Dear Mr. Codling:
Thank you for your letter of February 18, 1997. I will attempt to address the concerns you brought up regarding my article, "Christ Crucified: God's Love Manifested," that appeared in the first issue of Outside the Camp. The paragraph that concerns you was written as follows:
"This ties right in with the lie of the well-meant offer, because the advocates of universal love say that the way God manifests His love toward all men without exception is that He sincerely desires their salvation and offers salvation out of love for them. If you read any of the Marrow Men such as Thomas Boston or the Erskines, you will see that universal love and the well-meant offer leads directly to universal atonement. These men (and many after them) espoused the idea that 'Christ was dead for all men' and that Christ was the 'official savior of all men.'"
I continue to maintain that the view that Christ "was dead for all men" and "was the official savior of all men" leads directly to universal atonement. The example of the "official doctor" makes it even more clear that the view of Boston (and, I presume, your view) leads directly to universal atonement. This is the hypothetical universalism of Amyraldianism -- Christ is there for everyone in case everyone believes. The analogy of the doctor who is the official doctor of the whole town who would heal everyone in the whole town if only they would come to him is very blatantly Amyraldian. The true gospel "doctor" analogy would be of a doctor who came to heal a select number of people in the town and no more. He does not desire to heal anyone else, and he is not the "official doctor" of those he does not plan to heal. There are no hypothetical "ifs." It is certain that the doctor came to heal a certain number of people, and he does not offer to heal anyone else.
I know that Boston put forth particular redemption in much of his writings. But this is the deception of the lost Calvinist -- truth mixed with enough error as to lead people to an Arminian understanding of God and men. So what if Boston put forth particular redemption if what he said elsewhere leads to universal redemption? Boston's Amyraldian views of the well-meant offer and "official Savior" lead directly to universal redemption. And yes, I have read the Erskines.
Regarding your "initial impression" that Outside the Camp falls into the category of those who "add to the gospel the requirement of understanding of reformed truth for salvation," I want to make it very clear that we in no way believe that an understanding of truth is a prerequisite for salvation. If that's what you meant, then you were accusing us of the wickedness of salvation by works. A man must believe nothing as a prerequisite to salvation. We are NOT adding to the gospel a requirement. May that never be. And may you repent of harboring that accusation in your heart. If we believed that, then we would not be saved. What we do believe is that a truly regenerate man will believe the gospel, which includes certain doctrines. Even new Christians know that the salvation had nothing to do with what they did and had everything to do with what God did.
I trust that this has clarified your understanding of our position. If you continue to hold to the heresy of Thomas Boston and continue to accuse us of adding requirements to the gospel, then by all means, request that we remove you from the mailing list.
Marc D. Carpenter
Dear Mr. Codling,
Do you believe that Roman Catholics and Mormons are saved? If not, why not? If so, why so? Maybe I should have asked these right at the start so as to avoid getting into a discussion with a liberal, and you could have gone your merry apostate way and not heard from me again. You believe Arminians are saved because "some simply don't think as clearly as others." This would apply to Roman Catholics and Mormons, those poor souls who just don't think clearly. You believe Arminians are saved because "God has not given them the same depth of insight." Again, Roman Catholics and Mormons would fit here. "Some know Christ in their hearts, but never get it right in their heads." Oh, yes, those believing Roman Catholics and Mormons have that heart knowledge but not that head knowledge, eh? Your unscriptural dichotomy between heart and head betrays you.
So, Mr. Codling, what is revealed to a saved sinner's heart upon regeneration? NOTHING??? You make it seem that God saves someone and leaves him to believe in something other than that he was saved by grace and that Christ's righteousness is imputed to him.
Let me give you a scenario. John Doe says he believes in Jesus Christ. When pressed further, he says that he believes that Jesus Christ was a German Shepherd who was fully dog and fully God, and he died on the cross for the sins of his people. Would you say that John Doe is a Christian? Again, if not, why not? After all, "he probably knows Christ in his heart, but he just has a few things mixed up in his Christology in his head, but we shouldn't hold that against him. He just doesn't think clearly. God hasn't given him the same depth of insight as you and I." And then if, when he is confronted with the truth of Scripture that Jesus was man and God and was not a dog, he rejects that truth of Scripture, what would you conclude? To be consistent, you would have to say that you could not count him as an unbeliever.
So it is with the Arminian, Roman Catholic, and Mormon. They all say they believe in God and Jesus. Does this mean that they are Christians? Of course not. All three do not believe in the God and Christ of the Bible.
So, John Wesley was saved, eh? John Wesley, who spoke out vehemently against gospel truth? John Wesley, who was a friend of the Roman Catholic "church"? This John Wesley? Oh, yeah, that's right -- he had a heart knowledge but not a head knowledge. He was not given the same depth of insight. He wasn't thinking very clearly. Same with the Pope, that poor "lesser-skilled painter."
Regarding Boston and others like him who were double-tongued: you say that I'm not using good logic. Well, here's an eensy-beensy little logic lesson for you:
Suppose A is true and B is false and is contradictory to A. Then we have these kinds of people:
1. John says that A is true and B is false.
2. Bob says that A is false and B is true.
3. Jim says that A is false and B is false.
4. Jack says that A is true and B is true.
Who is telling the truth? Of course, it is only John who is telling the truth. But wait, you say -- doesn't the fact that Jack said that A is true mean that Jack is telling the truth? No, because he also says that B is true. Thus he is telling a falsehood, even though part of it is true. This is where those like Thomas Boston and Charles Spurgeon fit. Boston would say that limited atonement is true and hypothetical universalism is also true. Thus he is telling a falsehood. Spurgeon would say that limited atonement is true and the view that God desires the salvation of everyone is also true. Thus he is telling a falsehood. Get it? Or do you just not think as clearly as others or not have the same depth of insight?
"We need to remember that salvation is a matter of a heart turned to Christ, not a mind grasping his truths." Whoah. Do you really believe that? NO TRUTHS NEED TO BE GRASPED BY THE MIND? And you are a professing Christian -- and a minister at that? You can be saved and NOT BELIEVE ANYTHING?? What kind of religion are you promoting, anyway? You've got big problems, Mr. Codling.
Regarding the well-meant gospel offer: John 6:37 does not say or even imply that God desires to save everyone. Try again. Keep trying. You'll never find a single passage of Scripture that states that God wants to save all individuals, head for head. I have no problem proclaiming the gospel to all. But a gospel that says that God wants to save everyone is no gospel at all. The gospel is a promise of salvation to the elect based upon the imputed righteousness of Christ. It is not an offer.
You say that you are a lover of truth. But why? You don't even believe that it is the TRUTH that sets men free! You believe that someone can have his heart turned to Christ without grasping the TRUTH! You are in a sorry state, Mr. Codling.
Marc D. Carpenter
Dear Mr. Codling:
You said that Jesus Christ is revealed to a sinner's heart. How is Jesus Christ revealed? Must there be knowledge of the person and work of Christ in a revelation of Jesus Christ, or is it just a mystical or emotional experience?
You said that the Bible does not say, "believe in salvation by grace through faith & you will be saved" but says "believe in Christ, and you will be saved." What is it to believe in Christ?
You said that the Mormon does not know Christ because he believes in a "Christ" who is separated from the Father, a different God. But wait -- the Bible does not say, "believe that Christ is not separated from the Father and that the Father is the true God"; it only says, "believe in Christ, and you will be saved." The Mormon, like the Arminian, claims to believe in Christ. So what if the other "finer points" of theology are missing! Is it not the simple "believe in Christ" that we are to hold to?
You said that my response to your comments on John 6:37 was dishonest. In your last letter, here's what you said: "The well meant gospel offer is set out for us in the Bible in John 6:37, to cite just one passage." John Gerstner said this about what the well-meant offer is: "The 'well-meant offer' is understood, by both sides, to include the notion that God intends and desires the salvation of reprobates when the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached to everyone who hears with his ears or reads with his eyes" (Foreword to Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel by David Engelsma, italics in original). In my reply to you, I said this: "John 6:37 does not say or even imply that God desires to save everyone." I was using the standard, commonly accepted definition of the well-meant offer. If you meant something other than the well-meant offer, then don't use the phrase. You are in sin for falsely accusing me.
You said, "The Truth that sets men free is Jesus Christ, not doctrine about Christ." You can never ever separate Jesus from His doctrine. If you do not have the doctrine of Christ, you do not have Christ. "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Romans 10:2 shows that a zeal for God is not enough -- there must be knowledge. And what, Mr. Codling, will you do about 2 John 9? "WHOSOEVER TRANSGRESSETH, AND ABIDETH NOT IN THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, HATH NOT GOD. HE THAT ABIDETH IN THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, HE HATH THE FATHER AND THE SON."
You said that it appears that I am a believer in my doctrine rather than in Christ. I have no doctrine of my own; thus I do not believe in my doctrine. I believe in and abide in the doctrine of Christ, which is the same as believing in Christ. If you believe that one who does not abide in the doctrine of Christ is saved, then you wickedly go against the plain teaching of Scripture. God calls you to believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone (yes, this does mean intellectual, rational, doctrinal belief) in the true gospel -- salvation based on the imputed righteousness of Christ. This call works in two ways; it could be a savour of life unto life if you are one of the elect, and it could be a savour of death unto death if you are one of the reprobate. Either way, God gets the glory. Repent of believing that someone is saved who believes that salvation or any part of it is conditioned on the sinner. For when you say that you are this man's brother, you are saying that you and this man have the same father, which is the Devil. Believe in the true gospel today. I hope to see you in glory.
Marc D. Carpenter
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