functionally equivalent.

        The fact that you are trying to insert a distinction between them (something the NAS translators don’t and that no honest exegete would including the other translators that rendered as “marvel”) reveals desperate exegesis.

        Yes you are to think that Jesus was genuinely amazed at the centurion’s faith. That is what the context and text indicates. Your systematic is inherently contradictory. 🙂

        Q.E.D.

      7. TR writes, “Yes you are to think that Jesus was genuinely amazed at the centurion’s faith. That is what the context and text indicates.”

        Amazed but not at the additional knowledge He gained. Amazed at the contrast between the reaction of the Centurion to that of the Jews.

        I’ll yield to JTL on this, “Jesus Christ as 100% God – nothing escapes from His knowledge. On the other hand, Jesus Christ as 100% human, – His knowledge was limited. His mental faculty was subject to human development from the womb of His mother, then after birth, then in his childhood at Nazareth until he became a man presenting Himself to be baptized by John at the Jordan River.”

      8. rhutchin
        I’ll yield to JTL on this, “Jesus Christ as 100% God – nothing escapes from His knowledge.

        br.d
        Now you’re misquoting JTL.
        Even he acknowledged that Jesus didn’t have knowledge of everything.

        Taking Calvinists seriously is a person’s first mistake! :-]

      9. Well said TR

        There are two different models for maintaining a relationship between one’s theology and what scripture says.
        1) Modify what scripture says – because we need to preserve the theology
        2) Modify the Theology to affirm only what scripture explicitly says

        The Calvinist who follows model (2) is eventually lead him out of Calvinism

      10. RHutchin wrote:

        “Amazed but not at the additional knowledge He gained. Amazed at the contrast between the reaction of the Centurion to that of the Jews.”

        Just when I thought the train-wreck couldn’t get any worse…

        1. Your two propositions above are contradictory
        2. the second contains a red herring: (amazed not at the Centurion’s great faith, which is the logical reading of the text, but amazed at his “reaction”…)

        … “at the contrast between the reaction…” IS part of the knowledge Jesus gained, in addition to the knowledge he gained about the centurion’s faith…

        Look, you can slice and dice any way you want, buddy you’re so far up the creek here without a paddle. Keep trying though, it’s entertaining. And also, reach out to James White or any big wigs who are unreachable by the general public if you haven’t already, would love to get his input on the matter (likely not different than what you and JT have written though…)

  16. JT wrote: “TR : Mark 13:32 “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels, neither the Son but the Father”

    1. How do you reconcile this verse with the one you cited in John 5:19-20 ? Jesus is telling us here that the Son (Himself) does not know the timing of His coming. Are you insinuating that the Son is lying nor insincere of His very statement here by saying that the Father shows Christ ALL things including granting “great faith” to the centurion?

    2. You again asked the same question: “So given this, why was Jesus surprized at the centurion’s faith?” – I have already answered that in the above thread”

    1. I explained it to you above, were you listening? I said Mark 13:32 pertains to prophecy which is a distinct form of knowledge from the knowledge of the act of God in giving some people faith and not others (under your systematic). And in regards to the latter, John 5:19-20 is clear. You do not rightly divide the Word.

    2. No you did not address John 5:19-20 in relation to your claim that Jesus was surprised/in wonder at the centurion’s faith, which again, under your systematic, is said to be a gift of God.

    1. TR Writes: “I said Mark 13:32 pertains to prophecy which is a distinct form of knowledge from the knowledge of the act of God in giving some people faith and not others (under your systematic)”

      ——My Response——-
      1. We can cite Romans 10:17 that faith is granted by God through the hearing of the words of God.

      2. You assert that Prophecy is the means whereby Faith is granted. Where did you get that? from China?

      3. God the Father grants faith in the verse that you cited in John 5:19-20. It’s just natural for the Son to be amazed because He was not the One who did it. There is nothing wrong with giving the Father due honor for that expression even though He knows it already beforehand. Also, Jesus Christ as 100% God – nothing escapes from His knowledge. On the other hand, Jesus Christ as 100% human, – His knowledge was limited. His mental faculty was subject to human development from the womb of His mother, then after birth, then in his childhood at Nazareth until he became a man presenting Himself to be baptized by John at the Jordan River.

      1. JT wrote: “——My Response——-
        1. We can cite Romans 10:17 that faith is granted by God through the hearing of the words of God.

        2. You assert that Prophecy is the means whereby Faith is granted. Where did you get that? from China?

        3. God the Father grants faith in the verse that you cited in John 5:19-20. It’s just natural for the Son to be amazed because He was not the One who did it. There is nothing wrong with giving the Father due honor for that expression even though He knows it already beforehand. Also, Jesus Christ as 100% God – nothing escapes from His knowledge. On the other hand, Jesus Christ as 100% human, – His knowledge was limited. His mental faculty was subject to human development from the womb of His mother, then after birth, then in his childhood at Nazareth until he became a man presenting Himself to be baptized by John at the Jordan River.”

        No, I did not assert that, you misunderstood. John 5:19-20

        “Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; FOR WHATEVER HE DOES, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, AND SHOWS HIM ALL THINGS THAT HE HIMSELF DOES; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.”

        Under your systematic, the Father gives great faith to the centurion. Yet, the Scripture unequivocally states that this purported act of God under Calvinism, i.e., giving great faith to the centurion, was shown to the Son.

        Why then is the Son surprised? In your self-contradictory systematic this is not natural at all. You can merely assert that it is natural,but that does not constitute an argument or make it so.

  17. Br.D Writes: “Here we have the FALLACY of Composition:”
    “If something is true of one particular part – then it must also be true of every other part”

    ——Here’s My Response——
    A. Jesus Christ as 100% God cannot die because He is God – This is the one side and is true
    B. Jesus Christ as 100% human is subject to die on the cross because He is human. – This is the other side (B) and cannot be true with (A)

    Br.D would like to argue that (A) must also be true with (B) = Here, Br.D’s logic becomes impotent. Using his logic to counter-argue on Christ’s dual nature does not make sense at all.

    1. JT
      Br.D would like to argue that (A) must also be true with (B)

      br.d
      Here we have the FALLACY of non sequitur.
      Nothing that br.d stated asserts that Jesus is not going to – or cannot – die on the cross.

      Rather – you asserted that Jesus’ humanity can be -quote “activated” (or by reverse logic) “de-activated” as a reason for for why Jesus would be surprised at something.

      It is certain – that concept did not come from scripture.

      Thus an ad-hoc invention is created – in order to support a theology – at the expense of Jesus and scripture.
      Showing the theology is the sacred object.

      JT – somehow I don’t think rational thinking is your strong suit! :-]

      1. So,

        Let’s sum up the Calvinist approach to Matt. 8:10

        1. Deflect to the centurion’s humility to try and avoid the implications of “marveled”.

        2. Deny that Jesus’ reaction to the centurion’s great faith included surprise…

        3. Don’t deny #1, but claim it was by an “activated” human nature…

        Also interesting that #2 and #3 are contradictory, revealing confusion in the camp…

      2. TR writes, “Let’s sum up the Calvinist approach to Matt. 8:10
        1. Deflect to the centurion’s humility to try and avoid the implications of “marveled”.”

        Let’s defer to Calvin on this–

        “10. Jesus wondered. Wonder cannot apply to God, for it arises out of what is new and
        unexpected: but it might exist in Christ, for he had clothed himself with our flesh, and with
        human affections. Not even in Israel have I found so great faith This is not spoken absolutely,
        but in a particular point of view. For, if we consider all the properties of faith, we must
        conclude that the faith of Mary was greater, in believing that she would be with child by the
        Holy Ghost, and would bring forth the only-begotten Son of God, and in acknowledging
        the son whom she had borne to be her God, and the Creator of the whole world, and her
        only Redeemer.

        But there were chiefly two reasons why Christ preferred the faith of a Gentile to the
        faith of all the Jews. One was, that a slight and inconsiderable acquaintance with doctrine
        yielded so sudden and abundant fruit. It was no small matter to declare, in such lofty terms,
        the power of God, of which a few rays only were yet visible in Christ. Another reason was,
        that while the Jews were excessively eager to obtain outward signs, this Gentile asks no visible
        sign, but openly declares that he wants nothing more than the bare word. Christ was going
        to him: not that it was necessary, but to try his faith; and he applauds his faith chiefly on
        the ground of his resting satisfied with the bare word. What would another have done, and
        he too one of the Apostles? Come, Lord, see and touch. This man asks no bodily approach
        or touch, but believes the word to possess such efficacy as fully to expect from it that his
        servant will be cured.

        Now, he ascribes this honor to the word, not of a man, but of God: for he is convinced
        that Christ is not an ordinary man, but a prophet sent by God. And hence may be drawn a
        general rule. Though it was the will of God that our salvation should be accomplished in
        the flesh of Christ, and though he seals it daily by the sacraments, yet the certainty of it must
        be obtained from the word. Unless we yield such authority to the word, as to believe that,
        as soon as God has spoken by his ministers, our sins are undoubtedly forgiven, and we are
        restored to life, all confidence of salvation is overthrown.”

      3. rhutchin
        Let’s defer to Calvin on this

        br.d
        Yea – go about your office *AS-IF* nothing is determined in any part!

        So much for deferring to double-minded Calvin :-]

      4. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

        CALVINISM’S AD-HOC INVENTIONS:

      5. RHutchin wrote:

        Let’s defer to Calvin on this–

        “10. Jesus wondered. Wonder cannot apply to God, for it arises out of what is new and
        unexpected: but it might exist in Christ, for he had clothed himself with our flesh, and with
        human affections. Not even in Israel have I found so great faith This is not spoken absolutely,
        but in a particular point of view…. ”

        Calvin is not of much help: he not realize that this gloss contradicts John 5:19-20. Here he introduces a division between the Father and Son denied by those verses. They unequivocally speak of the initiative of the Father in showing the Son all things He is doing pertaining to the working of miracles leading to marvel, including the granting of faith to the centurion under a Calvinist systematic. This unwittingly creates an immovable contradiction and therefore should be rejected for what it is, i.e., poor exegesis.

        Next please. James White? Horton? Any contemporaries?

      6. TR writes, “Next please. James White? Horton? Any contemporaries?”

        The best I can tell is that this has never been raised as an issue before and as a result, no one addresses it. I still think the issue arises because of the translation of the Greek into English and the English word used probably does not do the Greek justice.

      7. My BDAG has “to be surprised at something” as part of the understanding of the Greek word θαυμάζω – used in this verse.

        So “to be surprised” or “to find something surprising” is part of its general usage.

  18. Statement 2 reads, “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.”

    Calvinists say that Adam’s sin resulted in the loss of faith in his descendants with the resulting incapacitation of a person’s free will until the person hears the gospel and receives faith. This statement says that faith is of secondary importance in salvation. What do the Traditionalists give priority to – free will. In denying the incapacitation of man’s will in Adam’s sin and the relegation of faith ot secondary status, the Traditionalists have clearly embarked on a semi-Pelagian path. In a bit of confusion, we then read, “If God calls all people to repent and there are open invitations for people to respond in faith to Christ, then it follows that people are able to repent and place faith in Christ.” So, we have “respond in faith,” recognizing the need for faith. Do they mean that everyone is born with faith (a semi-Pelagian concept) or do they agree with the Calvinists that no one is born with faith and only receives faith through hearing the gospel? The Traditionalists try to play both sides of the fence but reject the Calvinists. So, who is left for them but the semi-Pelagians?

    1. rhutchin
      Calvinists say that Adam’s sin resulted in the loss of faith in his descendants with the resulting incapacitation of a person’s free will until the person hears the gospel and receives faith.

      br.d
      Yea – but that’s all part of Calvinism’s practice of not telling the WHOLE TRUTH

      1) Calvin’s god “rendered-certain” Adam’s every impulse – making them actualize irresistibly within Adam’s brain.
      2) Calvin’s god did not permit Adam to resist or disobey the infallible decree
      3) Calvin’s god did not make any alternative available to Adam – at pain of falsifying the infallible decree.

      And (1-3) are exactly the same for all created beings which Calvin’s god creates.

      Calvinists constantly try to paint a FALSE picture – of Adam being able to DO OTHERWISE than obey Calvin’s god’s infallible decree – in order to make Calvinism APPEAR to line up with the general narrative of scripture.

      And one can understand why! :-]

      1. ‘rhutchin: “Calvinists say that Adam’s sin resulted in the loss of faith in his descendants with the resulting incapacitation of a person’s free will until the person hears the gospel and receives faith.”
        br.d: “Yea – but that’s all part of Calvinism’s practice of not telling the WHOLE TRUTH”

        A partial truth is still the truth. So, thanks for affirming what I said. Even your additional truths affirm the Calvinst claim that God is omniscient. But everyone already knows that Calvinism affirms the omniscience of God, so what was your point?

      2. rhutchin
        A partial truth is still the truth.

        br.d
        Not when its meant to obfuscate the WHOLE truth
        That’s why a witness must put his hand on a bible and swear to tell the WHOLE truth

        It prevents the witness from deceiving people with misleading truths

        And that’s why Calvinists won’t speak the WHOLE truth

  19. From TR:

    “Let’s sum up the Calvinist approach to Matt. 8:10

    1. Deflect to the centurion’s humility to try and avoid the implications of “marveled”.

    2. Deny that Jesus’ reaction to the centurion’s great faith included surprise…

    3. Don’t deny #1, but claim it was by an “activated” human nature…”

    Yup. #3. You nailed it.

    1. TR
      3. Don’t deny #1, but claim it was by an “activated” human nature…”

      Carl
      Yup. #3. You nailed it.

      br.d
      Yup! And all the while – doing everything possible to hide the real face of Calvinism behind various masks.

      1001 strategies to present Stoic/Gnostic/NeoPlatonic Determinism to a Bible reading consumer-base.

      Because they intuitively know – if the non-Calvinist Bible reader can see behind the mask – he will never buy the product.

  20. The youtube debate between Skylar Fiction and RC Apologist was very telling. The Calvinist depiction of God causing sin and then punishing that sinner for his glory was starkly presented.

    1. Carl writes, “The Calvinist depiction of God causing sin and then punishing that sinner for his glory was starkly presented.”

      Probably a newbie.

      1. Carl
        The Calvinist depiction of God causing sin and then punishing that sinner for his glory was starkly presented.

        rhutchin
        Probably a newbie.

        br.d
        It doesn’t take a “newbie” Calvinist to present a standard Calvinist depiction foundational to Calvinism.

        Calvin’s god – as the divine potter – designs what each vessel will be/do – does not permit them to do otherwise than he makes them be/do – so that he can punish them for what he makes them be/do.

        Psalm 115:8
        Those who make a deity eventually become like-unto that deity

  21. Calvinist friends:

    Below are a few quotes and I am wondering if they in fact in are in agreement with what you would say:

    Verse 7. [God] hath set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they (incur). 

    V. 20. The lightning all but snatches away their sight; every time the light (Helps) them, they walk therein, and when the darkness grows on them, they stand still. And if [God] willed, He could take away their faculty of hearing and seeing; for [God] hath power over all things.

    V 272. It is not required of thee O Messenger, to set them on the right path, but [God] sets on the right path whom He pleaseth. 
     O ye who believe! Be not like the Unbelievers, who say of their brethren, when they are travelling through the Earth or engaged in fighting: “If they had stayed with us, they would not have died, or been slain.” This that [God] may make it a cause of sighs and regrets in their hearts. It is [God] that gives Life and Death, and [God] sees well all that ye do.

    ————
    These are all taken from Surat 6 of the Koran.

    1. Hey FOH
      I’m going to guess the Calvinist is going to fain not having any association with that text :-]

      Even thought that text is clearly much more Calvinistic than the Bible! :-]

    2. FOH writes, “These are all taken from Surat 6 of the Koran.”

      False religions always imitate that which true religion. The key is to identify where the false religion deviates from the true religion.

      You learn to identify counterfeit money by constantly handling real money.

  22. It is important to note that the same fatalistic, deterministic, “Insha’allah” position of Islam is not denied by Calvinists. It is simply affirmed with a “we said it first” attitude.

    Yum.

  23. As for all of the comments above on the various Centurions (“God-fearing Gentiles” “those with more faith than all Israel”)…. I have never had a Calvinist successfully tell me (or even try to tell me) how they had this “faith”.

    We are told by Calvinists that pre-justified, pre-made-alive beings are only capable of evil…..they are “100% God-haters.”

    And yet…. the Scripture tells us of many that are not.

    Calvinists yank Romans 3:11 out of context to say that none seek God…and yet many many verses show man doing that (Christ even told the massive crowd on the mountain side to seek first the kingdom—cuz they could!).

  24. Pingback: My Homepage

Leave a Reply to fromoverhere Cancel reply