Get yourself a new heart?

User avatar
seer
Posts: 234
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 10:16 am
Location: New England

Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by seer » Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:26 am

Why should anyone be concerned about what Pelagius taught? Who even knows? The question is what the scripture teaches. You don't seem to be interacting with us on that level here. You are only raising your eyebrows and asking leading questions. Have we not answered them? Now perhaps you can answer the scriptural points I have raised.


Well first Steve, because in the past I believe you said that you were decidedly not pelagian. Have you changed your mind? Second, I just want to be sure where you are coming from, again: can a man desire God, without God first doing a inward work (like opening ears, eyes, heart, inner conviction of the Holy Spirit, etc...) ?
Thanks to the human heart by which we live, thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears, To me the meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. Wordsworth

User avatar
darinhouston
Posts: 2181
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2008 7:45 am

Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by darinhouston » Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:11 pm

Homer wrote:Seer wrote:

Can a man in his natural state choose to learn to love and obey God? Isn't that what an apprentice (disciple) does? Where is it written that a man can not?

Homer
This is a question that has plagued me and will continue to do if the answer is in the negative (I think he can, actually). While you no doubt can't "learn" your way to salvation, our parenting class (which got its start by Calvinists in Piper's church no less) is premised on the idea that we can raise our child in a way that through this exercise of God's grace through our instruction they would have knowledge and a soft heart and mind towards Christ which would increase the likelihood that and ease with which the child would come to know and follow Christ.

I would do it in any event because it raises good "citizens," and because the bible tells me to do so, but even if I were a 5-pointer, I would see it as contingency training -- if my children happen to be elect, then they will have a head-start on discipleship and sanctification.

I'd be interested in how seer sees this and what benefit comes from biblical and spiritual training of a child, presuming he believes that some of them aren't elect. Is it just a secular benefit? Does it have some spiritual benefit also? I'll start a new thread here: http://www.theos.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=72&t=2367

User avatar
darinhouston
Posts: 2181
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2008 7:45 am

Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by darinhouston » Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:26 pm

steve wrote:Hi Jim (Seer),

You wrote:
seer wrote:"Let me get this straight Steve, the natural man can respond positively to God, actually seek God, simply on His disclosure in nature? So men look at the starry hosts at night and decide to worship the one true God - under their own inward steam?"
Why not? Romans 1:20 says that these evidences alone render a man "without excuse." This certainly implies man's capability and responsibility to respond to such stimuli in the environment as God has placed there to make Himself known. If man cannot respond to this, then he certainly has an "excuse" for not doing so. What better excuse can one offer, but that the thing required of him was beyond his human capabilities?

On the other hand, I am not prepared to say that the contemplation of the starry skies has ever, exclusive of other factors, caused any man or woman to repent and seek God. It may well be that this is has happened, but there are so many other factors working simultaneously on the consciousness and the conscience of every man at any given time that it would be impossible for us to know which of these factors played the greatest role in leading a man to repentance.

/snip/
First, I think this thread has been Steve at his best -- the responses have been cogent and beautiful (to my ears anyway) with appeal to apropos Scriptures, as always.

I would add from the above that we should be careful not to require more than Scripture does of a man's heart towards God. Steve has raised on a number of instances that we aren't sure how God will deal with the unevangelized. I am comfortable seeing the quasi-ignorant (no one is without some light) on a sliding slide in God's eyes and His ability to see the nature of the heart in response to even just the glory of the heavens. Maybe the man can't come up with a profession of faith and maybe he lacks any measure of sophistication in his theology, but I believe man in isolation can marvel in the glory of Creation sufficient to realize that there is some creator that is worthy of fear and respect and realize how small and insignificant he is in his ability to even know such a God. Such a man may have the ability to humble himself and desire to know more and follow whatever light he is provided, and I am willing to permit God the right to extend His grace and mercy through eternal life and temporal salvation.

User avatar
steve
Posts: 3346
Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:45 pm

Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by steve » Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:58 pm

Seer,

You wrote:

"Second, I just want to be sure where you are coming from, again: can a man desire God, without God first doing a inward work (like opening ears, eyes, heart, inner conviction of the Holy Spirit, etc...) ?"

Why do you limit the prior working of God to these few options, when the Bible does not do so? I think I have stated my position plainly. If you still do not understand my position, go back and read it again. I do not have the time to continually re-answer the same question. If you find my answer objectionable, you may freely seek the truth elsewhere. However, I would be interested in knowing, on what grounds do you disagree?

Concerning your earlier question of whether I believe what Pelagius taught, or not, I do not know how to answer, since I have never read any of the works of Pelagius (I have recently purchased his commentary on Romans, but have not yet had occasion to read it). I have read the Bible, however, and it is by appeal to it alone that I have made my case. If Pelagius happened to read his Bible and to have reached the same conclusions, the better for him! But that is not relevant to our concerns here.

Most of what I have heard of the teaching of Pelagius has come to me through the testimony of his theological adversaries and critics—a witness that is notoriously liable to spin and misrepresent what a man really taught. I have heard that Pelagius believed all men are born morally neutral. I have often gone on record as believing otherwise. Therefore I am not a Pelagian.

That Pelagius may also have taught something similar to my position stated above is a distinct possibility. As far as I know, he also believed in the trinity and the virgin birth of Christ. Is there any fault to be found in agreeing with him on such matters?

I asked why any of us should care what Pelagius wrote, because no one is here advocating that we should adopt a Pelagian system of theology. It might make an interesting topic to discuss, if any Pelagians happen to show up wanting a scrap. However, the question is irrelevant in the present discussion, since we have only been discussing scripture, not Pelagius.

Whenever Calvinists "play the Pelagian card," they simply declare that they have run out of scriptural arguments, and feel the need to attack their opponents by affixing labels (whether appropriate or not)—hoping that the very suggestion of the label may scare their opponents into beating a hasty retreat from their positions. When you come here, as you should already know, you will not encounter scared rabbits. What you will find here will be people looking for sensible biblical answers.

Now...have you any of those?

User avatar
seer
Posts: 234
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 10:16 am
Location: New England

Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by seer » Wed Oct 29, 2008 5:22 am

Ok old friend,
John 6:44,64,65

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)
And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father
Is this drawing to Christ simply a matter of external evidences? But it is not granted to all (vs. 64,65). External evidences could not be so specific, to be granted to one and not another.
Acts 16:14

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to heed to what was said by Paul.
Would Lydia have heeded the gospel with out God first opening her heart?
Rom.8:30

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Rom 9:23,24

in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

Heb. 9:15

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
Is the call spoken of here universal and external or inward and specific?
Thanks to the human heart by which we live, thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears, To me the meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. Wordsworth

User avatar
steve
Posts: 3346
Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:45 pm

Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by steve » Wed Oct 29, 2008 7:18 am

Jim,

When I asked for sensible biblical answers, I actually was not referring to the predictable Calvinist ploy of posting the playbook proof texts, followed by rhetorical questions. We have all seen what texts Calvinists can cite. What we are waiting to see is what Calvinists can sensibly say about the scriptures we have presented. No Calvinist seems able to address them. I was hoping you might be an exception.

So that I may never be accused of what I just accused Calvinists of doing (i.e., ignoring the texts presented by their theological detractors), I will, according to my usual policy, gladly answer your questions about the texts you posted. However, I would still like to know if you, or any other Calvinist, have ever even noticed the rest of the scriptures—you know, the ones which are not found in the Calvinist debate manual.


John 6:44,64,65

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)
And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father



Is this drawing to Christ simply a matter of external evidences? But it is not granted to all (vs. 64,65). External evidences could not be so specific, to be granted to one and not another.


The passages do not specify whether this "drawing" and "granting" is individualistic or universal. I think it is universal. I can't prove that from the verses themselves (though I sought to demonstrate the principle in verses cited above, in previous posts). However, neither can you demonstrate from the verses themselves that it is individualistic. So, without other biblical data being considered, these verses will not resolve the controversy.
Acts 16:14

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to heed to what was said by Paul.


Would Lydia have heeded the gospel with out God first opening her heart?
I think that the implication is that she listened and heeded Paul's message because God opened or inclined her heart to do so, and that she might not have listened to him otherwise. But that is part and parcel with the way God directs his own, which she apparently was. She was (like Cornelius before his conversion) already "a worshiper of God," according to the text. Certainly Luke's statement does not allow that he thought her to be a false worshiper, but rather a true worshiper. Now my question is: How did she become a worshiper of God in her natural state, or under her "own inward steam," prior to her hearing the gospel from Paul?

If you say she was already regenerated before she heard Paul, then it removes all the force of the point that God had to open her heart to heed Paul, since you are seeing this as the inward work of regeneration that is necessary before a natural person can believe. Yet, on this theory, that regeneration had occurred previous to her becoming a worshiper of God, and thus previous to God opening her heart to heed Paul.

If you say she was not already regenerated, then you have given away the farm, because you will be suggesting that she was a person who worshiped God, even though she was unregenerated, and thus while in her "natural" state—the possibility of which you have been arguing against throughout this thread.

This verse appears to destroy your thesis. Thanks for bringing it up.
Rom.8:30

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Rom 9:23,24

in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

Heb. 9:15

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.


Is the call spoke of here universal and external or inward and specific?


Universal or specific?

These verses are referring specifically to the effects of the call in the lives of those who have responded favorably to it. There are many terms the New Testament uses in referring to Christians—many of which speak of some specific aspect of their salvation.

Paul mentions us as being those "called," though we know that Christians are not the only persons whom God has called, since "many are called, but few are chosen"(Matt.20:16), and "those who are with Him are called, chosen and faithful"(Rev.17:14).

Christians, like others, have been called by the gospel. But unlike others, in addition to being called, we are chosen and faithful. Now, in the interest of brevity, a writer may speak of us by appeal to any of these terms individually. For example, we may be referred to as "the called" or as "the chosen" or as "the faithful"—and indeed all of these designations occur in the New Testament. But when any of these terms is used individually of Christians, the others are implied along with them. Thus, when Christians are referred to as "the called," "the chosen," or "the faithful," we can be quite certain that the writer is using one term to stand for all, and any such reference could be read to mean "the called, chosen and faithful."

Such titles, when applied to Christians, are obviously specifically delimited in their meaning to Christians. But it is a mistake to judge, from passages that speak of the calling of Christians, that none but Christians have been called, or that God's call, in every case, results in faithfulness. The Bible clearly removes that possibility:

"Therefore I will number you for the sword, And you shall all bow down to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not hear, but did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight...So will I choose their delusions, And bring their fears on them; because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear; but they did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight." (Isaiah 65:12; 66:4)


External or inward?

Actually Paul does not tell us, does he? Without importing information from additional passages, we would not know whether He is speaking of a Calvinistic "effectual call" or if he is talking about the general call of the gospel being preached, to which not everyone responds favorably.

I acknowledge that, in Romans 8:30, the statement, "whom he called, he justified," sounds superficially like it is saying "every person that God calls ends up justified"—and it especially sounds this way to a person wishing to establish an argument for unconditional election or irresistible grace (though, in any case, these particular passages about "the called" do not directly address your present concern of total depravity). I would suggest, though, that all of the "whom he..." clauses in this passage are hermeneutically controlled by the first one in the chain, namely, "whom he did predestinate..." In other words, the sense of the chain of clauses would have a meaning such as this:

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and
whom he [predestinated and] called, them he also justified: and
whom he [predestinated and called and] justified, them he also glorified.

I can't prove to a skeptic that this is the meaning of the sentence, but none can prove that this misses Paul's meaning either. In this case, instead of providing a proof of Calvinism, Paul would merely be giving a catalog of the ways in which God has worked in our lives, leading up to our present glorification (seated in the heavenlies) in Christ. Arminians have no trouble believing that God has done all of these things for them and in them.
Last edited by steve on Sat Nov 01, 2008 2:12 pm, edited 5 times in total.

User avatar
seer
Posts: 234
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 10:16 am
Location: New England

Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by seer » Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:11 am

However, I would still like to know if you, or any other Calvinist, have ever even noticed the rest of the scriptures—you know, the ones which are not found in the Calvinist debate manual.
There are other scriptures? ;) BTW are you up early or late?

The passages do not specify whether this "drawing" and "granting" is individualistic or universal. I think it is universal. I can't prove that from the verses themselves (I demonstrated the principle in verses cited above, in previous posts). However, neither can you demonstrate from the verses themselves that it is individualistic. So, without other biblical data being considered, these verses will not resolve the controversy.
I would have to disagree Steve, Christ makes it clear that the coming to Him had not been granted to all. Which means that said granting can not rely on merely external evidences - they would be universal in the sense that they do not discriminate.
I think that the implication is that she listened and heeded Paul's message because God opened or inclined her heart to do so, and that she might not have listened to him otherwise. But that is part and parcel with the way God directs his own, which she apparently was. She was (like Cornelius before his conversion) already "a worshiper of God," according to the text. Certainly Luke's statement does not allow that he thought her to be a false worshiper, but rather a true worshiper. Now my question is: How did she become a worshiper of God in her natural state, or "under her own inward steam," prior to her hearing the gospel from Paul?
Before we move on to your other point Steve... So God did an inward work, and without this work she would have not heeded the gospel. Why was this inward work needed?
Universal or specific?

These verses are referring specifically to the effects of the call in the lives of those who have responded favorably to it. There are many terms the New Testament uses in referring to Christians—many of which speak of some specific aspect of their salvation.

Paul mentions us as being those "called," though we know that Christians are not the only persons whom God has called, since "many are called, but few are chosen"(Matt.20:16), and "those who are with Him are called, chosen and faithful"(Rev.17:14).

Christians, like others, have been called by the gospel. But unlike others, in addition to being called, we are chosen and faithful. Now, in the interest of brevity, a writer may speak of us by appeal to any of these terms individually. For example, we may be referred to as "the called" or as "the chosen" or as "the faithful"—and indeed all of these designations occur in the New Testament. But when any of these terms are used individually of Christians, the others are implied along with them. Thus, when Christians are referred to as "the called," "the chosen," or "the faithful," we can be quite certain that the writer is using one term to stand for all, and any such reference could be read to mean "the called, chosen and faithful."

Such titles, when applied to Christians, are obviously specifically delimited in their meaning to Christians. But it is a mistake to judge, from passages that speak of the calling of Christians, that none but Christians have been called, or that God's call, in every case, results in faithfulness. The Bible clearly removes that possibility:

"Therefore I will number you for the sword, And you shall all bow down to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not hear, but did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight...So will I choose their delusions, And bring their fears on them; because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear; but they did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight." (Isaiah 65:12; 66:4)


External or inward?

Actually Paul does not tell us, does he? Without importing information from additional passages, we would not know whether He is speaking of a Calvinistic "effectual call" or if he is talking about the general call of the gospel being preached, to which not everyone responds favorably.

I acknowledge that, in Romans 8:30, the statement, "whom he called, he justified," sounds superficially like it is saying "every person that God calls ends up justified"—and it especially sounds this way to a person wishing to establish an argument for unconditional election (though, in any case, these particular passages about "the called" do not directly address your present concern of total depravity). I would suggest, though, that all of the "whom he..." clauses in this passage are hermeneutically controlled by the first one in the chain, namely, "whom he did predestinate..." In other words, the sense of the chain of clauses would have a meaning such as this:

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and
whom he [predestinated and] called, them he also justified: and
whom he [predestinated and called and] justified, them he also glorified.

I can't prove to a skeptic that this is the meaning of the sentence, but none can prove that this misses Paul's meaning either. In this case, instead of providing a proof of Calvinism, Paul would merely be giving a catalog of the ways in which God has worked in the lives of those who have ultimately been glorified (seated in the heavenlies) in Christ. Arminians have no trouble believing that God has done all of these things for them and in them.
I think it is clear Steve that the call in the verses I quoted are specific. They would not make sense if they were universal. And the Romans 8 passage is more than superficial - it is quite direct. As is the Romans 9 text. And if this call is specific then it is not universal or external. When Paul speaks of us whom he has called there is no universal sense, it is specific.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live, thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears, To me the meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. Wordsworth

User avatar
steve
Posts: 3346
Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:45 pm

Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by steve » Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:43 am

Jim,

You are not debating. You are asserting. You have no idea how subjective your take on these passages is, and will not know until you engage in actual exposition of the passages, rather than proof-texting.

You wrote:

"Steve, Christ makes it clear that the coming to Him had not been granted to all."

I do not see it that way. It may be true that not all are being convicted by the Holy Spirit at the same time, and that some of those Jews were not being convicted when He spoke to them. However, many Jews, and Pharisees among them, were later converted through the preaching of the apostles, in Acts. We do not know whether or not some of them may have been among those to whom Jesus was here speaking. Not everyone is being drawn in the same degree at all times. We do know, though, that the Holy Spirit convicts "the world," that Jesus is the light that enlightens "every man," and that all men who do not heed the message of creation are "without excuse." That tells me that everyone, at some point, has been granted the opportunity to respond favorably to God.

You still did not deal with Lydia. Why was it necessary for God to open her heart? We are not told. In fact, we are not even told that it was a necessary precondition for her listening to Paul (though such could be seen as a fair inference from what is said). My understanding is that she was a God-fearer, who had already exhibited a desire to know God (a desire which you say is not possible for a person in her natural state). God honored this desire by directing her attention to Paul's preaching about Christ, and convicting her that it was true, so that she ended up heeding the message (I still want to hear from you why she was able to worship God before God "opened her heart").

There are many other records in Acts of people coming to faith. We are not told in any of them that God had to do an inward work, other than conviction, as a precondition for them believing. On the day of Pentecost, they were "cut to the heart" (convicted) and sought to know how to be saved (Acts 2:37). In Lydda, the town "turned to the Lord" because they saw a miracle (Acts 9:35). In Joppa, "many believed on the Lord" because they heard about the raising of Tabitha (Acts 9:42). In Paphos, Sergius Paulus believed because he saw Paul strike the sorcerer with blindness (Acts 13:12). The jailer in Philippi wanted to know how to be saved when he saw the earthquake that opened the doors of the prison, and found the apostles had not sought to escape (Acts 16:27-30). In Thessalonica, many believed because they were "persuaded" by Paul's reasoned scriptural explanations and demonstrations that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 17:2-4). The Bereans "believed" because they searched the scriptures to see if Paul was telling the truth, and they "therefore" (that is, "for that reason") came to believe (Acts 17:11-12). Agrippa was "almost" persuaded to believe, and some Roman Jews actually were persuaded, by Paul's arguments (Acts 26:28; 28:24). How many of these do you need? People come to Christ for many reasons, through many incentives. In none of these cases is there the slightest hint of a prior "inward work" beyond the normal sense of guilt or of being impressed by a miracle or an argument. The one case you have, where it says, "God opened her heart" speaks simply of the next step for an existing worshiper of God, now perceiving the truth of the Gospel, and recognizing Jesus as the Messiah. But your beliefs about this case do not explain how she became a worshiper in the first case.

The verses I have given, above, often say that seeing a miracle or being persuaded were the actual cause of people being converted. Your passage about Lydia may imply this, but it does not state it. You read that into it, and then draw strange theological conclusions from the one passage, while ignoring all the other teaching in Acts about why people believed.

Jim, you need to look at the scriptures objectively and critically, and let the scriptures themselves, not a man-made system of theology, direct you. Teachers will face a stricter judgment. You really need to take more seriously, and show more respect for, the authority of the Word of God. Playing fast and loose, non-textual proof-texting, and asserting without demonstrating an unproven meaning of a passage, are not, in my judgment, showing reverence to the sacred texts.

Post Reply

Return to “Calvinism, Arminianism & Open Theism”