Saturday, August 09, 2014

Does Paul “Invite” or “Anticipate” Human Reason?

One of the most interesting aspects of the Apostle Paul’s pedagogical methodology is his frequent use of staged questions which come from the vantage point of human reasoning. The book of Romans is filled with such a trail of staged questions, and this trail is established early on in the epistle:

Romans 3:1–8: 1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? 4 May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.” 5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) 6 May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner? 8 And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), “Let us do evil that good may come”? Their condemnation is just.

The Apostle purposefully jousts with a nameless opponent in order to demonstrate the dangerous dead end of human reasoning (i.e., speaking according to men - κατὰ ἄνθρωπον λέγω). His descent into such calumnious rhetoric is designed to stage his repeated retort: may it never be! (μὴ γένοιτο). The thought of accusing God of unrighteousness (v.5), conjoined with the licentious consideration of doing evil that good may come, all stem from the madness of human reasoning, as John Calvin rightly says.

Though this is a digression from the main subject, it was yet necessary for the Apostle to introduce it, lest he should seem to give to the ill-disposed an occasion to speak evil, which he knew would be readily laid hold on by them. For since they were watching for every opportunity to defame the gospel, they had, in the testimony of David, what they might have taken for the purpose of founding a calumny, — “If God seeks nothing else, but to be glorified by men, why does he punish them, when they offend, since by offending they glorify him? Without cause then surely is he offended, if he derives the reason of his displeasure from that by which he is glorified.” There is, indeed, no doubt, but that this was an ordinary, and everywhere a common calumny, as it will presently appear. Hence Paul could not have covertly passed it by; but that no one should think that he expressed the sentiments of his own mind, he premises that he assumes the person of the ungodly; and at the same time, he sharply, touches, by a single expression, on human reason; whose work, as he intimates, is ever to bark against the wisdom of God; for he says not, “according to the ungodly,” but “according to man,” or as man. And thus indeed it is, for all the mysteries of God are paradoxes to the flesh: and at the same time it possesses so much audacity, that it fears not to oppose them and insolently to assail what it cannot comprehend. We are hence reminded, that if we desire to become capable of understanding them, we must especially labor to become freed from our own reason, (proprio sensu) and to give up ourselves, and unreservedly to submit to his word.[1]

Calvin is right in his understanding of Paul’s teaching method and message. Paul is neither inviting nor encouraging calumnious responses to truth. Instead, he anticipates what he knows will flow from the human heart as a result of corrupted and limited reasoning. Paul repeats this pedagogic procedure again in Romans 6:

Romans 6:1–2: 1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be [μὴ γένοιτο]! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

Once again, Paul anticipates the natural man’s response to God’s sovereignty over sin and corruption in order to refute such fleshly thinking.[2] This same methodology is again repeated in Paul’s profound treatment of God’s sovereignty in Romans 9:

Romans 9:14–21: 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

In many respects, Paul increases the intensity of his warnings to those who would raise calumnious back-talk to the Potter. Paul already refuted the speculation that injustice can be found in God back in Romans 3, and it is repeated here in the ninth chapter for reinforcement to what follows:

Romans 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”

It is important to note that Paul anticipates (in the indicative mood) the above query, that is to say, he asserts with certitude that men will respond thus (“You will say [Ἐρεῖς] to me…”). Paul’s follow-up to such an anticipated question is extremely important. His reference to God as the molder and potter brings to mind God’s severe displeasure with those who question His authority and sovereignty:

Isaiah 45:9: 9 “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker— An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?

Isaiah 29:16: 16 You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, That what is made would say to its maker, “He did not make me”; Or what is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

Consistent with all of his other rhetorical questions, Paul’s staged queries in Romans 9 have the design of unveiling the heart of man behind the question. Therefore, Paul’s point of presenting such questions is designed to reveal: 1) the corruption of human reasoning; and 2) the purposes of God in all of His providential dealings with man. Once again, I believe that Calvin is right when he refers to the staged queries of Romans 9 as monstrous madness:

“Monstrous surely is the madness of the human mind, that it is more disposed to charge God with unrighteousness than to blame itself for blindness. Paul indeed had no wish to go out of his way to find out things by which he might confound his readers; but he took up as it were from what was common the wicked suggestion, which immediately enters the minds of many, when they hear that God determines respecting every individual according to his own will. It is indeed, as the flesh imagines, a kind of injustice, that God should pass by one and show regard to another.”[3]

Calvin reminds us that the normal questions raised by the natural man are typically bad questions which flow from the corruptions of the human heart. But such bad questions have a pedagogical purpose within Paul’s instruction. I would submit to the reader that Paul’s method here is designed to remind us all that, apart from grace, we are all madmen who are incapable of comprehending spiritual truth. The universal madness of men is well summarized by Solomon as follows:

Ecclesiastes 9:3: This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one fate for all men. Furthermore, the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives. Afterwards they go to the dead.

Overall, it is important to understand Paul’s rhetorical methodology. For the sake of his readers, Paul anticipated questions that were formulated from the poverty of human reason. He did not do this in order to invite us to think in such terms, but to expose the danger and untrustworthiness of human reasoning. When applying this teaching methodology, we must remember never to shame people when they raise such questions about God; but neither should we invite them to persist in such rebellious thoughts. I believe that the balance is to remind them, as does Paul, that some questions are inherently bad. The problem with such queries isn’t just that they are misleading, but that they convey something quite insidious: blindness, foolishness, and rebellion against God – for all have sinned and fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23).

In the end we should be thankful that Paul raised these questions at all, for when we consider them carefully, we find that such thinking is a certain reality for all of the descendants of Adam. By exposing these faults within us, Paul reveals the supremacy of God’s revelation to us concerning His transcendent nature and purposes. Moreover, though it can be said that the believer can, by grace, embrace such transcendent truths – it must be acknowledged that our knowledge in this life is still limited and veiled due to our own sin and human frailty, and therefore we ought to confess with the Apostle:

Romans 11:33–36: 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? 35 Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Paul’s summary in Romans 11 brings us all to the place that we all belong: on our knees before the Pottertrusting Him in faith while trembling before His awesome power and authority - Isaiah 66:2: 2 “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

[1] Calvin, J. (1998). Romans (electronic ed.). Calvin’s Commentaries (Romans 3:5). Albany, OR: Ages Software.

[2] “We indeed know that nothing is more natural than that the flesh should indulge itself under any excuse, and also that Satan should invent all kinds of slander, in order to discredit the doctrine of grace; which to him is by no means difficult. For since everything that is announced concerning Christ seems very paradoxical to human judgment, it ought not to be deemed a new thing, that the flesh, hearing of justification by faith, should so often strike, as it were, against so many stumbling-stones.” Calvin, J. (1998). Romans, (Romans 6:1).

[3] Calvin, J. (1998). Romans (9:14).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Note of Background: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism

I am thankful to the Lord for the continued distribution and use of the book, The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism. Whether you have read the book already, or are trying to discern whether or not you should get it, the reader should know that this book is the culmination of several years of my own concern regarding the contemporary doctrine of fallible prophecy. The book itself is the product of multiple articles originally posted here at The Armoury from May to September of 2013. Those original posts supplied most of the content of each chapter for public viewing. Shortly thereafter, all relevant articles were revised and compiled into book form which was made available for public consumption on October 1st. The book was then formatted into the Kindle format and published on shortly thereafter. The initial distribution of this title then led to Kindle versions in Deutsch (January 1st, 2014, chapter 2 only) and Spanish (February 15, 2014, full book). As a result of a designated donation, paperback versions of the book came out for the English and Spanish titles in February of this year. Our prayer is that the Lord will use this for His glory and for the building up of Christ’s body.

As already mentioned, the teaching of fallible prophecy has concerned me for many years. Though I have been able to sideline this matter for most of those years, John Piper’s public endorsement[1] of the doctrine in January of 2013 became the triggering mechanism that took those concerns from the sidelines to a more public forum. The reason for this is threefold:

1. New Calvinism: When John Piper expressed his support for fallible prophecy on his Desiring God website,[2] he decidedly entered into a new phase of advocacy[3] for this troubling doctrine. His popularity, coupled with his reputation as a father figure within the New Calvinism movement, runs the risk of advancing this troubling doctrine with greater rapidity and breadth than previously seen with men like Wayne Grudem.

2. Evangelical Celebritism: The culture of Evangelical Celebritism,[4] coupled with the rising influence of the Christian-publishing industrial complex, continues to supply a powerful vehicle for various teachings that are deeply problematic, including the Charismatic doctrine of fallible prophecy. For example, Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology has been a central vehicle for fallible prophecy seeing that it “has sold over 450,000 copies and has been translated into eight other languages, with at least eight more foreign translations now in process.”[5] Not only does Grudem’s Systematic Theology teach and advocate fallible prophecy, but it also supplies a 6-point strategy for establishing fallible prophecy within the local church. This poses an increasing danger of the tolerance and proliferation of false prophets within the church via this pernicious doctrine.

3. Sola Scriptura: The doctrine of fallible prophecy leads to the undermining of the priority of Sola Scriptura, and this influence is spreading through a wide variety of popular pastors and seminaries. Though my work is focused on the theology of fallible prophecy, it seemed necessary to mention the various means by which this doctrine continues to be transmitted – whether wittingly or unwittingly. Thus, after completing the five chapters of The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism, I proceeded to work through the book’s introduction and resultantly felt compelled to include an additional 38 words to the 46,000 already written:

“Unfortunately, I must also report that my Alma Mater (The Master’s Seminary) has used Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology for several years, even though the institution represents a cessationistic point of view, one that is incompatible with fallible prophecy.”

This paragraph is then footnoted with the following:

“By mentioning this fact, it is not my intention to suggest that The Master’s Seminary (TMS) is attempting to spread Grudem’s doctrine of fallible prophecy. I am arguing that there are far better resources available, especially in view of the many time-tested works used by conservative seminaries throughout the years. Though TMS is only using portions of Grudem’s Systematic Theology, I am concerned that it is being used at all. His views on the Holy Spirit and the efficacy of God’s revelation permeate many other topics beyond that of spiritual gifts. Grudem’s writings continue to increase in their popularity and influence, often leading to tolerance or acceptance of his more problematic teachings. It is this indirect and mediated influence that concerns me the most because it is so subtle and often undetected.”

I had never planned to mention this small point when I first started working on the manuscript, however, the culmination of my studies and writing led me to express concern over the subtle, indirect, and mediated influence of Grudem on others. Thus, my respectful disagreement with TMS seemed unavoidable in light of my studies along with my growing awareness of Grudem’s legacy among TMS graduates and others.[6] As an alumnus of TMS, I haven’t the luxury of ignoring the actions and words of those who represent the institution. However, before expressing my concerns in the introduction of my book, I contacted individuals at the seminary in order to confirm that they had been using Grudem’s Systematic Theology at all. Though their use of it is selective, my concern (as already stated) is that it is being used in a positive manner at all, especially in light of the availability of alternative works and the way in which fallible prophecy permeates many other doctrines beyond that of spiritual gifts. Concerning this latter point, I do charge that Grudem’s teaching on spiritual gifts impacts related discussions concerning Sanctification,[7] Theology Proper,[8] Ecclesiology,[9] Hermeneutics,[10] the Roles of Men and Women,[11]and the principle of Sola Scriptura.[12] In view of these considerations, I cannot support the presumption that Grudem’s Systematic Theology contains a trifle amount of error that can be easily ignored. In fact, what he teaches concerning the nature of prophecy must not be ignored. Therefore, I would discourage any church or theological institution from using Grudem’s Systematic Theology. As already stated: there are other time-tested works that do a much better job of honoring God’s gift of prophecy. All of this is more than what I supplied in the Introduction of the book, but it seemed fitting to offer a more thorough explanation for my position, especially since the book has had several months of circulation already. In the end, all of us must carefully weigh not only our words but our actions before a watching world. If we wish to champion Sola Scriptura and the principle of Scriptural Inerrancy, then the very literature that we use and promote should be consistent with that position.

Finally, I should note that the timing of the book’s release was an interesting matter of divine providence. As already mentioned, I began my initial labors on The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism when I first watched John Piper’s advocacy video for fallible prophecy early in 2013. What started as a mere blog series on The Armoury through the Spring and Summer months of 2013 culminated in a book that became available in October of the same year. What I didn’t realize until late in this process was that a conference dealing with some of the same issues was gearing up for October 16th – 18th: The Strange Fire Conference. When I provided courtesy copies of The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism to a few leaders at TMS on October 11th, I was made more fully aware of the conference, its content, along with the fact that MacArthur was going to be releasing his title: Strange Fire in mid-November. When I learned all of this, I wondered if my labors might be little more than a duplicate of what MacArthur would reveal in his work, however, through a friend who acquired MacArthur’s book at the conference, I discovered that this was not the case. In fact, I was given a copy of Strange Fire in late December of 2013 and have supplied a lengthy review here. Simply put, our books are quite different in many ways. I mention all of this as a broader background and context for The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism along with the timing of its publication. As an unexpected surprise of God’s providence, the elevated interest in the subject of continuationism/cessationism, as stirred by the conference, has helped to draw attention to the more narrow discussion of fallible prophecy. In everything, our prayer continues to be that the body of Christ would engage the Scriptures, seeking to resolve all questions regarding our Christian life and practice by no other authority – Sola Scriptura.

Soli Deo Gloria

[1] John Piper’s continuationist views have had a limited distribution over the years. Those who have read his books would not necessarily know of his Charismatic views thereby, however, it is not as if Piper has hidden his convictions either. In reality, Piper’s advocacy of Charismatic doctrine has been evident throughout the years of his ministry, though it hasn’t been obvious to all those who follow him.


[3] Should anyone question whether or not Piper is or has been an open advocate of fallible prophecy, it should be self-evident that posting an advocacy video on the world wide web is a very strong expression of public advocacy.

[4] As noted in the book, The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism, this term is, admittedly, an invention in order to denote an increase in blind devotion that many offer to Evangelicals who are quite visible and popular.


[6] I graduated from TMS before the institution became more aggressively open to Wayne Grudem’s teaching and influence. My awareness of TMS’s use of Grudem’s Systematic Theology has come about over the years through my interactions with individuals associated with the institution.

[7] Grudem’s teaching on sanctification is fairly extensive, nearly spanning 100 pages. However, his emphasis on fallible prophecy, and the Christian’s presumed need to pursue such prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1), offers a troubling corruption to this important subject. As I address in the book, Grudem would have us to believe that prophetic exhortations in the church are fallible by the very nature of fallible prophecy. Yet we must wonder how believers can effectively pursue righteous living if their basis of authority entertains the inclusion of such corruption. If a believer’s pursuit of sanctification must rest in a view of prophecy that is fallible, then what hope does the believer have with such a shifting foundation? Moreover, Grudem argues that the lack of personal piety should not serve as a hindrance to the pursuit of the practice of prophecy by nearly everyone in the church. Yet, this stands as a contradiction to Paul’s call to piety and love in 1 Corinthians 13 within his overall instructions concerning the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Simply put, Grudem’s teachings on sanctification are infected by his advocacy of fallible prophecy. Contrary to Grudem’s teaching, the fruit of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 13) is the basis of all other gifts (1 Corinthians 12, 14).

[8] Grudem’s teaching on fallible prophecy supplies, by inference, a troubling message concerning the nature of God Himself. In the end, fallible prophecy is to be seen as God’s effort to reveal His word, fallibly, to His people. However, the historic lesson of prophecy is that God is always effectual and sovereign in this matter of revelation, such that he can even use the ungodly to utter His words (as in the case of Balaam). Simply put – the sovereign Lord of the Universe doesn’t “try” to do anything. Whatever else might be said about Grudem’s chapters on Theology Proper, his advocacy of fallible prophecy introduces a dangerous seed of corruption to the nature of God Himself.

[9] From the book, The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism, “…the advocates of fallible prophecy argue that the presence of such prophecy in the local church is a sign of God’s blessing, while its absence is a sign of God’s removal of favor from His people. [170] They maintain this view while simultaneously arguing that fallible prophecy has less authority than the teaching of the Scriptures. [171] Though it may not be intended, such a view gravely diminishes non-continuationist churches, even if such churches hold a very high view of the teaching/ preaching of the Word. It should be no surprise, therefore, that fallible prophecy enthusiasts seek to promote and spread their doctrine to others. In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem supplies a 6-step process for introducing fallible prophecy to the local church. Within Grudem’s 6-point plan, he advises his readers to seek out permission from their church’s leadership to advance such a ministry.” Michael Beasley, The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism: An Analysis, Critique, and Exhortation Concerning the Contemporary Doctrine of “Fallible Prophecy” (Pfafftown, NC: The Armoury Ministries), 153-154.

[10] The full force of The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism reveals the weaknesses of Grudem’s handling of the Scriptures concerning the doctrine of fallible prophecy.

[11] It is somewhat ironic that Grudem is reputed to be a defender of a biblically conservative position concerning the roles of men and women. His contributions towards the work, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood along with his active participation on the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, have forged a strong reputation for Grudem in this manner. However, when one considers the practical realities of the doctrine of fallible prophecy, we find that women are typically encouraged to engage in modes of ministry which contradict scriptural mandates like 1 Timothy 2:12. Though the advocates of fallible prophecy will argue that NT prophecy bears less authority than that of teaching, thereby preventing such a confusion of roles, this simply isn’t the case in view of their overall misinterpretation of the prophetic gift. Simply put, the confusion that is inherent within fallible prophecy spills over into a confusion of roles of leadership in the body of Christ.

[12] As mentioned in footnote 7, Grudem’s repeated emphasis on seeking out fallible prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1) undermines Paul’s actual point. When Paul enjoined the Corinthian church to seek out prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1), he was calling them to pursue genuine prophecy, not the counterfeits of fallible prophecy being proffered by those who claimed to have the genuine gift (1 Corinthians 12:3, 14:37). In every generation, God’s people are called to pursue God’s genuine revelation rather than deceptive counterfeits. Overall, the teaching of fallible prophecy leads the church away from the principle of Sola Scriptura.


Editorial Note & Update on The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism:

It should be noted that The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism has undergone a small editorial adjustment in the third chapter: The Case of Agabus. In this chapter there is frequent mention of Rome’s stringent anti-riot laws. The most prominent mention of this is found in a brief citation from the words of Justinian:

“If a man on arrival excites a crowd and incites it to an unlawful object by his shouts or by any act such as making accusations against someone or even by arousing pity, and if damage is committed as a result of his malicious incitement, he will be liable, even if he did not originally have the intent of getting the crowd together… when a person gathers a crowd together himself and beats a slave in front of the crowd in order to do him an unlawful injury rather than with intent to cause loss, the Edict will apply.”

With or without such external sources, the reality of Roman anti-riot laws is inferentially evident in texts like Acts 19:40. However, the broader sphere of Roman law is mentioned in The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism in order to strengthen the reader’s understanding of the profound pressures that fell upon Paul when “all Jerusalem was in confusion” (Acts 21:31). As mentioned in the book, the longstanding history of Rome’s strictures against riotous conduct and treason goes back to its earlier era as a Roman Republic and is evident in legal structures stemming from Rome’s Senatus Consultum de re Publica Defendenda. However, in the autocratic era of the Roman Empire, the legal strictures against treason and riots became more centralized in the sole authority of the reigning Caesar. Simply put, the evolutionary history of Roman law is extensive. Some of this history is helpful when considering Paul’s Roman arrest, however, an exhaustive perusal of Roman law is far more extensive than what is needed for the argument of The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism. Because of this, some of this background information supplied in the earliest version of the book has been simplified for the sake of clarity. One such change deals with the mention of the Senatus Consultum de re Publica Defendenda. Though historically relevant to the evolution of laws protecting Roman rule, its repeated mention in the book is simply unnecessary and has therefore been relegated to one brief footnote. Beyond this, the overall content, structure, and argument of chapter 3 remains completely unchanged.

Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Christ, the Centerpiece of Everything

         “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”
         — Romans 3:31

“When the believer is adopted into the Lord’s family, his relationship to old Adam and the law ceases at once; but then he is under a new rule, and a new covenant. Believer, you are God’s child; it is your first duty to obey your heavenly Father. A servile spirit you have nothing to do with: you are not a slave, but a child; and now, inasmuch as you are a beloved child, you are bound to obey your Father’s faintest wish, the least intimation of his will. Does he bid you fulfil a sacred ordinance? It is at your peril that you neglect it, for you will be disobeying your Father. Does he command you to seek the image of Jesus? Is it not your joy to do so? Does Jesus tell you, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”? Then not because the law commands, but because your Saviour enjoins, you will labour to be perfect in holiness. Does he bid his saints love one another? Do it, not because the law says, “Love thy neighbour,” but because Jesus says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments;” and this is the commandment that he has given unto you, “that ye love one another.” Are you told to distribute to the poor? Do it, not because charity is a burden which you dare not shirk, but because Jesus teaches, “Give to him that asketh of thee.” Does the Word say, “Love God with all your heart”? Look at the commandment and reply, “Ah! commandment, Christ hath fulfilled thee already—I have no need, therefore, to fulfil thee for my salvation, but I rejoice to yield obedience to thee because God is my Father now and he has a claim upon me, which I would not dispute.” May the Holy Ghost make your heart obedient to the constraining power of Christ’s love, that your prayer may be, “Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.” Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, and not the apologist of sin.” 

Spurgeon, C. H. (2006). Morning and evening: Daily readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism–Available in Deutsch, Español, & English

We are grateful for the Lord’s provision such that The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism is now available in German (Deutsch) and Spanish (Español) versions. Additionally, paperback editions are now available in English and Spanish (links below). Supplied below are book descriptions of The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism in German, Spanish, and English:

deutschDeutsch - Die fehlbaren Propheten des Neuen Calvinismus: Analyse, Kritik und Ermahnung in Bezug auf die aktuelle Lehre der "fehlbaren Prophetie" (Kapitel 2: Fehlbare Prophetie - Lexikalische Vorbehalte):

Die fehlbaren Propheten des Neuen Calvinismus: Analyse, Kritik und Ermahnung in Bezug auf die aktuelle Lehre der "fehlbaren Prophetie" (Kapitel 2: Fehlbare Prophetie - Lexikalische Vorbehalte):  Dieses Buch untersucht Dr. Wayne Grudems kontroverse Lehre der fehlbaren Prophetie und seine Analyse auf lexikalischer, exegetischer und historischer Grundlage. Es beschäftigt sich ferner mit der Popularität und der Verbreitung dieser Lehre durch die vielen Charismatiker in der Bewegung des Neuen Calvinismus. Die Lehre der fehlbaren Prophetie ist weder ungefährlich noch harmlos, sondern sie ist vielmehr ein beunruhigendes fremdes Feuer im Leib Christi und findet durch die Empfehlung von populären Vertretern der Lehre des Nichtcessationismus wie Wayne Grudem, D. A. Carson, John Piper und Mark Driscoll weitere Verbreitung. Diese Ausgabe des Buches enthält Kapitel 2: Fehlbare Prophetie – Lexikalische Vorbehalte: Bei seiner Beweisführung für die Auffassung einer “fehlbaren Prophetie” argumentiert Grudem, dass sich der neutestamentliche Begriffsinhalt des Wortes “Prophet” von der autoritativen Bedeutung entfernte, den das Wort einst hatte. Folglich, so Grudem, bezeichnete Christus seine Jünger nicht als Propheten, weil „… das griechische Wort prophetes (‘Prophet’) in neutestamentlicher Zeit … nicht die Bedeutung hatte, dass ‘jemand Gottes eigene Worte aussprach.’” Die Vorstellungen von fehlbarer Prophetie gehen jedoch weit darüber hinaus, lediglich die Bedeutung der Prophetie nach dem Maßstab alttestamentlicher Offenbarung zu verändern – sie stellen das Wesen der Prophetie gänzlich auf den Kopf. Laut Denksystem der Vertreter fehlbarer Prophetie ist der moderne Prophet nicht unfehlbar, sondern er wird nun als fehlbar betrachtet. Das lexikalische Argument für diese Schlussfolgerung steht auf der Grundlage äußerst extremer Anwendungen des Wortes aus dem Profangriechischen sowie anderer außerbiblischer Quellen. Folglich argumentieren die Vertreter fehlbarer Prophetie, dass die Leser des Neuen Testaments im 1. Jahrhundert das Wort Prophetie ganz selbstverständlich in dem Sinne auffassten, dass Prophetie im Alten Testament (unfehlbar) und im Neuen Testament (fehlbar) eine genau entgegensetzte Bedeutung hatte. Indem die Bedeutung und Definition eines solch zentralen Begriffs wie Prophetie umdefiniert wird, kommt es im Zuge der Lehre fehlbarer Prophetie in der Gemeinde zu einer Vielzahl lehrmäßiger Probleme sowie verwirrender Schlüsse, die Fragen über das Wesen Gottes aufwerfen, der verheißen hat, dass sein geoffenbartes Wort nicht leer zu ihm zurückkehren wird, ohne auszuführen, was ihm gefällt (Jes 55,11).

Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-Lehrer, Southern View Chapel: “Da Grudem der führende neo-calvinistische Theologe ist, der versucht, die Auffassung fehlbarer Prophetie darzulegen und zu verteidigen, setzt sich Beasley in erster Linie mit seinen Werken auseinander. Fehlbare Prophetie bringt nicht nur keinen wirklichen Nutzen, sie ist gefährlich und kann den Leichtgläubigen dazu verleiten, sehr bedauernswerte Handlungen zu vollziehen. Beasley hat der Gemeinde einen wunderbaren Dienst erwiesen, indem er dieses Buch geschrieben hat. Meine Hoffnung ist, dass viele es lesen und den Inhalt annehmen werden.”

Available at and in Kindle format.

espaniolEspañol - Los Profetas Falibles de Nuevo Calvinismo: Un Análisis, Crítica y Exhortación a la Doctrina Contemporánea de la "Profecía Falible":

Este libro examina la controversial enseñanza del Dr. Wayne Grudem sobre la profecía falible considerando los diversos puntos de análisis léxicos, exegéticos e históricos. También se ocupa de la popularidad de la enseñanza y su progreso continuo a través de muchos carismáticos dentro del movimiento del “Nuevo Calvinismo.” La doctrina de la profecía falible no es ni benigna ni inofensiva, sino que más bien constituye un fuego extraño inquietante para el cuerpo de Cristo y continúa propagándose a través de la promoción hecha por los continuistas populares como Wayne Grudem, D.A. Carson, John Piper, y Mark Driscoll. Al reestructurar el significado y la definición de un concepto tan central como la profecía, la enseñanza de la profecía falible crea una serie de problemas doctrinales y puntos de confusión dentro de la iglesia, que plantea interrogantes sobre la naturaleza de Aquel que promete que Su palabra revelada no volverá a Él vacía sin haber realizado lo que Él desea ( Isaías 55:11 ).
"La profecía falible no solo carece de algún valor real, es peligrosa y puede llevar a los incautos a tomar acciones muy desafortunadas….puesto que Grudem es un teólogo Neo-Calvinista que encabeza el intento de desarrollar y defender la posición de la profecía falible, Beasley interactúa principalmente con sus escritos…. Beasley ha hecho a la iglesia un maravilloso servicio mediante la producción de este volumen. Mi esperanza es que muchos lo lean y absorban su contenido.”
Gary E. Gilley , pastor – maestro de Southern View Chapel en Springfield, IL.
Michael John Beasley ha servido en el ministerio pastoral desde 1991 y es el autor del Altar a Un Amor Desconocido , La Primera Institución, Todos los Pueblos Bajo Dios , En Realidad lo Dijo Pablo?, Y Los Profetas Falibles de Nueva Calvinismo.

Available at in paperback, Kindle.

englishEnglish – The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism - An Analysis, Critique, and Exhortation Concerning the Contemporary Doctrine of "Fallible Prophecy":

This book examines Dr. Wayne Grudem's controversial teaching on fallible prophecy in view of various lexical, exegetical, and historical points of analysis. It also addresses the teaching's popularity and continuing advancement through many charismatics within the "New Calvinism" (Neo-Calvinism) movement. The doctrine of fallible prophecy is neither benign nor harmless, rather it constitutes a troubling strange fire for the body of Christ and continues to spread through the advocacy of popular continuationists like Wayne Grudem, D.A. Carson, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll. By retooling the meaning and definition of such a central concept as prophecy, the doctrine of fallible prophecy creates a host of theological problems and points of confusion within the church which challenge the very nature of  the One who promises that His revealed word will not return to Him empty without accomplishing what He desires (Isaiah 55:11).

“Not only does fallible prophecy have no real value, it is dangerous and can lead the gullible to take very unfortunate actions...since Grudem is the Neo-Calvinist theologian leading the charge in attempting to develop and defend the position of fallible prophecy, Beasley primarily interacts with his writings. His carefully presented argument leads to the conclusion that Grudem is reasoning from both ignorance of New Testament times, as well as from silence. Beasley has done the church a wonderful service by producing this volume.  My hope is that many will read it and absorb its contents."

Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher, Southern View Chapel
Springfield, Il.

Available at in paperback, Kindle.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book Review: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism

Book Review by Gary Gilley: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism by Michael John Beasley, (The Armory Ministries: 2013), e-book available from Amazon.

9781935358138 _cov2RGBSMALLIt has been well over two decades since Wayne Grudem wrote his ground breaking book, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, which attempted to give theological legitimacy to common practices found especially in Pentecostal and charismatic circles. Those practices had to do with the so-called “sign gifts” of miracles, healings, tongues and prophecy. Grudem’s burden focused almost entirely on prophecy and words of knowledge. Pentecostals and charismatics have long claimed extrabiblical words, visions and prophecies that came via direct communication from the Holy Spirit. But it was common knowledge that many, if not most, of those supposed revelations were inaccurate in whole or in part. The Old Testament had condemned fallible prophets to death (Deut 13, 18) so obviously this was a serious issue to God. If this seriousness was carried over to the New Testament era what was to be done with those who claimed prophecies from God but were in error? In 1 Corinthians 14, even during a time in which all agree direct prophecy from God was being given to some, especially the apostles, Paul called on the church to evaluate these prophets and expose them if they were prophesying falsely. The death penalty was not carried forward from the old covenant, but rebuke and even church discipline would be in order for those who continued such practices.

Charismatic theologians, such as Grudem and others desirous of being faithful to Scripture had the difficult task of trying to harmonize the practices of modern day prophecies that were fluent in their church tradition, or expose them as unbiblical. Most charismatics have admitted that their supposed revelations were often inaccurate. At best they were a mixture of “a word from the Lord” and the imagination of the prophet. How could such practices harmonize with Scripture? Grudem labored to show, both in his The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today and in his popular Systematic Theology, that New Testament prophecy differs from Old Testament prophecy. He believes that the New Testament prophets, but not the apostles, were fallible and often partially inaccurate in almost all revelations from God. Grudem attempts to prove his thesis from the Scriptures themselves, principally through the example of Agabus in Acts and the epistle of 1 Corinthians, especially chapter 14. While The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism is at least the fifth important work refuting Grudem’s theory, his views have nevertheless been embraced in a wide range of evangelical, non-charismatic camps. Of recent note is a new breed of those holding to Reformed theology but also accepting the charismatic gifts, including prophecy. Often called New Calvinists, or Neo-Calvinists, these individuals have combined a seriousness concerning Scripture and theology with a Pentecostal understanding of sign gifts. These continuationists (prophecy and sign gifts continue throughout the church age) believe they now have the best of both worlds—a solid grounding in the Word of God and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. But not only have the New Calvinists misrepresented those holding to cessationism (that prophecy and other sign gifts have ceased) they have seemingly misunderstood what the Scriptures teach concerning the purpose and duration of the sign gifts. It is the goal of Michael Beasley to provide careful biblical analysis of the Neo-Calvinists’ views and show that they lack scriptural support.

Since Grudem is the Neo-Calvinist theologian leading the charge in attempting to develop and defend the position of fallible prophecy, Beasley primarily interacts with his writings. There are already four valuable critiques of Grudem’s position: Robert Thomas, “Prophecy Rediscovered? A Review of the Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today” found in Bibliotheca Sacra Vol. 149 (1992), pp. 82-96; Thomas Edgar, Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit (1996); F. David Farnell, “Fallible New Testament Prophecy/Prophets?”; A Critique of Wayne Grudem’s Hypothesis” (Master’s Seminary Journal, Fall 1996) and R. Bruce Compton, “The Continuation of New Testament Prophecy and a Closed Canon: A Critique of Wayne Grudem’s Two Levels of New Testament Prophecy” (Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary). Beasley attempts to supplement rather than duplicate these works. After dealing with the biblical understanding of prophecy in chapter one, Beasley critiques Grudem’s three key arguments for the continuationist’s position. First, in the second chapter the author takes a careful look at Grudem’s definition of prophecy as derived from the lexicons. Beasley documents Grudem’s selective lexical examination and determines that Grudem has skipped over the clear biblical definition and chose instead to use pagan meanings for the word prophet (pp. 49-56). Beasley then offers very helpful examples of how such methods would affect our understanding of other words, such as theos (God) and dikaios (righteousness) (pp. 52-56).

Beasley then turns to Grudem’s most powerful argument, the supposed fallible prophecy by the New Testament prophet Agabus. Beasley challenges Grudem’s understanding of Agabus in the entirety of chapter three. There are three powerful arguments against Grudem’s views that Agabus gave a partially false prophecy to Paul:

1. Contrary to Grudem, Paul was in fact delivered over to his captors despite the will of the Jewish mob.

2. Contrary to Grudem, Paul was delivered over to his captors by legal compulsion.

3. Apparently unknown by Grudem, Paul was willingly delivered over by the Jews in the face of Roman jurisprudence (p. 92).

Since others have addressed the first two possibilities, Beasley chooses to advance the third. His carefully presented argument leads to the conclusion that Grudem is reasoning from both ignorance of New Testament times, as well as from silence. Grudem simply cannot prove his case against Agabus. And since Agabus is the only New Testament prophet that we are aware of who may have given anything resembling a fallible prophecy, Grudem’s position loses much of its punch if his theory about Agabus is wrong or even improvable.

Grudem’s final evidence for fallible prophecy is grounded in the gift of prophecy as found in the church at Corinth. Grudem believes, based on 1 Corinthians 14, that New Testament prophecy is fallible/nonauthoritative and extremely common (pp. 129-130). If the church at Corinth was called upon to evaluate the prophecies of its members, then apparently those prophecies cannot be wholly of God and without flaw, so Grudem reasons. Beasley believes Grudem is missing the corrective context of the epistle to the Corinthians, as well as the inseparable link between Old Testament and New Testament prophecy. Since in the New Testament there is no clear, distinct statement regarding a difference between Old and New Testament prophecy, there exists no warrant to view the prophetic gift at Corinth any differently from how we would view prophecy under the Old Covenant. With that in mind Beasley makes a case for Paul calling for testing of the prophets themselves not the prophecies at Corinth. If the revelations being given in that church were not completely true it was a sign that the prophets themselves were false—just as in the Old Testament (pp. 147-160). After all, Peter is clear that no prophecy comes from the will of man but from God (2 Pet 1:21). Scripture clearly designates two classes of prophets—true and false. A third class has been invented by the Charismatic/continuationist community, and circulated widely by many New Calvinists—fallible prophecy which contains elements of both truth and error. Such a category is nothing less than human contrivance (p. 164).

Beasley ends his book with a powerful conclusion. In particular he quotes John Piper’s defense of fallible prophecy (pp. 175-176), then allows Piper to discredit the whole system (pp. 177-178). Here Piper, who encourages his church to seek the sign gifts, receives a prophecy about his family from a woman in his church. Not wishing to discourage prophecies he prays about it. The prophecy claimed his wife would give birth to a girl and die in the process. Several months later she bore a boy and was completely healthy. This was a false prophecy in every detail except that Piper’s wife was pregnant. This again begs the question—of what value is fallible prophecy? How could anyone determine which parts were of God and which of the mistaken imagination of the so-called prophet? Not only does fallible prophecy have no real value, it is dangerous and can lead the gullible to take very unfortunate actions. In addition, there simply is not a good case in Scripture to prove the claim that New Testament prophecy differs from that in the Old Testament.

Beasley has done the church a wonderful service by producing this volume. My hope is that many will read it and absorb its contents. Presently it is available only as an e-book from Amazon.

Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher, Southern View Chapel

Published with permission.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Miracle of Humility and Thanksgiving

For the past several years the article, “Happy Humiliation Day,” has been reposted here at The Armoury in consideration of our national holiday: Thanksgiving Day. What is so compelling about our forefathers’ inauguration of Thanksgiving Day is the fact that it was all started with another day – a day of prayer and humiliation, as William Bradford recounts: “…they set apart a solemn day of humiliation, to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer, in this great distress…” If you have read the above article then you know that the settlers at Plymouth Plantation were enduring a great famine in the land such that many were suffering and dying from hunger and fatigue. In utter dependency upon the Lord, the people set aside a day of prayer and humiliation seeking the Lord’s provision of rain and a fruitful season, which the Lord supplied in abundance. In response to this, as Bradford recounts, “…they also set apart a day of thanksgiving.” What is so beautiful and haunting about this story is the word also. You see, their day of thanksgiving did not stand alone, but rested on the former day: the day of prayer and humiliation.

I would suggest to the reader that there is an ocean of truth supplied in such an example.

The subject of thankfulness is quite remarkable, especially when we consider the fact that fallen men do not “honor Him as God or give thanks…” (Romans 1:21). Paul’s important description of the pride, arrogance, and ingratitude of mankind reveals an important truth: the expression of genuine thankfulness to God is a miracle of divine grace and cannot be generated or feigned by the unbeliever, after all, without genuine humility there can be no genuine thankfulness. This principle which was understood and exemplified by our puritan forefathers is one that is desperately needed in our own day.

For myself, it helps me to remember that when my thankfulness to God shrinks in any measure, it is because of swelling pride. Yet, when humility waxes hot so does genuine thankfulness. The pairing of these attitudes is crucial for us all. As believers, we must remember these truths as we express thankfulness to God, whether it is a national holiday, or any other day of the year.

I would like to add one more note in view of what has been shared. Let us take time this day to pray earnestly for our nation and for its leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Those who reject Christ may celebrate Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday, but without the Redeemer’s redemption and forgiveness, they do so as the objects of His wrath (John 3:36). Amidst all of our political problems within our nation, we must never allow a disquieted spirit to rule our hearts, thereby quenching our petitions for those who merely feign thanksgiving without genuine hope and joy in Christ (Ephesians 2:12).

With humility and thanksgiving, let us cry out to Him who gives true hope and everlasting joy to everyone who comes to Him in faith.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism

Today is the last day for’s free offer of The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism on the Kindle book format (link).

9781935358138 _cov2RGBSMALLFrom the website: This book examines Dr. Wayne Grudem's controversial teaching on fallible prophecy in view of various lexical, exegetical, and historical points of analysis. It also addresses the teaching's popularity and continuing advancement through many charismatics within the "New Calvinism" movement. The doctrine of fallible prophecy is neither benign nor harmless, rather it constitutes a troubling strange fire for the body of Christ and continues to spread through the advocacy of popular continuationists like Wayne Grudem, D.A. Carson, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll:

1. Chapter 1: Prophecy – A Test of Love: According to the proponents of fallible prophecy, the presence of error in a prophetic utterance does not make such claimants of the prophetic gift false prophets, it only means that they are New Testament fallible prophets by definition. This constitutes a complete reversal of meaning of prophecy which results in a confused message concerning the nature and character of the God who has consistently and effectually revealed Himself through His appointed messengers. Moreover, such a redaction of prophecy effectively confuses, and nearly eliminates, the scripturally prescribed tests for prophecy. The importance of this must not be underestimated, for all of the tests of prophecy, in the Old Testament and the New Testament, have an unimpeachable centerpiece: the love of God.

2. Chapter 2: Fallible prophecy – Lexical Considerations: Grudem argues that the New Testament connotation of the word prophet no longer possessed the sense of authority it once had. Thus, Christ did not call his disciples prophets because “…the Greek word prophetes (‘prophet’) at the time of the New Testament…did not have the sense ‘one who speaks God’s very words’.” In view of Grudem’s emphasis on this point, it will be very important for us to examine his lexical justification for such a conclusion.

3. Chapter 3: Fallible prophecy – The Case of Agabus: Grudem argues that genuine NT prophets could be resisted in view of their fallibility based upon texts like 1 Cor. 14:29. In support of this view, Grudem supplies examples of what he believes are NT fallible prophets, the most central of which is Agabus. Like Grudem, D.A. Carson insists that Agabus’ prophecy was fraught with error, saying, "I can think of no reported Old Testament prophet whose prophecies are so wrong on the details." This is a very serious accusation requiring a thorough investigation.

4. Chapter 4: Fallible prophecy – A Gift for All?: Grudem argues that, unlike the unique gift of prophecy given in the time of the OT, the NT gift of prophecy was extremely common and functioned “in thousands of ordinary Christians in hundreds of local churches at the time of the New Testament.” He also argues that neither grave error nor immaturity should serve as a barrier to the pursuit and exercise of such a gift by nearly everyone within the local church. Such thinking is a tragedy for the body of Christ which is called to holiness and truth in all aspects of life and servitude.

5. Conclusion: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism: Believing in the value and efficacy of fallible prophecy, a growing number of popular pastors and teachers are now openly promoting such teaching. Particularly within the increasingly popular New Calvinism movement we find a growing number of advocates of fallible prophecy. To facilitate the spread of this doctrine, Grudem himself supplies a 6-point strategy for establishing fallible prophecy within the local church. This poses an increasing danger of the tolerance and proliferation of false prophets within the church.

Friday, August 09, 2013

The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism, Chapter III: The Troubling Example of Agabus

The Book: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism: An Analysis, Critique, and Exhortation Concerning Wayne Grudem’s Teaching on “Fallible Prophecy”, is available here.

Table of Contents:   9781935358138 _covRGBFLAT

Introduction: A Primer to Prophecy  

Chapter I: Prophecy - A Test of Love

Chapter II: Fallible Prophecy – Lexical Concerns

Chapter III: Fallible Prophecy – The Case of Agabus 

Chapter IV: Fallible Prophecy – A Gift for All?

Conclusion: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism


Chapter III addresses the important subject of Agabus’ prophecy. Only in Agabus do we have Luke describing a prophet who delivers a prophecy. The advocates of fallible prophecy argue that Agabus was in error when he uttered his prophecy (Acts 21:11). His is considered a central example for fallible prophecy seeing that Agabus purportedly prophesied an admixture of truth and error. What is interesting about Agabus’ prophecy is that it is quite simple in its construct, yet the question of fulfillment is much more complex. According to Grudem and others, Agabus was right about Paul being arrested in Jerusalem, yet wrong about the manner in which this would take place:

“He would have the general idea correct (Paul would be imprisoned at Jerusalem), but the details somewhat wrong.”[1]

“Agabus’ prophecies of “…‘binding’ and ‘giving over’ by the Jews—are explicitly falsified by the subsequent narrative”[2]

D.A. Carson is more direct in his accusations of the New Testament prophet:

"I can think of no reported Old Testament prophet whose prophecies are so wrong on the details."[3]

Yet, is it really true that Agabus was in error and are we to assume that the New Testament church has missed these “errors” for centuries? In order to scrutinize the question of his prophecy’s fulfillment (or lack thereof), we will need to examine a great span of passages, specifically Acts 21:11-23:22. Additionally, there are corroborating passages that we will also need to consult in Acts chapters 24-26 and 28. In light of the sheer volume of requisite texts for this subject, it is no surprise that Agabus’ example is not a simple one.

Remarkably Grudem’s approach to Agabus is one which rests almost entirely on the historical narrative of Acts 21:27-36. Without the full force of Acts 21:11-23:22, Grudem’s analysis proves to be desperately inadequate.  

[1] Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy, p. 81.

[2] Ibid., p. 80.

[3] Ibid.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

May God Have Mercy on America


Here in America the expression, God bless America, has become such a common utterance in presidential speeches that it now seems like a cheap tag line with little meaning. I say this because God has blessed this nation, in abundance, yet sadly America has progressively forsaken those blessings, while blaspheming the God of such blessings year after year. Over my lifetime I have witnessed a tremendous change within America’s culture, and the downgrade only seems to accelerate with time. The most recent forensics of this comes to us through the redefinition of marriage posited by Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Writing for the majority opinion, in defense of same-sex marriage, Justice Anthony Kennedy criticized elements of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), indicating that those who oppose homosexuality resultantly “injure” and “demean” the “moral and sexual choices” of same-sex couples. What was so striking about this decision was that the court went well beyond rendering a judgment against DOMA. In essence, it vilified all those who oppose gay marriage. Thus, this is much more than a “victory” for those who support gay marriage, it is a broad and open door to the future persecution of all those who choose to oppose homosexuality. In view of this I must say that, before petitioning God for blessings, America should repent of her multiple sins and cry out for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Like rebellious Israel, our nation is destroyed for a lack of knowledge.[1]

Though not surprising, the SCOTUS decision reveals America’s continued descent into darkness. The revelation of this new ruling proved to be grievous for the disciples of Christ, but for everyone else, it was a day of celebration:

The National Cathedral: Following the ruling of SCOTUS regarding DOMA and Proposition 8, The National Cathedral in Washington DC rang its church bells in celebration for 45 minutes to an hour.

The Governor of Connecticut: In response to the STOTUS decisions regarding DOMA and proposition 8, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy flew a rainbow flag outside the Governor’s official residence – revealing a profound change since Connecticut’s beginning.[2]

President Obama: The President quickly weighed on this judgment, declaring the following: “I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal — and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

What the president suppresses and denies[3] (along with most Americans) is that the love found within the institution which “God has joined together”[4] is in no way equal to the hedonistic lust of pornea (sexual immorality) so commonly found within this fallen world. Moreover, though it is true that the presidents and judges of this nation can decree, by law, such a notion of equality, the Supreme Judge of all laughs at such foolishness and rebellion.[5] Sadly, America continues in a downward spiral, but such truth ought to drive the church to more earnest prayer, asking the God of all mercy and grace for the blessing of repentance and spiritual awakening. This we must continue to do, knowing that no piece of legislation, no judicial ruling, and no executive order can turn the hearts of men and women away from their enmity with God. Only the Gospel, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can turn and awaken those who remain dead in their trespasses and sins.[6] We must also pray for “kings and for all those in authority so that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life, with all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:1-6). In relation to this latter point, I am concerned that the believer’s Gospel freedoms here in America continue to be weakened, and the recent decision by SCOTUS will further accelerate this trend. As mentioned earlier, SCOTUS did more than make a judgment in favor of homosexuality, it made a judgment of those who oppose such conduct. A plain reading of Kennedy’s majority opinion reveals this. Justice Antonin Scalia offered an ominous summary of the majority’s opinion on this ruling, offering a Latin expression that is strikingly familiar to a familiar one from ancient church history:

Justice Antonin Scalia: “To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to ‘dis- parage,’ ‘injure,’ ‘degrade,’ ‘demean,’ and ‘humiliate’ our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homo-sexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence— indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.”[7]

Having read through Kennedy’s majority opinion on the SCOTUS ruling, I can attest that Scalia’s above summary is spot-on. Though the terms “disparage,” “injure,” “degrade,” “demean,” and “humiliate” are broadly scattered throughout the court’s published opinion, the retributive force of these words is still quite stunning. Scalia’s observations are quite interesting, if not ironic, especially when he invoked the expression, hostes humani generis – enemies of the human race. When I read this, my thoughts were brought back to the writings of Tacitus who described the nature of Nero’s persecution of the Christian community within the 1st century:

Tacitus: "But neither human resources, nor imperial munificence, nor appeasement of the gods, eliminated sinister suspicions that the fire had been instigated. To suppress this rumour, Nero fabricated scapegoats – and punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilatus. But in spite of this temporary setback the deadly superstition had broken out afresh, not only in Judaea (where the mischief had started) but even in Rome. All degraded and shameful practices collect and flourish in the capital. First, Nero had self-acknowledged Christians arrested. Then, on their information, large numbers of others were condemned - not so much for incendiarism as for their hatred of humanity (odio humani generis).[8] Their deaths were made farcical. Dressed in wild animals' skins, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or made into torches to be ignited after dark as substitutes for daylight."[9]

Tacitus’ description of the Christian community reminds us of the degrading opinions that developed within the Greco-Roman world: Christians were the haters of humanity. The most likely explanation for this label is that the Christian community was unwilling, for conscience’ sake, to participate in the hedonistic and idolatrous culture of the Greco-Roman world, replete with its sacrifices to the gods and licentious living. Such non-participation was seen as an act of hostility against others, especially since the superstitious and pagan world believed that sacrifices to the gods were necessary for the greater good of the broader community. Because of such non-participation, Christians were ridiculed as the haters of humanity among other things. I would suggest that Scalia’s summary of Kennedy’s opinion offers a historically packed preview of what may come in the future. Apart from God’s merciful and gracious intervention in America’s moral and spiritual suicide, further darkness will prevail in this land. My mention of this is not designed to be morose, but to emphasize the continued need to look to the Gospel for genuine light in this dark world. Too often the modern church has sought ways to nurture friendship with the world, but this has only led to compromise and corruption.[10] This could be a means by which the Lord will purify and strengthen His true church here in America. Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers regarding the darkness of their own world (Eph 5:8-11), in order to enjoin them to a more diligent walk (Eph 5:2, 8, 15) as the children of light (Eph 5:8). Contextually and grammatically he continues his appeal by commanding the Ephesians to avoid foolishness while pursuing the will of the Lord (Eph 5:17), refraining from drunkenness while being filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18). Paul then describes what such Spirit-filled living looks like in the children of God: speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be[ing] subject to one another in the fear of Christ (Eph 5:19-21). The verse division between verse 21 and 22 may lead the reader to think that Paul has ceased his description of Spirit-filled living – but this is not the case. Paul’s expansion of this important subject only continues as he describes the beauty of a Spirit-filled marriage, which reflects the glory of Christ and His union with His bride, the church (Eph 5:22-33); and we must not forget that this extends further to a description of a godly family, complete with a father, mother, and children (Eph 6:1-4) who seek to honor the Lord in everything. Yes, Ephesus was engulfed in darkness – but this reality afforded Paul the opportunity to remind genuine believers that their solution was not to dim the light of the Gospel, but to make it radiate more brightly in their individual lives, as well as in their marriages, and families.

Dear reader - what was true in that day is equally true today.

In conclusion, I should also note the profound irony of the homosexual community’s banner which is, of all things, the rainbow.[11] I call this ironic because of God’s stated purpose for the rainbow. Having destroyed the world of wickedness in a deluge, God gave Noah the promise that He would never again “destroy all flesh” by means of a flood. Therefore God revealed to Noah “the bow [haqeshet] that is in the cloud” (i.e., rainbow) as His symbol to all of mankind that He would refrain from giving humanity what it otherwise deserves, thereby supplying a measure of mercy to the sons of men while they live on the earth. The Hebrew word haqeshet (a hunter’s bow) gives us a sense of what is implied by the word mercy: men deserve judgment because of indwelling sin (Gen. 8:21), yet such judgment is withheld as an act of merciful restrain. Those who have ever drawn a hunter’s bow know that it takes a measure of strength to draw and sustain a bow’s tension. Releasing the bow is the easy part, but keeping it drawn and restrained for long periods of time requires significant force. I would suggest to the reader that this is the picture of God’s temporal mercy upon the sons of men in this life, which is similarly unveiled in the New Testament: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36). This text in John 3 unpacks some of the inherentrainbow_04 symbolism of God’s “bow (haqeshet) in the clouds” by revealing God’s presently active mercy and pending wrath. Mercy is now active such that men “live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28), enjoying “rains and fruitful seasons” here on the earth (Acts 14:17). Note that the text tells us that God’s wrath “abides” on all those who do not obey the Son. That word “abides” (menei) is the present active indicative form of the verb meno (abide), indicating a present and ongoing reality in God’s relation with this world. In many respects, this is what we see in God’s bow (haqeshet) – the active tension of God’s merciful restraint which will someday give way to the release of His just and eternal wrath upon all those who resist Him. In view of this, the rainbow is both awesomely beautiful, yet haunting in light of its implied message. Overall, let the reader consider this: the image of the rainbow is not just for the homosexual community – it is for all men in light of God’s present Gospel mercy and promised future wrath. It is a reminder that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23); and that the wages of our sin is death (Romans 6:23); therefore, apart from Christ, all men are counted as God’s enemies (Romans 5:8) and must plead for mercy and grace which is fully revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ:

These truths are not just for one sector of our society, but they are for all men: “…he who believes in the Son has life, he who does not obey the son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” John 3:36.

[1] Hosea 4:6.

[2] From The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1638-1639): “For as much as it hath pleased Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and upon the River of Connectecotte and the lands thereunto adjoining; and well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth; and do for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also, the discipline of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said Gospel is now practiced amongst us; as also in our civil affairs to be guided and governed according to such Laws, Rules, Orders and Decrees as shall be made, ordered, and decreed…”

[3] Romans 1:18-24.

[4] Matthew 19:4–6 — 4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? 6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

[5] Psalm 2:1–6 — 1 Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. 5 Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, 6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

[6] Ephesians 2:1–3 — 1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

[7] NationalJournal: Scalia: 'High-Handed' Kennedy Has Declared Us 'Enemies of the Human Race',

[8] Scalia’s reference to hostes humani generis, though strikingly similar in meaning, is probably rooted in maritime history, rather than being a quote from the ancient Roman historian.

[9] Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome (Barnes & Noble Books, New York, 1993), p. 365, italics mine.

[10] James 4:4 — 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

[11] The establishment of the rainbow, as a symbol for the homosexual community, is normally attributed to Gilbert Baker – an artist from San Francisco – who first designed the flag in 1978. There is no apparent evidence that Baker was attempting to imitate the Bible’s description of the rainbow in Genesis 9. Instead, the homosexual community has used several colors (in recent history) in order to depict various aspects and perspectives of the gay community.