Scripture’s Self Attesting Authority

When any historical text is read, thought needs to be granted to the context in which the author penned his piece. The original intentions of the author, especially if what is written places itself in an attested historical literary category, need to honored. Truthfulness in reading does no damage to an author’s intent and allows the life and scope of the literature to breath in its own organic way. To force owns own life experience and context into literature that never asks the reader to do so is an all too common literary tragedy, especially when it comes to scripture.
The organic breath of biblical literature comes to us in two primary contexts: The Old & New Testaments we’re penned with Ancient Near East & Greco Roman cultural witnesses. The testimony of the written word was addressed to the people of their time, in a way they spoke and would understand. It came in many literary forms such as historical narrative, poetry, lament, or apocalyptic in nature; it did so with the intent to span generations which required apologetic usefulness. Any sound apologetic communicates truthfully to a person in the language they know most amidst the cultural challenges of their day so that reason may have its way and truthful convictions may result. The Ancient Near East religions were known to Moses as well as the Greek philosophers to Paul; the controversial apologetic was the same in both their voices: absolute monotheism. No God but Yahweh. No salvation but through Christ. Scripture holds this conviction consistently, with knowledge of the other world-views, it is not ignorant of them.
The biblical text reveals the Maker of heaven and earth who is an author and he used real historical people in real historical cultures to reveal Himself to us in literary form. The amazing thing one finds in that same literature are eye-witness accounts of an alien Author who is sovereign over the affairs of mankind. This alien Author literally created a historical nation out of a group of slaves demonstrating His divine power in ways that mankind couldn’t forget. He made promises to these people of a coming suffering servant centuries before he came. He then brought the good news of His kingdom by His Son: all are slaves to sin, not just Israelites but gentiles too, and through faith in Christ are men set free from sin and death. He literally became flesh and walked among us, ate with us, died like us. But we will be lead to marvel and worship as we learn that He is not like us because He was before us and because death couldn’t keep Him: He is risen! His death purchased salvation, a full and eternal pardon for rebel sinners who come to believe in Him. His resurrection is man’s true hope for the new body to come in the next age.
The authority of scripture is self attesting. Any claim to ultimate authority must rely upon its own self-attestation otherwise another authority would be required to validate it. So when reading the Bible it is important to resist reading anachronistically into it. As has been historically observed, when allowing the text to speak for itself, a most holy Author is revealed in scripture that no other text has ever, or ever can equal.

The Love of God

The love of God is so pure, so rich, and so high. It is unmatched. The love for the untouchable, the slave, the sick and hurting is His love. He also loves truth, so much it shows passionately in sharp rebuke to those who are slack with it. Slack not with truth my soul; love and care for the lost and hurting; fervently fend off the wolves in the loving shepherding of His sheep. Grant me love, grace and truth of which You are so very full of. 

Running to Truth

What is the purpose in a man’s pursuit of truth? Ought he do so with passion or with no contention at all? The concession is given by nature that his own comprehension of truth does not limit the fullness which truth itself holds. Truth is. The man may grasp both pure and corrupted components but love of truth will determine his seeking it out. If there is no love for it then the little he grasps he takes for granted caring not if it is worthy of praise and his delight. It is only good for its usefulness to the man. But where there is love for truth there is a Person to be found who is holding all of it. In that searching there is delight and many a rebuke; the lies or deceptions once believed will be gladly shed when the light of truth shines upon the darkened areas of the mind.  Tension is no stranger to this journey as the man must seek out truth among many others who by and large disdain those who love truth seeking. There are also many enemies of truth even though it serves them in countless ways to enable their very warring against it…which also serves to their ultimate detriment. May this man never tire of the race he is running. Many have stopped running and need encouragement to begin again. The purpose is to run into the person of Christ Jesus who is truth. His hand is in every realm of knowledge man utilizes and His praise is due from every creature as a result. Run to the truth oh man and sing a new song unto the Lord of creation when you find Him in every arena of your searchings. Amen.

Experiential Testimony Serves Sound Theology 

Our spiritual experiences are important as is our grasp of Christian Theology. Both matter but the Word is preeminent. If our experiences are leading us away from a desire to extol the written word then those experiences cannot be of God. How blessed we are when our experience causes us to treasure the written word of Christ more and more. This truly is an existential move of the Spirit in the Christian life and such testimony ought warm every true believer’s heart. How sad it is to hear the off rhythm drum beat among so many who cry that it is a bad thing that doctrine divides. They are right in saying that it divides; even so much so that it can separate ones own soul from flesh and bone…but they error when they portray this division as some form of evil. No, Christ calls His own out from the world. The church is not to be like the world and her only guide is that bound and sealed inspired book which is full of nothing less than eternal life giving heavenly doctrine. 

The Offense of God’s Commands

What was God’s intention in giving the law? What is Christ’s intention in calling all to repentance? Both are intended to display the Godhead’s eternal characteristics and qualities in nature. We ought to see primarily God’s holiness displayed in these two realities, given by God’s graciousness to all creation.

The problem with us sinners is that in our fallen condition we are offended by these displays. Until our hearts are changed, we cannot please God, nor would we truly want to because by nature we hate him…hence our sending Him to the cross. To those who hate their sin, there is One who is able to save, who is worthy to take your place for your cosmic treason, and has done so already at the cross! Jesus Christ alone is able to save sinners, He is risen for our justification. Repent and believe in Him and your salvation will be secure!

Rightly Defining Calvinism; Restoring Biblical Consistency

I’m feeling frustrated by a fellow believer who opted to fuel the fire of dissension by persistently misrepresenting the reformed understanding of how one is saved in Christ. We really must put aside assumptions that would cause a ceasing of dialog with those we disagree with. We have nothing to fear in searching for truth in every issue and allowing for the honest examining of each other’s position…especially issues of extreme significance, like the gospel of salvation.

Below is a discussion I had on Facebook with another reformed brother, Edward Dalcour, in which I sook some clarity on a misrepresentation I perceived was coming from an “anti-Calvinist.”

“Me: I was called a troll recently in an online blog forum and was blocked. I had made a comment that I felt much of the American church needs to be evangelized. My testimony speaks to the ignorance of the doctrines of grace in much of the popular American church, and since I’ve been awakened to them I have been drinking from the fountain of grace that spills through them. My desire is to share these things with others in my non-denominational church in patience and gentleness praying for God’s mercy. This guy was pissed at the thought of this, thinking that the church isn’t the ground for reform but the world. Meh.

I recognize that the objector who blocked me suffers from anti-Calvinist syndrome but one of the questions he asked was this; “what was Calvin reforming, either A. The church. Or B. Roman Catholicism. I pointed to a definition of reformation that rediscovered the sovereignty of God in salvation (I think he blocked me because I refused to answer his fallacious either/or question) as the over arching light we should focus on.

In the end he basically asked me how I can follow a man who justified killing the opponents who disagreed with him theologically. I’ve never read Calvin and I haven’t even started my bible history classes yet but perhaps you could point to some good resources to read on this subject? I assume there is a valid concern to the manner in which Calvin may have operated in the civil realm…again, I’m assuming here and have never studied him.

I recognize that in most cases whenever we humans oppose a position the tendency is not to rightly represent your opponent when trying to refute it. Trying to learn…thoughts?

In response to me, Anthony linked to this awesome historian’s article that articulates a thorough narrative of Calvin’s achievements and motive; http://www.the-highway.com/theocracy_Horton.html

^^^^Highly recommend^^^^

Dr. Dalcour responded to my inquiry: Abram, I find three main problems with the anti-Calvinists. 1) many are historically challenged, thus assuming John Calvin “invented” the *doctrines of grace*–so they naturally attack the man, 2) many are theologically misinformed as to what the “doctrines of grace” (also known as Calvinism) actually teaches (typically, they assume inappropriately a hyper-Calvinistic view), and

3) many passages such as John 3:16 and 2 Pet. 3:9 are interpreted in light of tradition,.not exegetical confirmation; not considering the entire content of biblical revelation in which we find a positive affirmation of God’s sovereignty in His election “according to the kind intention of His will.”

Me: What is a proper definition of “hyper-Calvinism?”

Ed: A hyper-Calvinistic view is an unbiblical view and thus a crass misrepresentation of what Calvinism teaches. Hyper-Calvinism asserts in essence, God dragging a person kicking and screaming (against their will) unto salvation or damnation.”

***end of Facebook portion of discussion***

I myself, coming from a non-denominational background, with no known traditions to share with my reformed brothers, have come to share in the doctrines of grace through some of their expositions of scripture available online. I am not undertaking to stir controversy with those who haven’t embraced calvinism in my fellowship, nor am I looking to leave, but I am praying that God spreads the joy and fullness of this blessed knowledge to my brothers and sisters should He will it in His timing.

I’ve become convinced that many are just ignorant, as I was ignorant, (and therefor unduly burdened by a works mentality) of the sustaining spiritual food supply made available through the systematic exposition of the bible’s position on God’s freedom in salvation and the resulting comfort provided in the eternal assurance this understanding brings. My hope is that God gives me the grace to share the awesome truth of His grace with my fellowship and that His mercy spreads like wildfire.

We ought to pray for grace…for the long-suffering love required to teach what the bible teaches in a spirit of gentleness. The challenge is with those who haven’t learned to avoid the fallacious worldview which assumes Calvinism to be a disease in the church. We need grace to articulate in love the reality that the doctrines of Grace (Calvinism) truly serve as an antibiotic that restores biblical consistency.

This post title isn’t meant to say that only Calvinists can restore biblical literacy to the church; I acknowledge that God uses all His children in all the differing shapes of clay we are made of. My aim is in rightly representing a position which throughout my lifelong experience in church has been utterly misrepresented. To that end, this is the most accurate definition I’ve come to thus far: Calvinism isn’t the following of a man but a systematic rediscovery of the true teaching of scripture regarding the sovereignty of God over salvation.