Saturday, April 01, 2006

Why I "round up" to being a 5-pointer

When in a more whimsical mood, I say that I'm (depending on the day) about a 4.97-point Calvinist. That rounds up to 5.

In my reading of Scripture, the T, U, I and P are pretty much directly, flat-out stated, in so many words. The L, less so -- but I find it to be the most natural and inescapable deduction from the direct statements of Scripture, and from the way the apostles preached and wrote.

The first time I read of this position (in Iain Murray's The Forgotten Spurgeon), it seemed like heresy. It contradicted what I thought it meant to preach the Gospel: "God loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life. Jesus died for your sins." Later came the other Murray's (John) Redemption: Accomplished and Applied. Evidence was piling up.

But the pile became a mountainous avalanche when I read John Owen on the subject. Owen lays it out like the world's most formidable lawyer. Stroke by stroke, speck by speck, he inexorably paints the reader into a corner from which, so far as I know, none has ever escaped. I've read supposed "answers" to Owen in the years since -- and not only are they not answers, but they don't even seem to understand the question.

The question is, for the person who affirms the Biblical doctrine of the sovereignty of God, "What did Christ mean to accomplish, and what did He accomplish, by His death?"

Now one post by Jason Robertson over at Fide-o wraps it up about as concisely as I've ever seen it put. Robertson quotes Owen, then pointedly draws out the implications. Ken Fields thoughtfully provides the sourcing of the quotation in the Comments section.

Read it, ponder it, feel the weight of the logic. As far as I know, no one has ever made better sense of Scripture than the way Owen summarizes the case. Dodge, evade, duck, yes. Made better sense of Scripture, no.


Dan B. said...

So Dan, if I understand your statement correctly (about the 4.97 thing) is that since it is not flat-out stated in Scripture, you call it 4.97? We should definitely hold more to the Scripture than tradition or creed as a rule, but I like the way that you describe the "L" as inescapable when using deduction from the statements of Scripture.

Robertson's post is great--I'll have to link to that one myself.

Chris said...

So, is there some formula you're using based on the number of biblical passages that imply the L?

... because if you're rounding up, then you could still be a 4.5-Pointer.
But then, why not a 4.64159265...-Pointer. You know π+1.5-Pointer. You could be all numerological and stuff. :-)

DJP said...

Chris -- LOL. It's a pretty fair bet that I don't use any mathematical formula for anything. Maybe this could be your first collaboration with Jerry Bridges?

Dan -- that's about it. I think appropriate humility pretty well demands that we admit that we have varying degrees of confidence of the Biblical basis of varying doctrines we hold. I hope most would admit that, say, the deity of Christ is a clearer teaching than the exact timing of the Rapture, or church government, or such.


Jim Crigler said...

Dan ---

Thanks for mentioning John Murray's Redemption Accomplished and Applied. That was the book that put me "over the edge" to being a 5-pointer. The actual Scripture that had held me back for I don't know how long was the ATV (Arminian Trump Verse (tm)): I John 2:2. It was Murray's handling of that verse (essentially: what do "ours" and "whole world" mean in their context?) that finally gave me the room to believe L was was, as you put it, "the most natural and inescapable deduction." Apparently, Owen wasn't being bludgeoned with that verse the way today's Arminian Evangelicals (is that an oxymoron?) do: He waves it off as "ours" means "Jews" and "whole world" means "Gentiles" --- without explaining it the way Murray did.

I think "Ian" should be added to item #7 in this list, since it's a variant of "John."

DJP said...

Hi Jim -- that's funny, I was just looking at that list again, and chuckling, yesterday! Yep, maybe add Iain (Murray).

When a non-fiver throws 1 John 2:2 at me, I generally respond, "Yeah, that's really a problem for your position, isn't it?"

Asked how so, I respond by pointing out that John says Christ is "the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." "Is" -- not "could be." So Jesus has made the sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God for the sins of "the whole world." If by that John means every human being ever born, then that means Jesus has turned away God's wrath from those already dead and suffering His wrath. In other words, universal salvation.

It's a difficult text for either position. Paired with John 11:51-52, it seems less problematic for our position than for theirs.

Jason E. Robertson said...

Thanks for the H.T.