Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Calling the Brain Trust: help me source an illustration on sovereign grace Gospel

I thought I knew where this came from, and evidently do not. It is a vivid way of depicting the fatal flaw in Arminian evangelism. It goes something like this:
Imagine that you walk into a morgue. Corpses on every slab, right and left. Ah, but you bring them a precious gift! You have the elixir of life in your hand! One sip, and they will live!

So you preach to them, you offer them the drink, you appeal to them, beg them, plead with them. At the climax of your utterly convincing, flawlessly-reasoned address, you set the golden chalice on a table in the center and issue an invitation. All they have to do is reach out, grasp the cup, and swallow its wondrous contents! All who will, may come and drink and live!

But that is exactly the problem. They can't. If they have to make the move that connects them to life, none will live, because they're all dead!
Now, I thought that was from van Til's Defense of the Faith. But I just scanned that, and can't find it. Was it from Murray's Redemption, Accomplished and Applied? I don't have that with me to check.

Can any of you brainiacs give me the book and the page?

30 comments:

Aric said...

I'm not a brainiac, sorry. Just had a question on the analogy.

Wouldn't the Arminian respond by saying, "Prevenient grace livens 'em up a bit. Then they can reach out and take a sip."?

Kim from Hiraeth said...

Sounds more like Sproul than Murray to me. . .

Rachael Starke said...

Wasn't the the Spurgeon? I thought I read a quote really similar to this at Pyro a couple of Sundays back...

Scott said...

It was easy to find. Look here

=)

More seriously, here is somewhat close illustration.

Mesa Mike said...

You need to bring somebody from Extreme Prophetic with you.

Shannon said...

I agree with Aric...I believe the analogy is flawed, since Arminians will respond with Prevenient grace. Which is an interesting doctrine, except it cannot be found in Scripture.

Fred Butler said...

Yeah, a couple of your previous commentors are correct. The Arminian will appeal to prevenient grace, or what Free Will Baptist NT professor, Robert Picirrili has re-termed, "pre-regenerating grace." God's grace, because of the work of Christ, stimulates the depraved person so his or her will is free to make the determining choice.

Other than that, its a good illustration. I always used the image of the Ice Man rather than a corpse.

DJP said...

Scott — ROFL

Everyone else — so? It's a lame, contentless, desperate response. So they're not dead anymore? Then they're saved by sovereign grace. Do they die after that? Then Christ did not deliver on John 10:28 (I speak as a fool).

I'm almost sure it wouldn't be Sproul. I would have read it probably 25 years ago.

Mesa Mike said...

I agree that the prevenient grace argument doesn't fly. What, God foresaw that the dead man would voluntarily take the remedy?

How???

Sir Aaron said...

Abraham Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit? or maybe Van Til's christian Apologetics.

DJP said...

Guesses, I've got

I need TITLE and PAGE NUMBER!

(c:

Associate-to-the-Pastor said...

Hoekema?

Sir Aaron said...

Dan,

I think your analogy is valid, but a variation of your corpse analogy is pretty common and the standard reply by Arminians is "yeah but a corpse can't reject God either."

I wont expound any further since you didn't really ask for my opinion on your analogy, just for help in sourcing it.

DJP said...

Doesn't have to. Rejecting God is our default setting apart from Christ (Romans 1:18 — 3:20; 5:12-21; 8:7-8).

"Dead" means unable to do anything about it, and uninterested in trying.

Meanwhile... I need that source!

chopstickschan said...

Book? Did somebody say book? I'd give you the page and the book and the title...if I had a book...any book... (there she goes again) Well, now I know what you were going to use that brain for, Dan :)

Mike B. said...

I like the metaphor, and it is probably apt... but the problem with it, and the problem with many such illustrations is that it is a metaphor built on a metaphor.

Calling the unregenerate "dead" in their sins, is of course, a functional, not an ontological illustration used by the scriptures to describe, not ultimately define (in a scientific, systematic sense) our sinful state.

So this illustration is not, strictly speaking, an argument. It doesn't prove anything unless you can show that this is the point that the Biblical authors meant to make by using the image.

I'm being nitpicky. I think that the scriptures do support the point that this illustration is trying to make, but the argument has to be made from the exegesis of the scriptures, not from a secondary exegesis of the word, "dead."

DJP said...

Having done that exegesis, I'm fine with using the metaphor.

But again I say: the point is — can someone source this illustration? I want to give credit.

I may have to inflict my question on the Pyro readers as well. Poor souls.

/c:

Sir Aaron said...

But real redemption has not been fully wrought for us till it is wrought also within us. Sin being what it is, it would be useless to have salvation lie ready to hand unless it were also applied to us. Inasmuch as we are dead in trespasses and sins it would do us no good to have a wonderful life-giving potion laid next to us in our coffin. It would do us good only if someone actually administered the potion to us."

Van Til, C., & Edgar, W. (2003). Christian apologetics (2nd ed.). The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ

That's as close as I could find given your criteria (although I did find many current authors who made analogies close to yours).

Sir Aaron said...

The more I look the more I think that is it. It is from Van Til, whom you thought it was from. It references a life giving potion which is unique among the corpse analogies I have read today and it argues against RC.

DJP said...

Aaron, you rock. Does seem to be van Til — I'm just not sure I have that book. And that edition is too recent. So I wonder where I got it?

But that's a help. Good job, thank you!

DJP said...

Page number?

Sir Aaron said...

I'm checking for the page number. I don't have the book, I asked a friend to look it up. He has all of Van Til's works electronically. Just in...via text message. Page 51. He had also hard the hard copy.

Thanks to Stephen Macasil who I was able to text to get the answer for Dan.

Sir Aaron said...

I also bet you read it in an earlier version of Van Til's work. It's one of his more famous works so I'm sure you got access somehow.

DJP said...

Aaron, if it isn't too much trouble, could you ask your friend to search his electronic copy of Defense of the Faith, and see if it isn't in there as well? And if so, where?

Susan said...

Maybe Challis would know?? (See this page....)

DJP said...

The Challis... from the palace?

Stephen said...

Sir Aaron texted me your url. Yes, it is in DF (First Edition). I am accessing it via Logos and page number is not provided.

4. The Doctrine of Salvation

We have laid stress upon the organic relation between the offices of Christ. We must now point out that the same organic relationship exists between what Christ did for us and what Christ did and does within us. In Soteriology we deal with the application to us of the redemption Christ has wrought for us. Sin being what it is, it would be useless to have salvation lie ready at hand unless it were also applied to us. Inasmuch as we are dead in trespasses and sins, it would do us no good to have a wonderful life-giving potion laid next to us in our coffin. It would do us good only if some one actually administered the potion to us.

This point is already involved in the fact that Christ must subdue us in order to give us knowledge. But this subduing of us by Christ is done through his Spirit. It is the Spirit who takes the things of Christ and gives them unto us. If Christ is to do his own work the Spirit must do his. For that reason Christ told the disciples it would profit them if he should ascend to heaven. It would only be after his ascent that the Spirit could come and finish the work that Christ had begun to do while on earth. What Christ did while he was on earth is only a beginning of his work.

Van Til, C. (1955). The defense of the faith. The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Philadelphia.

DJP said...

That's terrific, Stephen. Thanks! I remembered it as a more extended passage, and was looking for something big when I paged through DoF.

Thanks again!

Susan said...

(Oh dear...would you have done this to us if I only remembered the "e" in Challies, Dan?)

GrammaMack said...

According to a search on google books, it's on page 34. See http://books.google.ca/books?id=BCDSAAAAMAAJ&dq=Van+Til%2C+C.+(1955).+The+defense+of+the+faith.&q=coffin.&pgis=1#search_anchor