I'm glad you are willing to correct your misrepresentations. I don't mind your putting forth a rebuttal to our position as long as you state our position correctly. My comments are in black.
Thank you for writing. It is certainly not my purpose to misrepresent you or anyone else. Perhaps you can clarify some things for me, because it certainly APPEARS to me that the statements I have made concerning your beliefs are accurate.
I am perplexed by your statements "We do NOT believe that Calvinism is the gospel." "We are NOT professing Calvinists." "We do NOT claim to be zealots for Calvinism.">>
Please see the article "Why We No Longer
Call Ourselves 'Reformed' or 'Calvinists'" at www.outsidethecamp.org/norefcal.htm
. Once we found out what Calvin really believed regarding the atonement, we
could no longer call ourselves Calvinists in good conscience. The doctrines of
grace are NOT Calvinism.
<<Do you deny the Five Points of Calvinism as set forth in the canons of Dort? If you embrace these doctrines, then, by the historical meaning and usage of the term "Calvinist", you hold to Calvinistic doctrine.>>
I concede that by the historical meaning and usage of the term, I hold to "Calvinistic doctrine." But the historical meaning and usage of the term is incorrect. The Canons of Dort DO NOT set forth Calvinism in the actual sense of Calvinism, since Calvin believed in universal atonement.
<<How can you say "We are NOT professing Calvinists?">>
The aforementioned article answers that
<<In your article "Gospel Atonement", you refer to "Tolerant Calvinists", which implies that there is a contrary category of "Intolerant Calvinists". Who are the "Intolerant Calvinists" that we would contrast with the "Tolerant Calvinists"? In the context of your article, it would have to be those who share your views. It seems to me that, by using this terminology, you are claiming to be a Calvinist.>>
I can see how one could mistakenly conclude
that we would call ourselves "Intolerant Calvinists" when we decry
"Tolerant Calvinists." However, the term "Tolerant
Calvinists" is used as short-speak for those who call themselves
Calvinists but who consider at least some universal atonement advocates to be
saved, not to give the impression that we are a different kind of Calvinist
than the "Tolerant Calvinists."
<<You say that "We do NOT believe that Calvinism is the gospel", yet if a person denies any of the 5 points of Calvinism, do you not conclude that he has denied the gospel? Can a person who believes the gospel deny Total Depravity? Can a person who believes the gospel deny Unconditional Election? Can a person who believes the gospel deny Particular Redemption or Irresistible Grace?>>
If a person denies any of the doctrines of grace, we know he does not believe the gospel. But think about it: Do you believe that if a person denies the deity of Christ, he does not believe the gospel? If so, does that mean that you believe that the deity of Christ is the gospel? Of course not. The deity of Christ is part of the gospel. I do not put forth the gospel in terms of the doctrines of grace. To see how I put forth the gospel, please see the series of sermons on the gospel at www.outsidethecamp.org/sermons.htm . Included in that series is a sub-series on Essential Gospel Doctrine. These are the doctrines that are essential to the gospel. There are not five points of anything. I couldn't care less if someone is unable to systematize and articulate the "five points." That in and of itself would not make me judge that person to be lost. But if a person denies any of the doctrines of grace, then we know he does not believe the gospel. So the "five points of Calvinism" is not the gospel. The "five doctrines of grace" is not the gospel. The gospel is the good news of God's promise to save His people conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone.
<<If the answer to any of these questions is "Yes", then you are admitting that a regenerate person can hold Arminian beliefs. On the other hand, if you (as I believe you must) answer "No" to all these questions, then you are saying that Calvinism is the gospel.>>
You present a false dichotomy. The answer is "no" to all the questions, AND I am NOT saying that Calvinism is the gospel.
<<In your article "Gospel Atonement", you make "efficacious atonement" to be an essential doctrine that every regenerate person believes, and you claim that those who hold to a universal atonement are necessarily unsaved. Hence, you are saying that if a saved person forms any judgment at all about the extent of the atonement, he must embrace Particular Redemption.>>
When God saves a person, He gives that person a knowledge of the gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. Every saved person believes in the PERSON of Christ and in the WORK of Christ. The WORK of Christ includes THE Atonement - not any atonement, but THE Atonement. It is the very heart of the gospel. Without THE Atonement, there is no gospel. THE Atonement is an atonement that ACTUALLY ATONES. What a concept.
<<And would you not likewise say that if a saved person forms any judgment at all about the relation of faith to salvation, he must embrace Total Depravity and Irresistible Grace? Or, if a person forms any judgment at all about whose will was the deciding factor in whether he was saved or not, he must embrace Unconditional Election?>>
<<In short, your doctrine of "efficacious atonement" is merely another name for the five points of Calvinism.>>
No it is not.
<<To deny any of the five points is to deny the efficacious nature of the atonement. The five points are simply elaborations of the doctrine of efficacious atonement, demonstrating various particular aspects in which the atonement is efficacious.>>
The doctrines of grace are most certainly
interrelated and center around the atonement. But they
are not Calvinism.
<<It therefore does not seem to me to be a distortion of your views to describe them as saying that Calvinism is the gospel.>>
Well, by my responses thus far, I hope you see that it is a misrepresentation of our views to say that we believe that Calvinism is the gospel.
<<You wrote ...
"It is BASIC to believe that it is the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation."
... I would simply ask, why then does scripture command "all men everywhere" to repent, and promises salvation to them if they do? Why did Jesus say to the unbelieving Jews ...
"you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." (John 5:40)>>
There is no contradiction between what I said and what Scripture says.
<<Is it not clear from this passage that He is saying that their UNWILLINGNESS was the ONLY obstacle to their coming to Christ and receiving eternal life? It was their own depravity--not Christ's failure to redeem them--that kept them from receiving eternal life.
This indicates that the sacrifice of Christ is of SUFFICIENT VALUE to redeem all men without exception, that salvation is freely offered even to the reprobate, and that it is only their own depravity and unbelief that stands in the way of their receiving eternal life.
What you seem to overlook in your formulation of the atonement is that the atonement is of sufficient value to redeem MORE than those for whom Christ died, and that the Triune God has the PERFECT FREEDOM to forgive whomever He pleases. This is why men are commanded to call upon God for salvation (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13; etc.), and why the publican cried out "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" (Luke 18:13).>>
It's the old "sufficient for all but efficient for the elect" heresy. The atonement was sufficient and efficient only for those for whom it was intended. There is absolutely no sense in which Christ's atonement was sufficient for the reprobate.
<<The Biblical gospel calls the unsaved to come to Christ in faith and promises that God, in mercy, will grant salvation to them if they do. This does not make salvation depend on man's faith, but on God's sovereign mercy. The fact that God says that He will pity those who bow to His sovereignty does not make their faith meritorious nor give them a cause for boasting. Will the defeated enemy who is commanded to "Surrender or die!" boast of his good sense to surrender?>>
Whatever one believes makes the difference between salvation and damnation is what he boasts in.
<<Redemption is not some mechanical process whereby men are automatically justified by Christ's dying for them. Scripture repeatedly says that men must COME to Christ by FAITH in order to receive justification. God has the sovereign freedom to grant salvation to whomever He pleases. The cross was not meant to restrict God's freedom to show mercy, but rather to provide the freedom for God to show mercy without violating His justice.>>
God shows mercy only where His justice is satisfied. He does not show mercy at the expense of His justice.
I do not believe in eternal justification; I believe that a person is justified in time.
<<Granted, no one will come to Christ in faith unless God regenerates him, giving him the willingness to come. But this is a case of God giving him the one thing he needs to respond properly to the gospel so that he will receive the promised salvation>>
This is the "Reformed" version of salvation conditioned on the sinner: salvation is conditioned on faith, and God gives the faith to meet the condition.
<<Thus, the "BASICS of the gospel" do not require us to believe that the atonement is insufficient in value to redeem the reprobate, or that there was something more than the Jews' unwillingness that stood in the way of their receiving eternal life (John 5:40).>>
THE Atonement is at the very heart of the gospel. It is one of the very basics of the gospel. Universal atonement advocates do not believe that it is the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation. They boast in their own effort, because it is their own effort that they believe makes the difference.
<<Finally, you claim that it does not take "a formidable amount of education and training" to embrace these truths...
"We're talking about the BASICS of the gospel here. THE BASICS. The doctrines of the PERSON of Christ and the WORK of Christ. This is not an "advanced" understanding of biblical doctrine, as you claim. It does not require a "formidable amount of education and training" as you claim. It is a BASIC understanding of the GOSPEL."
So then, what about the new Christian who is bombarded with Arminian proof texts? How does he remain true to the gospel message he has been taught and still remain faithful to the scriptures?>>
Since the new Christian KNOWS that it is the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation, he will KNOW that the so-called "Arminian proof texts" do not teach universal atonement. He will know it BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT.
<<It seems there are only three alternatives...
He will ignore the scripture passages and cling to the gospel in spite of its apparent inconsistency with Scripture.>>
He will never believe that there is an "apparent inconsistency."
<<At regeneration, the Holy Spirit supplies him with all the theological insights, exegetical skills and logical consistency to deftly handle all the proof texts thrown at him.>>
There is no need for advanced skills. You make it way too complicated. Every regenerate person believes the gospel. Every regenerate person believes that it is the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation. So even though he might not be able to articulate everything, he knows that there are no universal atonement texts in Scripture.
<<He must receive this theological, exegetical and logical training before we can consider him regenerate.>>
Since the previous statement is not true, then this statement is not true.
<<Number 1 contradicts the fact that a true believer will submit his beliefs to God's holy Word. A true Christian will not ignore the scriptures. Number 2 says that we don't have to work at learning exegetical skills or at acquiring theological insights. Number 2 says that a Christian will be fully logically consistent from the moment of conversion. This is simply not supported by scripture. Number 3 says that it takes "a formidable amount of education and training" to embrace the gospel. --Something that is contradicted by scripture, and which, apparently, neither of us believes.>>
So let's take your reasoning and apply it to an example. Are all Jehovah's Witnesses unregenerate? If you say yes, then I would ask you, "Why do you make such a judgment? After all, Scripture does not support the idea that a Christian will be fully logically consistent from the moment of conversion." Get my point? There is CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE that is given to a person upon regeneration. This is a KNOWLEDGE of the GOSPEL.
<<Marc, I am a slave to God's word. In His Word, God does not preach to the unsaved "You must believe that salvation depends solely upon Christ dying for the individual". If He did, then I would joyfully embrace your teaching. Instead, He says "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13).>>
What does it mean to "call on the name of the Lord"? What does it mean to "call"? What does "name" mean? Who is the "Lord"? Do you judge everyone to be regenerate who comes up to you and says, "I am calling on the name of the Lord"? We need to know what he MEANS by that phrase. What if he believes that the "Lord" is Buddha? What if he equates "calling on the name of the Lord" with going to a seance and calling up the dead? Calling on the name of the Lord includes belief of the PERSON of Christ and the WORK of Christ.
<<In Scripture, Particular Redemption is typically taught to the believer, to increase his faith and confidence. However, it is not the message that was normally preached to the unsaved.>>
The WORK of Christ was ALWAYS preached to the unsaved. Without it, there is NO GOSPEL!
<<I will try to modify my response so that it addresses the concerns you raised. Again, it is not my purpose to misrepresent or offend you. My sincerest apologies to and Mr. Tavares if I have truly misrepresented you in any way!>>
I hope you have seen where you have misrepresented us, and I hope you will revise your article accordingly. I encourage you to read all the articles on our site before you claim to know what we believe and try to refute what we believe. There aren't that many articles, so it shouldn't be cumbersome. Especially read the series of sermons on the gospel (www.outsidethecamp.org/sermons.htm) and the article "Doctrinal Regeneration" at www.outsidethecamp.org/doctregen.htm . I also hope you read the entire article on "Gospel Atonement" (www.outsidethecamp.org/gospatone.htm) including the end of it where I show how people like you actually deny the true gospel when you say that Arminians believe the same gospel you do. I pray that God will open your eyes to the truth of the gospel and cause you to repent of your dead works and evil deeds!
To God alone be the glory,