A reply to Greg Fields's "THE BANE OF NEO-GNOSTIC CALVINISM"
> Who among us who have been illuminated by the Spirit of God to
> heartily embrace that exalted system of Pauline Theology commonly
> called "Calvinism" can forget the sublime joy experienced when these
> verities became manifest in our believing heart? For many of us
> grasping these truths or better, being gripped by these truths, was
> the real "second blessing" in our Christian pilgrimage.
So the "first blessing" was what? Being regenerated and remaining ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel for a period of time before the "second blessing"? Continuing to believe in salvation conditioned on the sinner after regeneration?
> For me
> personally, sovereign grace teaching revivified my entire demeanor as
> a saint and delivered me from the morbid introspection engendered by
> Arminian, fundamentalist pietism.
So "sovereign grace teaching," salvation by grace alone, was just some "higher knowledge" that made you a better Christian, eh?
> I have a passionate commitment to
> Calvinistic soteriology and am quite emphatic in my apologia for
> these truths that so exalt and glorify the grandeur of the Sovereign
> Triune Lord.
Yeah, you even have "ferventcalvinist" in your e-mail address. Wow. The passion. The zeal. The emphatic-ness. Is this supposed to impress anyone?
> Thus, it is with both sadness and reticence that I issue
> this urgent caveat regarding an extreme chimerical form of Calvinism
> that is spreading great mischief among the elect of God and dear
> souls seeking spiritual solace.
Uh-oh. Sounds hideous. Let's hear more.
> I have subsumed this subtle heresy under the rubric neo-gnostic
> Calvinism because the main tenets of this aberration of Calvinism
> involve primarily a comprehensive cognitive system of knowledge
> (gnosis) that must be firmly grasped and indoctrinated into before
> the professing Calvinist or seeking Arminian is truly
> considered "saved" by these ersatz-Calvinist "teachers".
Wow. Who are these "teachers"? I've never met one. I certainly don't hold to the view that a Christian must be able to systematize and articulate the doctrines of grace before I consider that person saved. But I do hold to this (and every Christian holds to this): Every Christian, from newborn to elder, believes THE GOSPEL. THE GOSPEL is the good news of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone. Thus, since every Christian believes THE GOSPEL, he will never believe the antitheses to the doctrines of grace.
> After elucidating these
> verities they then go on to add to these truths a dogmatic
> unsubstantiated requirement for salvation that in effect nullifies
> all the peace and joy that should attend sovereign grace.
Okay -- let's see what this "requirement" might be.
> They assert
> with bellicose intensity that unequivocally, all Arminians are lost
> because "Arminianism is a false gospel" and under the anathema of
> Gal. 1:8-9.They set the stage for this "leap of logic", by describing
> the five points of Arminianism and showing how incompatible
> Arminianism is with the gospel of grace. Again, any thoroughgoing
> evaluation of Arminianism would demonstrate this to be true
I had to chuckle at this one. These horrible "gnostics" use a "leap of logic" to say that Arminians are lost because Arminians believe a false gospel. Then you say that this is true. Hey, wait a minute -- aren't you making a leap of logic by saying that what the "gnostics" conclude due to their leap of logic is true?
Show me how this is a leap of logic:
All who believe a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner are lost.
Arminianism teaches a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner.
Arminians believe Arminianism.
Arminians are lost.
> but they
> then use this evaluation to assert that all who have never yet
> grasped the doctrines of grace to be by default, Arminians, thereby
> validating their "lostness".
What is meant by "have never yet grasped the doctrines of grace"? I again say that I have never said that one must be able to systemize and articulate the doctrines of grace in order for me to judge that person saved. Or are you talking about something different? Are you saying that those who believe universal atonement are among those "who have never yet grasped the doctrines of grace" but are still regenerate?
> The insidious nature of their neo-
> gnosticism becomes manifestly transparent here. The major tenet of
> gnosticism was the acquisition of knowledge to achieve,N.B.,
And if anyone believes that one must acquire knowledge of the doctrines of grace before God will save them, they are lost. I've never said this.
>Similarly they make the precise apprehension of
> soteriological doctrine the sine qua non of salvation.
For those of you who are not as educated as the erudite Greg Fields, "sine qua non" means "An indispensable thing or condition; a necessity." I wonder about the "precise apprehension of soteriological doctrine." Is belief in universal atonement just a matter of precision? Or does it strike at the very heart of the gospel? Of course, these are rhetorical questions. I wouldn't expect you, Greg, to answer them anyway, since you have no clue as to what the gospel really is.
> By utilizing a
> patina of super spirituality, they create a psychological ambience
> that can easily intimidate a young believer who may be new to
> Calvinism or a seeking Arminian
Oooh -- psychological ambience under a patina of super spirituality! Sounds scary! Sounds intimidating! Sounds ... well ... hey, Greg, why don't you give an example (please use direct quotes) of how someone has created a psychological ambience that intimidates young believers. All the verboseness is meaningless without examples.
Hmmm ... "a seeking Arminian", eh? One of your spiritual brethren who just hasn't reached the higher knowledge you have attained, eh? A believer in universal atonement who is seeking ... what? Whom? Seeking to be theologically correct? Greg wouldn't want us to "intimidate" these "seeking Arminians" by telling them that they are lost and their deeds are evil. No ... just "Peace, Peace, You shall not surely die."
I guess Greg would have to include Jesus and Paul in with those who utilize a patina of super spirituality to create a psychological ambience to intimidate those who don't yet grasp the gospel.
>(although most folk, if we are honest
> are utterly oblivious to this historical-theological debacle)
And God does not require a knowledge of this debate. A true Christian may never have heard of the terms "Calvinism" or "Arminianism"! I COULDN'T CARE LESS about whether or not people are familiar with these terms! I *do not* ask people if they are Calvinists! That means nothing to me! I ask them if they believe THE GOSPEL wherein the righteousness of God is revealed, the very imputed righteousness of Christ that ensures and demands the salvation of everyone whom He represented!
> capitulate to this cold, unrelenting dogmatism,
Shudder. Is it freezing in here, or is it just me?
> creating a
> vituperative unloving demeanor
Yeah, yeah. Say the same thing about John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the Apostle Paul. All tolerant Calvinists will bring up the "unloving" thing. The truth is that it is a manifestation of LOVE to tell a lost sinner that he is a lost sinner. And Greg Fields manifests HATE when he tells lost sinners that they're saved but just need to learn a few more unessential doctrines so they can give God ALL the glory instead of giving Him SOME of the glory.
> and ironically robbing them of the
> comfort and joy these glorious doctrines should inculcate in their
I am a man full of comfort and joy. Ask anyone who knows me. And all who believe the gospel whom I know are people of comfort and joy.
> This, to my mind, is the most utterly insidious forms of "works-
> righteousness" that I have ever encountered. By cleverly demanding
> that for one to truly be saved they must achieve a solid
> understanding of Calvinistic soteriology is to "make the cross of
> Christ of none effect".
Again, could you show me one of these people you're describing? Could you show, giving quotes, that these people demand that "a solid understanding of Calvinistic soteriology" is a condition of salvation? I'd sure like to see the quotes from the people about whom you're talking. If you don't have quotes, then what is your point in fighting against something/someone that doesn't exist?
Of course, you would judge such people to be lost, right? Oh ... wait a minute ... just because they believe in works-righteousness doesn't mean they're not saved, according to Greg; they just need to be lovingly told that they're a little off in their doctrine.
> "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy
> cross I cling" as Toplady's exquisitely penned words succinctly state
> is the essence of the gospel offer.
And what does "nothing" mean? What does "thy cross" mean? What does "cling" mean? How do we know, when someone claims to believe the true gospel and the true Christ, that this person does not believe in a false gospel and a counterfeit christ? Can we know this by hearing the person saying "I'm simply clinging to the cross"? Or "Christ is my only hope"? Or "Jesus died for me"? How do YOU judge saved and lost, Greg?
It is only by one thing we can know whether or not a person's "Christ" and a person's "gospel" is the real thing. And that is by what DOCTRINE they believe. DOCTRINE is what distinguishes the true Christ from all counterfeits and the true gospel from all false gospels. If a person says "I'm simply clinging to Christ as my only hope" yet believes universal atonement, the christ to which that person clings is a COUNTERFEIT christ.
> To make mere cognition the
> predicate of entrance into the kingdom of God's dear son is to
> despise God's sovereignty, Christ's finished work on the cross, and
> the blessed Holy Spirit's sovereign application of the redemption
> accomplished to "the apple of his eye", his beloved elect.
Again, we have this mystery person or persons whom Greg is describing. Who makes mere cognition the predicate of entrance into the kingdom? Not me. Not any of the brothers and sisters in Christ with whom I have been in contact. Who is this phantom you're describing?
> It is
> vital beloved to discern the subtilty of their enticing words of
> wisdom. It is Christ who saves through faith, not our soteriological
If I believed that it is one's soteriological knowledge that saves, then I would be lost. Christ alone saves. "Through faith," you say. Faith? Faith without knowledge? The truth is that when God saves someone, He gives that person a KNOWLEDGE of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. He gives that person a KNOWLEDGE of the only ground of his salvation. He gives that person KNOWLEDGE of that righteousness that ensures and demands his salvation. Yes, KNOWLEDGE. But hey, when I say KNOWLEDGE, that must mean I'm a gnostic, right, since Greg pointed out that our word "knowledge" comes from "gnosis." Well, let's look at some Scriptures:
"And this is life eternal, that they might KNOW thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (Jn. 17:3). What KNOWLEDGE is involved in KNOWING God and Christ, which is eternal life?
"And ye shall KNOW the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). What is the TRUTH that God's people KNOW that sets them free?
"... they have no KNOWLEDGE that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray to a god that cannot save" (Is. 45:20b). What is this KNOWLEDGE that these idolaters are missing?
"For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to KNOWLEDGE" (Rm. 10:2). What is this KNOWLEDGE that these lost religionists are missing?
"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. ... For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the KNOWLEDGE of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:3-6). What is this LIGHT that the lost people BLINDED to? What is the light of the KNOWLEDGE of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ that has shined in believer's hearts?
"But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of DOCTRINE which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness" (Romans 6:17-18). What is that DOCTRINE that believers believed when they were made free from sin?
> To further exacerbate their dissimulation, they dare to go even
> further. They dogmatically and shockingly assert that any professing
> Calvinist that does not concur with their Calvinistic neo-gnostic
> pretensions and believes that Arminians can be saved has "spoke peace
> to Arminians" thereby abrogating their own salvation. As one gleans
> their writings on this matter, one amazingly discovers that according
> to this chimerical premise, the most eminent saints in church history
> are apparently "lost"! A.A. Hodge, Spurgeon, D. Martyn-Lloyd Jones,
> Gordon Clark, Van Till ad infinitum,ad nauseum, are consigned to
> God's wrath by the unmitigated temerity of these neo-gnostics.
Ah, the highly esteemed men! How dare anyone say that they were lost? They had such zeal! They had such reputation! They had such fervency! They were like Greg Fields, the "fervent calvinist"! Let man's reputation go to the dung heap where it belongs; judgment is to be made according to God's Testimony. Those who knew what Arminianism was and yet considered at least some Arminians to be their brothers in Christ obviously believed that these Arminians believed the same gospel they did. And this shows that they had no idea what the gospel was. Interesting that Greg would include Gordon Clark. Gordon Clark did not say that some Arminians are saved; he said that ALL TRUE ARMINIANS ARE DEFINITELY SAVED!
> men simply did not "measure up" to their conceptualization of what
> constitutes "the doctrines of grace"
These men simply did not believe the gospel.
> and furthermore, they had the
> audacity to be gentle and forebearing and tenderhearted (they even
> dared to offer them Christian equanimity) to those of non-reformed
Just a different persuasion, eh? The difference between salvation conditioned on the sinner and salvation conditioned on Christ alone is just a matter of persuasion, eh? Obviously, you do not believe the gospel. You are in the same spiritual state as the ones you mentioned above. Hey, why don't you go all the way? Why don't you speak peace to your Jehovah's Witness brethren? After all, they're just of a different persuasion regarding the person of Christ. What? You say that any who deny Christ's deity are lost? Why, how unloving! Shouldn't you be gentle and forebearing and tenderhearted to those who haven't yet grasped the deity of Christ? After all, it's not the doctrine of Christ's deity that saves, it is Christ who saves! Are you so gnostic as to say that there's some KNOWLEDGE of Christ's deity involved here?
And what of those who claim to be Christians (even Calvinists) but believe that Muslims are going to heaven? You wouldn't consider them to be lost, would you?
> Worshipping our Majestic Lord in spirit and in
> truth is true Calvinism.
So what is true Arminianism?
- Marc D. Carpenter
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