To Doug Wilson and Pablo MacArthur:
I am the editor of the publication Outside the Camp and noticed that we were one of your objects of ridicule in the "Cave of Adullam" feature in Volume 13, Issue 1 of Credenda/Agenda. Being objects of ridicule is nothing new to us, but shouldn't a publication such as yours at least ridicule us based on what we actually believe? Far from putting forth what we really believe, your segment on us actually slanders us by saying that we believe something that is the very antithesis of what we believe. Mr. MacArthur wrote: "In their soteriology, theological perfection in sanctification is necessary for salvation." Not only do we not believe this, we have come out clearly against this, if you really care to know what we believe (which I seriously doubt). Check out the article "Doctrinal Regeneration" at www.outsidethecamp.org/doctregen.htm. Salvation is conditioned on nothing the sinner does/believes or is enabled to do/believe. Salvation is not conditioned on theological perfection or belief of any doctrine. There are no prerequisites the sinner must meet before he is saved. If we believed this, we would be unregenerate, since this is the damnable false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner. Mr. MacArthur raises this straw man and calls it "Hyper-Arminianism." Certainly, if we believed what Mr. MacArthur slanderously says we believe, we would be in the same camp with the Arminians (although the term "Hyper-Arminianism" isn't necessary, since belief in 1% works or 50% works or 100% works as the ground of salvation is all salvation conditioned on the sinner).
Briefly, what we do believe is that all Christians believe the gospel and that this belief is an inevitable and immediate result or fruit of regeneration. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). The gospel reveals the righteousness of God (Romans 1:16). The righteousness of God is God's being just and justifier based on the work of Christ alone (Romans 3:21-26). All who do not believe the gospel are unregenerate (Mark 16:16). All who are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel are unregenerate (Romans 10:3). Clear enough?
All who are regenerate believe the gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. This means that all regenerate people believe that it is the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation. All who believe that it is not the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation are unregenerate. This includes all who believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception. In believing that Jesus Christ died for those in hell, they show that they do not believe that it is the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation; instead, they believe that the efforts of the sinner are what make the difference. They blaspheme the name of Christ, they spit in Christ's face, and they trample underfoot His precious blood, which they believe did nothing in and of itself to secure the salvation of anyone. Clear enough?
To conclude from this that we believe that "theological perfection in sanctification is necessary for salvation" is to be dishonest, stupid, or both. You people claim to excel in logic, yet this slanderous conclusion is a great example of a blatant non sequitur. Because belief in certain doctrine is the inevitable and immediate fruit of salvation, this means that belief in this doctrine is a condition of salvation? Even those schooled in elementary logic would notice the foolishness of this conclusion. If you don't get it, let me give you an example in an attempt (possibly futile) to show you your seriously flawed logic. Suppose I say that all who do not believe in the deity of Christ are unregenerate. (You might possibly even agree with this! Oh my!) Is a necessary implication of this that I believe that belief in the deity of Christ is a condition or prerequisite for salvation? Or, to go as far as Mr. MacArthur went, is a necessary implication of this that I believe that "theological perfection in sanctification is necessary for salvation"? That would be foolish, would it not? If you would make such a conclusion, then you would also have to ridicule people who say that all Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists are unregenerate based on their belief that "theological perfection is necessary for salvation."
Arminians are just as far away from the true gospel as the Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists are. They do not believe that Christ's work actually accomplished redemption, actually accomplished propitiation, actually accomplished atonement for anyone. Those who claim to believe the doctrines of grace but who consider some universal atonement advocates to be saved do not believe that redemption, propitiation, and atonement are essential gospel doctrines. They believe that a person can be ignorant of and even hostile to doctrines of redemption, propitiation, and atonement and still be a regenerate person. Is this any less heinous than believing a person can be ignorant of or even hostile to the doctrine of the deity of Christ and still be a regenerate person? Is this any less heinous than believing that the doctrine of the deity of Christ is not an essential gospel doctrine? Of course it isn't. It is just as heinous, just as blasphemous, just as vile and perverted. The Bible clearly states that those who speak peace to those who bring a false gospel are unregenerate (2 John 11; see www.outsidethecamp.org/2John11.htm). Does that mean that we believe that not speaking peace to those who bring a false gospel is a condition for salvation? Of course not. It means that we believe that a Christian will not consider one who brings a false gospel to be his brother in Christ. Pretty simple, isn't it? And quite Biblical, no matter how you wish to portray us.
In light of your slanderous accusation that we believe in salvation conditioned on the sinner, I am asking you to print a retraction and to rewrite what you have said about our publication to reflect what we truly believe. Go ahead and ridicule us after that if you want, but base your ridicule on what we actually believe (and hey, why not use some Scripture in your refutation? What a concept!). You can even reference our web site at www.outsidethecamp.org so people can actually see what we believe and compare it to what you say we believe. There is a series of manuscripts of sermons on the gospel on this site at www.outsidethecamp.org/sermons.htm, including a sub-series on "Essential Gospel Doctrine," if you or anyone else really wants to look into things before making a statement about what we believe regarding the gospel (which I seriously doubt). Having requested this, I'm not holding my breath. If you choose not to abide by my request, it will be just another means God uses to harden you in your sin.
I also request that this letter be printed in its entirety in Credenda/Agenda. Feel free to include my snail-mail and e-mail address when you print it, so people can actually communicate with the one who puts out Outside the Camp rather than someone who thinks he knows what Outside the Camp says. (Obviously, Mr. MacArthur has not read the publication, since he says that "[t]he title of their publication is apparently taken from Deuteronomy 23:13-14," whereas Hebrews 13:13 is right under our masthead.) Repent and believe the gospel.
To God alone be the glory,
Marc D. Carpenter