War Room: Dishonouring God — a review by John Ellis (from ADayInHisCourt)

Originally posted on A Cry For Justice:

When John Ellis watched War Room, he almost walked out of the cinema when he saw how it depicted spouse abuse. Here are some excerpts from his review of the movie. We hope you read his whole review War Room: Dishonoring God, but be aware that it is fairly long and the power punches which we are quoting below come near the end of Ellis’s review.

Ellis’s review has a ‘reblog’ icon at its end, so we trust that he does not mind us picking out the following quotes.

With its theology, War Room weaves together three serious errors: Manichaeism, name it/claim it, and the belief that evil/sin resides outside of a person and not within. Manichaeism, the dualistic and odd heresy that claims there is a cosmic struggle between the equal forces of good (the spiritual world of light) and evil (the material world of, well, material and darkness), is a kissing cousin of Gnosticism. It’s…

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Our Best Works (Witsius)

Originally posted on The Reformed Reader:

Conciliatory or Irenical Animadversions on the Controversies Agitated in Britain I’ve been enjoying Herman Witsius’ discussion of antinomianism and neonomianism in Britain during the 17th century.  The full title is a mouthful: Conciliatory or Irenical Animadversions on the Controversies Agitated in Britain.  Below is a section near the end where Witsius talks about a believer’s good works and why they cannot be part of or count in our justification:

When Paul testifies in Philippians 3:8 that he “counts all things but loss and dung, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, and that he might gain Christ” by these words he excludes, as to justification before God, all works, whether previous to faith, or following it (as is excellently observed by Beza). For the elucidation of which point, it is proper to make the following remarks:
1. The graces of the sanctifying Spirit flow clear and pure from their fountain.
2. But running through the channels…

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…Without Our Working (Luther)

Originally posted on The Reformed Reader:

Galatians: Crossway Classic Commentaries Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians is indeed one of the finest expositions of this epistle of Paul as well as one of the finest discussions of justification through faith alone by grace alone in Christ alone.  Luther’s introduction is also a gold mine.  In it, he talks about active righteousness (our attempts at obedience) and passive righteousness (receiving righteousness as a gift).  Here are a few excerpts:

…Human weakness and misery is so great that in the terrors of conscience and danger of death we see nothing but our works, our unworthiness, and the law. And when we are shown our sin, in time we remember the evil of our past life. Then the poor sinner groans with great anguish of spirit and thinks, “Alas, what a dreadful life I have lived! Would to God I might live longer; then I would amend my life.” Thus human reason cannot restrain…

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Why I Refuse to See War Room

Originally posted on anewfreelife:

Sometimes people look at me sideways when I share how prayer has literally saved my life, healed my body, and brought me necessities of life.  I have a lot of stories of times God has shown up in response to prayer and made His presence evident.  He has performed countless miracles in my worthless life.  I BELIEVE in the power of prayer!  But, I won’t be watching the Kendrick Brothers’ film War Room.

The loss of my $7 is not going to even make a ripple effect in the millions of dollars their films have grossed, and I know that.  (Their previous four films brought in a combined $78 million in the domestic box office!)  But, I won’t throw my measly $7 away like that anyway, not even to satisfy my curiosity…….what is the strange obsession this country’s church goers have with these movies?

It’s easy to get…

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Tullian Tchividjian Resigns & The Age of the Unknowable Pastor

Originally posted on THE PROTEST! STATION:

Today I write with a heavy heart. I’m annoyed. I’m angry. And this article will be more of a rant as I vent through anger. My family and I are members at Coral Ridge Presbyterian church where the senior pastor is Tullian Tchividjian. We have many elders. A few weeks ago, the elders told the church that Pastor Tullian was going to take a sabbatical for some time in order to tend to family issues. They assured the church that this wasn’t a matter of disqualification, and they’d keep us updated. Today was that update. Apparently, Paul Tripp flew down to counsel Tullian and his wife, and Paul walked away from it finding  no reason to disqualify Pastor Tullian from the preaching ministry. However, a few days later, Tullian resigned, disclosing that he had in fact had an extramarital relationship. Needless to say, we are in a fog. It was…

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Machen – Can We Live Up to the Golden Rule?

Originally posted on Covenant Nurture:

j_gresham_machenSo it is with the whole of the discourse. The new law of the Sermon on the Mount, in itself, can only produce despair. Strange indeed is the complacency with which modern men can say that the Golden Rule and the high ethical principles of Jesus are all that they need. In reality, if the requirements for entrance into the Kingdom of God are what Jesus declares them to be, we are all undone; we have not even attained to the external righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, and how shall we attain to that righteousness of the heart which Jesus demands ? The Sermon on the Mount, rightly interpreted, then, makes man a seeker after some divine means of salvation by which entrance into the Kingdom can be obtained. Even Moses was too high for us; but before this higher law of Jesus who shall stand without being condemned?…

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Witsius – Under Probation, God Gave Man a Right to the Reward

Herman_Witsius_Economy_of_the_CovenantsXXV. Such a perfect observance of the laws of the covenant, up to the period which God had fixed for probation, had given man a right to the reward. Not from any intrinsic proportion of the work to the reward, as the grosser Papists proudly boast; but from God’s covenant and engagement, which was no ways unbecoming him to enter into. Nor had man, before the consummation of his obedience, even in the state of innocence, a right to life. He was only in a state of acquiring a right, which would at length be actually acquired, when he could say, I could have fulfilled the conditions of the covenant, I have constantly and perfectly done what was commanded; now I claim and expect that thou, my God, wilt grant the promised happiness.

XXVI. How absurdly again do the Papists assert, that Adam, as he came from the hands of his Creator, had a right, as the adopted Son of God, to supernatural happiness, as to his paternal inheritance; which, according to Bellarmine, de Justificat. l. v. 17. “is due to the adopted Son of God, in right of adoption, previous to all good works.” But this is truly a preposterous way of reasoning. For the right of adoption belongs to the covenant of grace in Christ Jesus: “the adoption of children is by Jesus Christ,” Eph. 1:5. Besides, was this opinion true, good works could not be required, as the condition of acquiring a right to eternal life; but could only serve to prevent the forfeiture of the right of a son: by this means, the whole design of the covenant of works, and all the righteousness which is by the law, are quite destroyed. In fine, what can be more absurd, than the trifling manner in which these sophisters talk of the grace of adoption, as giving Adam a right to enter upon an heavenly inheritance, in a legal covenant: when, on the other hand, they so stiffly contend for the merits of works, under a covenant of grace. It is only there (to wit, under the covenant of grace) that we are to apply the above sentiment, that the inheritance is due to an adopted Son of God, in right of adoption, previous to all good works.

—Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants between God and Man: Comprehending a Complete Body of Divinity, trans. William Crookshank, vol. 1 (London: T. Tegg & Son, 1837), vol. 1. pp. 70-71.

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What’s Wrong With Biblical Patriarchy

Originally posted on A Daughter of the Reformation:

As a homeschooling family, we come in contact with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs. One of the groups that is fairly common within the homeschooling community is the modern patriarchy movement, or as they refer to it “Biblical Patriarchy.” Some of the big names in this group include, R.C. Sproul, Jr., Doug Phillips of Vision Forum, and Doug Wilson of Credenda Agenda magazine. R.C. Sproul, Jr. and Doug Phillips have put together a list of tenets to help define Biblical Patriarchy. They define the reason for the movement this way:

We emphasize the importance of biblical patriarchy, not because it is greater than other doctrines, but because it is being actively attacked by unbelievers and professing Christians alike. Egalitarian feminism is a false ideology that has bred false doctrine in the church and seduced many believers. In conscious opposition to feminism, egalitarianism, and the…

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Witsius – God Promised Adam Something Greater

Witsius_HermanVIII. Once more, 4thly, It was entirely agreeable, that God should promise Adam by covenant something greater and better, to be obtained after finishing his course of obedience, than what he was already possessed of. What kind of covenant would it have been, to have added no reward to his obedience, and his faithful compliance with the conditions of the covenant, but only a continuation of those blessings which he actually enjoyed already, and which it was not becoming God to refuse to man, whom he had created? Now, Adam enjoyed in Paradise all imaginable natural and animal happiness, as it is called. A greater, therefore, and a more exalted felicity still awaited him; in the fruition of which, he would most plainly see, that “in keeping the divine commands, there is עקב רב, μισθαποδοσιαν μεγαλην, great reward,” Ps. 19:11. Let none object the case of the angels, to whom, he may pretend, nothing was promised by God, but the continuance of that happy state in which they were created. We are here to keep to the apostle’s advice, Col. 2:18. “not to intrude into those things we have not seen.” Who shall declare unto us those things which are not revealed concerning the angels? But, if we may form probable conjectures, it appears to me very likely, that some superior degree of happiness was conferred on the angels, after they were actually confirmed, and something more excellent than that in which they were at first created: as the joy of the angels received a considerable addition, upon beholding the divine perfections, so resplendent in the illustrious work of redemption; and at the consummation of all things, the happiness of all the elect, both angels and men, will be complete; when Christ’s whole body shall appear glorious, and God be glorified and admired in all his saints.

Witsius- Economy of the Covenants, pp. 75-6, Vol. 1

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God Ordains Whatsoever Comes to Pass – Robert Shaw on WCF 3:1-2

Westminster_Confession_of_FaithTaken from The Reformed Faith: An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith by Robert Shaw

Chapter III. Of God’s Eternal Decree

Section I.–God from all eternity did by the most and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

Section II.–Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions; yet hath he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future, as that which would come to pass, upon such conditions.


By the decree of God is meant his purpose or determination with respect to future things; or, more fully, his determinate counsel, whereby, from all eternity, he foreordained whatever he should do, or would permit to be done, in time.

This subject is one of the most abstruse and intricate in theology, and it has been the fruitful source of a variety of controversies in the Christian Church. But whatever diversity of opinion may obtain respecting the details of the doctrine, “no man will deny that there are divine decrees, who believes that God is an intelligent being, and considers what this character implies. An intelligent being is one who knows and judges, who purposes ends and devises means, who acts from design, conceives a plan, and then proceeds to execute it. Fortune was worshipped as a goddess for the ancient heathens, and was represented as blind, to signify that she was guided by no faced rule, and distributed her favours at random. Surely no person of common sense, not to say piety, will impute procedure so irrational to the Lord of universal nature. As he knew all things which his power could accomplish, there were, undoubtedly, reasons which determined him to do one thing, and not to do another; and his choice, which was founded upon those reasons, was his decree.”

That God must have decreed all future things, is a conclusion which necessarily flows from his foreknowledge, independence, and immutability. “The foreknowledge of God will necessarily infer a decree, for God could not foreknow that things would be, unless he had decreed they should be; and that because things would not be future, unless he had decreed they should be.” If God be an independent being, all creatures must have an entire dependence upon him; but this dependence proves undeniably that all their acts must be regulated by his sovereign will. If God be of one mind, which none can change, he must have unalterably fixed everything in his purpose which he effects in his providence.

This doctrine is plainly revealed in the Scriptures. They speak of God’s foreknowledge, his purpose, his will, the determinate counsel of his will, and his predestination. “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate.” – Rom. viii. 29. “He hath made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself:” “He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”–Eph. i. 9, 11. ” Christ,” says an apostle, “was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.”–Acts ii. 23.

“The decrees of God relate to all future things, without exception; whatever is done in time was foreordained before the beginning of time. His purpose was concerned with everything, whether great or small, whether good or evil; although, in reference to the latter, it may be necessary to distinguish between appointment and permission. It was concerned with things necessary, free, and contingent; with the movements of matter, which are necessary; with the volitions and actions of intelligent creatures, which are free; and with such things as we call accidents, because they take place undesignedly on our part, and without any cause which we could discover. It was concerned about our life and our death; about our state in time and our state in eternity. In short, the decrees of God are as comprehensive as his government, which extends to all creatures, and to all events.”

The decrees of God are free. He was not impelled to decree from any exigency of the divine nature; this would be to deny his self-sufficiency. Neither was he under any external constraint; this would be destructive of his independence. His decrees, therefore, must be the sovereign and free act of his will. By this it is not meant to insinuate that they are arbitrary decisions; but merely that, in making his decrees, he was under no control, and acted according to his own sovereignty.

The decrees of God are most wise. They are called “the counsel of his will,” to show that, though his will be free, yet he always acts in a manner consummately wise. He needs not to deliberate, or take counsel with others, but all his decrees are the result of unerring wisdom. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” “Wisdom is discovered in the selection of the most proper ends, and of the fittest means of accomplishing them. That this character belongs to the decrees of God is evident from what we know of them. They are disclosed to us by their execution; and every proof of wisdom in the works of God is a proof of the wisdom of the plan in conformity to which they are performed.”

The decrees of God are eternal. This our Confession explicitly affirms:–”God, from all eternity, did ordain whatsoever comes to pass.” This is asserted in opposition to the Socinians, who hold that some, at least, of the decrees of God are temporary. Those decrees which relate to things dependent on the free agency of man, they maintain, are made in time. But what saith the Scripture? It expressly declares, that everything which has happened, and everything which is to happen, was known to God from everlasting. “Known unto God are all his works, from the beginning of the world.”–Acts xv. 18. To suppose any of the divine decrees to be made in time, is to suppose the knowledge of the Deity to be limited. If from eternity he knew all things that come to pass, then from eternity he must have ordained them; for if they had not been determined upon, they could not have been foreknown as certain.

The decrees of God are absolute and unconditional. He has not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future; and the execution of his decrees is not suspended upon any condition which may, or may not be performed. This is the explicit doctrine of our Confession, and it is this principle which chiefly distinguishes Calvinists from Arminians, who maintain that God’s decrees are not absolute but conditional.

“It is granted, that some of the decrees of God are conditional, in this sense, that something is supposed to go before the event which is the object of the decree, and that, this order being established, the one will not take place without the other. He decreed, for example, to save Paul and the companions of his voyage to Italy; but he decreed to save them only on condition that the sailors should remain in the ship.–Acts xxvii. He has decreed to save many from the wrath to come; but he has decreed to save them only if they believe in Christ, and turn by him from the error of their ways. But these decrees are conditional only in appearance. They merely state the order in which the events should be accomplished; they establish a connection between the means and the end, but do not leave the means uncertain. When God decreed to save Paul and his companions, he decreed that the sailors should be prevented from leaving the ship; and accordingly gave Paul previous notice of the preservation of every person on board. When he decreed to save those who should believe, he decreed to give them faith; and, accordingly, we are informed, that those whom he predestinated he also calls into the fellowship of his Son.–Rom. viii. 30. That any decree is conditional in the sense” of Arminians, “that it depends upon the will of man, of which he is sovereign master, so that he may will or not will as he pleases, – we deny. “My counsel’, says God, “shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.’–Isa. xlvi. 10. But he could not speak so, if his counsel depended upon a condition which might not be performed.” Conditional decrees are inconsistent with the infinite wisdom of God, and are in men the effects of weakness. They are also inconsistent with the independence of God, making them to depend upon the free will or agency of his creatures. The accomplishment of them, too, would be altogether uncertain; but the Scripture assures us, that “the counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, and the thoughts of his heart to all generations.”–Ps. xxiii. 11. All his purposes are unalterably determined, and their execution infallibly certain. “There are many devices in a man’s heart,” which he is unable to accomplish, “nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”–Prov. xix. 21.

It has been often objected to the doctrine respecting the divine decrees taught in our Confession, that it represents God as the author of sin. But the Confession expressly guards against this inference, by declaring that God has so ordained whatsoever comes to pass as that he is not thereby the author of sin. The decree of God is either effective or permissive. His effective decree respects all the good that comes to pass; his permissive decree respects the evi1 that is in sinful actions. We must also distinguish betwixt an action purely as such, and the sinfulness of the action. The decree of God is effective with respect to the action abstractly considered; it is permissive with respect to the sinfulness of the action as a moral evil.

It has also been objected, that if God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, human liberty is taken away. To this it has been commonly replied, that it is sufficient to human liberty, that a man acts without any constraint, and according to his own free choice; that the divine decree is extrinsic to the human mind; and, while it secures the futurition of events, it leaves rational agents to act as freely as if there had been no decree. This answer, it must be acknowledged, merely amounts to an assertion that, notwithstanding the decree of God, man retains his liberty of action. We still wish to know how the divine pre-ordination of the event is consistent with human liberty. “Upon such a subject,” says Dr Dick, “no man should be ashamed to acknowledge his ignorance. We are not required to reconcile the divine decrees and human liberty. It is enough to know that God has decreed all things which come to pass, and that men are answerable for their actions. Of both these truths we are assured by the Scriptures; and the latter is confirmed by the testimony of conscience. We feel that, although not independent upon God, we are free; so that we excuse ourselves when we have done our duty, and accuse ourselves when we have neglected it. Sentiments of approbation and disapprobation, in reference to our own conduct or that of other men, would have no existence in our minds if we believed that men are necessary agents. But the tie which connects the divine decrees and human liberty is invisible. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for us; it is high, we cannot attain unto it.'”–Ps. cxxxix. 6.

It may be further observed, that, although God has unchangeably ordained whatsoever comes to pass, yet this does not take away the contingency of second causes, either in themselves or as to us. Nothing can be more contingent than the decision of the lot, – yet “the lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.”–Prov. xvi. 33.

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