Tag Archives | Calvinism

Was Jerry Falwell Reformed?

Ben Witherington (Theopedia | Wikipedia) apparently thinks so. In his recent post “Mr. Falwell Moves On Up” he said, “Throughout his adult life he remained a committed Reformed Dispensationalist Baptist.” When I read that I did a double take, as you probably just did. Reformed?! In what sense?! It seems that he is using Reformed as a synonym for Calvinist rather than as a synonym for Covenantalist, since it occurs alongside Dispensationalist.

Jerry Falwell (Wikipedia) a Calvinist?! The same man who just pronounced limited atonement heresy?! Here are the words from a chapel message entitled “Our Message, Mission and Vision,” which Falwell preached at Liberty University on Friday, April 13, 2007—almost exactly a month prior to his death.

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Titus 2:11 in Calvin

A few days ago I discussed Titus 2:11 in Context in light of my personal Bible reading and my stumbling across this rather bothersome statement by Donald Bloesch:

The Calvinist position, especially as transmitted through Reformed orthodoxy, stands in palpable conflict with the New Testament witness.1 Titus 2:11 assures us that “the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men.” The Pauline writer of 1 Timothy contends that Jesus Christ sacrificed himself “to win freedom for all mankind” (2:6 NEB).2

In case you skipped over the footnote, Bloesch said, “In this discussion we need to bear in mind that Calvin’s position and that of later Calvinism are not identical.”

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Footnotes

  1. In this discussion we need to bear in mind that Calvin’s position and that of later Calvinism are not identical. See Clifford, Atonement and Justification, pp. 69–110.
  2. Donald G. Bloesch, Jesus Christ: Savior & Lord (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1997), 168.

Titus 2:11 in Context

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people (Ἐπεφάνη γὰρ ἡ χάρις τοῦ θεοῦ σωτήριος πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις)” (Tit 2:11). This text is a favorite of Arminians and pseudo-Reformed men like Donald G. Bloesch, who asserts, “The Calvinist position, especially as transmitted through Reformed orthodoxy, stands in palpable conflict with the New Testament witness.1 Titus 2:11 assures us that ‘the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men.’”2

I don’t think a contextually sensitive reading of this passage will support such a naïve statement. While the context may not decisively rule out the interpretation Bloesch takes, several factors point in the direction of the following interpretation and demonstrate the gross misrepresentation of Bloesch’s statement.

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Footnotes

  1. In this discussion we need to bear in mind that Calvin’s position and that of later Calvinism are not identical. See Clifford, Atonement and Justification, pp. 69–110.
  2. Donald G. Bloesch, Jesus Christ: Savior & Lord (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1997), 168.

Reprobation in Jude?

Jude 4 in the KJV reads, “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” According to this translation of οἱ πάλαι προγεγραμμένοι εἰς τοῦτο τὸ κρίμα, Jude 4 seems to support some form of the doctrine of reprobation. Most Reformed theologians of the past and many of the present have made used it in support of the doctrine (e.g., Calvin; Brakel, 1:120; C. Hodge, 2:346; A. Hodge, 222; Dabney, 273; Shedd, 336; Grudem, 685).

Back in the early days of seminary during the discussion on election and reprobation, my Systematic Theology professor was quick to tell us that the word translated “before of old ordained” (προγεγραμμένοι) simply meant “written before,” and that the KJV had mistranslated it. He pointed out that the etymology of the word indicates that that’s all it means: προγράφω is the combination of the prefix προ-, meaning before, and the verb γράφω, meaning to write. Of course, etymology is not a reliable foundation for exegesis, but even the three other NT occurrences of the word don’t support the notion of predestination. Rather, they seem to convey the simple idea of writing before (Rom 15:4; Eph 3:3) or symbolically of portraying (Gal 3:1)—before here being used in a spatial rather than a temporal sense. Even BDAG doesn’t suggest foreordaining as a possible meaning for προγράφω. So the evidence wasn’t looking good for Jude 4 as a reference to reprobation.

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