Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Protestant Deformation

... or how Scripture Alone mutilates Scripture:

John 3:16 For God so hated the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


Tony-Allen said...

(Part 1/3)

Lvka, I had already responded to this assertion on my own blog, but I feel I should probably respond to it here as well.

First, I think it's important to inform your readers that Jonathan Edwards' sermon has nothing to do with sola scriptura. The topic here is not scripture and its importance (in regards to traditions and other ecclesial matters) but rather salvation and grace. The name of the sermon is "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," not "Scripture in the Hands of Angry Sinners."

Now then, you are responding to the overall harsh tone that Edwards writes his sermon. However, you have not taken quotes from the sermon to present to your readers for your case. Instead, you present a distortion of John 3:16 which, I'm sorry to say, is simply a strawman of Edwards' overall point. Such a statement is not even found in the sermon. Although I was already familiar with it, I double checked if it was by entering "hated" using Firefox's "find" function, and could not find it on the web page. Indeed, nowhere does Edwards make such a statement, nor do I think he would distort the Word of God in such a fashion.

I'd like to review a brief section of the sermon that I quoted on my blog - the quotation which drew your attention I'm sure.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire...there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up.

Horrifying words, to be sure. Yet what is being said here? That just as God is preparing judgment for the wicked, so is God permitting the wicked to live as long as the righteous. "For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." [Matt 5:45] God also permits this time for repentance and faith. "Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" [Rom 2:4] Before I embraced Christ, it was God's justice that held me over the mouth of hell; it was God's love that stayed His hand.

Tony-Allen said...

(Part 2/3)

Remember, this sermon is addressed not to believers but unbelievers. This is why, at one point in the sermon, Edwards says, "O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in," following some time later with this explanation:

Whose wrath it is: it is the wrath of the infinite God. If it were only the wrath of man, though it were of the most potent prince, it would be comparatively little to be regarded...The wrath of the great King of kings, is as much more terrible than theirs, as his majesty is greater.

God's wrath against unrighteousness is written of well throughout scripture, and what's more there is no escaping it. Shortly after this quotation Edwards will turn to the passage in Luke: "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!" [Luke 12:4-5] Paul warned the Roman believers: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." [Rom 1:18] He will go on to say "but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury." [Rom 2:8] He even clarifies that this is for both Jew and Gentile alike: "For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law." [Rom 2:12] Is any one righteous, then? Is there anyone safe outside of God? Paul states in the negative: "What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.'" [Rom 3:9-11]

Tony-Allen said...

(Part 3/3)

How then, do we escape this horrible wrath? Edwards, whom we are said to be arguing that God hates the world, explains the sufficiency of God's love.

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield, where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?

He will go on to say: "And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now hearken to the loud calls of God's word and providence." In fact, the whole point of the sermon is made visibly clear at the very end:

Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation. Let every one fly out of Sodom: "Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed."

What Edwards does in his sermon is present the reality of the situation. What he has done is show the spiritually dying that they are, indeed, dying. It is similar to a doctor laying out the problems to a cancer patient in denial, warning him how what is going on inside him is killing him and leading him to certain death unless he acts now. Edwards tells those who are perishing to seek after He who gives life after death.

Does God hate the world? No, certainly not in a human sense. However, God, who is righteous, cannot coexist with unrighteousness. Indeed, we are enemies of God while we live in unrighteousness - but God does not permit us to unknowingly remain enemies. This is why the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, dying on a cross and resurrecting to ascend and take His place beside the Father. Our Lord's sheep know His voice, and follow Him, and He leads them out to pasture and eternal life. These are not my words, but those of the apostle Paul: "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life." [Rom 5:10]

Therefore, I must reiterate that to say Edwards' point is "God hates the world" is a misunderstanding of his preaching. Edwards is not telling the world that they are hated, but the perishing that they are, in fact, perishing. That is not deformation - it is gospel.

Lvka said...

I'm just glad to see that you're interpreting it this way, that's all.. :-)

The God that holds you over the pit of hell.. abhors you. -- Seems pretty clear to me.. (What happened to hate the sin, love the sinner ?)

Later on he goes to identify God with the devil, seemingly ascribing Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:4-5 to the former, rather than to the later..

In another place he compares God's justice with man's anger, fury, and wrath, thereby completely forgetting James 1:20. Etc. -- The entire sermon is riddled with such theological mistakes.

Tony-Allen said...

What is the context of "abhors you"?

The God that holds you over the pit of hell...abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked...You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince... [emphasis mine]

God's abhoration is, again, against the unrighteousness which perishing mankind produces. It is mankind which provokes and offends God with their unrighteousness. Again, refer back to the passages from Paul's writings (which you did not even address). Paul identifies that we are enemies to God before we embrace Christ, and that God's wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. Any comparison he might make to mankind's anger being the anger of God is only in metaphor (as scripture often does) and not in a literal sense.

Furthermore, there is no distortion with Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:4-5. I can't even find Matthew 10:20 in the sermon. With Luke 12:4-5, Edwards is talking about God, as God is indeed the subject. Only God has such power described therein.

Lvka said...

We are His enemies: not the other way around.

The one who desires to destroy both body and soul in the Gehenna of fire is the devil, who from the beginning was a liar and a murderer of men (John 8:44). He reigns in death through sin, brought on by temptation (Romans 5-8; 1 Corinthians 15; James 1:15; Wisdom 1:13, 2:23-24).

Tony-Allen said...

You are correct that we are God's enemies, not the other way around. Jonathan Edwards would agree with that as well. What you've done is take his emphasis on God's judgment (which, as I showed before, is in scripture) and overlooked the context of what he says, especially in his closing remarks.

In regards to Luke 12:4-5, one cannot see the context as being the devil. The verses before are speaking about judgment, as do the verses afterward. All of this has to do with God and His judgment. What you've done is play scriptural acrobatics, jumping to verses completely unrelated to this passage while ignoring the full context of what Christ is speaking.

In any case, I was wondering if you might address two key issues I brought up: 1) Edwards' sermon has nothing to do with sola scriptura, therefore your assertion that this has to do with it is false; 2) you haven't presented any real study of what Edwards says in his sermon, you've simply continued to present a strawman.

Lvka said...

Neither Matthew 10 nor Luke 12 treat the subject of God's Judgement.. nor does their context lead us to conclude that those two or three verses speak about God.. (What are you talking about?)

Edwards has everything to do with Sola Scriptura, since that's his rule of approaching the biblical text and interpreting it.. and the end-result can be seen in this sermon.

Tony-Allen said...

If you believe Luke 12:4-5 (because, again, I couldn't find Matt 10 in the sermon) does not talk about God or His judgment, then exegete the section of the chapter and prove it. I made reference to the passages before and after it, explained why it could only be God speaking from the context of the passage, and earlier quoted the passage entire. Please do so likewise. Simply repeating an argument is not an argument.

To say that sola scriptura is Edwards' rule of approaching biblical text and interpreting it is a stretch between how the doctrine mutilates scripture. Edwards has spoken of judgment exactly as it is spoken of in scripture, and has not gone beyond it. I showed that in my opening posts, which, again, you have not even attempted to address.

Since I posted the original sermon on my blog, we have seen two sides: one side has cited full quotations of Edwards' sermon and kept them in context, and has defended them with scripture quoted in context; the other side has presented a strawman and refused to even pretend to give a serious study of Edwards' sermon to prove their point. One cannot see your viewpoint on Edwards' sermon without ignoring large portions of it and going at it with preconceived notions.

Lvka said...

Seems that Chrysostom agrees with you, making a connection to Matthew 25, containing the Dreaded Judgment. (I guess this is one of those places, like the identity of "Samuel" in 1 Samuel 28).





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