Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tempest in a Teapot

I'm not particularly savvy or "in the know" when it comes to the various and frequent sparring, jousting, and general bickering amongst prominent figures within the modern professing church. Perhaps this is because these men inhabit a rarefied spiritual abode which the average autodidactic Christian theist such as myself doesn't share. Or perhaps it's just because it's simply impossible to keep up with the constant jockeying for position among these "Christian elites", who knows?

At any rate, I came across this post over at Christian Research Net regarding an apparent controversy stirred up by John MacArthur recently when he gave a message at the Shepherds Conference - held at his church - concerning his premillennial eschatology.

Christian Research Net linked to a more detailed post over at Pyromaniacs in which Phil Johnson gives his take on the matter and, for whatever reason, Phil saw fit to close comments for his post and directed his readers to a pair of related sites, therefore I followed his links and reviewed the other sites.

At the first site Dan Phillips of Biblical Christianity has written a concise and thoughtful commentary on the matter. Dan's musings were a confirmation of the odious Romish whiff I always experience when confronted with truly "Reformed" theology. I must say I thoroghly enjoyed this post.

The second site contains a brief but civil rant against Kim Riddlebarger and has a link to his website The Riddleblog. Mr. Riddlebarger - who is truly "Reformed" - has taken it upon himself to use his blog space to take aim at John MacArthur and ostensibly - though inexplicably - demonstrate Why John MacArthur Is Not "Reformed". Again, this is something MacArthur has never claimed to be.

More interesting still - at least to me - Mr. Riddlebarger decided to invoke a short essay entitled How Many Points? by Richard A. Muller in order to buttress his accusations against Mr. MacArthur - accusations that Mr. MacArthur would not deny in the first place!

Upon review of Mr. Muller's essay I posted the following comment over at the second site, Centurion's blogspot:

I came across this "Reformed" discussion by following a link from one of my favorite discernment websites, Christian Research Net.

In my humble opinion the entire matter is a tempest in a teapot. MacArthur has never claimed to be Reformed, and now those who do claim to be Reformed are gleefully pointing out that MacArthur isn't reformed? Eh? Talk about a non-story!

Nevertheless I took the time to peruse Richard Muller's short essay "How Many Points" which was linked from Riddleblog and I was once again reminded why I'm so pleased that MacArthur is not "Reformed" - in the proper theological sense of the word.

In his entire essay extolling the apparently endless virtues of long-dead 17th century Europeans Mr. Muller never once saw fit to cite even a single scripture to support his otherwise unsupportable positions.

Furthermore I was quite amazed to see Mr. Muller disparage, or should I say bludgeon, the concept of a "personal relationship with Jesus".

Is the church invisible not the recipient of the Apostolic deposit?

Did the Apostles not have a "personal relationship with Jesus"?

Was this not, in fact, one of the requirements of being an Apostle?

Did Jesus Christ Himself not pray in John 17:21-23:

"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Indeed, yes.

If a "personal relationship with Jesus" is publicly disparaged by one of the leading Calvinistic thinkers of our day, then the Reformed church certainly has a major problem.

If Reformed thinkers are more beholden to the systematic theology of sinful men than they are faithful to the plain and literal meaning of the inspired, infallible, and eternal Word of God then the Reformed church has two major problems.

If Reformed thinkers are more personally puffed up by the soteriology of Calvin than they are personally in love with their Creator and Judge then the Reformed church has three major problems and we find them in the undesirable position of the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

I'm endlessly fascinated by the frequent manner in which hard-core Calvinists appeal to the authority of sinful men when defending their belief system in favor of appealing to revealed Scripture. It's precisely this type of mentality that is so prevalent within the apostate, heretical, harlot Church of Rome. It's also this very same type of adherence to religious dogma that often prevents these blind followers of the blind from turning away from their false system of works and sacramental piety and turning toward the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Of course our God is sovereign and is more than able to save those who are called by His name, but men ought to be wary that they are not found guilty before the Lord as were the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:13:

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.