Monthly Archives: March 2012

Why Church Doesn’t Fit Most People

Insightful article.

Most people don’t go to church anymore. And the minority who do regularly attend and appreciate weekly services fit a certain profile. They’re the church-inclined.

This shrinking minority differs from the majority in several ways:

Read the rest here.

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Evidence of Inclusivism in Luther, Zwingli, and Arminius

A while back I did a post quoting from well known apologists throughout history that have advocated inclusivism (see here).  The list demonstrated that inclusivism  has been held by orthodox Christians since the time of the church fathers.  I have updated that post to include some relevant quotes from Luther, Zwingli, and Arminius.

Inclusivists believe the only way to be saved is through Jesus Christ.  Since Jesus died for everyone, inclusivists are also hopeful that some can be justified through Christ without explicit or complete knowledge of who He is. Inclusivists argue that unless salvation is universally accessible, it is meaningless to speak of Christ’s atonement being for all people.

Among the Protestant reformers, Zwingli was the most vocal inclusivist.  He sparred with Calvin over the issue (Calvin was an exclusivist).  Zwingli proposed that pre-Christian Greeks like Socrates would be saved, as well as others.

“Then you may hope to see [in heaven] the whole company and assemblage of all the saints, the wise, the faithful, brave, and good who have lived since the world began. Here you will see the two Adams, the redeemed and the redeemer, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, Phineas, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and the Virgin Mother of God of whom he prophesied, David, Hezekiah, Josiah, the Baptist, Peter, Paul; here too, Hercules, Theseus, Socrates, Aristides, Antigonus, Numa, Camillus, the Catos and Scipios; here Louis the Pious, and your predecessors, the Louis, Philips, Pepins, and all your ancestors who have gone hence in faith. In short there has not been a good man and will not be a holy heart or faithful soul from the beginning of the world to the end thereof that you will not see in heaven with God.” (Zwingli, Exposition of the Christian Faith, page 16)

Although less outspoken than Zwingli (at least on this issue), there is evidence that Luther also was an inclusivist.  In his commentary on Romans, Luther proposed that the unevangelized can be forgiven by God by responding to Him in the best way that they understand, that God can save them though His prevenient grace, and that God gives forbearance to the ignorant.

“Whoever fulfills the Law is in Christ, and he receives grace because as much as he is able he has prepared himself for it. Original sin God could forgive them [the unevangelized]  (even though they may not have recognized it and confessed it) on account of some act of humility towards God as the highest being that they know. Neither were they bound to the Gospel and to Christ as specifically recognized, as the Jews were not either. Or one can say that all people of this type have been given so much light and grace by an act of prevenient mercy of God as is sufficient for their salvation in their situation, as in the case of Job, Naaman, Jethro, and others.”

“They have therefore fulfilled the Law. Whatever was lacking (and for this lack they are excused on account of their invincible ignorance) God in His forbearance without doubt supplied so that it might be made perfect through Christ in the future. This is not different from what He did for the children who were uncircumcised and killed for His sake (cf. Matt. 2:16). He does the same thing today for our children.” (Luther, commentary on Romans, see Romans 2:10)

It’s also evident that Arminius was an inclusivist.  He didn’t write too much about the topic – no doubt because the Supralapsarian Calvinists were looking for reasons to have his head.  However, he held that God saves some by the internal revelation of the Spirit (without the intervention of human missionaries).  He also alluded to an even greater view of God’s mercy, but was unwilling to advance that view in writing.

“The ordinary means and instrument of conversation is the preaching of the Divine word by mortal men, to which therefore all persons are bound; but the Holy Spirit has not so bound himself to this method, as to be unable to operate in an extraordinary way, without the intervention of human aid, when it seemeth good to Himself….this very common sentence obtains our high approval…What peril or error can there be in any man saying, “God converts great numbers of persons, (that is, very many) by the internal revelation of the Holy Spirit or by the ministry of angels; “provided it be at the same time stated, that no one is converted except by this very word, and by the meaning of this word, which God sends by men to those communities or nations whom He hath purposed to unite to himself. The objectors will perhaps reply, “It is to be feared, that, if a nation of those who have been outwardly called should believe this, rejecting external preaching, they would expect such an internal revelation or the address of an angel.” Truly, this would be as unnatural a subject of fear, as that a man would be unwilling to taste of the bread which was laid before him, because he understands, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” But I desist; lest, while instituting an examination into the causes of this fear, I should proceed much further, and arrive at a point to which our brethren might be unwilling for me on this occasion to advance. A word is sufficient for the wise.” (The Works of James Arminius, Volume 1, Article 8)

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A Calvinist Admires Wesley

Seedbed has an interesting post written by a Calvinist student who attended Asbury (a Wesleyan seminary).  He writes about how he admires about John Wesley.

Link here: A Calvinist Admires Wesley: Towards Fruitful Theological Discussion, by Benjamin Espinoza

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David Pawson’s Free MP3 Library

UK preacher David Pawson now has a website up where all of his sermons can be downloaded for free.  There are tons and tons of mp3s available.  If you’re looking for a good source of Arminian audio, this is the jackpot.

Site here: DavidPawson.org

Pawson includes a lot of historical facts in his presentations, which I enjoy.  He comes from a conservative/charismatic/Wesleyan view.  He has done expository preaching on almost every book of the Bible.

Interesting fact: Pawson is a direct descendent of John Pawson, a friend of John Wesley, and one of the first Methodist preachers.

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English Phrases that Come from the Bible

I enjoy word etymology.  One thing that makes me smile is when someone uses a phrase that comes from the Bible.  We have lots of these sayings in English, and people who aren’t Christian use them all the time.   Of particular interest (at least to me) is that many of these sayings come from the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matt 5-7).

Here are a few of these saying. If you can think of others, please reply, and I’ll add them to the list.

to go the extra mile:  Matt 5:41

until kingdom come:   Matt 6:10

You reap what you sow. Gal 6:7

the apple of my eye: Deut 32:10

a shining city on a hill: Matt 5:14

Don’t throw pearls before swine: Matt 7:6

A wolf in sheep’s clothing:  Matt 7:15

Turn the tables on someone:  John 2:15

The powers that be: Romans 13:1

to get away by the skin of your teeth: Job 19:20

a drop in the bucket: Isaiah 40:15

A leopard can’t change its spots.  Jer 13:23

The writing is on the wall. Daniel 5:5

to give up the ghost. Gen 25:8

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The Lutheran Insulter

There’s nothing like being insulted by Martin Luther.  Quite a handy tool! Link here: The Lutheran Insulter

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Sexual Purity – A Post for Men

Dale Wayman (a fellow Arminian blogger) has started a blog about men being real men.  It is dedicated to helping men avoid sexual temptation.  It can be found here: Iron Strikes. Be sure to check it out, he has some great insights.

I desire to be sexually pure. I want to be faithful to God, to my wife, to my family,  to my church, and to folks who read the blog. Here are some disciplines that I have found to help me to flee sexual temptation. These are not hard fast rules, each man is different, but this is what works for me.

Stay Close to God
I ask God to help me. I ask him to renew my mind. I ask him to keep the enemy away. I ask him to purify my sub conscience. I ask him to show me lies that I have believed, that have warped my sexuality. I ask him to heal me. He is faithful.  Staying close to God mean listening to His voice.  He knows when I’m tempted, and desires to protect me.  Staying close to God requires setting aside my rights.  If I sense a prompting from the Spirit to do something (like turn off the computer), I need to do it.  Staying close to God also means staying close to others who care – particularly my wife.

Be Accountable to my Wife
Almost every day my wife asks me this question, “Have you been good?”  Implicit in her question is whether or not I have looked at pornography or have entertained lustful thoughts. I can’t lie to my wife, and she can sense if I’m not fully honest.  So she keeps me accountable. I’m  thankful that I have a strong and confident wife who has the courage and strength to ask me these sorts of questions.  Word to the men out there: you can’t go alone.  You need someone else to keep you accountable.   If this issue is too hurtful for your wife (or if you’re single), you need some like-minded Christian men to keep you accountable.

Go to Bed on Time
This is kind of a no brainer, but it works. I’m most likely to be tempted when everyone else has gone to bed and when I’m tired.  If I go to bed on time, I avoid the temptation.  If I do happen to stay up late, my wife knows to ask me the question above.

Spend Time With My Wife and Family
One aspect of my personality is that I tend to focus exclusively on one thing at a time (like blogging!). Being focused is good when I want to accomplish a task, but it’s bad when it results in neglecting my family. It is a trait that can also lend itself to a selfish inward bent. And that bent leads to temptation.  So it’s important for me to set aside time to spend with my wife and family.  It results in stronger relationships with them, and keeps me from temptation.

Avoid the Triggers
There are certain triggers for sexual temptations.  With some deliberate planning I can usually avoid those triggers. The example above (going to bed) is one of them. Here’s another example: I enjoy reading news online. Some good news sites also promote articles on the side that trigger temptation for me – typically stuff about celebrities or fashion or whatever. Some of the worst are the English/UK news sites. So I liberally apply firefox addblock to block all of the images on those sites. No images, no trigger, and I can still read the news. Your triggers may be different, and you know what they are.  If not, ask God, and he will point them out to you.  Identify them and plan accordingly.


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