Antinomianism

Antinomianism by Jack Kettler

In this study, we will seek to understand antinomianism. As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, commentary evidence and confessional support for the glorifying of God in how we live.

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

Definitions from two sources:

Antinomianism:

A name for several views that have denied that God’s law in Scripture should directly control the Christian’s life; the belief that obedience to God’s moral law is not necessary for the Christian. *

Antinomianism:

The word antinomianism comes from two Greek words, anti, meaning “against”; and nomos, meaning “law.” Antinomianism means “against the law.” Theologically, antinomianism is the belief that there are no moral laws God expects Christians to obey. Antinomianism takes a biblical teaching to an unbiblical conclusion. The biblical teaching is that Christians are not required to observe the Old Testament Law as a means of salvation. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Testament Law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15). The unbiblical conclusion is that there is no moral law God expects Christians to obey. **

The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology states, “In fact, it was Luther who actually coined the word antinomianism in his theological struggle with his former student, Johann Agricola.” (1)

Scriptures against Antinomianism:

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” (Psalm 19:7)

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)

From Charles Spurgeon’s commentary on Matthew 5:17-19 we read:

Verse 17, “He [Jesus] took care to revise and reform the laws of men; but the law of God he established and confirmed.”

It is noteworthy that Spurgeon says that Jesus came, “established,” and “confirmed.” This was his understanding of “fulfilled.”

Spurgeon continues in verse 18, “Not a syllable is to become effete (exhausted of energy; worn out). Even to the smallest letters, the dot of every ‘I’, and the crossing of every ‘t,’ the law will outlast the creation” Verse 19, Spurgeon says “Our King has not come to abrogate the law, but to confirm and reassert it.” (2)

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” (Romans 7:7)

“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Romans 7:12)

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

“But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully.” (1 Timothy 1:8)

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4)

Antinomianism or LAWLESS from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:

lo’-les (anomos): While occurring but once in the King James Version (1 Tim 1:9), is translated in various ways, e.g. “without law” (1 Cor. 9:21); “unlawful” (2 Pet 2:8 the King James Version); “lawless” (1 Tim 1:9); “transgressor” (Mk 15:28; Lk 22:37); “wicked” (Acts 2:23 the King James Version; 2 Thess. 2:8 the King James Version). When Paul claims to be “without law,” he has reference to those things in the ceremonial law, which might well be passed over, and not to the moral law. Paul was by no means an antinomian. Those are “lawless” who break the law of the Decalogue; hence, those who disobey the commandment, “Honor thy father and thy mother,” are lawless (1 Tim 1:9). The civil law is also the law of God. Those breaking it are lawless, hence, called “transgressors.” Those who are unjust in their dealings are also “lawless”; for this reason the hands of Pilate and those who with him unjustly condemned Jesus are called
“wicked (unlawful) hands” (Acts 2:23 the King James Version). The most notable example of lawlessness is the Antichrist, that “wicked (lawless) one” (2 Thess. 2:8). William Evans Bibliography Information (3)

The next essay explains the various manifestations of antinomianism:

Antinomianism: We are Not Set Free to Sin by J. I. Packer:

“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he [Christ] is righteous. – 1 JOHN 3:7

Antinomianism, which means being “anti-law,” is a name for several views that have denied that God’s law in Scripture should directly control the Christian’s life.

Dualistic antinomianism appears in the Gnostic heretics against whom Jude and Peter wrote (Jude 4-19; 2 Pet. 2). This view sees salvation as for the soul only, and bodily behavior as irrelevant both to God’s interest and to the soul’s health, so one may behave riotously and it will not matter.

Spirit-centered antinomianism puts such trust in the Holy Spirit’s inward prompting as to deny any need to be taught by the law how to live. Freedom from the law as a way of salvation is assumed to bring with it freedom from the law as a guide to conduct. In the first 150 years of the Reformation era this kind of antinomianism often threatened, and Paul’s insistence that a truly spiritual person acknowledges the authority of God’s Word through Christ’s apostles (1 Cor. 14:37; cf. 7:40) suggests that the Spirit-obsessed Corinthian church was in the grip of the same mind-set.

Christ-centered antinomianism argues that God sees no sin in believers, because they are in Christ, who kept the law for them, and therefore what they actually do makes no difference, provided that they keep believing. But 1 John 1:8–2:1 (expounding 1:7) and 3:4-10 point in a different direction, showing that it is not possible to be in Christ and at the same time to embrace sin as a way of life.

Dispensational antinomianism holds that keeping the moral law is at no stage necessary for Christians, since we live under a dispensation of grace, not of law. Romans 3:31 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 clearly show, however, that law-keeping is a continuing obligation for Christians. “I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law,” says Paul (1 Cor. 9:21).

Dialectical antinomianism, as in Barth and Brunner, denies that biblical law is God’s direct command and affirms that the Bible’s imperative statements trigger the Word of the Spirit, which when it comes may or may not correspond exactly to what is written. The inadequacy of the neo-orthodox view of biblical authority, which explains the inspiration of Scripture in terms of the Bible’s instrumentality as a channel for God’s present-day utterances to his people, is evident here.

Situationist antinomianism says that a motive and intention of love is all that God now requires of Christians, and the commands of the Decalogue and other ethical parts of Scripture, for all that they are ascribed to God directly, are mere rules of thumb for loving, rules that love may at any time disregard. But Romans 13:8-10, to which this view appeals, teaches that without love as a motive these specific commands cannot be fulfilled. Once more an unacceptably weak view of Scripture surfaces.

It must be stressed that the moral law, as crystallized in the Decalogue and opened up in the ethical teaching of both Testaments, is one coherent law, given to be a code of practice for God’s people in every age. In addition, repentance means resolving henceforth to seek God’s help in keeping that law. The Spirit is given to empower law-keeping and make us more and more like Christ, the archetypal law-keeper (Matt. 5:17). This law-keeping is in fact the fulfilling of our human nature, and Scripture holds out no hope of salvation for any who, whatever their profession of faith, do not seek to turn from sin to righteousness (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Rev. 21:8).” (4)

Protestant Reformer John Calvin on Antinomianism:

“Some unskillful persons, from not attending to this [the third use of the law], boldly discard the whole law of Moses, and do away with both its Tables, imagining it unchristian to adhere to a doctrine which contains the ministration of death. Far from our thoughts be this profane notion!

Moses has admirably shown that the Law, which can produce nothing but death in sinners, ought to have a better and more excellent effect upon the righteous. When about to die, he thus addressed the people, “Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life,” (Deut. 32:46, 47.)

If it cannot be denied that it contains a perfect pattern of righteousness, then, unless we ought not to have any proper rule of life, it must be impious to discard it. There are not various rules of life, but one perpetual and inflexible rule; and, therefore, when David describes the righteous as spending their whole lives in meditating on the Law, (Psalm 1:2,) we must not confine to a single age, an employment which is most appropriate to all ages, even to the end of the world.

Nor are we to be deterred or to shun its instructions, because the holiness which it prescribes is stricter than we are able to render, so long as we bear about the prison of the body. It does not now perform toward us the part of a hard taskmaster, who will not be satisfied without full payment; but, in the perfection to which it exhorts us, points out the goal at which, during the whole course of our lives, it is not less our interest than our duty to aim. It is well if we thus press onward. Our whole life is a race, and after we have finished our course, the Lord will enable us to reach that goal to which, at present, we can only aspire in wish.” (5)

The next passage is cited again for its importance and clarification of the law in the life of the Christian.

“But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully.” (1 Timothy 1:8)

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible comments on 1 Timothy 1:8 explain Paul correctly:

“If a man use it lawfully; for if it is used in order to obtain life, righteousness, and salvation by the works of it, or by obedience to it, it is used unlawfully: for the law does not give life, nor can righteousness come by it; nor are, or can men be saved by the works of it; to use the law for such purposes, is to abuse it, as the false teachers did, and make that which is good in itself, and in its proper use, to do what is evil; namely, to obscure and frustrate the grace of God, and make null and void the sufferings and death of Christ. A lawful use of the law is to obey it, as in the hands of Christ, the King of saints, and lawgiver in his church, from a principle of love to him, in the exercise of faith on him, without any mercenary selfish views, without trusting to, or depending on, what is done in obedience to it, but with a view to the glory of God, to testify our subjection to Christ, and our gratitude to him for favours received from him.” (6)

Contemporary theologian, Sinclair Ferguson’s assessment is perceptive as a conclusion to this study:

“Within the matrix of legalism at root is the manifestation of a restricted heart disposition toward God, viewing him through a lens of negative law that obscures the broader context of the Father’s character of holy love. This is a fatal sickness. Paradoxically, it is this same view of God, and the separation of his person from his law, that also lies at the root of antinomianism. The bottom line in both of these -isms is identical. That is why the gospel remedy of them is one and the same.” (7)

Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 89 is important:

Q: How is the word made effectual to salvation?

A: The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, 1 and of building, them up in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation. 2

1. Psalm 19:7. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Psalm 119:130. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

Hebrews 4:12. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

2. 1 Thessalonians 1:6. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.

Romans 1:16. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 16:25. Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.

Acts 20:32. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1. Walter A. Elwell, Editor, The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House), p.58.

2. Charles Spurgeon, The Gospel of the Kingdom, Commentary on Matthew, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Revell, 1987 reprinted 1995), p. 52-53.

3. James Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Definition for “LAWLESS,” (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1915), p.1859.

4. J.I. Packer, Concise Theology, (Wheaton, Illinois, Tyndale, 1993), pp. 178-180.

5. John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1845), p. 419–420.

6. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, 1 Timothy, 9 Volumes, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 12.

7. Sinclair Ferguson, The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance―Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters, (Wheaton, Illinois, Crossway, 2016), p. 85.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

http://www.thereligionthatstartedinahat.com/

For more study:

* http://www.rebecca-writes.com/theological-terms-in-ao/

** https://www.gotquestions.org/

Antidote to the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent on the Doctrine of Justification (1547)

By John Calvin https://www.the-highway.com/antidote_Calvin.html

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Transgenderism

Transgenderism by Jack Kettler

In this study, we will look at transgenderism. We hear the term in the media; see characters in movies and the children in fed gov schools are being indoctrinated into its acceptance. Restrooms in many places are now so-called gender neutral. Going into a restroom is now left up to a person’s personal assessment of what their sex is. This new standard of individual subjective assessment of sexual status is problematic.

Past societal norms are being bludgeoned apart by the new social justice warriors. States, fed gov agencies are in full swing behind eradicating the biblical norms and the past moral consensus. The only standard used is that of the individual or who can scream the loudest on a college campus. This standard of subjective individualism as the interpretive norm is full-blown autonomous humanism.

The Bible God’s revelation to man is the only objective standard for determining right and wrong.

Hence, as in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, lexical data, and commentary evidence and confessional support for the glorifying of God in how we live.

Transgenderism:

Transsexualism, also known as transgenderism, Gender Identity Disorder (GID), or gender dysphoria, is a feeling that your biological/genetic/physiological gender does not match the gender you identify with and/or perceive yourself to be. Transsexuals/transgenders often describe themselves as feeling “trapped” in a body that does not match their true gender. They often practice transvestism/transvestitism and may also seek hormone therapy and/or gender reassignment surgery to bring their bodies into conformity with their perceived gender. *

Is there a societal event that has triggered the transgender movement? In the modern era, it may very well be that feminism is partially the cause of gender confusion. Feminism would be a cause because of feminism’s idea of radical equality and its corollary that there is no male supremacy by a man over a woman. This assertion is speculative; nevertheless, ideas have consequences, and there can be a causal connection, for example, legalized abortion and the progression to calls for infanticide.

Transgenderism a biblical evaluation:

Transgenderism must be dealt with primarily as an issue of biblical conformity. Besides the sinful nature, one should not rule out factors such as fed gov school indoctrination, media propaganda, side effects of pharmaceutical drugs, imbalanced diets. In addition, sexual molestation as a young person by an adult and hormone therapies as possible contributing factors to gender confusion. These possible extenuating factors in no way lessens the requirement of biblical fidelity on the part of individuals. It is possible that someone can struggle with gender confusion without becoming transsexual.

The Bible does not directly mention the word transgenderism. The passage referred to most often is Deuteronomy 22:5 in discussions of transgenderism. This passage is undoubtedly relevant to the issue of transgenderism. 1 Corinthians 6:9 is also uniquely important passage as will be seen. In the additional biblical passages consulted in this study, it is evident that men and women are distinguished clearly in Scripture, and this fact most certainly has to bear on the subject.

What do the Scriptures say?

This distinction between men and women is seen right from the beginning:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27)

As said, the passage most often referred to is:

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man; neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)

From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on this section of Scripture:

“De 22:5-12. The Sex to Be Distinguished by Apparel.

5. The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment—Though disguises were assumed at certain times in heathen temples, it is probable that a reference was made to unbecoming levities practiced in common life. They were properly forbidden; for the adoption of the habiliments of the one sex by the other is an outrage on decency, obliterates the distinctions of nature by fostering softness and effeminacy in the man, impudence and boldness in the woman as well as levity and hypocrisy in both; and, in short, it opens the door to an influx of so many evils that all who wear the dress of another sex are pronounced ‘an abomination unto the Lord.’” (1)

In the Gospel of Mark, we see confirmation of the creational norm:

“But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.” (Mark 10:6)

Apostolic directives to husbands and wives add further confirmation:

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22–24)

“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.” (1 Pet 3:1)

A Pauline message to churches concerning apostolic instructions that also distinguish the sexes:

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:34, 35)

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach.” “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.” (1 Timothy 3:2, 12)

“That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.” (Titus 2:2–6)

Paul continues, and exhorts Timothy to esteem and reassure older men as fathers, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters:

“Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.” (1 Timothy 5:1–2).

The next two passages assume that we can distinguish men and women:

“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.” (1 Peter 3:1).

“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” (1 Timothy 2:11, 12)

Men and women, distinguished in worship:

“Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman, but all things of God. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?” (1 Corinthians 11:4-13)

Comments:

Thus far, it is clear that the Scriptures give no support for transgenderism as an accepted Christian lifestyle. God created both men and women; they have different roles in marriage and the church.

A conclusion thus far:

“It is significant that Genesis 1:26–28 appoints the binary categories male and female using the anatomical (rather than social) terms of gender: “male (zakar) and female (neqebah) he created them” (v. 27). We believe this is done because it is the anatomical sex of the individual, which indicates his or her gender calling. The social role of manhood (Heb., ’ish) or womanhood (Heb., ’ishah) is determined by the person’s anatomical sex.” (2)

The warnings of judgment in Scripture:

“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” (Romans 1:24-27)

As mentioned at the start, 1 Corinthians 6:9 is particularly relevant:

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.” (1 Corinthians 6:9)

Regarding the word effeminate:

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:

1 Strong’s Number: g3120 Greek: malakos

Effeminate: “soft, soft to the touch” (Lat., mollis, Eng., “mollify,” “emollient,” etc.), is used

(a) of raiment, Mat 11:8 (twice); Luke 7:25;

(b) metaphorically, in a bad sense, 1Cr 6:9, “effeminate,” not simply of a male who practices forms of lewdness, but persons in general, who are guilty of addiction to sins of the flesh, voluptuous. (3)

Strong’s Concordance 3120 malakos:

malakos: soft, effeminate

Original Word: μαλακός, ή, όν

Part of Speech: Adjective

Transliteration: malakos

Phonetic Spelling: (mal-ak-os’)

Short Definition: soft, effeminate

Definition: (a) soft, (b) of persons: soft, delicate, effeminate.

Some Bible translations connect the word effeminate with homosexuality. For example:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality.” (1 Corinthians 6:9 ESV)

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who submit to or perform homosexual acts.” (1 Corinthians 6:9 Berean Study Bible)

Comments:

For those identifying as transgender, the Bible categorizes it under the general heading of homosexuality. Two points, first, this passage from 1 Corinthians is listed under the heading of a biblical warning. Second, all must heed the warning to flee from sexual immorality.

There is hope for those struggling with these types of temptations as seen in Paul’s writing in the past tense wording used in the next passage.

“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)

For those struggling with transgenderism, there is hope. You are not alone. Everyone is to flee from sexual sins.

“Flee from sexual immorality (porneia). Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18ESV)

Strong’s Concordance on fornication, sexual immorality:

porneia: fornication 4202

Original Word: πορνεία, ας, ἡ

Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine

Transliteration: porneia

Phonetic Spelling: (por-ni’-ah)

Short Definition: fornication, idolatry

Definition: fornication, whoredom, met: idolatry.

The word porneia is broader than fornication, and includes homosexuality, adultery, transgenderism and other sexual sins. The transgender individual is to “flee from sexual immorality” just like the apostle calls everyone. The Scriptures give no support for anyone living in any type of sexual immorality.

As seen from the Bible passages covered in this study, men and women are differentiated, and God has ordained these differences. Therefore, someone struggling with gender confusion needs to come to terms with created personhood and God’s purposes.

Confessional support for the above exposition.

The Westminster Larger Catechism Question 139:

Question139. What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?

Answer. The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required,1 are, adultery, fornication,2 rape, incest,3 sodomy, and all unnatural lusts;4 all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections;5 all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto;6 wanton looks,7 impudent or light behaviour, immodest apparel;8 prohibiting of lawful,9 and dispensing with unlawful marriages;10 allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them;11 entangling vows of single life,12 undue delay of marriage,13 having more wives or husbands than one at the same time;14 unjust divorce,15 or desertion;16 idleness, gluttony, drunkenness,17 unchaste company;18 lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays;19 and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.20

Scriptural proofs:

1 Proverbs 5:7: And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth.

2 Hebrews 13:4: Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Galatians 5:19: Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality.

3 2 Samuel 13:14: But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her. 1 Corinthians 5:1: It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.

4 Romans 1:24, 26-27: Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves. … For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. Leviticus 20:15-16: If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. If a woman approaches any animal and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

5 Matthew 5:28: But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 15:19: For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. Colossians 3:5: Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

6 Ephesians 5:3-4: But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Proverbs 7:5, 21-22: To keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words. … With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast.

7 Isaiah 3:16: The LORD said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet. 2 Peter 2:14: They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!

8 Proverbs 7:10, 13: And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. … She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him.

9 1 Timothy 4:3: Who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

10 Leviticus 18:1-21: Click to read passage. Mark 6:18: For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife. Malachi 2:11-12: Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. May the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the LORD of hosts!

11 1 Kings 15:12: He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. 2 Kings 23:7: And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah. Deuteronomy 23:17-18: None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute. You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the LORD your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:29: Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, lest the land fall into prostitution and the land become full of depravity. Jeremiah 5:7: How can I pardon you? Your children have forsaken me and have sworn by those who are no gods. When I fed them to the full, they committed adultery and trooped to the houses of whores. Proverbs 7:24-27: And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.

12 Matthew 19:10-11: The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.”

13 1 Corinthians 7:7-9: I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. Genesis 38:26: Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.

14 Malachi 2:14-15: But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. Matthew 19:5: And said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”?

15 Malachi 2:16: “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” Matthew 5:32: But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

16 1 Corinthians 7:12-13: To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.

17 Ezekiel 16:49: Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. Proverbs 23:30-33: Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things.

18 Genesis 39:19: As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. Proverbs 5:8: Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.

19 Ephesians 5:4: Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ezekiel 23:14-16: But she carried her whoring further. She saw men portrayed on the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, wearing belts on their waists, with flowing turbans on their heads, all of them having the appearance of officers, a likeness of Babylonians whose native land was Chaldea. When she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. Isaiah 23:15-17: In that day Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, like the days of one king. At the end of seventy years, it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the prostitute: “Take a harp; go about the city, O forgotten prostitute! Make sweet melody; sing many songs, that you may be remembered.” At the end of seventy years, the LORD will visit Tyre, and she will return to her wages and will prostitute herself with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth. Isaiah 3:16: The LORD said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet. Mark 6:22: For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 1 Peter 4:3: For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.

20 2 Kings 9:30: When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it. And she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out of the window. Jeremiah 4:30: And you, O desolate one, what do you mean that you dress in scarlet, that you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold, that you enlarge your eyes with paint? In vain you beautify yourself. Your lovers despise you; they seek your life. Ezekiel 23:40: They even sent for men to come from afar, to whom a messenger was sent; and behold, they came. For them you bathed yourself, painted your eyes, and adorned yourself with ornaments.

Never forget:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 157.

2. North America, Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Gender as Calling: The Gospel & Gender Identity (Kindle Locations 388-392). Crown & Covenant Publications. Page Location 385 Kindle Edition.

3. W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, (Iowa Falls, Iowa, Riverside Book and Bible House), p. 349.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more study:

* https://www.gotquestions.org/

Many articles on the topic of transgenderism and political ramifications at

https://billmuehlenberg.com/category/ethics/transgenderism/

For one of the best experts on sexual sins and those struggling with sexual sins, see

Rosaria Butterfield at https://rosariabutterfield.com/

Gender as Calling: The Gospel & Gender Identity

This booklet offers an introduction to the development of the transgender movement and its terminology, a critique of the philosophies that undergird it, and a loving, biblical response. Purchase at https://www.crownandcovenant.com/product_p/ds536.htm also available at Amazon in the Kindle format.

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Shew me thy ways, O LORD, teach me thy paths. Psalm 25:4

Shew me thy ways, O LORD, teach me thy paths. Psalm 25:4 by Jack Kettler

In this study, we will look at how to learn God’s ways! This involves understanding or knowledge. What does the knowledge of God produce in our lives?

As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, commentary evidence for glorifying God in how we live.

Definition:

Question: What does the Bible say about knowledge?

Answer: The word knowledge in the Bible denotes an understanding, a recognition, or an acknowledgment. To “know” something is to perceive it or to be aware of it. Many times in Scripture, knowledge carries the idea of a deeper appreciation of something or a relationship with someone. The Bible is clear that the knowledge of God is the most valuable knowledge a human being can possess. *

Scriptural passage that instructs us concerning knowledge:

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD, teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

KJV Lexicon

Shew

yada` (yaw-dah’)

to know (properly, to ascertain by seeing); used in a great variety of senses, figuratively, literally, euphemistically and inferentially me thy ways

derek (deh’-rek)

a road (as trodden); figuratively, a course of life or mode of action, often adverb O LORD

Yhovah (yeh-ho-vaw’)

(the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God — Jehovah, the Lord. Teach

lamad (law-mad’)

to goad, i.e. (by implication) to teach (the rod being an Oriental incentive):(un-) accustomed, diligently, expert, instruct, learn, skillful, teach(-er, -ing).me thy paths

‘orach (o’-rakh)

a well-trodden road; also a caravan — manner, path, race, rank, traveler, troop, (by-, high-)way.

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on Psalms 25:4 is clear and concise:

Show me thy ways, O Lord, Either those which the Lord himself took and walked in; as those of creation and providence, in which he has displayed his power, wisdom, and goodness; and which are desirable to be known by his people, and require divine instruction and direction; and particularly his ways of grace, mercy, and truth, and the methods he has taken for the salvation of his people, both in eternity and in time; or those ways which he orders and directs his people to walk in; namely, the paths of duty, the ways of his worship and ordinances; a greater knowledge of which good men desire to have, as well as more grace to enable them to walk more closely and constantly in them; teach me thy paths; a petition the same with the other, in different words. (1)

Comments:

The Psalmist asks the Lord to show him and teach him His ways and paths. This petition involves attaining the knowledge of God. Obtaining God’s knowledge leads us to meditate upon His Word, fear God’s name, which then leads to adoration of God’s person and His works.

The Psalmist makes this clear in the next three passages:

“Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.” (Psalm 86:11)

“I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.” (Psalm 119:15)

“Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.” (Psalm 119:34)

As seen in the above passages, the Bible speaks of knowledge and the understanding of God’s Word. This acquired knowledge produces action or a response in the lives of believers, i.e., “walk in thy truth,” “respect thy ways,” and “I shall keep thy law.”

The next passage makes clear; believers are too always to grow in both grace and knowledge:

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)

“To him be glory both now and forever. Amen” is a doxology or a scriptural formula of praise to God. This praise to God is the fruit of the knowledge of God.

How can anyone read the above Psalms and not believe that God is speaking to us in the Scriptures in response to our petitions, imparting knowledge to us with real words that are understandable and bear fruit in the lives of believers?

With this said, it could be a conclusion to this study. Instead, we can use what we have seen thus far as a springboard to dig deeper into the study of knowledge.

The study of the topic knowledge is more in-depth than might be expected. In the philosophical world, philosophers attempt to understand the mechanism of how acquiring knowledge happens in a human mind. This would be through the study of epistemology. In this type of study, you would learn about empiricism, rationalism, and scripturalism.

In theological liberalism or Neo-orthodoxy, the pursuit of knowledge does not involve accepting the Scriptures literally or seeking the historical truth. When someone speaks of encountering God, this may be a tip-off that a Neo-orthodox liberal has been met. For the Neo-orthodox, the word of God is experienced or encountered and is not connected to the actual historical events mentioned in the texts of Scripture. Said another way, in Neo-orthodoxy, the Bible is not understood to be an objective text given by God in history about real, historical events. Instead, Neo-orthodoxy uses the scriptures in a non-literal sense as a jumping off point to encounter the wholly other God. With its non-literal view of Scripture, Neo-orthodoxy is very mysterious, endlessly subjective, and dangerously unbiblical.

What is a biblical doctrine of knowledge?

In this study, we will look at two theologians whose articles, deal with the range of knowledge and in particular, knowledge of God that we learn about in Scripture. The first essay will contrast biblical, historical knowledge with the Neo-orthodox theory of knowledge. Also, this article will also deal with epistemology. As will be seen, the truth of Scripture will shine brighter when contrasted with an error.

Know, Knowledge by Gordon H. Clark

KNOW, KNOWLEDGE (ידע, know; Gr. γινώσκω, know [by experience]; οιδα, know [a fact])

1. Biblical usage

2. Knowledge and faith

3. Epistemology

a. Philosophical

b. Biblical

4. Neo-orthodoxy

5. Knowledge of God

Presumably, knowledge, if it be defined at all, means the possession of truth by a mind. The problems that an analysis of knowledge entails are enormous.

1. Biblical usage.

The Bible frequently commends knowledge and wisdom: “The Lord is a God of knowledge” (1 Sam 2:3). “Have they no knowledge, all the evil doers who… do not call upon the Lord?” (Ps 14:4). “Teach me good judgment and knowledge.” (Ps 119:66). “Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold.” (Prov. 8:10). “By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make you free: (John 8:32). “Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.” (1 Cor. 13:12). Asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col 1:9). “We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true” (1 John 5:20). One may note relative to this last verse that the so-called epistle of love uses the word “know” thirty times in its five chapters, not counting words like “understand”, “teach”, “see”, “hear”, “believe”, and “truth”, all of which have to do with knowledge.

In view of the misapprehensions of some immature Christians, what the Bible does not say also should be pointed out. Nowhere does the Scripture modify the high value it places on knowledge by deprecating “mere” human reason. Reason and knowledge are integral parts of the image of God in which man was created. In the OT the term “heart” designates the mind, intellect, or reason in about three-fourths of its 750 occurrences. Examples are: “The Lord said in his heart….” (Gen 8:21) (obviously he did not say in his emotions); “I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and mind” (1 Sam 2:35); “Make the heart of this people fat….lest they ….understand with their hearts” (Isa 6:10); “He has shut …their minds [KJV hearts] so that they cannot understand. No one considers” [KJV “none calleth to mind”] (Isa 44:18, 19). In both cases, the same Hebrew word is used.

Granted that the mind or heart of man can be and is sinful, as some of these verses plainly indicate, the antithesis between the heart and the head, along with the suggestion that the intellect is evil but the emotions are free from sin, is nevertheless a distortion of the Scriptural view of man.

Although the Heb. and the Gr. verbs for knowing usually bear the most ordinary meaning, exemplified when one says that he knows that David was king of Israel and that Paul was an apostle, they can also be used in other senses, some of which are sources of confusion in theology and philosophy.

The sense in which the words are used to designate sexual intercourse, as in Genesis 4:1, “Now Adam knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain,” is a sense that causes no confusion. We simply note the usage and pass on.

Confusion, however, may arise from another meaning which also has no place in epistemology, for in addition to knowing that David was a king, the verb also means to choose, to select, and therefore to approve. When Psalm 1:6 says that “the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish,” it is not reflecting on divine omniscience. In the ordinary sense God knows the way of the wicked as He knows everything else. Here the word is used in the sense of approval. Similarly, when Amos 3:2 says “You only have I known of all the families of the earth,” the prophet is not denying that God knew the Egyptians and Canaanites. This verse is no denial of omniscience. Here the verb means to choose or elect.

This usage, so clear in the OT, causes some theological confusion when NT material is discussed. Those who reject the doctrines of predestination or unconditional election try to base salvation on foreseen faith and election of foreknowledge. Such a view is inconsistent with the meaning of the words. In 1 Peter 1:2, where the RSV gives the correct sense, “chosen and destined by God,” the KJV has the more literal tr. “elect according to the foreknowledge of God.” In 1 Peter 1:20 the KJV vs. the same word “foreordained.” Similarly Romans 8:29 does not speak of the mere knowing ahead of time, as Eng. usage would lead one to expect, as if God looked ahead into an independent and undetermined future and discovered (If anything undetermined could be discovered) what was going to happen; rather, foreknowledge means foreordination.

In addition to the above source of theological confusion, there is an alleged usage that causes philosophical confusion. Or, perhaps, it may be said that a certain philosophical confusion tries to construe knowledge in a still different sense. Some devout and fairly orthodox theologians, and in general the neo-orthodox thinkers insist that there is a radical difference between knowing a proposition and knowing a person, or between knowledge “about” and knowledge “by acquaintance.”

According to the neo-orthodox position God does not reveal truths that can be intellectually apprehended, but He reveals Himself in a direct encounter or confrontation. Now, insofar as support for this view is sought in the different compounds of γινώσκω or in the other verbs οιδα, ειδεναι and επισταμαι, the attempt is a failure. Kittel’s Wörterbuch under the entry γινώσκω states that this knowledge “is achieved in all the acts in which a man can attain knowledge, seeing and hearing, in investigating and reflecting….also personal acquaintance….Whatever can be the object of enquiry can be the object of γινώσκω.” Kittel continues by noting that Gnostic γνωσις is no different except as to the object. And in the LXX γινώσκω and ειδεναι both tr. the one Heb. verb ידע Kittel is replete with all the lexicographical details, none of which are of any help in epistemology.

2. Faith and knowledge.

Noting the usage of the word knowledge in its ordinary meaning offers little aid in solving problems of theology and philosophy. One such problem is the distinction between knowledge and faith. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1), does not at first sight agree with the praises of knowledge quoted earlier; yet the following verses indicate that the knowledge referred to is either mistaken opinion or a true proposition so misapplied and conjoined with error that the combination is false. Some commentators explain v.1 as ironical.

A similar explanation is required to understand the Christian opposition to Gnosticism. This religion in the early centuries, using Christian terminology, made salvation depend on knowledge, and, by implication, not on faith. The great objection to Gnosticism, however, is not a repugnance to knowledge as such. The real objection was twofold. First, the Gnostic tenets amounted to a texture of superstitious mythology. Second, even if the Gnostics had propounded a true science of astronomy, such knowledge could not save. Salvation depends on faith in Christ.

What then is the relation between faith and knowledge? Protestants have traditionally analyzed faith into knowledge, assent, and trust. This analysis is not as simple as it seems. Knowledge in this context apparently refers only to understanding (not believing) the meaning of a proposition. Of course one can understand the meaning of false propositions, such as, David was king of Tyre; but undoubtedly true propositions are intended because assent to or belief in a false proposition would be error, not knowledge.

Note that this last instance of the word knowledge does not bear the same meaning it bears in the analysis. In the analysis, knowledge occurs as distinct from assent, as a separate element in faith; but if knowledge is defined as the minds possession of truth, there can be no knowledge apart from assent. This is one difficulty. Furthermore, worse, the element of trust, which Protestants emphasize, defies all explanation and remains in utter confusion. Illustrations, such as actually depositing money in a bank rather than merely believing that the bank is sound, depend on a physical action, in addition to the mental act of believing. Such additional external action is inappropriate to represent the thoroughly inner mental act of faith. Knowledge is an integral part of faith, and not its antithesis.

3. Epistemology.

(a) Philosophical. The main problem of knowledge, which is the crucial question in all the history of philosophy, concerns knowledge in its most ordinary sense. We say we know that two and two are four, that the earth revolves around the sun, or at least that a bright disk appears in the sky, and perhaps that God exists and stealing is immoral. Epistemology is a theory of how one can know anything. This question is not explicitly discussed in the Bible; but answers to it, however obtained, have a profound influence on theological formulations.

Since the matter is extremely technical and difficult, some simplification is necessary.

Systems of philosophy generally can be divided into two groups: empirical philosophies are exemplified by Aristotle, Aquinas, Hume, and the contemporary schools of Pragmatism and logical Positivism-the second group comprises the rationalistic or idealistic philosophies, exemplified by Plato, Augustine, Anselm, Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel. The first group exhibits serious divergencies, for Aristotle and Logical Positivism are rather far apart; but differences within the second group are perhaps even greater.

Empiricism is the view that all knowledge is based on experience alone. Experience has not always been restricted to the five senses, though this is a common form of the principle; but the Epicureans stressed the experience of pain, the Sophists acknowledged the experience of dreams and hallucinations (a fact Descartes and other rationalists use in opposition), others admit aesthetic experience-coining the word aesthetics from the Gr. word for sensation, and, finally Schleiermacher, the founder of modernism, and contemporary liberalism develop religion and theology out of religious experience. Sensation, however, remains basic in all forms of empiricism.

Rationalism (idealism is not a good name, for Berkeleyan idealism is completely empirical) holds that all or at least some knowledge is a priori, innate, rational, non-sensuous.

Plato taught that the soul before birth is in contact with the ideal objects of knowledge, and that here on earth we remember what we previously knew. Spinoza taught that without the aid of sensation, doubtful aid because it is the source of error, all knowledge can be deduced from definitions by logic alone. Even the existence of God, as Anselm taught earlier, can be demonstrated from the definition that God is the all-perfect Being: if He did not exist, He would not be all-perfect. Kant said that the mind at birth is furnished with the a priori (independent of experience) intuitions of space and time, and a set of twelve a priori categories. Neither of these by themselves, and much less sensations by themselves, are knowledge, but when sensory material is arranged and ordered by these a priori forms, the combination is knowledge. Finally, the dialectic of concepts of the last philosopher listed, Hegel, is just too complicated to characterize in any space.

Two lines of procedure are now necessary: one should evaluate the merit of each of these main divisions of philosophy, and one should attempt to determine which, if either, the Bible favors.

The first is a task for the professional philosopher. Some considerations, however, may be mentioned, which must be taken into account.

All philosophy, all theology, and all common conversation must make use of so-called abstract concepts. In philosophy the terms substance, cause, quality, relation find a necessary place; in theology there is sin and righteousness, atonement and justification, and so on; in common speech too one talks about causes and relations as well as about truth and falsity, times and places, cats and dogs.

Rationalism specifically asserts the reality of such concepts. These are the objects of knowledge that constitute Plato’s World of Ideas. Philo Judaeus and Augustine make them the content of the Divine Mind. Thus far, rationalism makes philosophy, theology, and conversation possible.

Although nominalists such as Roscellinus and Occam assert that concepts refer to no reality whatever, that they are mere sounds in the air without meaning, and thus make philosophy and ordinary conversation both impossible, still the major empiricists try to explain the genesis of concepts. Aristotle attempted to abstract them from sensory experience. The concepts were somehow in the visible objects and could be detached, or abstracted by imagination and intellect. The British empiricists build up concepts by adding and subtracting particular sensations. Thus they claim to make knowledge possible.

The question, of course, is whether or not concepts can in fact be abstracted from sensations. Plato denied it. Further, even the abstraction of such “empirical” concepts as cat and dog depends on a theory of visual imagery that introspective psychology cannot sustain. It is all the more difficult to see how normative concepts such as justice, can be derived from purely factual material.

Kant forcefully extended this argument in opposition to Hume. Knowledge, Kant insisted, contains necessary and universal judgments, such as two and two are, are always, and must be four, and, all pendulums always must swing in a certain way. Note definitely that when the law of the pendulum was formulated, the scientists thought that all pendulums in the past have swung and all future pendulums will swing just as described. But experience does not extend to all past pendulums, and with even greater clarity it does not extend to any future pendulums. Experience gives neither universality nor necessity.

Similarly, normative moral principles can never be derived from experience. We see acts of honesty and instances of theft. The two are equally in experience. Experiences can never determine that theft is wrong or that honesty is right.

Perhaps the simplest example of an a priori category is that of unity. The concept of the number one is essential, not only to mathematics, but also to all learning; for learning could never proceed unless we could distinguish one thing from another. Berkeley, the British empiricist, attempted to base the idea of unity in sensation. The unit, he said, is just any one thing you choose. You can count chairs or grains of sand. Thus we find our unit in experience. Kant demolished Berkeley’s argument. First, the empiricist misstated the problem, which is not the selection of a unit from among other unities; the problem is the origin of the idea of unity. Second, the idea of one must be present before we can identify a chair or a grain of sand as one. the idea is not derived from the experienced object. And, finally, no experienced object is strictly a unity, since everything in space has parts. Therefore, the concept of one must precede experience. These sample arguments must suffice to show the philosophic advantages of rationalism, or a priorism, over empiricism.

(b) Biblical. Does Scripture take sides in the dispute between empiricism and rationalism? Obviously the Bible has no such technical arguments as those found in Kant. Nevertheless the prophets and apostles tell us something about the nature of man.

In the first place God created man in His own image. The animals were not so created. The difference is that man is rational, and animals are not. In Proverbs 7:22, 23 and Isaiah 56:10 the natural ignorance of animals is used as a similitude to castigate the sinful ignorance of men.

That knowledge is part of the image of God, and therefore that at least some knowledge is non-empirical, is broadly hinted in Colossians 3:10, where the effect of regeneration is the renewal of the knowledge original in the divine image.

Further, Romans 1:32 and 2:14 show that even sin does not eradicate certain innate moral knowledge. And with respect to sin, all the historical churches acknowledge that a depravity of nature is inherited from Adam. This is inconsistent with the view that the mind at birth is a blank sheet of paper (Locke), or morally neutral (Aristotle), and requires the admission of some sort of a priori. If therefore the more complex matters of morality are innate, how can one deny that simpler principles antecede experience? Scripture therefore seems to be on the side of a priorism.

4. Neo-orthodoxy.

The discussion so far has maintained the position that knowledge is commendable and is essential to faith. Therefore religion, or at any rate Christianity, must hold theology in high esteem. At various times, however, protests are made against “cold” intellectualism or the pride of “mere” human reason. Mystics have commended trances; others make religion essentially emotional; and most recently neo-orthodoxy has enthroned paradox and contradiction.

These modern theologians have arrived at their position more by emotional reaction than by logic. They had been educated under a combination of Scheiermacher and Hegel. This liberalism looked on sin as a fast disappearing remnant of man’s animal ancestors. The kingdom of God was equated with socialism and optimism flourished. Then World War 1 revealed man’s depravity to Europeans, and World War II to Americans. Machine guns and concentration camps liquidated the utopian doctrine of man’s essential goodness and society’s progress.

Furthermore, Hegel’s rationalistic solution of all philosophic problems was too neat, and therefore unreal. The great dialectic came to appear as hollow word-play. Yet these theologians were equally unable to solve the problems. They braved Socrates’ sad scorn of misologists and declared that the problems of life are rationally insoluble. Life is a deeper than logic. The universe and God Himself are self-contradictory. We must make our decisions in the freedom of blind faith. Besides, religion is not an intellectual matter anyhow: it is an experiential encounter with God.

Emil Brunner states this position clearly. Rejecting the idea that revelation is a communication of truth, Brunner asserts that “All words have only an instrumental value. Neither the spoken words nor their conceptual content are the Word itself, but only its frame” (The Divine-Human Encounter, p. 110). He then adds that “God can, when he wills, speak his Word to a man even through false doctrine” (ibid. p. 117).

Karl Barth earlier, in his Romans, had made a great deal of contradictions and insoluble paradoxes. Though later he lost some of his exuberance, he still rejected logical consistency. The latest edition of Church Dogmatics, in a section refuting a defense of logical consistency, argues that “The very minimum postulate of freedom from contradiction is acceptable by theology only upon the very limited interpretation, by the scientific theorist upon the scarcely tolerable one, that theology will not assert an irremovability in principle of the ‘contradictions’ which it is bound to make good” (Church Dogmatics, I, i, p. 8). This sentence is obscure: it neither asserts nor denies that contradictions are removable; it merely says that theology should not assert their irremovability. What follows in the passage seems to let the contradictions stand, for he says, “But the propositions in which it asserts their removal will be propositions about the free action of God, and so not propositions that ‘remove’ the contradiction from the world.” Continuing to talk of coherence and systematization, Barth insists that “The theologian ….should know what he is doing when he transgresses them, and that as a theologian he cannot escape the necessity of transgressing them.” Or, in very plain words, a theologian must be incoherent.

Nevertheless the neo-orthodox school writes theology, and Barth and Brunner have been esp. voluminous. But if they do not recognize the necessity of being consistent, of what value can their theology be? In principle, every one of their sentences is both true and false. If we discard logic, then, when we believe that David was king of Israel, nothing prevents us from believing at the same time that David was not king of Israel. This would be simply the necessary incoherence of theology.

In particular, the neo-orthodox theologians, and some modernists as well, believe that God reveals Himself through contradictory systems in the Bible. Brunner concocts a remarkable conclusion that we could believe in the resurrection of Christ, even if there were no reports, for the witness to the resurrection is not that of eyewitnesses but of faith-witnesses. He further makes Christ sinless but fallible. Then, again, when Paul speaks of a time before Esau’s birth, he means the Edomites in the days of Malachi. And, finally, “God and the medium of conceptuality exclude each other” (cf. Paul King Jewett, Emil Brunner’s Concept of Revelation, p. 184 and passim).

If, now, all our theological talk is self-contradictory, if faith must curb logic, and if God and thought are mutually exclusive, then no knowledge of God is possible, and religion must be emotional and experiential. But it will not be Christianity.

5. Knowledge of God.

In opposition to this neo-orthodoxy and to all other forms of thought that deny God can be known, we are here conclude with what was strongly hinted at the beginning of this article in its commendation of knowledge in general. We shall simply add a few references to knowledge of God in particular.

In the first place, all Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable for doctrine The following vv. are some of those which are most explicitly profitable for the doctrine of God. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” introduces the concept of creation and of God as creator. That this creation was decreed from all eternity and is always controlled by providence is taught in Ephesians 1;11, “The purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, ” and in Daniel 4:35, “he does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand,” and in many other passages. The Bible also tells us that God exists in three persons; that God is eternal, omniscient, and immutable.

That God can be known, that man can entertain truth, that theology is possible, has been an unbroken tradition among all Christians. To deprecate knowledge in favor of some emotional upheaval, to repudiate logic and enthrone contradiction and incoherence, to reduce the Biblical material to the status of a symbolism that points uncertainly to an unknowable something or other, is to abandon Christianity and commit intellectual suicide.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. S. Charnock, Discourses on the Existence and Attributes of God (1680); Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (1780); B.B. Warfield, Augustine’s Doctrine of Knowledge, in Studies in Tertullian and Augustine (1921), and Calvin’s Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, in Calvin and Calvinism (1930, 1931); P.K. Jewett, Emil Brunner’s Concept of Revelation 91954); G.H. Clark Karl Barth’s Theological Method (1963).
G.H. CLARK (2)

The Knowledge of God by Herman Bavinck

God is the highest good of man–that is the testimony of the whole Scriptures. The Bible begins with the account that God created man after His own image and likeness, in order that he should know God his Creator aright, should love Him with all his heart, and should live with Him in eternal blessedness. And the Bible ends with the description of the new Jerusalem, whose inhabitants shall see God face to face and shall have His name upon their foreheads.

Between these two moments lies the revelation of God in all its length and breadth. As its content this revelation has the one, great, comprehensive promise of the covenant of grace: I will be a God unto thee, and ye shall be my people. And as its mid-point and its high-point this revelation has its Immanuel, God-with-us. For the promise and its fulfillment go hand in hand. The word of God is the beginning, the principle, the seed, and it is in the act that the seed comes into its full realization. Just as at the beginning God called things into being by His word, so by His word He will in the course of the ages bring into being the new heaven and the new earth, in which the tabernacle of God shall be among men.

That is why Christ, in whom the Word became flesh, is said to be full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

He is the Word which in the beginning was with God and Himself was God, and as such He was the life and the light of men. Because the Father shares His life with Christ and gives expression to His thought in Christ, therefore the full being of God is revealed in Him. He not only declares the Father to us and discloses His name to us, but in Himself He shows us and gives us the Father. Christ is God expressed and God given. He is God revealing Himself and God sharing Himself, and therefore He is full of truth and also full of grace. The word of the promise, I will be a God unto thee, included within itself from the very moment in which it was uttered, the fulfillment, I am thy God. God gives Himself to His people in order that His people should give themselves to Him.

In the Scriptures we find God constantly repeating His declaration: I am thy God. From the mother-promise of Genesis 3 :15 on, this rich testimony, comprehending all blessedness and all salvation whatsoever, is repeated again and again, be it in the lives of the patriarchs, in the history of the people of Israel, or in that of the church of the New Testament. And in response the church throughout the ages comes with the endless varieties of its language of faith, speaking in gratitude and praise: Thou art our God, and we are Thy people, and the sheep of Thy pasture.

This declaration of faith on the part of the church is not a scientific doctrine, nor a form of unity that is being repeated, but is rather a confession of a deeply felt reality, and of a conviction of reality that has out of experience in life. The prophets and apostles, and the saints generally who appear before us in the Old and New Testament and later in the church of Christ, did not sit and philosophize about God in abstracted concepts, but rather confessed what God meant to them and what they owed to Him in all the circumstances of life. God was for them not at all a cold concept, which they then proceeded rationally to analyze, but He was a living, personal force, a reality infinitely more real than the world around them. Indeed, He was to them the one, eternal, worshipful Being. They reckoned with Him in their lives, they lived in His tent, walked as if always before His face, served Him in His courts, and worshiped Him in His sanctuary.

The genuineness and depth of their experience comes to expression in the language they used to express what God meant to them. They did not have to strain for words, for their lips overflowed with what welled up out of their hearts, and the world of man and nature supplied them with figures of speech. God was to them a King, a Lord, a Valiant One, a Leader, a Shepherd, a Savior, a Redeemer, a Helper, a Physician, a Man, and a Father. All their bliss and well-being, their truth and righteousness, their life and mercy, their strength and power, their peace and rest they found in Him. He was a sun and shield to them, a buckler, a light and a fire, a fountain and a well-head, a rock and shelter, a high refuge and a tower, a reward and a shadow, a city and a temple. All that the world has to offer in discrete and sub-divided goods was to them an image and likeness of the unfathomable fullness of the salvation available in God for His people. Hence it is that David in Psalm 16:2 (according to a telling translation) addresses Jehovah as follows: Thou art my Lord; I have no higher good than Thou. Thus also Asaph sang in Psalm 73: Whom have I in heaven hut Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. For the saint, heaven in all its blessedness and glory would be void and stale without God; and when he lives in communion with God he cares for nothing on earth, for the love of God far transcends all other goods.

Such is the experience of the children of God. It is an experience which they have felt because God presented Himself to them for their enjoyment in the Son of His love. In this sense Christ said that eternal life, that is, the totality of salvation, consists for man in the knowledge of the one, true God and of Jesus Christ whom He has sent.

It was an auspicious moment in which Christ spoke those words. He stood at the point of crossing the brook Kidron in order to enter the garden of Gethsemane and to suffer the last struggle of His soul there. Before He proceeds to that point, however, He prepares Himself as our High Priest for His passion and death, and He prays the Father that the Father may glorify Him in His suffering and after it, so that the Son in turn may glorify the Father in giving out all those blessings which He is now about to achieve by His obedience unto death. And when the Son prays in this way, He knows of nothing to desire except that which is the Father’s own will and good pleasure. The Father has given Him power over all flesh in order that the Son should give eternal life to as many as the Father has given Him. Such eternal life consists of nothing other than the knowledge of the one, true God and of Jesus Christ who was sent to reveal Him (John 17:1-3). (3)

In closing:

It is well worth repeating Gordon Clark’s admonition in his concluding paragraph in his above article on knowledge.

“That God can be known, that man can entertain truth, that theology is possible, has been an unbroken tradition among all Christians. To deprecate knowledge in favor of some emotional upheaval, to repudiate logic and enthrone contradiction and incoherence, to reduce the Biblical material to the status of a symbolism that points uncertainly to an unknowable something or other, is to abandon Christianity and commit intellectual suicide.”

Therefore, the Christian can affirm:

“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:12)

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, 9 Volumes, Romans, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 284.

2. Merrill C. Tenney, editor, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 5 Vol. (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan Publishing House, 1975), pp. 834-840.

3. Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1956), pp 24-26.

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.thereligionthatstartedinahat.com/

For more study:

* Got Questions, https://www.gotquestions.org/

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Infralapsarianism and Supralapsarianism

Infralapsarianism and Supralapsarianism by Jack Kettler

In this study, we will seek to understand infralapsarianism and supralapsarianism. This is a study in Reformed theology. This study will deal with God’s eternal decrees involving predestination. Christians that are not reformed also have theologies that attempt to understand God’s eternal degrees. The serious reader should consult the Cannons of Dort to see two competing systems in contrast.

The doctrine of predestination more than any other teaching of Scripture takes salvation out of man’s hands and places it in God’s control. The cause of God’s choosing or election is found in God Himself. If a man insists that he played a part in God’s choice, then human merit is brought into the picture. Salvation then becomes synergistic (a cooperative effort) rather than monergistic (God alone saves apart from man’s effort). Biblical salvation is monergistic. Christ alone, by his complete and finished work saves a fallen man. Within a synergistic scheme, salvation becomes a mutual effort.

The words predestination and election appear in the pages of Scripture. A Christian, therefore, must have an understanding of passages that teach this. This study of infralapsarianism and supralapsarianism will seek to clarify and help us better understand the doctrine of grace seen in God’s election of sinners. The goal of this study is to glorify God.

Therefore, we must start with the Scripture:

“My name is the LORD! I won’t let idols or humans share my glory and praise.” (Isaiah 42:8 CEV)

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)

“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.” (Romans 8:30)

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4)

“But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

Definitions from two sources:

Infralapsarianism:

The view that in the plan made by God in eternity, his decree to permit the fall logically preceded his decree of election, so that when God chose some people to receive eternal life, he was choosing them from the whole mass of humanity, all regarded as fallen creatures. *

Infralapsarianism:

An issue within Reformed theology dealing with what may have happened in God’s mind regarding the logical order of His considering whom to elect into salvation before the foundation of the world. The word means “after the fall.” The position is that God first decided he would allow sin into the world and second that he would then save people from it. By contrast, the supralapsarian (“before the fall”) position holds that God first decided that he would save some people and then second that he would allow sin into the world. **

Supralapsarianism:

The view that in the plan made by God in eternity, his decree of election logically preceded his decree to permit the fall, so that when God chose “some to receive eternal life and rejected all others,” he was contemplating them as unfallen. *

Supralapsarianism:

An issue within Reformed theology dealing with what may have happened in God’s mind regarding the logical order of His considering whom to elect into salvation before the foundation of the world. The word means “before the fall.” This position holds that God first decided that he would save some people and then second that he would allow sin into the world. By contrast, the infralapsarian (“after the fall”) position is the reverse in that it holds that God first decided he would allow sin into the world and second that he would then save people from it. **

Scripture in support of infralapsarianism:

“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:19)

It will be good to look at John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on John 15:19:

“If ye were of the world … Belonged to the world, were of the same spirit and principles with it, and pursued the same practices:

the world would love its own; for every like loves it’s like; the men of the world love each other’s persons, company, and conversation:

but because ye are not of the world: once they were, being born into it, brought up in it, had their conversation among the men of it, were themselves men of carnal, worldly, principles and practices; but being called by Christ, and becoming his disciples, they were no more of it; and as he was not of the world, so they were not of it, though they were in it. The Jews distinguish the disciples of the wise men, from, “the men of the world” (u), pretending that they were not; but this is a character that only belongs to the disciples of Christ, in consequence of their being called by him out of it:

but I have chosen you out of the world: which designs not the eternal election of them, but the separation of them from the rest of the world in the effectual calling, and the designation of them to his work and service:

therefore the world hateth you; and since it was upon that account, they had no reason to be uneasy, but rather to rejoice; seeing this was an evidence of their not belonging to the world, and of being chosen and called by Christ out of it.” (1)

The next passage:

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:4-6)

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Ephesians 1:5 is particularly helpful:

Having predestinated us – On the meaning of the word here used, see the notes at Romans 1:4, Romans 8:29 note. The word used πρωρίζω prōrizō means properly “to set bounds before;” and then to “pre-determine.” There is the essential idea of setting bounds or limits, and of doing this beforehand. It is not that God determined to do it when it was actually done, but that he intended to do it beforehand. No language could express this more clearly, and I suppose this interpretation is generally admitted. Even by those who deny the doctrine of particular election, it is not denied that the word here used means to “pre-determine;” and they maintain that the sense is, that God had pre-determined to admit the Gentiles to the privileges of his people. Admitting then that the meaning is to predestinate in the proper sense, the only question is, “who” are predestinated? To whom does the expression apply? Is it to nations or to individuals? In reply to this, in addition to the remarks already made, I would observe,

(1) that there is no specification of “nations” here as such, no mention of the Gentiles in contradistinction from the Jews.

(2) those referred to were those included in the word “us,” among whom Paul was one – but Paul was not a heathen.

(3) the same objection will lie against the doctrine of predestinating “nations” which will lie against predestinating “individuals.”

(4) nations are made up of individuals, and the pre-determination must have had some reference to individuals.

What is a nation but a collection of individuals? There is no such abstract being or thing as a nation; and if there was any purpose in regard to a nation, it must have had some reference to the individuals composing it. He that would act on the ocean, must act on the drops of water that make up the ocean; for besides the collection of drops of water there is no ocean. He that would remove a mountain, must act on the particles of matter that compose that mountain; for there is no such thing as an abstract mountain. Perhaps there was never a greater illusion than to suppose that all difficulty is removed in regard to the doctrine of election and predestination, by saying that it refers to “nations.” What difficulty is lessened? What is gained by it? How does it make God appear more amiable and good?

Does it render him less “partial” to suppose that he has made a difference among nations, than to suppose that he has made a difference among individuals? Does it remove any difficulty about the offer of salvation, to suppose that he has granted the knowledge of his truth to some “nations,” and withheld it from others? The truth is, that all the reasoning which has been founded on this supposition, has been merely throwing dust in the eyes. If there is “any” well-founded objection to the doctrine of decrees or predestination, it is to the doctrine “at all,” alike in regard to nations and individuals, and there are just the same difficulties in the one case as in the other. But there is no real difficulty in either. Who could worship or honor a God who had no plan, or purpose, or intention in what he did? Who can believe that the universe was formed and is governed without design? Who can doubt that what God “does” he always meant to do?

When, therefore, he converts and saves a soul, it is clear that he always intended to do it. He has no new plan. It is not an afterthought. It is not the work of chance. If I can find out anything that God has “done,” I have the most certain conviction that he “always meant” to do it – and this is all that is intended by the doctrine of election or predestination. What God does, he always meant to do. What he permits, he always meant to permit. I may add further, that if it is right to “do” it, it was right to “intend” to do it. If there is no injustice or partiality in the act itself, there is no injustice or partiality in the intention to perform it. If it is right to save a soul, it was also right to intend to save it. If it is right to condemn a sinner to we, it was right to intend to do it. Let us then look “at the thing itself,” and if that is not wrong, we should not blame the purpose to do it, however long it has been cherished.

Unto the adoption … – see John 1:12 note, Romans 8:15 note.

According to the good pleasure of his will – The word rendered “good pleasure” – (εὐδοκία eudokia) – means “a being well pleased;” delight in anything, favor, good-will, Luke 2:14; Philippians 1:15; compare Luke 12:32. Then it denotes purpose, or will, the idea of benevolence being included – Robinson. Rosenmuller renders the phrase, “from his most benignant decree.” The evident object of the apostle is to state why God chose the heirs of salvation. It was done as it seemed good to him in the circumstances of the case. It was not that man had any control over him, or that man was consulted in the determination, or that it was based on the good works of man, real or foreseen. But we are not to suppose that there were no good reasons for what he has thus done. Convicts are frequently pardoned by an executive. He does it according to his own will, or as seems good in his sight.

He is to be the judge, and no one has a right to control him in doing it. It may seem to be entirely arbitrary. The executive may not have communicated the reasons why he did it, either to those who are pardoned, or to the other prisoners, or to anyone else. But we are not to infer that there was no “reason” for doing it. If he is a wise magistrate, and worthy of his station, it is to be presumed that there were reasons which, if known, would be satisfactory to all. But those reasons he is under no obligations to make known. Indeed, it might be improper that they should be known. Of that he is the best judge. Meantime, however, we may see what would be the effect in those who were not forgiven. It would excite, very likely, their hatred, and they would charge him with partiality or with tyranny. But they should remember that whoever might be pardoned, and on whatever ground it might be done, they could not complain.

They would suffer no more than they deserve. But what if, when the act of pardon was made known to one part, it was offered to the others also on certain plain and easy conditions? Suppose it should appear that while the executive meant, for wise but concealed reasons, to forgive a part, he had also determined to offer forgiveness to all. And suppose that they were in fact disposed in the highest degree to neglect it, and that no inducements or arguments could prevail on them to accept of it. Who then could blame the executive? Now this is about the case in regard to God, and the doctrine of election. All people were guilty and condemned. For wise reasons, which God has not communicated to us, he determined to bring a portion at least of the human race to salvation. This he did not intend to leave to chance and hap-hazard. He saw that all would of themselves reject the offer, and that unless some efficient means were used, the blood of the atonement would be shed in vain.

He did not make known to people who they were that he meant to save, nor the reason why they particularly were to be brought to heaven. Meantime he meant to make the offer universal; to make the terms as easy as possible, and thus to take away every ground of complaint. If people will not accept of pardon; if they prefer their sins; if nothing can induce them to come and be saved, why should they complain? If the doors of a prison are open, and the chains of the prisoners are knocked off, and they will not come out, why should they complain that others are in fact willing to come out and be saved? Let it be borne in mind that the purposes of God correspond exactly to facts as they actually occur, and much of the difficulty is taken away. If in the facts there is no just ground of complaint, there can be none, because it was the intention of God that the facts should be so. (2)

Scriptures in support of supralapsarianism:

“For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Thou wilt say then unto me, why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” (Romans 9:17, 19-21)

Matthew Poole’s Commentary sums up Paul’s argument in Romans perfectly:

“He argueth from the less to the greater, that if a potter hath power over his clay, to form it as he pleaseth, then God hath much more power over his creatures, to form them or order them as he listeth. God’s authority over his creature, is greater than that of a potter over his clay. The potter made not his clay; but both clay and potter are made by God. Here is something implied, that as there is no difference in the matter or lump out of which the potter frameth diversity of vessels, so there is no difference in mankind; all men are alike by nature, and in the same corrupt state; both those who are elected, and those who are rejected, that are made vessels of mercy, or vessels of wrath. And here is this expressed, that as the potter maketh vessels of honour or dishonour, of nobler or viler use, out of the same lump, as he listeth, and is not bound to give a reason of his so doing to his pots; so God may choose some, and reject others, and give no account thereof unto his creatures. The potter takes nothing from the clay, of what form soever he makes it; and the Creator doth no wrong to the creature, however he doth dispose of it.” (3)

Loraine Boettner on INFRALAPSARIANISM AND SUPRALAPSARIANISM:

Among those who call themselves Calvinists there has been some difference of opinion as to the order of events in the Divine plan. The question here is, when the decrees of election and reprobation came into existence were men considered as fallen or as unfallen? Were the objects of these decrees contemplated as members of a sinful, corrupt mass, or were they contemplated merely as men whom God would create?

According to the infralapsarian view the order of events was as follows: God proposed,

1. to create;

2. to permit the fall;

3. to elect to eternal life and blessedness a great multitude out of this mass of fallen men, and to leave the others, as He left the Devil and the fallen angels, to suffer the just punishment of their sins;

4. to give His Son, Jesus Christ, for the redemption of the elect; and

5. to send the Holy Spirit to apply to the elect the redemption which was purchased by Christ.

According to the supralapsarian view the order of events was:

1. to elect some creatable men (that is, men who were to be created) to life and to condemn others to destruction;

2. to create;

3. to permit the fall;

4. to send Christ to redeem the elect; and

5. to send the Holy Spirit to apply this redemption to the elect The question then is as to whether election precedes or follows the fall.

One of the leading motives in the supralapsarian scheme is to emphasize the idea of discrimination and to push this idea into the whole of God’s dealings with men. We believe, however, that supralapsarianism over-emphasizes this idea. In the very nature of the case this idea cannot be consistently carried out, e.g., in creation, and especially in the fall. It was not merely some of the members of the human race who were objects of the decree to create, but all mankind, and that with the same nature. And it was not merely some men, but the entire race, which was permitted to fall. Supralapsarianism goes to as great an extreme on the one side as does universalism on the other. Only the infralapsarian scheme is self-consistent or consistent with other facts.

In regard to this difference Dr. Warfield writes: “The mere putting of the question seems to carry its answer with it. For the actual dealing with men which is in question, is, with respect to both classes alike, those who are elected and those who are passed by, conditioned on sin; we cannot speak of salvation any more than of reprobation without positing sin. Sin is necessarily precedent in thought, not indeed to the abstract idea of discrimination, but to the concrete instance of discrimination which is in question, a discrimination with regard to a destiny which involves either salvation or punishment. There must be sin in contemplation to ground a decree of salvation, as truly as a decree of punishment. We cannot speak of a decree discriminating between men with reference to salvation and punishment, therefore, without positing the contemplation of men as sinners as its logical prius.”1

And to the same effect Dr. Charles Hodge says:

“It is a clearly revealed Scriptural principle that where there is no sin there is no condemnation. . . . He hath mercy upon one and not on another, according to His own good pleasure, because all are equally unworthy and guilty . . . Everywhere, as in Romans 1:24, 26, 28, reprobation is declared to be judicial, founded upon the sinfulness of its object. Otherwise, it could not be a manifestation of the justice of God.” 2

It is not in harmony with the Scripture ideas of God that innocent men, men who are not contemplated as sinners, should be foreordained to eternal misery and death. The decrees concerning the saved ‘and the lost should not be looked upon as based merely on abstract sovereignty. God is truly sovereign, but this sovereignty is not exercised in an arbitrary way. Rather it is a sovereignty exercised in harmony with His other attributes, especially His justice, holiness, and wisdom. God cannot commit sin; and in that respect He is limited, although it would be more accurate to speak of His inability to commit sin as a perfection. There is, of course, mystery in connection with either system; but the supralapsarian system seems to pass beyond mystery and into contradiction.

The Scriptures are practically infralapsarian, — Christians are said to have been chosen “out of” the world, John 15:19; the potter has a right over the clay, “from the same lump,” to make one part a vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor, Rom. 9:21; and the elect and the non-elect are regarded as being originally in a common state of misery. Suffering and death are uniformly represented as the wages of sin. The infralapsarian scheme naturally commends itself to our ideas of justice and mercy; and it is at least free from the Arminian objection that God simply creates some men in order to damn them. Augustine and the great majority of those who have held the doctrine of Election since that time have been and are infralapsarians, — that is, they believe that it was from the mass of fallen men that some were elected to eternal life while others were sentenced to eternal death for their sins. There is no Reformed confession which teaches the supralapsarian view; but on the other hand a considerable number do explicitly teach the infralapsarian view, which thus emerges as the typical form of Calvinism. At the present day it is probably safe to say that not more than one Calvinist in a hundred holds the supralapsarian view. We are Calvinists strongly enough, but not “high Calvinists.” By a “high Calvinist” we mean one who holds the supralapsarian view.

It is of course true that in either system the sovereign choice of God in election is stressed and salvation in its whole course is the work of God. Opponents usually stress the supralapsarian system since it is the one which without explanation is more likely to conflict with man’s natural feelings and impressions. It is also true that there are some things here which cannot be put into the time mould, — that these events are not in the Divine mind as they are in ours, by a succession of acts, one after another, but that by one single act God has at once ordained all these things. In the Divine mind the plan is a unit, each part of which is designed with reference to a state of facts which God intended should result from the other parts. All of the decrees are eternal. They have a logical, but not a chronological, relationship. Yet in order for us to reason intelligently about them we must have a certain order of thought. We very naturally think of the gift of Christ in sanctification and glorification as following the decrees of the creation and the fall.

In regard to the teaching of the Westminster Confession, Dr. Charles Hodge makes the following comment:

“Twiss, the Prolocutor of that venerable body (the Westminster Assembly), was a zealous supralapsarian; the great majority of its members, however, were on the other side. The symbols of that Assembly, while they clearly imply the infralapsarian view, were yet so framed as to avoid offence to those who adopted the supralapsarian theory. In the ‘Westminster Confession,’ it is said that God appointed the elect unto eternal life, and the rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.’ It is here taught that those whom God passes by are ‘the rest of mankind’; not the rest of ideal or possible men, but the rest of those human beings who constitute mankind, or the human race. In the second place, the passage quoted teaches that the non-elect are passed by and ordained to wrath ‘for their sin.’ This implies that they were contemplated as sinful before this foreordination to judgment. The infralapsarian view is still more obviously assumed in the answer to the 19th and 20th questions in the ‘Shorter Catechism.’ It is there taught that all mankind by the fall lost communion with God, and are under His wrath and curse, and that God out of His mere good pleasure elected some (some of those under His wrath and curse), unto everlasting life. Such has been the doctrine of the great body of Augustinians from the time of Augustine to the present day.” 3

Notes referenced in the article:

1. The Plan of Salvation, p. 28.

2. Systematic Theology, II, p. 318.

3. Systematic Theology, II, p. 317. (4)

Conclusions from the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology published by Baker:

Infralapsarianism, (Sublapsarianism)

(Lat. for “after the fall,” sometimes designated “sublapsarianism”). A part of the doctrine of predestination, specifically that which relates to the decrees of election and reprobation. The issues involved are God’s eternal decrees and man’s will, how can the one be affirmed without denying the other. If one argues for God’s predetermination of mankind’s fate, this tends to deny mankind’s free will and threatens to make God responsible for sin.

On the other hand, if one argues for the freedom of mankind’s will, thus making man responsible for sin, this can threaten the sovereignty and power of God since his decrees then are contingent upon mankind’s decisions. The argument / dilemma is not new. Pelagius and Augustine argued over the issue with the Synod of Orange, 529, which sided with Augustine. In the Middle Ages, Duns Scotus and William of Ockham questioned Augustine’s position. Luther and Erasmus argued the issue in Freedom of the Will and Bondage of the Will. Melanchthon got involved and was accused by Flacius of synergism, and by the end of the sixteenth century the position of Arminius stirred the controversy among the Reformed, who attempted to resolve the issue at the Synod of Dort.

What is the order of the eternal decrees of God? Infralapsarians argue for this order:

(1) God decreed the creation of mankind, a good, blessed creation, not marred or flawed.

(2) God decreed mankind would be allowed to fall through its own self determination.

(3) God decreed to save some of the fallen.

(4) God decreed to leave the rest to their just fate of condemnation.

(5) God provides the Redeemer for the saved.

(6) God sends the Holy Spirit to effect redemption among the saved.

The key to the order of the decrees is that God decreed election to salvation after the fall, not before; hence the name of the view “infralapsarianism.” The supralapsarian view would offer an order in which the decree for election and reprobation occurs before the creation. Those on both sides of the issue cite weighty arguments for their positions, quote Scripture as a foundation, and comb through Augustine, Calvin, and others for support. Generally most Reformed assemblies have refused to make either infra – or supralapsarianism normative, although the tendency has been to favor the former without condemning those who hold to the latter.
R V Schnucker
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary) (5)

Supralapsarianism

The doctrine that God decreed both election and reprobation before the fall. Supralapsarianism differs from infralapsarianism on the relation of God’s decree to human sin. The differences go back to the conflict between Augustine and Pelagius. Before the Reformation, the main difference was whether Adam’s fall was included in God’s eternal decree; supralapsarians held that it was, but infralapsarians acknowledged only God’s foreknowledge of sin. Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin were agreed that Adam’s fall was somehow included in God’s decree; it came to be referred to as a “permissive decree,” and all insisted that God was in no way the author of sin. As a result of the Reformers’ agreement, after the Reformation the distinction between infra – and supralapsarianism shifted to differences on the logical order of God’s decrees.

Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor at Geneva, was the first to develop supralapsarianism in this new sense. By the time of the Synod of Dort in 1618 – 19, a heated intraconfessional controversy developed between infra – and supralapsarians; both positions were represented at the synod. Francis Gomarus, the chief opponent of James Arminius, was a supralapsarian.

The question of the logical, not the temporal, order of the eternal decrees reflected differences on God’s ultimate goal in predestination and on the specific objects of predestination. Supralapsarians considered God’s ultimate goal to be his own glory in election and reprobation, while infralapsarians considered predestination subordinate to other goals. The object of predestination, according to supralapsarians, was uncreated and unfallen humanity, while infralapsarians viewed the object as created and fallen humanity.

The term “supralapsarianism” comes from the Latin words supra and lapsus; the decree of predestination was considered to be “above” (supra) or logically “before” the decree concerning the fall (lapsus), while the infralapsarians viewed it as “below” (infra) or logically “after” the decree concerning the fall. The contrast of the two views is evident from the following summaries.

The logical order of the decrees in the supralapsarian scheme is:

(1) God’s decree to glorify himself through the election of some and the reprobation of others;

(2) as a means to that goal, the decree to create those elected and reprobated;

(3) the decree to permit the fall; and

(4) the decree to provide salvation for the elect through Jesus Christ.

The logical order of the decrees according to infralapsarians is:

(1) God’s decree to glorify himself through the creation of the human race;

(2) the decree to permit the fall;

(3) the decree to elect some of the fallen race to salvation and to pass by the others and condemn them for their sin; and

(4) the decree to provide salvation for the elect through Jesus Christ.

Infralapsarians were in the majority at the Synod of Dort. The Arminians tried to depict all the Calvinists as representatives of the “repulsive” supralapsarian doctrine. Four attempts were made at Dort to condemn the supralapsarian view, but the efforts were unsuccessful. Although the Canons of Dort do not deal with the order of the divine decrees, they are infralapsarian in the sense that the elect are “chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from their primitive state of rectitude into sin and destruction” (I, 7; cf. I, 1). The reprobate “are passed by in the eternal decree” and God “decreed to leave (them) in the common misery into which they have willfully plunged themselves” and “to condemn and punish them forever…for all their sins” (I, 15).

Defenders of supralapsarianism continued after Dort. The chairman of the Westminister Assembly, William Twisse, was a supralapsarian but the Westminister standards do not favor either position. Although supralapsarianism never received confessional endorsement within the Reformed churches, it has been tolerated within the confessional boundaries. In 1905 the Reformed churches of the Netherlands and the Christian Reformed Church in 1908 adopted the Conclusions of Utrecht, which stated that “our Confessional Standards admittedly follow the infralapsarian presentation in respect to the doctrine of election, but that it is evident…that this in no wise intended to exclude or condemn the supralapsarian presentation.” Recent defenders of the supralapsarian position have been Gerhardus Vos, Herman Hoeksema, and G H Kersten.
F H Klooster
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary) (6)

In closing:

From The Westminster Shorter Catechism:

Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?

A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?

A. God, having out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.

“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:12)

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, John, 9 Volumes, Romans, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 504.

2. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Ephesians, pp. 3354-3356 .

3. Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Romans, vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), p. 511.

4. Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing CO. signed copy 1984), pp. 126-130.

5. Walter A. Elwell, Editor, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House), p. 560-561.

6. Walter A. Elwell, Editor, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House), p. 1059-1060.

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more study:

* https://www.gotquestions.org/

** CARM theological dictionary https://carm.org/dictionary-hermeneutics

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Simul Justus Et Peccator

Simul Justus Et Peccator By Jack Kettler

In this study, we will seek to understand how justification happens. The Latin phrase (simul justus et peccator) will be the springboard to help us understand the doctrine of justification. As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, commentary evidence and confessional support for the glorifying of God in how we live.

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

Definitions from two sources:

simul justus et peccator:

“Latin for “at the same time just and sinner,” a formula Martin Luther used to communicate “the objective reality of justification by faith alongside the Christian’s continual struggle against sin.” *

simul justus et peccator:

“‘Simil’ is the word from which we get the English ‘simultaneous;’ it means ‘at the same time.’ ‘Justus’ is the Latin word for ‘just’ or ‘righteous.’ ‘Et’ simply means ‘and.’ ‘Peccator’ means ‘sinner.’ So, with this formula, – ‘at the same time just and sinner’ – Luther was saying that in our justification, we are at the same time righteous and sinful. …He was saying that, in one sense, we are just. In another sense, we are sinners. In and of ourselves, under God’s scrutiny, we still have sin. But by God’s imputation of the righteousness of Jesus Christ to our accounts, we are considered just.” See endnote 5

Simul justus et peccator”—“Simultaneously righteous and sinner”

Scripture teaching

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:5)

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Romans 4:5 get this exactly right:

But to him that worketh not – Who does not rely on his conformity to the Law for his justification; who does not depend on his works; who seeks to be justified in some other way. The reference here is to the Christian plan of justification.

But believeth – Note, Romans 3:26.

On him – On God. Thus, the connection requires; for the discussion has immediate reference to Abraham, whose faith was in the promise of God.

That justifieth the ungodly – This is a very important expression. It implies,

(1) That people are sinners, or are ungodly.

(2) that God regards them as such when they are justified. He does not justify them because he sees them to be, or regards them to be righteous; but knowing that they are in fact polluted. He does not first esteem them, contrary to fact, to be pure; but knowing that they are polluted, and that they deserve no favor, he resolves to forgive them, and to treat them as his friends.

(3) in themselves they are equally undeserving, whether they are justified or not. Their souls have been defiled by sin; and that is known when they are pardoned. God judges things as they are; and sinners who are justified, he judges not as if they were pure, or as if they had a claim; but he regards them as united by faith to the Lord Jesus; and in this relation he judges that they should be treated as his friends, though they have been, are, and always will be, personally undeserving. It is not meant that the righteousness of Christ is transferred to them, so as to become personally theirs – for moral character cannot be transferred; nor that it is infused into them, making them personally meritorious – for then they could not be spoken of as ungodly; but that Christ died in their stead, to atone for their sins, and is regarded and esteemed by God to have died; and that the results or benefits of his death are so reckoned or imputed to believers as to make it proper for God to regard and treat them as if they had themselves obeyed the Law; that is, as righteous in his sight; see the note at Romans 4:3. (1)

“Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” (Romans 4:6)

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on Romans 4:6 is superb:

Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man,…. the apostle having instanced in Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, cites some passages from David, king of Israel, a person of great note and esteem among the Jews, in favour of the doctrine he is establishing; who in a very proper and lively manner describes the happiness of such persons:

unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works. This righteousness cannot be the righteousness of the law, or man’s obedience to it; for that is a righteousness with works, is a man’s own, and not imputed; and indeed is not a righteousness in the sight of God: nor does man’s blessedness lie in, or come by it; no man is, or can be instilled by it, nor saved by it, or attain to heaven and eternal happiness by the means of it; but the righteousness here spoken of is the righteousness of Christ, called the righteousness of God; and is better than that of angels or men; is complete and perfect; by which the law is honoured, and justice is satisfied. This is freely bestowed, and graciously “imputed” by God. Just in the same way his righteousness becomes ours, as Adam’s sin did, which is by imputation; or in the same way that our sins became Christ’s, his righteousness becomes ours; and as we have no righteousness of our own when God justifies us, this must be done by the righteousness of another; and that can be done no other way by the righteousness of another, than by imputing it to us: and which is done “without works”; not without the works of Christ, of which this righteousness consists; but without the works of the creature, or any consideration of them, which are utterly excluded from justification; for if these came into account, it would not be of grace, and boasting would not be removed. Now such who have this righteousness thus imputed to them, are happy persons; they are justified from all sin, and freed from all condemnation; their persons and services are acceptable to God; it will be always well with them; they are heirs of glory, and shall enjoy it. (2)

Simul Iustus et Peccator from the Monergism web site:

To one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.

How is the Christian to see himself in this world? “Simul iustus et peccator” – “At the same time righteous and a sinner.” Justification is forensic. In Christ, we are declared, counted or reckoned to be righteous when God imputes the righteousness of Christ (an “alien righteousness”) to our account. Christ’s righteousness ascribed to the redeemed individual without their personal merit. We are declared righteous in Christ, it is imputed to us — it is counted as ours … not infused in us. We are counted righteous in God’s eyes because of Christ. But this does not make us righteous in ourselves. That will only happen at our glorification when Christ transforms these bodies to be sealed in righteousness. Justifying righteousness is something, which always resides in the Person of Christ alone. The imputation of this “alien” righteousness is the only means by which man can be acceptable to God. As long as the Christian lives, he is guilty in himself, but “in Christ” he is righteous and accounted precious.

Righteousness through Christ is called an “alien” righteousness because it did not generate from us. It is not our righteousness; it is his. It is an alien righteousness because it came from without, and now it is in a foreign land. It does not belong here; it is an alien righteousness. In Latin, we call it simul iustus et peccator: simul, simultaneously; iustus, just; et, and; peccator, sinful. That is me – simultaneously righteous and sinful. That is my contribution to salvation — my sin! At the same time that I am a sinner, God sees me as righteous because of the blood of Jesus Christ. That is the message of outreach — it is the message of salvation.

Righteousness comes in two ways: coram deo (righteousness before God) and coram hominibus (before man). Instead of a development in righteousness based in the person, or an infusion of merit from the saints, a person is judged righteous before God because of the works of Christ. But, absent the perspective of God and the righteousness of Christ, based on one’s own merit—a Christian still looks like a sinner. The declaration involves God imputing to the believer’s “balance sheet” or account the alien righteousness of Christ. The believer is not declared righteous by virtue of his own merit, but on the basis of the merit of Christ. When united to Him, it is justification, which becomes the foundation upon which the believer can stand with confidence coram dei. The believer has no cause to fear in the presence of God because of His acquittal. The believer has only and always to look to the finished work of Christ on the Cross and hear God’s declaration, “You are accepted.” Because of justification, the believer does not fear God’s rejection because of the sin still present in his/her life. God does not look at the sin in our life except through the work of Christ. This tension is resolved in the Incarnate Christ, crucified and now risen for the life of the world.

Eternal life is Christ dwelling in His righteousness in the soul of the justified person. So eternal life is union with Jesus Christ. And the word for that union with him is faith. The sinners comes to him, rests in him, trusts in him, is one with him, abides with him; and this is life because it never ends. The united soul abides in the Vine eternally. Weakness, sin, proneness to sin never brings separation, but only the Father’s pruning, which cements the union even and ever tighter.

The Judge of all the earth declares us “not guilty” when we believe because Christ was pronounced “guilty” for us on the cross. We are not first made righteous, then declared righteous; we are declared righteous by grace through faith in Christ, and then made righteous! When we believe, God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us ‘as if’ it were our own. However, it is HIS righteousness, that is why Paul says in Romans 1:17 that there is a righteousness that has been revealed from God, a righteousness not of our own, but a righteousness revealed from God and freely given to those who do not work, but to those who believe. In light of the goodness and graciousness of God who was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, we should daily repent of our own self-righteousness (our works), the words imply a declaration and pronouncement from the divine court of the believer’s right standing with God. “Justification” in itself does not mean a change in the man, but a declaration of how he appears in God’s sight.

Through faith we run to Christ and hold fast to Him, who satisfied the law on our behalf (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:10-13). In this way, we are accounted righteous in the sight of God through faith alone, without doing the works of the law. We are simul iustus et peccator.

Luther recognized that even in a state of regeneration the believer still lives in the world and still in fact does commit acts of sin. There is no attempt to redefine sin to make it anything less than what it is. Rather there is a stark recognition of the dialectic of the Christian’s acceptance before God and the fact that he still sins. Luther’s phrase to describe this condition was that the state of the Christian between regeneration and ultimate glorification is simul iustus et peccator, at once just (or justified) and sinner. This is not a condition that will ever be transcended in this life. Rather, the believer must always rely on the finished work of Christ for his/her acceptance before God. (3)

Justification

Definition of Justification

The establishment of a sinner in a righteous standing before God. The verb dikaioo means “to declare or demonstrate to be righteous” (Matt. 11:19; 12:37; Luke 7:29; 10:29). The cognate nouns are dikaiosune (Rom. 1:17), dikaiosis (Rom. 4:25), and dikaioma (Rom. 1:32; 5:16, 18). Dikaiosune is always translated “righteousness” and denotes a perfect rectitude according to the standard of God’s character revealed in His law. The phrase “the righteousness of God” may denote the divine attribute of righteousness, or in the great soteriological teaching of Romans, the righteousness God has provided to give His people a title to eternal life (Rom. 3:22; 5:17, “the gift of righteousness”).

Dikaiosis is the action of declaring righteous, and dikaioma signifies the verdict, the judgment handed down by God. Lenski states the relationship between these two terms: dikaiosis is “a declaring righteous (action)”; dikaioma is “a declaring righteous and thereby placing in a permanent relationship or state even as the declaration stands permanently (result).” The language of Scripture, therefore, points to justification as God’s action in declaring His people righteous and placing them in a state of legal perfection before His law on the basis of the righteousness He provided freely for them in Christ.

There is no more scriptural or succinct theological definition of justification than that given by the Shorter Catechism: “Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone” (Q. 33; see Westminster Confession of Faith, chap. 11).

The Two Elements in Justification

The two elements in justification are pardon and imputed righteousness. That is, the total obedience of Christ, both passive and active, avails for the believer. The vicarious atonement of Christ pays the debt of the believer’s sin, satisfies divine justice on his behalf, and renders it possible for God to be just and yet to justify him (Rom. 3:26). The imputed righteousness of Christ gives the believer “the adoption of children” (Gal. 4:5) and the title to eternal life.

Characteristics of Justification

1. Justification is an act, not a process (Rom. 5:1). It is something that has taken place in the justified, not something that is constantly taking place.

2. It is an act of the free grace of God toward sinners who are personally guilty and deserving of His wrath (Rom. 3:25).

3. It is a forensic act. It describes a change in the legal standing of the justified person. It does not describe the inner moral change God effects in all those whom He saves (2 Cor. 5:21). This is a vital truth. “God made him [Christ] to be sin for us” does not mean that Christ became morally corrupted. It solely describes a forensic transaction. Similarly, when as a result of that transaction we are “made the righteousness of God in him,” there is no reference to an inner moral change. It does not mean we are made morally sinless or pure. It means that God has radically changed our legal standing before His law. Thus justify means “to declare righteous,” not “to make righteous” (see Psa. 51:4). The statement in Rom. 5:19 that through Christ’s obedience “shall many be made righteous” uses the verb kathistemi, which means, “appoint, constitute.” It describes the place we occupy, not a purification of our nature.

4. It is a just act, for it proceeds on the ground of the imputed righteousness of Christ (Rom. 5:19). This text makes it clear that the righteousness of Christ’s obedience in life and death is imputed as the ground of justification. Christ is the righteousness of the justified (1 Cor. 1:30; Jer. 23:6). This answers the objection that unless justification is an actual infusion of grace and moral purity, God would be lying to declare any man righteous. Paul states bluntly that God “justifieth the ungodly” (Rom. 5:5), not the godly, the sanctified. How can the God of truth declare the ungodly righteous? By crediting all the perfect righteousness of Christ to their account (see Imputation).

5. It is a once-and-for-all act. It can neither be reversed nor repeated (Heb. 10:2; Rom. 8:30).

6. It is equally complete in all the justified. It cannot be increased or decreased (Rom. 5:19; 1 Cor. 1:30). All Christians are not equally mature, or holy. But all believers are equally “justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). They all have the same basis for their acceptance by God, the righteousness of Christ.

7. It invariably leads to glorification. No justified person can perish: “whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30).

8. It is received by faith without works (Rom. 3:20–22; 4:1–8, 24; 5:1; Gal. 3:5–12; see Sola Fide). Some imagine that James contradicts this in James 2:18–26, notably in verse 24, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

There is no discrepancy between Paul and James. There is a difference of emphasis in response to the particular form of opposition each apostle was combatting. Paul was opposing the legalist who taught justification by works. James was opposing the antinomian (see Antinomianism) whose profession of justifying faith was united to a life of blatant ungodliness. Paul teaches that we are justified by faith as the sole instrument of reception, excluding works or any mixture of faith and works. James teaches that the faith that justifies is never alone. It is a living faith and therefore will express itself in good works. Good works are the evidence of the reality of justifying faith, not a substitute for it, a preparation for it, or an addition to it. Buchanan in his Justification, terms justification according to Paul actual justification, and justification according to James declarative justification.

Confusion about Justification

The doctrine of justification lies at the very heart of all biblical soteriology. Yet prior to the Reformation, confusion reigned on the meaning of the term. Even in very early times, the legal aspect of justification so clearly set forth in the NT was overlooked with the result that it was common for justification to be confused with regeneration or sanctification.

Justification Confused with Regeneration. Thomas Aquinas set the standard for medieval views on the subject. He taught that the first element in justification was the infusion of grace, on the ground of which the second element, pardon for sins, was given. Thus, the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification in baptism was laid down. As Aquinas’ doctrine was developed, Rome came to assert more and more blatantly that the justification received in baptism could be increased or lost by human activity. This laid the ground for the Tridentine decree that justification depends at least in part upon personal merit.

Justification Confused with Sanctification. Confounding justification and sanctification led to the error of viewing justification as a process (e.g. , Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, chap. 16, canon 24). This characteristic error of Romanism has found acceptance in many other quarters. Many early Anabaptists espoused it. To this day, it is the mark of all false gospels to equate justification with sanctification as the basis of a doctrine of salvation by works.

Distinctions Between Justification and Sanctification

Scripture carefully marks the difference between justification and sanctification. Berkhof notes:

“1. Justification removes the guilt of sin and restores the sinner to all the filial rights involved in his state as a child of God, including eternal inheritance. Sanctification removes the pollution of sin and renews the sinner ever increasingly in conformity with the image of God.

“2. Justification takes place outside of the sinner in the tribunal of God, and does not change his inner life, though the sentence is brought home to him subjectively. Sanctification on the other hand, takes place in the inner life of man and gradually affects his whole being.

“3. Justification takes place once for all. It is not repeated, neither is it a process; it is complete at once and for all time. There is no more or less in justification, man is either fully justified, or he is not justified at all. In distinction from it, sanctification is a continuous process, which is never completed in this life.

“4. While the meritorious cause of both lies in the merits of Christ, there is a difference in the efficient cause. Speaking economically, God the Father declares the sinner righteous, and God the Holy Spirit sanctifies him” (Systematic Theology, pp. 513, 514).

Justification the Same for OT and NT Believers

This justification is in all respects the same for believers under both the Old and New Testaments (Gal. 3:9, 13, 14; Rom. 4:1–6, 16). Abraham was justified on the very same ground and in the very same way as believers in the NT . We are “blessed with faithful Abraham.” He is the “father of all them that believe” (Rom. 4:11). David rejoiced in the very same justification we enjoy (Ps. 32:1, 2; Rom. 4:6). The only righteousness that ever gave any man a title to heaven is the righteousness of Christ freely imputed to him and received by faith alone.

Conclusion

Luther’s insight was accurate when he declared the biblical doctrine of justification to be articulus ecclesiae stantis aut cadentis, the article of faith that marks whether a church is standing or falling. Paul realized its immense importance to the entire gospel scheme and pronounced God’s curse on anyone, even an angel from heaven, who preached any other gospel (Gal. 1:8, 9). This is the gospel of which the apostle was “not ashamed … for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16). (4)

Double Imputation by R. C. Sproul

“If any word was at the center of the firestorm of the Reformation controversy and remains central to the debate even in our day, it is imputation. …We cannot really understand what the Reformation was about without understanding the central importance of this concept.”

“…If any statement summarizes and capture the essence of the Reformation view, it is Luther’s famous Latin formula ‘simul justus et peccator.’ ‘Simil’ is the word from which we get the English ‘simultaneous;’ it means ‘at the same time.’ ‘Justus’ is the Latin word for ‘just’ or ‘righteous.’ ‘Et’ simply means ‘and.’ ‘Peccator’ means ‘sinner.’ So, with this formula, – ‘at the same time just and sinner’ – Luther was saying that in our justification, we are at the same time righteous and sinful. …He was saying that, in one sense, we are just. In another sense, we are sinners. In and of ourselves, under God’s scrutiny, we still have sin. But by God’s imputation of the righteousness of Jesus Christ to our accounts, we are considered just.”

“This is the very heart of the gospel. In order to get into heaven, will I be judged by my righteousness or by the righteousness of Christ? If I have to trust in my righteousness to get into heaven, I must completely and utterly despair of any possibility of ever being redeemed. But when we see that the righteousness that is ours by faith is the perfect righteousness of Christ, we see how glorious is the good news of the gospel. The good news is simply this: I can be reconciled to God. I can be justified, not on the basis of what I do, but on the basis of what has been accomplished for me by Christ.”

“Of course, Protestantism really teaches a double imputation. Our sin is imputed to Jesus and his righteousness is imputed to us. In this twofold transaction, we see that God does not compromise his integrity in providing salvation for his people. Rather, he punishes sin fully after it has been imputed to Jesus. This is why he is able to be both ‘just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus’ as Paul writes in Romans 3:26. So my sin goes to Jesus and his righteousness comes to me.”

“This is a truth worth dividing the church.”

“This is the article on which the church stands or falls, because it is the article on which we all stand or fall.” (5)

From the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 11, Of Justification:

I. Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

In conclusion:

In further reflection upon biblical justification, it involves understanding the Hebrew verb tsayke, which both the Greek word dikaioun and the Latin justificare refer, and is used in Scripture when dealing with passages on forensic or declared judicial righteousness. The Hebrew verb is forensic and means to absolve someone in a trial, or to hold or to declare just, as opposed to the verb to condemn and to incriminate. See Exodus 23:7; Deuteronomy 25:1; Job 9:3; Psalms 143:2; Proverbs 17:15; Luke 18:14, Romans 4:3-5; and Acts 13:39. The Scriptures are unmistakable in establishing our justification because of how Christ bore the wrath of God for us (see Romans 4:1-7). Justification does not happen repeatedly. Christ has died once for all of our sins (not just some), and the Father on our behalf accepted His death as our substitute. It is a finished fact!

“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:12)

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Romans, p.2094.

2. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Romans, 9 Volumes, Romans, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 84.

3. monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/simuliustus.html

4. Alan Cairns, Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Belfast; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Emerald International), pp. 201-204.

5. R. C. Sproul, Excerpt from Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism (Sanford: Reformation Trust, 2012), 43-4.

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more study:

* For a great source of theological definitions go to Rebecca writes at Rebecca writes http://www.rebecca-writes.com/theological-terms-in-ao/

** CARM theological dictionary https://carm.org/dictionary-hermeneutics

*** https://www.gotquestions.org/

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Anthropomorphisms and Theophanies

Anthropomorphisms and Theophanies By Jack Kettler

In this study, we will seek to understand anthropomorphisms and theophanies. What are they? How to avoid pitfalls in the interpretation of the Scriptures when anthropomorphism and theophanies are encountered in the Bible. As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, commentary evidence and confessional support for the glorifying of God in how we live.

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

Definitions from two sources:

Anthropomorphism:

Narrowly, the attribution of human form to God. More broadly, a description of God using human categories; language that speaks of God in human terms, ascribing human features and qualities to him. *

Anthropomorphism:

God relates to us in human terms. Anthropomorphism comes from two Greek words: anthropos (man) and morphe (form). Therefore, an anthropomorphism is when God appears to us or manifests Himself to us in human form or even attributes to Himself human characteristics. **

Theophany:

A theophany is a visible manifestation of God usually restricted to the Old Testament. God has appeared in dreams (Genesis 20:3-7; Genesis 28:12-17), visions (Genesis 15:1-21; Isaiah 6:1-13), as an angel (Genesis 16:7-13; Gen 18:1-33), etc.

There is a manifestation known as the Angel of the Lord (Judges 6:20f.) and seems to have characteristics of God Himself (Genesis 16:7-9; Gen 18:1-2; Exodus 3:2-6; Joshua 5:14; Judges 2:1-5; Jdg 6:11). Such characteristics as having the name of God, being worshiped, and recognized as God has led many scholars to conclude that the angel of the Lord is really Jesus manifested in the Old Testament. This does not mean that Jesus is an angel. The word “angel” means messenger.

Other scriptures that describe more vivid manifestations of God are Genesis 17:1; Gen 18:1; Exodus 6:2-3; Exo 24:9-11; Exo 33:20; Numbers 12:6-8; Acts 7:2. **

What is a theophany?

A theophany is a manifestation of God in the Bible that is tangible to the human senses. In its most restrictive sense, it is a visible appearance of God in the Old Testament period, often, but not always, in human form. ***

Scriptural examples of Anthropomorphisms:

Does God have hands?

“And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” (Exodus 7:5)

Does God have a face?

“And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.” (Leviticus 20:6)

Does God have feet?

“My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.” (Job 23:11)

Does God have eyes and ears?

“The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” (Psalm 34:15)

Is God a bird?

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” (Psalm 91:4)

Is Jesus a door?

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

Properly understanding anthropomorphic passages are important to avoid errors in interpretation. A large Utah based religion interprets these passages literally to teach that God exists in a corporeal and human form. They would say God has feet, ears, eye, and hands and has a white beard.

We see in Scripture something altogether different. For example, God says he is not a man:

“God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19)

“I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.” (Hosea11:9)

In response to these passages, the Utah based religion would say, “Yes it is true that God is not a man, although he looks like a man.”

This response would be countered with what the Bible says in the next two verses:

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Luke 24:39)

Comments:

Not only is God not a man, “God is a Spirit.” Negatively, God says he is not (a man) and positively, He says what He is (a Spirit)!

From the Pulpit Commentary on John 4:24:

Verse 24. – A still more explicit and comprehensive reason is given for the previous assertion, based on the essential nature of God himself in the fullness of his eternal Being. God is Spirit (Πνεῦμα ὁ Θεός; cf. John 1:1, Θεὸς η΅ν ὁ Λόγος, – the article indicates the subject, and the predicate is here generic, and not an indefinite; therefore we do not render it, “God is a Spirit”). The most comprehensive and far-reaching metaphor or method by which Jesus endeavoured to portray the fundamental essence of the Divine Being is “Spirit,” not body, not ὕλη, not κόσμος, but that deep inner verity presented in self-conscious ego; the substantia of which mind may be predicated, and all its states and faculties. The Father is Spirit, the Son is Spirit, and Spirit is the unity of the Father and the Son. St. John has recorded elsewhere that “God is Light,” and “God is Love.” These three Divine utterances are the sublimest ever formed to express the metaphysical, intellectual, and moral essence of the Deity. They are unfathomably deep, and quite inexhaustible in their suggestions, and yet they are not too profound for even a little child or a poor Samaritaness to grasp for practical purposes. If God be Spirit, then they who worship him, the Spirit, must by the nature of the case, must by the force of a Divine arrangement, worship him, if they worship him at all, in spirit and in truth. The truth which our Lord uttered was not unknown in the Old Testament. (1)

Spirit – From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:

Spirit

[1, G4151, pneuma]

primarily denotes the wind (akin to pneo, “to breathe, blow”); also “breath;” then, especially “the spirit,” which, like the wind, is invisible, immaterial and powerful. The NT uses of the word may be analyzed approximately as follows:

(a) the wind, John 3:8 (where marg. is, perhaps, to be preferred); Hebrews 1:7; cp. Amos 4:13, Sept.;

(b) the breath, 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 11:11; Revelation 13:15; cp. Job 12:10, Sept.;

(c) the immaterial, invisible part of man, Luke 8:55; Acts 7:59; 1 Corinthians 5:5; James 2:26; cp. Ecclesiastes 12:7, Sept.;

(d) the disembodied (or ‘unclothed,’ or ‘naked,’ 2 Corinthians 5:3-4) man, Luke 24:37, Luke 24:39; Hebrews 12:23; 1 Peter 4:6;

(e) the resurrection body, 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 3:18;

(f) the sentient element in man, that by which he perceives, reflects, feels, desires, Matthew 5:3; Matthew 26:41; Mark 2:8; Luke 1:47, Luke 1:80; Acts 17:16; Acts 20:22; 1 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Corinthians 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 14:4, 1 Corinthians 14:15; 2 Corinthians 7:1; cp. Genesis 26:35; Isaiah 26:9; Ezekiel 13:3; Daniel 7:15;

(g) purpose, aim, 2 Corinthians 12:18; Philippians 1:27; Ephesians 4:23; Revelation 19:10; cp. Ezra 1:5; Psalms 78:8; Daniel 5:12;

(h) the equivalent of the personal pronoun, used for emphasis and effect: 1st person, 1 Corinthians 16:18; cp. Genesis 6:3; 2nd person, 2 Timothy 4:22; Philemon 1:25; cp. Psalms 139:7; 3rd person, 2 Corinthians 7:13; cp. Isaiah 40:13;

(i) character, Luke 1:17; Romans 1:4; cp. Numbers 14:24;

(j) moral qualities and activities: bad, as of bondage, as of a slave, Romans 8:15; cp. Isaiah 61:3; stupor, Romans 11:8; cp. Isaiah 29:10; timidity, 2 Timothy 1:7; cp. Joshua 5:1; good, as of adoption, i.e., liberty as of a son, Romans 8:15; cp. Psalms 51:12; meekness, 1 Corinthians 4:21; cp. Proverbs 16:19; faith, 2 Corinthians 4:13; quietness, 1 Peter 3:4; cp. Proverbs 14:29

(k) the Holy Spirit, e.g., Matthew 4:1 (See below); Luke 4:18;

(l) ‘the inward man’ (an expression used only of the believer, Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16); the new life, Romans 8:4-Romans 8:6, Romans 8:10, Romans 8:16; Hebrews 12:9; cp. Psalms 51:10;

(m) unclean spirits, demons, Matthew 8:16; Luke 4:33; 1 Peter 3:19; cp. 1 Samuel 18:10;

(n) angels, Hebrews 1:14; cp. Acts 12:15;

(o) divine gift for service, 1 Corinthians 14:12, 1 Corinthians 14:32;

(p) by metonymy, those who claim to be depostories of these gifts, 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 John 4:1-3;

(q) the significance, as contrasted with the form, of words, or of a rite, John 6:63; Romans 2:29; Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:6;

(r) a vision, Revelation 1:10; Revelation 4:2; Revelation 17:3; Revelation 21:10.” * [* From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp 204,205.] (2)

See below in the for more study # area for a biblical and philosophical examination of does God have a body.

Anthropomorphisms from Nave’s Topical Bible:

(Figures of speech, which attribute human forms, acts, and affections to God)

MISCELLANEOUS FIGURES

Genesis 2:2; Genesis 2:3; Genesis 2:19; 6:6; 9:16; Genesis 11:5; Genesis 11:7; Genesis 18:17-19; Genesis 18:21; Genesis 18:33; 19:29; 22:12; 28:13; 35:13; Exodus 2:24; 3:8; 14:24; 20:5; 31:17; 32:14; Numbers 11:25; Judges 2:18; 1 Samuel 15:35; 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:15; Psalms 31:2; 33:6; 35:1-3; 36:7; 57:1; 68:17; 94:9; 121:4; Isaiah 1:15; Ezekiel 1:24 Ezekiel 1:28; Habakkuk 1:13; 1 Peter 3:12

ATTRIBUTED TO DEITY

Memory

Isaiah 43:26; 63:11

Assisted by tokens

Genesis 9:16

Reason

Isaiah 1:18

Understanding

Psalms 147:5

Will

Romans 9:19

MISCELLANEOUS ACTS AND STATES OF MIND ATTRIBUTED TO

Walking

Genesis 3:8; Leviticus 26:12; Deuteronomy 23:14; Job 22:14; Habakkuk 3:15

Resting

Genesis 2:2 Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:11; 31:17; Deuteronomy 5:14; Hebrews 4:4; Hebrews 4:10

Does not faint

Isaiah 40:28

Amazement

Isaiah 59:16; 63:5; Mark 6:6

Laughing

Psalms 2:4; 37:13; 59:8; Proverbs 1:26

Sleeping

Psalms 44:23; 78:61

Grieved

Genesis 6:6; Judges 10:16; Psalms 95:10; Hebrews 3:10 Hebrews 3:17

Oaths

Isaiah 62:8; Hebrews 6 (3)

In addition to the anthropomorphic passages, there are occurrences of where God has revealed himself in human form. How do we explain this and what does this mean? These appearances are called theophanies. This is a new term. It is similar to an anthropomorphism.

Theophany from the Dictionary of Bible Themes:

1454 theophany

A temporary visible manifestation of the presence and glory of God. This may be in natural phenomena such as cloud or fire, in human form or in prophetic visionary experience.

God is manifested in nature

God’s presence in storms, thunder and lightning Ps 18:7-15; Ex 19:16 See also Ex 20:18; Job 37:5; Ps 29:3-9; Ps 77:18; Ps 97:4; Isa 30:27-33; Am 1:2; Hab 3:11; Zec 9:14; Rev 11:19

God’s presence in volcanic phenomena Ex 19:18 See also Isa 30:33

God’s presence in earthquakes Isa 29:5-6 See also Jdg 5:4-5; Ps 77:18; Hab 3:6

Specific phenomena associated with the presence of God

Fire signifies God’s presence Ex 3:2 Fire in particular represents the purity, holiness and unapproachability of God. See also Ex 13:21; Ex 19:18; Ex 24:17; Lev 9:24; Nu 14:14; Dt 4:11-12; Dt 5:4,22-26; Jdg 13:20-22; Ps 97:3; Joel 2:30

Smoke signifies God’s presence Ex 19:18 See also Ex 20:18; Ps 144:5; Isa 6:4; Isa 30:27; Joel 2:30; Rev 15:8

Cloud signifies God’s presence Ex 16:10 Cloud and smoke convey the mystery and transcendence of God. See also Ex 13:21 God speaks to Moses from the cloud: Ex 19:9; Ex 24:15-16; Ex 33:9; Ex 34:5; Dt 31:15

Lev 16:2; Nu 9:15-22; Nu 14:14; 1Ki 8:10-11; Eze 1:4; Eze 10:3-4 The transfiguration of Jesus Christ: Mt 17:5 pp Mk 9:7 pp Lk 9:34-35

Rev 14:14-16

God is manifested in human or angelic form

Ge 16:7-13 See also Ge 18:1-22; Ge 32:24-30; Jos 5:13-15

God appears in prophetic visions

God appears on a throne Isa 6:1 John interprets this verse to refer to Jesus Christ (Jn 12:41). See also Eze 1:26; Eze 10:1; Da 7:9; Rev 4:2; Rev 20:11

God appears attended by angels and other heavenly beings Isa 6:2; Eze 1:5-18; Eze 10:9-13; Rev 4:6-11

God appears like, or with, precious stones Ex 24:10; Eze 1:26; Rev 4:3

Functions and effects of theophanies

Theophanies reveal God’s glory Eze 10:4 See also Ex 16:10; Ex 24:16; Ex 40:34-35; Lev 9:23-24; Nu 14:10; 1Ki 8:11; 2Ch 7:1-3; Ps 29:3,9; Ps 97:2-6; Eze 11:22-23

Theophanies bring judgment Isa 30:27 See also Nu 12:9-10; Ps 18:13-15

Theophanies arouse the fear of God Ex 19:16; Ex 20:18-20; Isa 6:5

Theophanies commission God’s servants Isa 6:8; Eze 1:28-2:1

Theophanies authenticate God’s servants Nu 12:5-8

See also

1045 God, glory of

1065 God, holiness of

1310 God as judge

1403 God, revelation

1469 visions

2595 incarnation

4060 nature

4140 angel of the Lord

4180 seraphim

4805 clouds

4826 fire

4851 storm

“And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.” (Genesis 12:7-9)

There are other examples of theophanies in Genesis 18:1-33 and Genesis 32:22-30. (4)

Comments in conclusion:

The Bible uses many literary forms. For example, it uses genera’s such as law, historical narrative, wisdom, poetical, gospel, didactic letters, or epistles, predictive, and apocalyptic literature. When reading poetical portions of Scripture, you should recognize the difference from the didactic letters of Paul.

For example when you read:

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Psalm 91:4).

In Psalm 91:4, you must understand the genera of literature as poetical and not interpret it literally. Whereas in contrast:

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9 ESV).

This passage in Romans is straightforward doctrinal teaching and every reason to take the passage literally.

Hermeneutical safeguards

Grammatico-Historical-Hermeneutical Method:

What is the Grammatico-Historical-Hermeneutical Method? This method of interpretation focuses attention not only on literary forms but also upon grammatical constructions and historical contexts from which the Scriptures were written. It is the literal school of interpretation. Knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and history is crucial to this process. With tools such as a Strong’s Concordance, any layman can utilize this method.

Exegesis, the interpretive norm:

Exegesis (from the Greek ἐξήγησις from ἐξηγεῖσθαι’ to lead out’) is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term is used for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage, it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text. The goal of biblical exegesis is to explore the meaning of the text, which then leads to discovering its significance or relevance.

Exegesis includes a wide range of critical disciplines: textual criticism is the investigation into the history and origins of the text, but exegesis may include the study of the historical and cultural backgrounds for the author, the text and the original audience. Other analysis includes classification of the type of literary genres present in the text, and an analysis of grammatical and syntactical features in the text itself.

Eisegesis, the interpretive danger:

Eisegesis (from Greek εἰς “into” and ending from exegesis from ἐξηγεῖσθαι “to lead out”) is the process of misinterpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one’s own ideas, reading into the text. This is best understood when contrasted with exegesis. While exegesis draws out the meaning of the text, eisegesis occurs when a reader reads his/her interpretation into the text. As a result, exegesis tends to be objective when employed effectively while eisegesis is regarded as highly subjective. An individual who practices eisegesis is known as an eisegete, as someone who practices exegesis is known as an exegete.

Understanding the Bible is not that hard; The Westminster Confession of Faith 1.7:

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all (2 Pet. 3:16); yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them (Ps. 119:105, 130).

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, John, Vol. 17, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p.169-170.

2. W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, (Iowa Falls, Iowa, Riverside Book and Bible House), p. 1075-1076.

3. Nave, Orville J. Nave’s Topical Bible “Entry for ‘Anthropomorphisms,’” Kindle p. 1799.

4. Martin H. Manser, Editor, Dictionary of Bible Themes, Kindle p. 6517.

5. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiæ, Unabridged, 1Volume, (Stief Books, 2017), p. 10-11.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more study:

* http://www.rebecca-writes.com/theological-terms-in-ao/

** CARM theological dictionary https://carm.org/dictionary-hermeneutics

*** https://www.gotquestions.org/

A biblical and philosophical examination of does God have a body. #

From the Summa Theologiæ of St. Thomas Aquinas Question 3. The simplicity of God:

Article 1. Whether God is a body?

Objection 1. It seems that God is a body. For a body is that which has the three dimensions. But Holy Scripture attributes the three dimensions to God, for it is written: “He is higher than Heaven, and what wilt thou do? He is deeper than Hell, and how wilt thou know? The measure of Him is longer than the earth and broader than the sea” (Job 11:8-9). Therefore God is a body.

Objection 2. Further, everything that has figure is a body, since figure is a quality of quantity. But God seems to have figure, for it is written: “Let us make man to our image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Now a figure is called an image, according to the text: “Who being the brightness of His glory and the figure,” i.e. the image, “of His substance” (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore God is a body.

Objection 3. Further, whatever has corporeal parts is a body. Now Scripture attributes corporeal parts to God. “Hast thou an arm like God?” (Job 40:4); and “The eyes of the Lord are upon the just” (Psalm 33:16); and “The right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength” (Psalm 117:16). Therefore God is a body.

Objection 4. Further, posture belongs only to bodies. But something which supposes posture is said of God in the Scriptures: “I saw the Lord sitting” (Isaiah 6:1), and “He standeth up to judge” (Isaiah 3:13). Therefore God is a body.

Objection 5. Further, only bodies or things corporeal can be a local term “wherefrom” or “whereto.” But in the Scriptures God is spoken of as a local term “whereto,” according to the words, “Come ye to Him and be enlightened” (Psalm 33:6), and as a term “wherefrom”: “All they that depart from Thee shall be written in the earth” (Jeremiah 17:13). Therefore God is a body.

On the contrary, It is written in the Gospel of St. John (John 4:24): “God is a spirit.”

I answer that, It is absolutely true that God is not a body; and this can be shown in three ways.

First, because no body is in motion unless it be put in motion, as is evident from induction. Now it has been already proved (I:2:3), that God is the First Mover, and is Himself unmoved. Therefore it is clear that God is not a body.

Secondly, because the first being must of necessity be in act, and in no way in potentiality. For although in any single thing that passes from potentiality to actuality, the potentiality is prior in time to the actuality; nevertheless, absolutely speaking, actuality is prior to potentiality; for whatever is in potentiality can be reduced into actuality only by some being in actuality. Now it has been already proved that God is the First Being. It is therefore impossible that in God there should be any potentiality. But every body is in potentiality because the continuous, as such, is divisible to infinity; it is therefore impossible that God should be a body.

Thirdly, because God is the most noble of beings. Now it is impossible for a body to be the most noble of beings; for a body must be either animate or inanimate; and an animate body is manifestly nobler than any inanimate body. But an animate body is not animate precisely as body; otherwise all bodies would be animate. Therefore its animation depends upon some other thing, as our body depends for its animation on the soul. Hence that by which a body becomes animated must be nobler than the body. Therefore it is impossible that God should be a body.

Reply to Objection 1. As we have said above (I:1:9), Holy Writ puts before us spiritual and divine things under the comparison of corporeal things. Hence, when it attributes to God the three dimensions under the comparison of corporeal quantity, it implies His virtual quantity; thus, by depth, it signifies His power of knowing hidden things; by height, the transcendence of His excelling power; by length, the duration of His existence; by breadth, His act of love for all. Or, as says Dionysius (Div. Nom. ix), by the depth of God is meant the incomprehensibility of His essence; by length, the procession of His all-pervading power; by breadth, His overspreading all things, inasmuch as all things lie under His protection.

Reply to Objection 2. Man is said to be after the image of God, not as regards his body, but as regards that whereby he excels other animals. Hence, when it is said, “Let us make man to our image and likeness”, it is added, “And let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea” (Genesis 1:26). Now man excels all animals by his reason and intelligence; hence it is according to his intelligence and reason, which are incorporeal, that man is said to be according to the image of God.

Reply to Objection 3. Corporeal parts are attributed to God in Scripture on account of His actions, and this is owing to a certain parallel. For instance the act of the eye is to see; hence the eye attributed to God signifies His power of seeing intellectually, not sensibly; and so on with the other parts.

Reply to Objection 4. Whatever pertains to posture, also, is only attributed to God by some sort of parallel. He is spoken of as sitting, on account of His unchangeableness and dominion; and as standing, on account of His power of overcoming whatever withstands Him.

Reply to Objection 5. We draw near to God by no corporeal steps, since He is everywhere, but by the affections of our soul, and by the actions of that same soul do we withdraw from Him; thus, to draw near to or to withdraw signifies merely spiritual actions based on the metaphor of local motion.

Article 2. Whether God is composed of matter and form?

Objection 1. It seems that God is composed of matter and form. For whatever has a soul is composed of matter and form; since the soul is the form of the body. But Scripture attributes a soul to God; for it is mentioned in Hebrews (Hebrews 10:38), where God says: “But My just man liveth by faith; but if he withdraw himself, he shall not please My soul.” Therefore God is composed of matter and form.

Objection 2. Further, anger, joy and the like are passions of the composite. But these are attributed to God in Scripture: “The Lord was exceeding angry with His people” (Psalm 105:40). Therefore God is composed of matter and form.

Objection 3. Further, matter is the principle of individualization. But God seems to be individual, for He cannot be predicated of many. Therefore He is composed of matter and form.

On the contrary, Whatever is composed of matter and form is a body; for dimensive quantity is the first property of matter. But God is not a body as proved in the preceding Article; therefore He is not composed of matter and form.

I answer that, It is impossible that matter should exist in God.

First, because matter is in potentiality. But we have shown (I:2:3) that God is pure act, without any potentiality. Hence it is impossible that God should be composed of matter and form.

Secondly, because everything composed of matter and form owes its perfection and goodness to its form; therefore its goodness is participated, inasmuch as matter participates the form. Now the first good and the best—viz. God—is not a participated good, because the essential good is prior to the participated good. Hence it is impossible that God should be composed of matter and form.

Thirdly, because every agent acts by its form; hence the manner in which it has its form is the manner in which it is an agent. Therefore whatever is primarily and essentially an agent must be primarily and essentially form. Now God is the first agent, since He is the first efficient cause. He is therefore of His essence a form; and not composed of matter and form.

Reply to Objection 1. A soul is attributed to God because His acts resemble the acts of a soul; for, that we will anything, is due to our soul. Hence what is pleasing to His will is said to be pleasing to His soul.

Reply to Objection 2. Anger and the like are attributed to God on account of a similitude of effect. Thus, because to punish is properly the act of an angry man, God’s punishment is metaphorically spoken of as His anger.

Reply to Objection 3. Forms which can be received in matter are individualized by matter, which cannot be in another as in a subject since it is the first underlying subject; although form of itself, unless something else prevents it, can be received by many. But that form which cannot be received in matter, but is self-subsisting, is individualized precisely because it cannot be received in a subject; and such a form is God. Hence it does not follow that matter exists in God. (5)

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Polytheism and philosophical absurdities

Polytheism and philosophical absurdities By Jack Kettler

In this study, we will seek to understand polytheism. First, is it biblical? Second, is it a coherent metaphysical philosophy? As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, commentary evidence and confessional support for the glorifying of God in how we live.

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

Definitions from two sources:

Polytheism:

Polytheism is the belief that there are many gods. Breaking the word down, “poly” comes from the Greek word for “many,” and “theism” from the Greek word for “God.” Polytheism has perhaps been the dominant theistic view in human history. The best-known example of polytheism in ancient times is Greek/Roman mythology (Zeus, Apollo, Aphrodite, Poseidon, etc.). The clearest modern example of polytheism is Hinduism, which has over 300 million gods. Although Hinduism is, in essence, pantheistic, it does hold to beliefs in many gods. It is interesting to note that even in polytheistic religions; one god usually reigns supreme over the other gods, e.g., Zeus in Greek/Roman mythology and Brahman in Hinduism. *

Polytheism:

The teaching that there are many gods. In the Ancient Near East, the nation of Israel was faced with the problem of the gods of other nations creeping into the theology of Judaism and corrupting the true revelation of God. Baal was the god of rain and exercised a powerful influence over the religion of many pagan cultures and even into the Jewish community. This is so because rain was essential to survival. Rain meant the crops would grow, the animals would have water, and the people would be able to eat. If there was no rain, death prevailed. Such visible realities as rain, drought, crops, and death often carried the spiritual character of the nation of Israel into spiritual adultery: worshiping other gods. The Bible does recognize the existence of other gods, but only as false. **

In contrast, Monotheism:

The belief that there is only one God in all places at all times. There were none before God and there will be none after Him. Monotheism is the teaching of the Bible. **

Scripture teaching against polytheism:

“See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” (Deuteronomy 32:39 ESV)

“For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.” (Psalm 96:5)

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

From the Pulpit Commentary on Deuteronomy 6:4:

Verses 4-25. – THE FIRST AND GREAT COMMANDMENT. “In the fear of Jehovah all true obedience is rooted (vers. 2, 3); for this is the first and most intimate fact in the relation of Israel and Jehovah (Deuteronomy 5:26). But where the supreme fear of Jehovah hinders men from allowing self to preponderate in opposition to God, there will be no stopping at this renunciation of self-will, though this comes first as the negative form of the ten commandments also shows, but there will come to be a coalescence of the human with the Divine will; and this is love, which is the proper condition of obedience, as the ten commandments also indicate (Deuteronomy 5:10)” (Baumgarten). Verse 4. – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. This is an affirmation not so much of the moneity as of the unity and simplicity of Jehovah, the alone God. Though Elohim (plu.), he is one. The speaker does not say, “Jehovah is alone God,” but “Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah” (comp. for the force of אֶחָד, Exodus 26:6, 11; Ezekiel 37:16-19). Among the heathen there were many Baals and many Jupiters; and it was believed that the deity might be divided and communicated to many. But the God of Israel, Jehovah, is one, indivisible and incommunicable. He is the Absolute and the Infinite One, who alone is to be worshipped, on whom all depend, and to whose command all must yield obedience (cf. Zechariah 14:9). Not only to polytheism, but to pantheism, and to the conception of a localized or national deity, is this declaration of the unity of Jehovah opposed. With these words the Jews begin their daily liturgy, morning and evening; the sentence expresses the essence of their religious belief; and so familiar is it to their thought and speech that, it is said, they were often, during the persecution in Spain, betrayed to their enemies by the involuntary utterance of it. (1)

Comments:

Sh’ma Israel Yehovah Eloheinu Yehovah Echad. These words can be translated into English as, “Hear, O Israel, Jehovah [Yhvh], our God [Elohim], is one [echad] Jehovah [Yhvh].”

“I am he: before me there was no God formed. Neither shall there be after me, I, even I, am LORD, and beside me there is no Saviour.” (Isaiah 43:10)

“I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)

From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Isaiah 44:6:

And I am the last – In Isaiah 41:4, this is expressed ‘with the last;’ in Revelation 1:8, ‘I am Alpha and Omega.’ The sense is, that God existed before all things, and will exist forever.

And besides me there is no God – This is repeatedly declared (Deuteronomy 4:35, Deuteronomy 4:39; see the note at Isaiah 43:10-12). This great truth it was God’s purpose to keep steadily before the minds of the Jews; and to keep it in the world, and ultimately to diffuse it abroad among the nations, was one of the leading reasons why he selected them as a special people, and separated them from the rest of mankind. (2)

“Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any?” (Isaiah 44:8)

“And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he.” (Mark 12:32)

“As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” (1 Corinthians 8:4-6)

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers says this about 1 Corinthians 8:5 regarding “gods many”:

(5) For though there be. . . .—This is an hypothetic argument. “Be” is the emphatic word of the supposition. Even assuming that there do exist those beings which are called “gods” (we have a right to make such a supposition, for Deuteronomy 10:17, Psalm 105:2-3, speaks of “gods and lords” of another kind), the difference between the heathen, “gods many” and the “lords and gods” of whom the Old Testament speaks, is that the former are deities, and the latter only a casual way of speaking of angels and other spiritual subjects and servants of the one God. This is brought out in the following verse. (3)

Comment:

1 Corinthians 8:5 is a favorite proof text in support of multiple gods by a large Utah based religion. As seen, Ellicott’s comments refute this idea.

“Who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4 ESV)

Comment:

Paul explains in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 clarifies what he means in 1 Corinthians 8:5. The gods mentioned in Corinthians are false gods and not gods at all.

The next passage from James has tremendous apologetic value in defense of monotheism.

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19)

Comments:

James says even the devils believe in one God. The devils are not polytheists. What does this say about people advancing the idea of many gods? The devils faith in one God is not saving faith, yet it is a true confession much like the demons that would acknowledge Christ when he cast them out of the possessed. See Luke 4:41. If you are advancing the idea that other gods exist, woe is you, do you really want the devil’s minions to be a witness against you?

Consider Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on James 2:19:

Thou believest that there is one God,…. These words are a continuation of the address of the man that has works, to him that boasts of his faith without them, observing to him, that one, and a main article of his faith, is, that there is one God; which is to be understood in the Christian sense, since both the person speaking, and the person spoken to, were such as professed themselves Christians; so that to believe there is one God, is not merely to give into this article, in opposition to the polytheism of the Gentiles, or barely to confess the God of Israel, as believed on by the Jews, but to believe that there are three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, and that these three are the one God; wherefore this article of faith includes everything relating to God; as to God the Father, his being and perfections, so to Christ, as God, and the Son of God, and the Messiah, &c. and to the Holy Spirit; and to believe all this is right:

thou doest well; for that there is but one God, is to be proved by the light of nature, and from the works of creation and providence, and has been owned by the wisest of the Heathens themselves; and is established, by divine revelation, in the books both of the Old and of the New Testament; what has been received by the Jews, and is well known by Christians, to whom it is set in the clearest light, and who are assured of the truth of it: but then

the devils also believe; the Arabic version reads, “the devils likewise so believe”; they believe the same truth; they know and believe there is but one God, and not many; and they know that the God of Israel is he; and that the Father, Son, and Spirit, are the one God; they know and believe him to be the most high God, whose servants the ministers of the Gospel are; and they know and believe that Jesus is the Holy One of God, the Son of God, and the Messiah, Acts 16:17.

And tremble; at the wrath of God, which they now feel, and at the thought of future torments, which they expect, Mark 5:7 and which is more than some men do; and yet these shall not be saved, their damnation is certain and inevitable, 2 Peter 2:4 wherefore it follows, that a bare historical faith will not profit, and cannot save any; a man may have all faith of this kind, and be damned; and therefore it is not to be boasted of, nor trusted to. (4)

Polytheism by systematic theologian Charles Hodge:

“As the word implies, Polytheism is the theory which assumes the existence of many gods. Monotheism was the original religion of our race. This is evident not only from the teachings of the Scriptures, but also from the fact that the earliest historical form of religious belief is monotheistic. There are monotheistic hymns in the Vedas, the most ancient writings now extant, unless the Pentateuch be an exception.

The first departure from monotheism seems to have been nature worship. As men lost the knowledge of God as creator, they were led to reverence the physical elements with which they were in contact, whose power they witnessed, and whose beneficent influence they constantly experienced. Hence not only the sun, moon, and stars, the great representatives of nature, but fire, air, and water, became the objects of popular worship. We accordingly find that the Vedas consist largely of hymns addressed to these natural elements.

These powers were personified, and soon it came to be generally believed that a personal being presided over each. And these imaginary beings were the objects of popular worship.

While the mass of the people really believed in beings that were “called gods” (1 Cor. 8:5), many of the more enlightened were monotheists, and more were pantheists. The early introduction and wide dissemination of pantheism are proved from the fact that it lies at the foundation of Brahminism and Buddhism, the religions of the larger part of the human race for thousands of years.

There can be little doubt that when the Aryan tribes entered India, fifteen hundred or two thousand years before Christ, pantheism was their established belief. The unknown, and “unconditioned” infinite Being, reveals itself according to the Hindu system, as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva,—that is, as Creator, Preserver, and Restorer. These were not persons, but modes of manifestation. It was in this form that the idea of an endless process of development of the infinite into the finite, and of the return of the finite into the infinite, was expressed. It was from this pantheistic principle that the endless polytheism of the Hindus naturally developed itself; and this determined the character of their whole religion. As all that is, is only a manifestation of God, everything remarkable, and especially the appearance of any remarkable man, was regarded as an “avatar,” or incarnation of God, in one or other of his modes of manifestation, as Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva. And as evil is as actual as good, the one is as much a manifestation, or, modus existendi, of the infinite Being as the other. And hence there are evil gods as well as good. In no part of the world has pantheism had such a field for development as in India, and nowhere has it brought forth its legitimate effects in such a portentous amount of evil. Nowhere has polytheism been carried to such revolting extremes.

Among the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans polytheism assumed a form determined by the character of the people. The Greeks rendered it bright, beautiful, and sensual; the Romans were more decorous and sedate. Among barbarous nations it has assumed forms much more simple, and in many cases more rational.

In the Bible the gods of the heathen are declared to be “vanity,” and “nothing,” mere imaginary beings, without power either to hurt or to save. (Jer. 2:28; Isa. 41:29; Isa. 13:17; Ps. 106:28.) They are also represented as δαιμόνια (1 Cor. 10:20). This word may express either an imaginary, or a real existence. The objects of heathen worship are called gods, even when declared to be nonentities. So they may be called “demons,” without intending to teach that they are “spirits.” As the word, however, generally in the New Testament, does mean “evil spirits,” it is perhaps better to take it in that sense when it refers to the objects of heathen worship. This is not inconsistent with the doctrine that the gods of the heathen are “vanities and lies.” They are not what men take them to be. They have no divine power. Paul says of the heathen before their conversion, “ἐδουλεύσατε το̂ις φυσει μή οὐ̂σι θεοι̂ς” (Gal. 4:8). The prevalence and persistency of Polytheism show that it must have a strong affinity with fallen human nature. Although, except in pantheism, it has no philosophical basis, it constitutes a formidable obstacle to the progress of true religion in the world.” (5)

Comments:

Polytheism not only includes the worship of other gods, it includes the mere belief that multiple gods exist. Monotheism and polytheism are irreconcilable.

Not only is polytheism unbiblical, its ethics and metaphysics lead to unanswerable absurdities:

1. Are the gods finite, infinite, corporeal or incorporeal?

2. Did the gods evolve? Have they always been?

3. Are they like men?

4. Are they like the Greek and Roman gods?

5. How do the gods communicate with men?

6. Are they omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent?

7. If the gods are not omniscient, are they surrounded by ultimate mystery and contingency?

8. Are all the gods associated with this planet?

9. Are the gods scattered throughout the cosmos and other planets?

10. Are there laws or a law structure in the universe?

11. If so, where did these laws come from?

12. Did the gods create these laws?

13. Is the law structure higher than the gods are?

14. If so, what are the implications?

15. Is the law structure god?

16. Do the gods ever get together and vote on what the standards for men should be or for their own standards?

17. Do they have some kind of debating forum?

18. If they are like men, how do they travel? A space ship?

19. Do the gods communicate with each other? If so, how? An intergalactic phone service?

20. How do the gods define things like good and evil?

21. Do the gods define it, or is a law structure above the gods the source for definitions?

22. Can concepts such as good and evil exist in raw matter? In other words, do concepts like good and evil have to exist in a mind?

23. If concepts such as good and evil must exist in a mind, and many gods exist in the universe, would not the definition of good and evil be very subjective, since there are many minds?

24. Do all the gods in the universe interpret things in the same way?

25. How could you know?

26. If you pick a particular god to follow, how do you know that this god is interpreting ethical ideas properly?

27. How do you know evil is not good? Can the gods help explain this?

28. Will the gods ever defeat evil in the universe?

29. Why have not the gods defeated it yet?

30. Are there evil gods in the universe?

31. If so, could they destroy or defeat the good gods?

32. The terms evil and good are relative in a universe populated with multiple gods, since not all gods may agree.

33. Can the gods articulate a coherent theory of knowledge?

34. Are the gods’ empiricists, rationalists?

35. How do the gods solve the “one and many” problem?

36. Is a counsel of multiple authoritative infallible gods logically coherent? How so?

37. In the world of men, can anyone know anything with certainty about the gods?

38. Are promoters of polytheism engaging in speculation or pure guesswork when making any declaration about the gods?

39. Are assertions about the gods verified, empirically, rationally, by a vote, just believe the assertions, a holy man from India knows, listen to him or doing yoga (yoke with Brahmin) or mediate long enough to learn the answers?

In closing:

In polytheistic systems, there can be no certain standards. Ethics, logic and science would be relative to the authority of each different god or a group of god’s alliance. Polytheism cannot escape manifesting itself in multiple contradictory definitions in regards to ultimate reality. In trying to ascertain answers to the above questions, it is apparent that polytheism is absurd and can say nothing with certainty in the area of science, logic and ethics. Polytheism therefore is irrational.

In contrast, Christian Monotheism solves “The One and Many Problem”:

The “One and Many Problem” is another dilemma for polytheists. Is reality ultimately one or many? If reality is ultimately one, this can manifest itself as communism or a total state. If reality is ultimately many, this can lead to political anarchy. Eastern polytheistic philosophy contradictory comes down on the side of the many and at other times the one manifesting itself as pantheistic monism. Polytheism has never produced a system guaranteeing individual rights. Likewise, Communism answered the question as noted in favor of the one or total state and it likewise never produced any protection for property rights or individual freedom.

The monotheistic Christian worldview, on the other hand, has produced a balance of individual freedoms and a basis for the state and church authority. This is accomplished because of the doctrine of the Trinity. The Christian God is the ground and explanation of all reality. God is one and yet more than one, with a plurality of persons within the one God. Politically and religiously this manifests itself by giving due authority to the state or church and a proper place for individual rights and the basis for appealing abuses of the state or church by the individual.

Why is the polytheist unable to articulate a coherent theory of knowledge that can justify the use of science, ethics and logic? The polytheist uses logic and talks about ethics. They do so without justifying or demonstrating how their worldview can account for these things. In other words, they beg the question. In addition, mind you, when you point out this question begging on their part, you will experience many ad hominem attacks, which serve as a smoke screen to cover-up the bankruptcy of their worldview. Moreover, the polytheist or any non-Christian steals from the Christian worldview that can explain and justify the use of such things to attack the Christian’s presuppositions. When informing the polytheist of their theft, get ready for emotional responses or ad hominem attacks.

Christians have a biblical foundation for seeking knowledge and obtaining it. God-given revelation is objective. Ungodly men reject biblical revelation; they suppress the truth that God has revealed to them through creation (Romans 1:18). God has spoken in the Scriptures, i.e., God’s special revelation to humanity concerning what is required of them.

Greg L. Bahnsen explains the Christian’s worldview ability to talk intelligently like this:

In various forms, the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist is that the Christian worldview is true because of the impossibility of the contrary. When the perspective of God’s revelation is rejected, then the unbeliever is left in foolish ignorance because his philosophy does not provide the preconditions of knowledge and meaningful experience. To put it another way: the proof that Christianity is true is that if it were not, we would not be able to prove anything.

What the unbeliever needs is nothing less than a radical change of mind – repentance (Acts 17:30). He needs to change his fundamental worldview and submit to the revelation of God in order for any knowledge or experience to make sense. He at the same time needs to repent of his spiritual rebellion and sin against God. Because of the condition of his heart, he cannot see the truth or know God in a saving fashion. (6)

“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:12)

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Deuteronomy, Vol. 3, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p.118.

2. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Isaiah, p.1049.

3. Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, 1 Corinthians, vol. 2, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 315.

4. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, James, 9 Volumes, Romans, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, pp. 39-40.

5. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing), p. 243-244.

6. Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready Directions for Defending the Faith, (Atlanta, Georgia, American Vision), p. 122.

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more study:

* https://www.gotquestions.org/

** CARM theological dictionary https://carm.org/dictionary-hermeneutics

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