Friday, February 21, 2014

Historical Adam - Part 5

The youth pastor apparently remained unconvinced of the historical Adam and The Fall.  He expressed a thankfulness that I would engage him and pray for him.  And then he basically asked if I thought he was a heretic if he didn't agree with Reformed Theology.  If I did proclaim him to be a heretic, he said that he would not discuss this topic with me further.  He repeated that we must go deeper into hermeneutics than Sproul's "intro course" to figure out how we "come out with different readings."

On another note, when our daughter recently asked him for a book to read, he gave her the book titled "The Shack."  Ugh!  You can read a solid review of it here.  

We are meeting for coffee next week, Lord willing.  Please pray for me.

My final reply is below:

Please allow me first to say... I have tried to diligently reason with you directly from Scriptures, and by good logic shown from Scriptures. Most assuredly though (edit) I've failed to defend my belief in the Word as I should; for that, may the Lord (edit) be merciful in measuring my frail efforts. As I re-read my replies, many of my long-winded arguments seem to be seasoned with little grace; for that, I pray you'd forgive me.

Yes, Sproul's teaching is just an introduction to hermeneutics... merely the basics. But to my understanding, most of these "basics" were set forth in plain language and widely agreed upon during the time of the Reformation, and for good reason. Where do these basics ultimately come from? They come from the Holy Writ itself... for the Bible is it's own interpreter. 

The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not multiple, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.
- Westminster Confession of Faith, 1.9

So when we meet, Lord willing, maybe you can just tell me all about your Hermeneutic? I've already pretty much told you ours. It ain't that complicated, though it still requires work to interpret the more difficult passages. A better summation can be found here:

I would assert that our ability to agree on these basics (assuming your book does not refute them) inhibits our ability to proceed... not whether or not I think you are a heretic. "The bond of holy unity is the simple truth," said John Calvin. But if the Apostle Paul's intention was to always speak clearly (cf. Col. 4:4), don't you think he learned that from his Father who normally does likewise? It is not the Holy Spirit who twists Scripture, but sinful man. We must accept the explicit by faith! I simply agree with R. C. Sproul Jr. when he said, 

"We are... reading our Bible with rose-colored glasses if we think that all or even most of our interpretive failures stem from ignorance or misinformation. That is, we are guilty of the modernist conceit when we think that education is always the cure for what ails us... Our problem isn’t that we aren’t sufficiently educated but that we aren’t sufficiently sanctified."

As long as a man continues to doubt God's clear Word to us (especially denying an essential tenet that's so central to many other Christian teachings), maybe it's best for him to work most of these issues out alone with God... on his knees. The issue here for him is not hermeneutics... the issue is unbelief... for the teaching is explicit... and any view which denies the historicity of Adam and Eve and the fall is simply untenable in the light of Scripture. If that man had questions along the way, I'd be glad to assist, Lord willing. I would only suggest he remember one principle that hopefully can be agreed upon... the principle of humility (see Proverbs 3:5; Matt. 18:4; 1 Peter 5:5) - if there is doubt... TRUST GOD... AND TAKE HIM AT HIS WORD.

Now, to answer your specific question:

I can’t escape the conclusion that for me to faithfully hold to Christ and his Word is only possible if I hold to the theology and approach to Christianity that you have found convincing.  That is - any deviance from your understanding of reformed Christianity is either dangerously close to heretical or is heretical.  Is this a true understanding of your thinking at this stage?

The Decision at the Synod of Dordt rejected as error the five points detailed in the Remonstrance of 1610 (called Arminianism).  If you affirm any of these five points, then I join my voice with those delegates, our brothers, who wrote the Canons of Dordt. Your views would clearly be declared heresy years ago. But with the modernism and post-modernism movements, liberal theology, and the surge of semi-Pelagianism in the evangelical church, especially in America in the past 100-150 years, your views would now be more and more in the mainstream... agreed to by most down at the local Walmart, USA... so you can decide.

I indeed confess that I am an unashamed Calvinist, for I believe the tenets of "The Reformed Faith" are nothing more than the doctrines of Scripture clearly and articulately set forth. Therefore, I believe "Reformed Christianity" is simply Biblical Christianity, preached by Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jesus (cf. John 6,10,17), Paul (cf. Rom. 8-11; Eph. 1-2), Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Owen, Newton, Henry, Hodge, Warfield, Watson, Chalmers, Manton, M'Cheyne, Toplady, Watts, Brainerd, Carey, Livingstone, Edwards, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Ryle, Boettner, Berkhof, Lloyd-Jones, Schaeffer, Murray, Boyce, and many, many others. 

So to further answer your question, let me put forth the words of Charles Haddon Spurgeon:

What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.
- From the sermon: "A Defense of Calvinism" -

And Martin Luther:

If any man doth ascribe of salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright.

If your beliefs are contrary to that, may Spurgeon, Luther, the others, and the Holy Writ be your reprovers. If the Scriptures teach it (especially the explicit), we must believe it... for it is true. But I'm reminded that Spurgeon also said, and I agree...

...But far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none but Calvinistic Christians within her walls, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views... I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ as their Saviour, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist in or out of Heaven.

It is said that Whitefield claimed that he'd probably never see Wesley in heaven... for Wesley's mansion would be entirely too close to where Jesus resided.  I feel that way about many Arminian brothers I've known... including my dear uncle, who is now with the Lord. 

We Reformed folk do indeed affirm historical Adam, though it's not a Reformed distinctive. But can you hold to the historical Christ while you don't believe all the explicit Word of Christ? You'll have to work that one out yourself, "...with fear and trembling." I am not your judge (edit). I'm only trying to defend what I believe to be truth, from the Scripture, for your good, and for God's glory.

Another brief and articulate article defending the historical Adam can be found here:
And another here:
If there is doubt on what I believe as a Christian, it's summed up pretty well here:

I'm praying for you, and again... I hope this is helpful. May the Holy Spirit bear witness by and with the Word in your heart. 

Unless you believe, you will not understand.
- Augustine

Best Regards,
Marty L. Smith

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