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Grow Up. Settle Down. Keep Reforming.
Advice for the Young, Restless, Reformed

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

by John MacArthur

It has been five years since Christianity Today published Collin Hansen’s article titled “Young, Restless, Reformed.” Hansen later expanded the article into a book with the same title (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008). He has carefully documented a very encouraging trend: large numbers of young people (college age and younger) are discovering the doctrines of grace, embracing a more biblical and Christ-centered worldview, and beginning to delve more deeply into serious theology than most 20th-century evangelicals were prone to do.

In short, Calvinism, not postmodernism, seems to be capturing the hearts of Christian young people.

Hansen cites evidence that Calvinistic seminaries are growing. Several new national conferences feature speakers committed to reformed soteriology (R.C. Sproul, John Piper, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, and others)—and these conferences are consistently full to overflowing with students. Books rich with meaty doctrinal content rather than relational fluff have begun to show up on Christian best-seller lists. There is even a surge of interest in Jonathan Edwards.

Hansen’s original article gave some definition and a name to this developing movement. That article finally brought attention to a powerful trend that theretofore had been all but ignored by Christianity Today’s editors. (They had been preoccupied for a decade or more with Emergent and postmodern fads, open theism, and various currents drifting in a totally different direction.) But (in Hansen’s words): “While the Emergent ‘conversation’ gets a lot of press for its appeal to the young, the new Reformed movement [is arguably] a larger and more pervasive phenomenon [with] a much stronger institutional base.”

Five years later, the so-called Emergent Church is now in a state of serious disarray and decline. Some have suggested it’s totally dead. Virtually every offshoot of evangelicalism that consciously embraced postmodern values has either fizzled out or openly moved toward liberalism, universalism, and Socinianism. Scores of people who were active in the Emerging movement a decade ago seem to have abandoned Christianity altogether.

But young, restless, Reformed students (YRRs) still seem to be multiplying and gaining influence. I’m very glad for most of what this movement represents. It seems to be a more biblically-oriented, gospel-centered, theologically-grounded approach to Christian discipleship than this generation’s parents typically favored—and that is most certainly to be applauded.

YRRs have by and large eschewed the selfishness and shallowness (though not all the pragmatism) of seeker-sensitive religion. They are generally aware of the dangers posed by postmodernity, political correctness, and moral relativism (even if they don’t always approach such dangers with sufficient caution). And while they sometimes seem to struggle to show discernment, they do seem to understand that truth is different from falsehood; sound doctrine is opposed to heresy; and true faith distinct from mere religious pretense.

It is overall a positive development and a trend to be encouraged—but the YRR movement as it is shaping up also needs to face up to some fairly serious problems and potential pitfalls. So I have some words of encouragement and counsel for YRRs, and I want to take a few days here at the blog to write to them about their movement, its influences, some hazards that lie ahead, some tendencies to avoid, and some qualities to cultivate. (A few men on our staff will also join the discussion with a few thoughts of their own.)

Our chief concerns have to do with immaturity, instability, and inconsistency in the YRR movement. It is clear from Scripture, of course, that people who are young need to aim for maturity (2 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 4:13; Hebrews 5:12-14)—not perpetual adolescence. Scripture likewise makes clear that it’s better to be “like a tree planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:3) than to be constantly restless. And one cannot be genuinely “Reformed” and deliberately worldly at the same time. The two things are inconsistent and incompatible. To embrace the world’s fashions and values—even under the guise of being “missional”—is to make oneself God’s enemy (James 4:4). Many supposed reformations have faltered on that rock.

No one is truly Reformed who is not constantly reforming.

In all candor, some of the ideas YRRs seem most obsessed with—starting with their standard methods for reaching the unchurched and “redeeming culture”—seem to be holdovers from the pragmatism that dominated their parents’ generation. If we profess theology that recognizes and honors the sovereignty, majesty, and holiness of God, our practice ought to be consistent with that.

It is a wonderful thing to come to grips with the doctrines of grace, and it is a liberating realization when we acknowledge the impotence of the human will. But embracing those truths is merely an initial step toward authentic reformation. We still have a lot of reforming to do.

And let’s face it: the besetting sin of young Calvinists is a brash failure to come to grips with that reality.

I’ll elaborate more on these points in the days to come.

John MacArthur


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#1  Posted by Diana Hayes  |  Wednesday, July 20, 2011at 10:23 PM

Thank you for this article pastor John. I look forward to the future posts! I have not heard anyone address the immaturity, instability and inconsistency found in the YRR movement. Since I am young and fully embrace the doctrines of grace, I look forward to the opportunity to make sure I am not falling into any of these pitfalls. Thank you very much and I hope some preaching can be done on this at Grace Church soon!

#2  Posted by Aurelio Cortez  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 8:42 AM

Great article, a couple questions:

John said:

"In all candor, some of the ideas YRRs seem most obsessed with—starting with their standard methods for reaching the unchurched and “redeeming culture”—seem to be holdovers from the pragmatism that dominated their parents’ generation. If we profess theology that recognizes and honors the sovereignty, majesty, and holiness of God, our practice ought to be consistent with that."

What "standard methods" is John referring to? I know the phony-bologna reaching-the-culture methods of the Emergent movement are weak, but is that all John is referring to?

Also,

John said:

"No one is truly Reformed who is not constantly reforming."

Wasn't the Protestant Reformation a movement that primarily reformed DOCTRINE? What doctrines is John asking the YRRs to change? By "reforming," does John mean reforming within themselves, or reforming the culture, or both?

#3  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 8:48 AM

Thanks for the advice! This really describes me, I want to be a minister and hopefully attend the Master's Seminary, or even the Master's College next year. Everything that I can get my hands on to read that are Biblical conservative I will read.

I am so glad that there are more out there! I was told the other because of what I want to do I may be alone because young people or so it seems are really liberal and Biblically illiterate and so worldly.

Thanks again for the advice I am going to have to print this article.

I am a little confused on the constantly reforming part, what does that mean exactly? Not to be worldly?

-Trent

#4  Posted by Roger Smith  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 9:27 AM

The issue I would like to see addressed is the seemingly unending aggression that comes out of the reformed camp. I am a young pastor myself though I am not Calvinist. I am conservative Biblically just not a full blown 5 pointer. What I have found over and over is that young Calvinist theologians (and some older) are extremely aggressive in trying to force others to agree with their position. I have always believed that if they truly understood grace the way they say they do, then why aren't they more gracious to those who don't agree with them?

I have met too many Calvinist brethren who take pleasure in starting theological fights and being divisive in the name of the "truth." Theological browbeating and bullying seem to be a large part of the Calvinist M. O. Calvin himself approved the burning at the stake of those who disagreed with him which tells me that his understanding of Grace was not biblical in its practice.

#5  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 9:29 AM

Good questions.

John’s comment about the church constantly reforming itself is a truth the reformers championed. They called it Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda, (The Church Reformed, Always Reforming).

In short, it means the true work of reformation will never end, not until Christ returns. We must never stop reforming the church according to the Word of God. And that's the key—according to the Word of God, secundum verbum dei.

What the principle of ongoing reformation does not mean is that newer is better, or the church should become innovative. Neither does it indicate the church can reform itself. God is the sole agent of change and reformation.

#6  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 9:52 AM

Roger #4,

You're right that Calvinists can be a little on the aggressive side. But so can Ariminians.

Also, you might want to check your history regarding Calvin. Your description of what happened is a classic misrepresentation of what really happened.

But your point is well taken: those who extol God's grace should be the most gracious.

#7  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 10:21 AM

I am really looking forward to this series of articles. I wish someone could give us a good definition of the new Calvinism. I have read articles over at The Gospel Coalition concerning it, and watched a few videos, but there is no substance behind it; it is all so vague.

I may be wrong, but it seems to embrace Contemplative Prayer and has strong charismatic leanings, and who really knows, maybe the sky is the limit. OUCH!

#8  Posted by Marc Lambert  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 10:49 AM

When I was first called as a youth pastor 5 years ago, I soaked up all the youth ministry material I could find, only to be confused when the teenagers before me had almost none of the problems, struggles or beliefs 'experts' told me they do and when they readily confessed belief in an obvious creator God, absolute truth, biblical authority, a sinful nature and need for grace.

Even with that, there is a pervasive underlying self-centeredness in youth culture. We can have a bible study on loving one another. Even with an obvious intellectual grasp of the knowledge in the bible, 5 minutes later everything they were agreeing with and proclaiming is right out the window, and I feel like dad with bratty kids in the back seat. "Don't make me pull this church over!" And while that does provide teachable moments, they are brief and maybe 1 or 2 a week compared to what they learn all day long at school, through music and TV.

Just knowing there is a growing movement of young people interested in the bible as truth is VERY encouraging. I look forward to this series with great interest. Thank you.

#9  Posted by Sanford Doyle  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 1:56 PM

# 3 Trent

From Sanford

I like your comment on how you like to read everything you can get your hands on that is biblically conservative.

I would recommend ( I don't think Pastor MacArthur would mind if I do), CHOSEN BY GOD by R.C. Sproul.

If you have read it before, that's okay. I have read three times myself.

It's one of those books you want to own in your mind.

Oh, and Roger Smith, I recommend it to you as well. It's easily read, explains CALVINISM well, and it's clear in thought and expression.

It probably should be on every christian's bookshelf, young or old.

#10  Posted by William Teal  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 2:07 PM

I believe that what is termed "aggession" on the part of the reformed community as they share the gospel with others, is simply the resistance that is put up by those who are not either fully reformed or just subscribe to a partial reformation, ie, 1 or 2 point Calvinism.

Unsaved people aways accuse those who are redeemed as being pushy and inconsiderate, unkind, and often "too aggerssive", bible thumpers, hit people over the head with the Bible, etc. This is a normal reaction to the message of salvation to those who are not redeemed.

Of course, we want to be kind, and understanding. These people are blind and unable to see. Same with those who are not fully or just partially reformed. They cannot see either. But the turth hurts sometimes, and to be faced with it, is a difficult thing for those who are not reformed. Once you see it, though, you see it everywhere in Scripture because it is the Gospel, the entire Scripture is filled with the references to the Reformation Points.

I have a brother who is fighting, wanting to retain Arminianism, and just refuses to examine the Scriptures, Rom 9, Eph 1, John 17, and others, he just hangs on John 3:16,refusing to examine it in light of the whole Scripture, and will not acknowledge any other but the literal application of "whosoever" meaning it is possible for anyone to belive on their own ability. No buts, no other solution for him. this is normal for the usaved, or unreformed.

#11  Posted by Helena Pecani  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 2:10 PM

Roger #4

I understand that this is a complaint against many Calvinists(although proud attitudes are a problem among all types of circles). I myself, however, have fallen to this sin because of the overwhelming revelation given to me. It's easy to start thinking of myself as smarter or more holy than others because I can clearly see something in the Bible and they can't see it just yet. But I eventually realized this was a major case of pride and self-righteousness and that I should have been thankful to God for allowing me to see because my own merit certainly did not lead me to do so. Calvinism itself, however, is not to blame for human sin. In fact, when understood properly, it leaves no room for boasting because the theology is very Gospel-centered and grace-oriented.The whole T.U.L.I.P acronym basically can be summed up in the fact that man is wicked and unable, but God is loving and gracious and he is able.Anyways, it's nice to know your thoughts.May the Lord bless you, have a wonderful evening.

#12  Posted by Aurelio Cortez  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 2:52 PM

William

you said:

"They cannot see either" speaking of non-Calvinists. sounds like you are speaking of non-believers who do not have the Holy Spirit. Just for clarification: Do you believe that fierce non-Calvinists (like myself) can be saved?

#13  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 3:19 PM

@ #9 Sanford

Hey! Thanks, I will check it out from Denver Seminary Library probably next week sometime.

-Trent

#14  Posted by Bob Fuller  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 3:36 PM

Hi, John--

Thank you for an informative and encouraging post.

#16  Posted by Scott Barber  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 4:38 PM

It seems I am going to play the part of Puddleglum here, so bear with me. Does the opinion of John Macarthur really mean anything to the young, restless and reformed? Macarthur has really failed to work like Piper, Keller and others to build up credibility amongst the YRR. And I think it is necessary to build up credibility here, as this movement is understandably cautious with older evangelical leaders. With Macarthur every word of praise and encouragement for the YRR is an veiled introduction to an admonishment over discernment and contextualization. Before writing a series like this he should spend a few years developing a deeper understanding of this movement.

#17  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 4:56 PM

Scott,

I wonder... YRR are usually enthralled (and rightly so) with dead authors (Spurgeon, Edwards, Owen, etc). I wonder if their admiration would change if those dead authors were able to respond to the more controversial aspects of what they do.

Any historically informed person knows that while we have much to be thankful for in the men in the past, there are also significant differences which--were they alive today--would divide us beyond reconciliation (my opinion of course, but I think there is good reason for thinking such... e.g. drowned Anabaptists).

The difficulty I have with your comment is the assumption he disagrees with something he doesn't understand. Is it possible he understands it well and still disagrees with certain aspects of it? I think so.

Credibility should not come merely from cooperation (e.g. you preach at the conferences I attend, so I'll listen to your admonition). Is not a man's life experience and doctrine not something to be weighed in the balance?

#18  Posted by Sanford Doyle  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 5:23 PM

#16 Scott

From Sanford

Truly?

Are you truly questioning the credibility of John MacArthur?

John MacArthur has built up credibility with old Christians, young Christians, new Christians and mature Christians.

How much of Pastor MacArthur's teachings have you listened to. Or read.

John MacArthur exposits the Bible. Verse by verse. How much more credible can someone be who actually EXPLAINS the SCRIPTURES to EVERYONE.

I do not know what more you can be looking for than someone who is faithful to his calling and to the Word of God.

John MacArthur is as diligent to his calling as to anyone I can think of.

To me, THAT is very credible.

Take Sound, Honest, True, Biblical exposition where you can.

There are very few men like John MacArthur to learn from.

Grace and Peace to you,Scott

#19  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 5:45 PM

I agree. The Chosen By God series by R.C. Sproul is the ultimate source for explaining the doctrine of election. It's an absolute must for every Christian I think.

#20  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 7:09 PM

Scott

I am sorry, but as someone young MacArthur has taught me a lot from his books and his sermons and blogs.

He tells it like it is, wisdom isnt different for any age group.He is certainly not seeker friendly, and with all do respect Tim Keller is slipping there (definitely with the evolution debate), and Piper seems to be on his way with Rick Warren (though I don't know a whole a lot about that).

What I know is I trust MacArthur first before the others.

Plus who are you to speak, do you know what goes on in his church youth-wise? (if you do go I apologize, but still as head pastor I sure he would know more than you would).

Sorry if I seem harsh, but I don't see why you need to bring MacArthur down when he is certainly the one who has influenced me the most. I would appreciate it if you hold you tongue.

#21  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 7:24 PM

Scott,

I learned alot from John MacArthur that I never knew of what the right way of christianity.. God really help me to grow as I read God's Word, including John MacArthur's books.. His blog makes sense and show life is but a breath.. This blog is like from Ecclesiastes..

God bless.

#22  Posted by Keith Stokes  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 7:56 PM

I do not want to put any finite man on a theological pedestal, but in my humble opinion, there is not one person I trust with my soul more (humanly speaking)then Dr John MacArthur. He is above reproach, humble, godly and most of all, a servant of the Most High God who teaches and preaches and guides his flock to all truth to the best of his God given ability, which I dare say is better then any one on this wretched planet. God bless you Pastor macArthur,and never change your course unless it comes from Him alone. MacArthur credible? He's all that and a bunch more. To God be the glory.

#23  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 8:54 PM

I have enjoyed reading the blog and everyone's responses so far. I am looking forward to learning from this series as I believe I would be considered a YRR.

Mary #7:

What exactly is Contemplative Prayer? I have heard that termed used alot on these blogs but don't know what that means. I am in the process of leaving a mid grade pentacostal church (I am the only "calvinist" that I am aware of in the church) and I have never heard that term used there. I have heard people talk about "praying in the spirit" and praying in tongues and such but not contemplative prayer. Anyway, I know its off topic... Just wondering.

Roger #4 John Piper wrote a book called The Legacy of Sovereign Joy and Christopher Catherwood wrote a book called The Five Leading Reformers. They both give breif bio's on Calvin (among other great men of God) and mention the incident you are reffering to. I encourage you to read them because according to the bio's Calvin did not approve of anyone getting burned at the stake.

#24  Posted by Aurelio Cortez  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 9:43 PM

Calvin didnt approve anyone being burned at the stake, thats correct... he approved of someone being beheaded! look up Michael Servetus and you can see that Calvin approved of this man's death for heresy. If I remember correctly, Calvin wrote a letter to Farel approving Servetus's killing.

#25  Posted by Aurelio Cortez  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 9:47 PM

I agree with all the comments about John MacArthur - i believe he's the best Bible teacher. But this doesnt mean we cant have disagreements with some of his theology.

#26  Posted by Aurelio Cortez  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 10:12 PM

what does the phrase "Doctrines of Grace" mean? Isnt it simply the TULIP? Do non-Calvinists have doctrines of grace?

#27  Posted by Ty Corbett  |  Thursday, July 21, 2011at 11:54 PM

I've never really heard of this YRR movement but I'm in high school right now and just trying to learn the Word as much as I can and it's a great encouragement to hear about others like me who are just hungry for truth. Looking forward to the series.

#28  Posted by Greg Gallant  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 3:56 AM

#24 Posted by Aurelio Cortez and #4 Posted by Roger Smith.

The ocean is blue, the sky is blue, but "blue" is not the sky or the ocean.

The person of John Calvin is not the biblical system of Calvinism.

Nor is John Calvin the doctrines of Grace.

Those who misunderstand or misrepresent the doctrines of grace call for sympathy more than blame when they charge the death of Servetus upon those views of divine truth known as Calvinistic.

This is an Ad Hominem Abusive fallacy at the very least, and a shear act of scriptural and historical ignorance.

#29  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 5:17 AM

In response to #24,

Years ago on a theological forum, Phil Johnson wrote up a brief sketch of Calvin and Servetus that's worth posting here:

"Modern Catholics and Arminians love to try to tag Calvin personally with the responsibility of killing Michael Servetus.

But Calvin's position in Geneva was only as the city's spiritual leader. He had no dictatorial powers, and he certainly was not the sort of thundering, murderous tyrant many Catholics, Arminians, and Anabaptists would like to portray. In fact, he had regular run- ins with the city's civil leaders. He was by no means the one calling the shots when Servetus was executed. Alister McGrath's biography "A life of John Calvin", p. 116, says this: "Servetus was the only individual put to death for his religious opinions in Geneva during Calvin's lifetime, at a time when executions of this nature were commonplace elsewhere." McGrath includes a lengthy section on the Servetus episode that is instructive.

Why Calvin so often is painted as a demon for this episode is mystifying. It was the Genevan Council (the civil magistrates), not Calvin, who "ordered that Servetus be burned alive. Calvin asked for a milder form of death for the heretic, but did not gain his point" [S. M. Houghton, Sketches from Church History", 109.] Calvin's only role in the fiasco was that he approved of execution as a fit punishment for heresy (as did virtually everyone else in that era). He specifically gave approval for Servetus's execution, but he pleaded for a merciful form of execution. Other than that, he did not participate in the event.

A point of historical interest: Servetus was already under penalty of death from the Roman Catholic Church before Geneva executed him. Roland Bainton noted, "Servetus would have expiated [his heresies] at the stake in Catholic France had he not escaped and paid the same penalty in Protestant Geneva" [The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century" p. 136]. Servetus had previously been informed by Genevan authorities that the city would offer no refuge to a heretic such as he. He chose to come anyway, preferring to take his chances with the Calvinists rather than face the Papal inquisitors.

Of course, all those facts do not excuse Calvin. Approving of Servetus's death was one of the biggest mistakes he ever made in his life, and his enemies have used it against him right down to the current day. But his friends have also been quick to acknowledge that "Calvin was certainly at fault, not of course in opposing the heresy of Servetus--he exposed it thoroughly--but in accepting the widely-held belief of the age that heretics should be put to death" [Houghton, p. 109].

Remember, though, this was the belief commonly held by virtually all sides in that age, and not something unique to Calvinism. Those who try to haul out the ashes of Servetus as an argument against Calvinism will find those ashes quickly blow away when held out in the open."

#30  Posted by Timothy Daigneault  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 5:26 AM

Trent post #20... That was refreshing to read! Glad you pointed out both Tim Keller and John Piper.

Has anyone else noticed that a lot of the YRR seem to have disdain for pre-trib and pre-millenium eschatology? I know of someone who is all about the doctrine of election, but he says the rature is a fairy tale that came from the 1800's. I still don't understand how he can read Thessalonians and come to that conclusion.

Does anyone know if this is a broad teaching among the Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll crowd, or if this is an isolated viewpoint?

Lastly, I'm very thankfull for this topic coming up! I've had a few concerns about it myself.

#31  Posted by Alex Soriano  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 5:40 AM

I've been hearing about the YRRs since last year but I never thought of becoming one them. 3 years ago I decided to delve myself in studying the reformed belief system and gradually grip by the truth of grace.

But it's not something to be proud of... or something that we can sell in the market place. Lately, I tried to start a small group bible study focusing on reformed belief and it's really hard. As soon as I start talking about the election or grace, I could sense the resistance of many. Some just don't care. Some also label me as critical.

But that's not only the difficult part... "the besetting sin of young Calvinists..." is the hardest thing of all. To become acutely aware of our sins is indeed paralyzing...

Indeed this advice to continually reforming is helpful for YRRs. I hope we could encourage each other. To pray for one another.

#33  Posted by Erik Lundeen  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 6:29 AM

Scott, in response to your post, I agree that MacArthur probably does not have AS much credibility with YRR's as do Piper, Keller, Dever, Mohler etc etc. But I do believe he certainly has credibility, at least among many of them. Even just his past speaking at the T4G conference would guarantee that. And as a 20-something who would consider himself fairly in the YRR crowd, I am always curious to what pastor MacArthur has to say. I would beg to differ though in your saying that he should spend a few more years studying the movement before he feels eligible to critique it. With all respect, I think that pastor MacArthur has had a lot of interaction with the YRR crowd and is given his years of experience in ministry is probably in as good a position as anyone to critique the movement.

Aurelio: Yes, when people say the "doctrines of grace" that is a reference to TULIP, or five point Calvinism.

#34  Posted by David Smith  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 6:32 AM

One thing I picked up on in the original article is JM's comment on worldliness. This area is fraught with difficulties as, if we're honest, the Bible gives very little detail on it. I hope JM doesn't fall into the trap of saying things like it's worldly to wear a T-shirt!

I would agree with those who have commented on the "aggressiveness" of some Calvinists - I have observed this as well.

My main concern, related to this, is that Calvinists of all flavors seem to have no appreciation of the doctrinal variation that has existed in the church since it began. They tend to speak very negatively of those from outside who don't share their convictions, and those from inside who question them. The concept of "always reforming" was mentioned, and our protestant heritage requires us to test everything we believe against the baseline of scripture.

#35  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 8:02 AM

@ #30

Thanks!

Anyway, the pre-trib premillennialism I have just written an essay on those myths. It wasn't invented by John Nelson Darby, though it maybe safe to say that he was the father of modern dispensationalism. The rapture was held as far back as St. Jerome and someone under the name Pseudo Ephraem, who explicitly mentions in his sermons a pre-trib rapture.

#36  Posted by John Linak  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 8:57 AM

Trent #35 -- did you just refer to pre-trib, pre-mill as a myth?

Are you the friend in Timothy's post #30? Quoted from #30: "Has anyone else noticed that a lot of the YRR seem to have disdain for pre-trib and pre-millenium eschatology? I know of someone who is all about the doctrine of election, but he says the rature is a fairy tale that came from the 1800's. I still don't understand how he can read Thessalonians and come to that conclusion."

The rapture was held as far back as Jesus in John 14 and the apostle Paul in 1 Thess 4, 1 Cor 15, et al

#37  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 9:06 AM

Micah @ 23

Hi Micah:

Someone here could probably do more justice in giving you a better definition of CP, but in short, here goes.

Many people practice this form of meditation/prayer/contemplation to have a closer relationship with God. It is so closely related to Transcendental Meditation and should be avoided at all costs. It often includes using mantras and chantings to help facilitate the mind in emptying itself of any and all thoughts (impossible though it is). It is highly unbiblical. The mind is to be actively engaged in knowing God. God wants to be known for who He is, and a blank slate in incapable of engaging on any cognitive level the things of its creator.

I debated a Catholic female on this subject years ago, and found a copious amount of Scripture passages that helped refute this subject, and oddly enough, also used some of Descartes’ teachings, he talked extensively about the “mind knowing”.

If you are interested you can email me at mpalshan at sbcglobal dot net. And I will give you my refutation. The Bible does not specifically deal with this anomaly, but there are many passages that show our minds are always to be engaged in contemplating our great creator. Evidently Mother Theresa also used this form of prayer, as do many Catholics. I know of other people who promote CP in other denoms, even many among reformed circles have fallen victim to this unbiblical practice. Buyer beware!!!

@ Fred # 29

Thank you for passing along Phil's comments on Calvin regarding Servetus. I had read this before and at one time wanted to refer people to it, but could not remember where I found it.

#38  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 9:20 AM

@ #36 John

Hey I am sorry if I wasn't clear. I was referring to the myths surrounding of how this doctrine came about, not that the doctrine of the rapture is a myth, it is clearly not.

So in other words the myth is that the pre-trib, premil. view was invented by John Darby. This is false because it was not the case, it was held by obviously Paul and the apostles. As for the doctrine being explicitly mentioned, there was Papias and other early church fathers and were sub-apostolic so it would be safe to say that the doctrine of "Chiliasm' was indeed held back then. So the myth (the rapture was only invented in the 19th century)is debunked.

I hope that makes sense

-Trent

#39  Posted by John Linak  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 9:34 AM

#38 Trent,

Gotcha! Sounds like an interesting essay. Is it available online?

#40  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 9:43 AM

@ #39 John

It is not right now. Sorry, but type in pre-trib research center and they have some good stuff in their articles.

#41  Posted by Richard Ikenberry  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 10:12 AM

While I fully believe in the doctrines of TULIP, I cannot accept another part of reformed theology: that God is through with Israel and they have no hope of restoration as an ethnic nation and that the church has totally replaced Israel in the fulfillment of God's original Israelite convenants. This has profound implications in how we treat Israel today. And that's critical to all of us when we realize that today's YRR generation may become our nation's leaders.

#42  Posted by Marc Lambert  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 10:37 AM

In reference to the "credibility' of JM to talk to YRRs. I honestly am new to reading JM's stuff, so I can't remark on that. However, I will say that in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? What I do know is that in the bible we do not see Jesus, Peter, Paul, John the Baptist, any of the apolostles or any of the OT prophets waiting to have 'credibility' with their intended audiences, believers or non. They simply proclaim truth.

#43  Posted by Ben Hogan  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 10:49 AM

Man! This VERY thing has been on mind for a while now. It's pretty awesome to see that it is not something I have been concerned about on my own. I am 27 and have a deep apppreciation for the reformers and their dedication to biblical accuracy and fidelity. I've read every page of Calvin's Institutes and was greatly encouraged by them.

Needless to say, the inconsistent lifestyles of young reformers are very unsettling at times. And yes, it is almost always the "missional" churches who try to find a redeeming balue in everything :/ Culture can often reign more supreme than holiness. Why? As you said, discernment is sometimes missing. Unfortunately, we know that means that the Word is not being studied enough and practiced enough to learn discernment (Heb. 5:14).

John, may I suggest that you talk specifically about how people may confuse mercy with grace? I think that is a constant theme. Grace is only completely understood in God's sovereignty in salvation, not just because he can forget about someone's sins. Basically, this confusion is another cultivator of shallow doctrine, even though people have the best intentions. I hope that makes sense. I just think that a very poignant lesson on that could do a lot of good. Even people who directly reject election and predestination say they love God's grace, which is kind of a disconnect.

Also, I think that with the rise of reformation theology has come a rise in new definitions of Christian freedom, hence the inconsistencies of a solid doctrine being confessed, but a life that does not support it... I see a love for alcohol (disclaimer: I like a good beer or wine at the right time and place and not much of it) but the promotion of beer and parties, etc. is sometimes coming from church leaders, which can cause some to stumble. This area should not ever be taken so lightly. Another one is language. I have seen apologetics majors defend their cursing with their knowledge of hermeneutics and linguistics. Sad. Honestly I gets me riled up inside because I know it insults Jesus' call to holiness.

Anyway, So glad this topic is being talked about. I hope it causes many of us to be challenged to whether or not we are promoting the Word or the world. I had a few posts I was working on regarding this same thing that will come soon if anyone wanted to join in at bzhogan.blogspot.com.

Thanks John!

#44  Posted by Marc Lambert  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 11:05 AM

#41

While I also would prefer to think that God has not completely abandoned His chosen people as a nation (and I am certainly no expert in that regard), we should hope that the next generation has a true understanding of Israel's relationship with God and not one we find politically or ideologically palatable. If the church HAS replaced Israel, then the implications (liked or not) would be right.

We need to make sure we view the world according to scription, not the other way around. Again, I'm not sure which one is right, but your comment sounded like we need to believe one way because of the result, not because it is right.

#45  Posted by Alexander Armstrong  |  Friday, July 22, 2011at 10:12 PM

Im so excited about this new blog series.

I am a person who has come to sound doctrine recently. The Lord by His Grace has snatched and rescued my wife and I out f the charismatic movement. Recently, i have been so elated to see how many other people of my age group, mid 20's to mid 30's, are having their eyes open by God through the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. HOwever i have also seen the flip side to this growing trend. Many have fall victim to becoming sooo involved in theology and theologians that they idolize them. This has caused some grave disappointments and set backs in peoples lives. secondly, i would like to point out that, for example, in Miami there are very few churches that actually teach, believe and live out the doctrines of grace.

Nonetheless, GOd prevails and leads His people to the right place to hear good teaching and get good food.

Look forward to the other blogs.

miamibiblechurch.org

Grace and Peace

Alex

#46  Posted by David Smith  |  Saturday, July 23, 2011at 12:12 AM

To Richard (#41) and Marc (#44):

For some good books on Israel from a Reformed perspective, check out "Future Israel" by Barry Horner and "Has The Church Replaced Israel?" by Michael Vlach (Michael is a professor at The Master's Seminary). Both authors do not see the church as replacing Israel and I think they are both five point Calvinists.

I haven't read Vlach's book, but Horner make a similar point to Richard, namely that theology has consequences. If a particular doctrine results in widespread suffering, which is the case for "replacement theology", then we should question whether the doctrine is a correct understanding of the teaching of the Bible.

Yes, we must view the world through scripture, not vice-versa, but when there are multiple possible interpretations of the Bible, looking at the practical implications of the doctrines helps us to choose between the options.

A similar process was used regarding slavery. In previous generations, Christians (including evangelicals) believed that slavery was Biblical. One of the most important arguments towards its abolition was making people aware of the immense suffering that slavery caused. This prompted a re-examination of the theology.

#47  Posted by Jorge Elias  |  Saturday, July 23, 2011at 7:11 AM

What an aboslute blessing of an article, thank you Pastor John for your words of encouragement and guidance!

Being young and new in the faith has it's great disadvantages. However, I thank the Lord for your ministry and the blessings it has brought in my life.

I don't think I would have ever accepted the doctrines of grace if it weren't for the endless hours I have listened to you exposit the word truthfully, and with conviction.

I would definitely raise a hand and count myself in the number of the YRR.

#48  Posted by Richard Ikenberry  |  Saturday, July 23, 2011at 9:36 AM

To David (#46) and Marc (#44)

Thank you for your replies to my post, and especially for your wisdom in the application of Scripture, David, and your book recommendations. As I understand it, what one believes about the position of Israel is a matter of using a literal hermeneutic or an allegorical one, the latter being fraught with dangers. I’ve never understood why reformed theologians evidently continue using the literal regarding the Doctrines of Grace (Calvinism) but the allegorical to arrive at replacement theology (also called “covenant theology, I believe).

#49  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Saturday, July 23, 2011at 12:32 PM

Mary #37

thanks for the response Mary, I would like to read what you have so I will be emailing you.

#50  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Saturday, July 23, 2011at 4:04 PM

I am enjoying these posts.. Keep up good ones...

Welcome to the blogs, Ty Corbett Keep learning and growing.. God bless..

Question, what is the word TULIP stand for.. Just wondering??

#51  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Sunday, July 24, 2011at 12:22 AM

The list of strong Dispensationalists / Calvinists are short, John MacArthur being on top of that list. Even the Plymouth Brethren and Scofield flirted with non reformed ways of salvation. There is a good reason why JM upset so many non-dispensational but conservative Bible scholars during the Shepherds Conference a few years back. Its because of the so called literal hermeneutic, the dispensationalist always say literal literal literal, well everyone says they use a literal hermeneutic, but is it literal as in the clear meaning of the word to us (consistent), or is it the literal meaning according to the literature (scriptus literalus), check out R.C. Sproll’s books. Literal in the sense of the kind of literature is the correct answer I think, many people call it allegory, not true. When Calvary Chapel people try to remove their traditions and study the Bible they often turn toward the doctrines of grace and its the same for dispensationalists, when they study the Bible without a system of interpretation and tradition guiding it (like I did) they become non-dispensational.

Let us please have some kind, loving, and enriching discussions on eschatology.

Donavan

#52  Posted by Greg Tegman  |  Sunday, July 24, 2011at 8:00 AM

Pardon me if I jump ahead without reading all of comments above. I have attended Mars Hill Church downtown Ballard here in Washington State once,not to be confused with Rob Bell's church. I have no access to any updated information regarding Mark Driscoll. I chatted with him once. The goth style service(music)and Mark's language did not gel with this fifty three year old guy(myself).Any feedback from anybody would be helpful. I hope Mark has stopped with the language. As for the rest of the service?, appealing with the young attendee's culture seems very worldly freindly.

#53  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Sunday, July 24, 2011at 10:56 AM

Donavan claims,

The list of strong Dispensationalists / Calvinists are short,

You must not be too informed about the history of Calvinist Dispensationalists. The earliest dispensationalists were full, five point Calvinists, including L.S. Chafer, J.O. Buswell, S. Lewis Johnson, A.A Macrae. Most of them were Presbyterian. Others involved with the prophecy conferences in the late 1800s were 5 point Calvinists. Modern day CTers conveniently ignore this sniggling fact of history. A good book that establishes this fact is R. Todd Mangum's work, "The Dispensational-Covenantal Rift: The Fissuring of American Evangelical Theology."

Continuing,

There is a good reason why JM upset so many non-dispensational but conservative Bible scholars during the Shepherds Conference a few years back. Its because of the so called literal hermeneutic,

Actually, that wasn't this issue at all. That was a peripheral point in their contentions with him. The primary thing upsetting the non-premillennialists was John's insistence that consistent Calvinism would recognize the promises in the OT regarding Israel as God's elect being restored in the land in a future millennium.

continuing,

well everyone says they use a literal hermeneutic, but is it literal as in the clear meaning of the word to us (consistent), or is it the literal meaning according to the literature (scriptus literalus), ... Literal in the sense of the kind of literature is the correct answer I think, many people call it allegory, not true.

Actually, the idea of overriding exegetical meaning by appealing to "kinds of literature" or genre is something of a post-Reformation, novel approach. More of an Enlightenment era idea. For instance, they take the concept of "apocalyptic," apply it to Revelation, and then re-read the prophecy to be this big book of symbolism that can mean any number of things. Proof of what I am saying can be demonstrated by the way many non-literalists divide over how we are to read Revelation. There are traditionalists like Hoekema, Hendrikson, and preterists like Chilton and Gentry.

They all appeal to the approach you outline here, yet all of them come to radically different conclusions on reading the book. Applying this "kind of literature" technique allows for any number of alternative reads on the Bible, including the loopy views advocated by old earth people like yourself when they read Genesis.

continuing,

when they study the Bible without a system of interpretation and tradition guiding it (like I did) they become non-dispensational.

Really? And what about those individuals who do the same thing as you yet remain committed to dispensational distinctives?

Let us please have some kind, loving, and enriching discussions on eschatology.

Say that to Gary Demar and the fine folks over at the Nicene Council who produce ridiculous anti-dispensational strawman videos.

#54  Posted by Richard Ikenberry  |  Sunday, July 24, 2011at 11:46 AM

To Dan Wilson (#50)

Perhaps this by John MacArthur would be helpful on your question about TULIP. It’s from one of his Q&A sessions. You’ll need to scroll down to this question (and the Q&A that immediately follows that one is good too):

“QUESTIONER: Hi, John. My name's Jim. Can you talk a little bit about Arminian theology?”

70-19 Bible Questions and Answers Part 47

#55  Posted by David Smith  |  Sunday, July 24, 2011at 12:15 PM

Greg #52

I don't know when your last contact with Driscoll was, but the simple answer is that he hasn't really changed. A couple of weeks ago he made a comment on Facebook that drew widespread criticism. I can't comment on the style of his church, but he has said many things that a pastor simply shouldn't say, and there has been no public apology. If you're not already aware of it, John MacArthur and Phil Johnson publicly criticised on him a few years back. I have been told by a trusted source that he abuses his authority as a pastor and my advice would be to avoid him and his churches completely.

#56  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Sunday, July 24, 2011at 12:17 PM

eschatology, what that? Is it related to literal terms??

#57  Posted by Chris Dean  |  Sunday, July 24, 2011at 12:22 PM

Thanks Dr. MacArthur for this forthcoming series of posts. Lord willing, I intend to attend The Master's Seminary in 2013 myself in preparation for a pastorate, so I have thought long and hard on this subject.

Where this issue really pivots for me is that we as pastors should never through our words and deeds, 1. cause someone to be tempted to sin, 2. cause someone to violate his or her conscience, and 3. to not be seen by the world as anything but a redeemed creation giving evidence of our Redeemer. That is, anything that we do to prevent someone from coming to Christ or retarding growth in Christlikeness has not come from faith and is therefore is sin. Pastors ought to be especially acute with this and rather do everything they can to become all things to all people that by all means they might save some.

Dr. Peter Masters, the present pastor of Spurgeon's Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, and in some ways the British pastor-equivalent of Dr. John MacArthur, wrote on this subject in a 2009 issue of the Sword & Trowel magazine with an article entitled 'The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness.'

While I don't agree with the total extent to which Dr. Masters draws his conclusions, much practical wisdom and many salient points can be found for YRRs and other Christians in that article. Thanks!

#58  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Sunday, July 24, 2011at 4:26 PM

#53 Fred

Yes, I agree with everything you said about the early Presbyterians, but still the list of Calvinist / Dispensationalist leaders is short compared to non-Calvinist / Dispensational leaders.

No, the ruffling of feathers from John MacArthurs Shepherds Conference sermon was not about recognizing the promises in the OT regarding Israel, it was about the fact that he said and pressed so hard because of his “consistent” literal interpretation which is why he said those things in the first place, you have the cart before the horse.

How can you say that interpreting the obviously different types of Biblical literature with respect to the type of genera is “novel”. Would you use your consistent literal method with Song of Solomon, and Romans. What is “novel” is any interpretation that follows a system.

Yes, many non dispensational people have different views and they do not use the “consistent” literal method but I think it would be safe to say that there are at least as many differing views in dispensational circles as other end time beliefs.

My Uncle was as student of Charles Ryrie (and also a professor of Phil Johnson at Moody) we spent many hours talking about eschatology and Grace he was one of my heros of the faith a truly wise man, he said Ryrie was a wonderful Christian with a kind heart who was reformed and continually seeking God, of course I would never make a generalization saying that all godly men interpret the Bible in the same way.

continuing,

This new kind of fuzzy post-modern Calvinism is like this new kind of eschatology, dispensationalism, they both like to link them selves to historical reformers (Calvin, anything but fuzzy and Historical pre-mills are not dispensationalists).

This makes me think of the strange combination of Calvinist and Dispensationalist, John MacArthurs ideas and Chuck Smiths ideas. Both are committed to your literal hermeneutic and both are on opposite sides of the doctrines of Grace.

Donavan

#59  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Sunday, July 24, 2011at 5:11 PM

With regard to Ryrie and 5 point Calvinism he was not. I incorrectly called him reformed in my previous post. My mistake.

Donavan

#60  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Sunday, July 24, 2011at 6:10 PM

"when they study the Bible without a system of interpretation and tradition guiding it (like I did) they become non-dispensational."

&

"Let us please have some kind, loving, and enriching discussions on eschatology."

Interesting. First statement is a slap in the face to those who have studied diligently and hold to a premil view of eschatology as if their view is skewed by presuppositions that sway their understanding. Second statement then calls for no retaliation of the first slap in the face...

To me this is typical bullying: e.g. I hit you because I think you are wrong...but don't hit back lest you be categorized as a divisive non-charitable man...unless you see the light and embrace my view... otherwise, you should just take your lumps and like it.

I say if one has a sustainable scriptural position that one should be ready and able to defend that position without asking for a free pass before hand...

#61  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Sunday, July 24, 2011at 8:46 PM

#60 Keith (and all)

So sorry, I often don't describe my points in enough detail, I see what you mean I really didn't want to slap anyone in the face. I do respect all the regulars on this blog and I hold the men who run it with the highest regard and admiration, I would love to continue to write about the parallels between Calvinism and Dispensationalism and how they just don't go together but it's not to the point of this topic another time we will.

Fred touched on the problems between the reformed and the Dispensationalists it been going on for a long time just Google it.

Again sorry for the bullying, if you want to know more about the non dispensation view of eschatology with a Calvinist slant R. C. Sproll has a great book "The Las Days According To Jesus" In general I think R. C. is a great spokesmen for historical Calvinists.

Donavan

#62  Posted by Dustin Hawkins  |  Sunday, July 24, 2011at 10:17 PM

To Roger, all the way back at #4.

I can identify with your point! In fact, I have been that person in the past and still struggle with that behavior from time to time. Part of the problem is age related. The bigger issue, however, is my pride. There appears to be, at least in me, a very strong desire to be right. I've lent expression to this desire many times at the expense of others, but I'm grateful God's grace appears to be moving me past such behavior.

While I can't apologize for every young person who has acted this way, I can ask you to be patient with us! I believe many will continue to do better, Lord willing, due to the maturing work of the Holy Spirit. As we grow in the unity of the faith, I believe the maturity that's promised us in Ephesians 4 will continue to be increasingly displayed in our thoughts, words, and actions.

Also, while John Calvin certainly doesn't need me to defend him, I'd just say he did not condemn Servetus to death; the civil magistrates did that. He did agree that Servetus should be executed for heresy, by beheading, which Calvin deemed more humane. The issue had nothing to do with soteriology either. Servetus was already on the run from the Roman church as well, and his heresy included the denial of the Trinity as we understand it and the eternality of Christ! Servetus is often cited by the Jehovah's Witnesses as a type of church father.

It's important to consider the historical context of Servetus' death too. While I don't condone of the use of capital punishment for false teachers, I do recognize that in the 16th century, it was very common.

Anyway, I'd just like to encourage you to continue to be patient with us head-strong, sometimes overly aggressive, calvinists. A lot of what comes across as abrasive immaturity or even militancy is just passion that's difficult to temper. For me, a fuller realization of God's grace and his immutable character has been hard to keep under check. When I talk about it my eyes often tear up, and I get loud. It's not that I'm angry, I just can't help but feel completely elated by the thought of God's grace, and I can't wait to "help" others see this great truth...God is sovereign and He will share His glory with no one!

Thank you, Roger, for sharing your thoughts in such a kind and gracious manner. God bless you, brother!

#63  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Sunday, July 24, 2011at 10:49 PM

To All

At this time we’re not permitting anyone to include links within the comment field. You can name, recommend, or quote a source, but links are not allowed.

That restriction helps to keep the comment thread on topic and protects readers from questionable outside resources.

If your comment failed to post, or your link was removed, that’s the reason. Thanks for understanding and respecting that guideline.

#64  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Monday, July 25, 2011at 4:52 AM

Donavan,

No problem...glad to see your maturity.

I have studied Dr Sproul's position thoroughly. In fact, I am very much a supporter of Ligonier. His Foundations series is a comprehensive systematic overview of theology which I highly recommend...except for the eschatology section :-)...and in typical Sproul fashion he accurately represents the various key views represented by believers which I think is bold.

I have read most of the key proponents of Covenant Theology with a genuine agnostic approach but cannot draw the conclusions they do based on a straight forward reading/understanding of scripture. I have gravitated to Dr MacArthur since he represents the views I have based on a simple straight forward reading of scripture.

For a topical discussion talk about Ezekiel's temple written in detail through chapters 40-46.

#65  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Monday, July 25, 2011at 5:30 AM

I listened recently to an outstanding Q and A with Michael Horton, Alistair Begg, and R.C. Sproul. In the Q and A Horton discusses how he has "flipped" on his view of certain aspects of eschatology with specific regards to Israel. It is interesting to hear how he flipped based upon a straight forward reading of the texts...one can watch the Q and A over at Ligonier; it is from the 2009 West Coast Conference Q&A #1.

Also, Dr Sproul in recent years has settled on a different view of origins as can be seen in this statement:

"For most of my teaching career, I considered the ‘framework hypothesis’ to be a possibility. But I have now changed my mind. I now hold to a literal six-day creation. Genesis says that God created the universe and everything in it in six twenty-four-hour periods."

He bases that decision on the following understanding, which is my point with the reference...take note of his understanding of the Reformation hermeneutic:

"According to the Reformation hermeneutic, the first option is to follow the plain sense of the text. One must do a great deal of hermeneutical gymnastics to escape the plain meaning of Genesis 1 to 2. The confession makes it a point of faith that God created the world in the space of six days."

#67  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Monday, July 25, 2011at 8:00 AM

@Richard Ikenberry

Romans 11 deals with this entire issue. Try reading the key verses in this order 25,7,8,5,11,17,23,24, 25 again (now emphasizing the blindness IN PART), 5 again, 25 again (now emphasizing the UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles come in). I believe that the regathering of Israel, which happens after the fullness of the Gentiles, is literal and is referring to the Millenium. I am no theologian, however, and will likely take a look at the books mentioned in #46 for my own benefit, although my normal realm of influence is R.C. Sprould, John MacArthur, Adrian Rogers and ICR.

One thing though is evident from Romans 11 though - the spiritual blindness is temporary for the sake of the Gentiles, and although we are joint-heirs with Christ, there is still an earthly distinction of the Jewish people, as Romans 11:17 makes clear.

#68  Posted by Rick White  |  Monday, July 25, 2011at 12:05 PM

#56 Dan,

Eschatology is the study of end times.

#69  Posted by Richard Ikenberry  |  Monday, July 25, 2011at 2:54 PM

To Kerry Halpin (#67)

Thank you for your comment.

If I read you correctly it looks like we are in full agreement about Israel. I would add Romans 9:4 and Acts 3:25. Both Paul and Peter are indicating present tense, meaning the original covenants and related aspects still belong to Israel. That present tense for them would have been after the beginning of the church, hence they didn’t consider any of these being taken from Israel and given to the church.

As I’ve already mentioned, the mystery that remains for me is how full-fledged Reformed theologians use a literal hermeneutic to arrive at the doctrines of Calvinism, but switch to an allegorical hermeneutic on which to base their claims of replacement theology. I’m still looking for an explanation on that one.

Similar to you, my normal realm of influence (I like that terminology) is John MacArthur and his GTY associates, and ICR, plus Dwight Pentecost, Answers in Genesis and with appropriate reservation, R.C. Sproul whom I believe still holds to replacement theology (although I’m fully open to correction on that if documentation to the contrary can be offered).

#70  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Monday, July 25, 2011at 7:14 PM

Thank you Richard and Rick for your answers.. I appreciate it.

#71  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Monday, July 25, 2011at 7:30 PM

@Richard (69)

I've yet to hear anything from Sproul that I didn't agree with, but I have not heard any sermons on Replacement Theology or like matter, and I've listed to Sproul podcasts almost everyday for nine months now. If you have not heard of Adrian Rogers, I HIGHLY SUGGEST you listen to his sermons from his "Love Worth Finding" radio ministry. If there's any preacher that I respect as much as John MacArthur, it's Adrian. Especially listen to his series on Revelation, and the Mysteries of the Kingdom, talking about the parables in Matthew - I guarantee you've never heard exposition like his on those parables!

In answer to your question, I have none! LOL I've been a Christian for 15 years but have only in the past nine months have begun to delve deeply into theology, Young-earth creationism and reformed ideas. And most of that comes from listening to MacArthur, Sproul, Adrian Rogers, and Alistair Begg, my own studies with my Ryrie study bible and the research and publications of ICR. I hope to begin to read various works of the puritans, Calvin and Luther soon to expand my true literary and intellectual theological base.

#72  Posted by Roger Smith  |  Wednesday, July 27, 2011at 9:08 AM

"Calvin's only role in the fiasco was that he approved of execution as a fit punishment for heresy (as did virtually everyone else in that era). He specifically gave approval for Servetus's execution, but he pleaded for a merciful form of execution."

So where exactly does "love your enemy" fit into approving the execution of a "heretic?" The reformers may have started a theological movement, but they themselves persecuted congregationalists and Anabaptists just as harshly as the Catholic church persecuted the reformers. The fact remains that Calvin did not connect the dots of loving one's enemy and approved of the execution of one of his opponents. His theology did not lead to practice.

#73  Posted by Roger Smith  |  Wednesday, July 27, 2011at 9:14 AM

To Dustin #62,

Thank you for your words. I am not a Calvinist, nor am I an Arminian. I am a Baptist, which is a distinct historical and theological position. My critique of Calvin's approval of capital punishment is not to defend Servetus, but to show that Calvin's practice did not line up with his theology and therefore, we should be careful not to treat him as some kind of Apostle. He was a great voice in the chorus of reformation theologians, but if you want to see the real reformation, check out the congregationalists and their teachings. You will be surprised.