Wednesday, August 13, 2008

J. Vernon McGee comments on the Atonement

J. Vernon McGee: “God wants his children to live lives which are not marked or spotted with sin. He has made every provision to absolve them from all blame. ‘My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye not sin. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world’ (1 John 2:1-2). By the way, that answers once and for all the question of a limited atonement, that is, that Christ died only for the elect. This verse in 1 John makes it clear that He died for the world. I don’t care who you are, there is a legitimate offer that has been sent out to you today from God, and that offer is that Jesus Christ has died for you. You can’t hide and say, ‘I am not one of the elect.’” (Thru the Bible commentary series: Ephesians, p.29)

J. Vernon McGee: “The Lord has extended the invitation. Whosoever will may come. Don’t try to say that you are left out. God so loved the world.” (Thru the Bible commentary series: Ephesians, p.30)

Is McGee another victim of the special nuances of Scripture that Calvinists have corrected to mean “the whole world of the elect”? Or is McGee spot on?

http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/files/RollCall/McGee.html

41 comments:

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Brother:

"World of the elect" is a term I do not like to hear, being Calvinist.

I do believe the word "world" rarely carries the notion of "every human being," and most Arminians will admit this, reluctantly or otherwise.

I believe God loves the "world without distinction," without regard to race, ethnicity, or culture, not that he loves the "world without exception," for we read that God "hates all workers of iniquity," and Esau before he was born.

"World" to the Jew meant "without distinction as to race."

God bless,

Stephen

chalee said...

“The Lord has extended the invitation. Whosoever will may come. Don’t try to say that you are left out."

starting with a positive: i totally agree here. i believe the bible says that not everyone "can" come, but it is true that everyone "may."

"You can’t hide and say, ‘I am not one of the elect.' " yep, the identities of the elect are one of the secret things belonging only to God. deut29:29 we are commanded simply to obey. (while only God can grow His church, the missionaries and preachers - which should include all believers in some capacity - are still responsible to co-labor to please their Lord. 1cor3:5-9)

"By the way, that answers once and for all the question of a limited atonement, that is, that Christ died only for the elect. This verse in 1 John makes it clear that He died for the world."

and how long before the current calvinist resurgence in the SBC was this written? the question doesn't seem settled at all.

so where do those young calvinists keep getting the idea that "world" might not mean "every single person" but instead might be referring to "scattered gentile believers." maybe they have the crazy notion that john should interpret himself:

1john2:2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

john11:51He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.


after all, 1st john was written to john's flock: the jewish believers. gal2:9James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.

so yes, in a 1st century context, where no one was sure what to do with the gentiles...it's at least plausible, if not more likely, that james was reminding his jewish readers that Jesus died not merely for them, but also for their gentile brothers in rome and corinth. in the 21st century, this issue no longer dominates the church, but a thorough reading of the NT reminds us that it was written to a different culture that we should take care to understand, before recklessly interpreting the scripture as if it were written directly to us.

OTOH, let's give J-Vern his props - he could nuance with the best of them when he wanted...at least he knew "'all' doesn't always mean 'all'" ;) :

"When Paul says “all Israel shall be saved,” he does not mean every individual Israelite will be saved. It is the nation he has before us in this chapter. In every age, only a remnant is saved. The quotation Paul uses is from Isaiah 59:20 in the Old Testament: “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.” The message to the individual is that he or she will have to “turn from transgression” to the Lord. There will be a remnant that will turn to Him. All of them will be saved. He speaks of the saved remnant as the nation Israel.

There is always only a remnant that is saved. There was a remnant in Elijah’s day; there was a remnant in David’s day; there was a remnant in Paul’s day; there is a remnant in our day; and there will be a remnant during the Great Tribulation Period."

SOURCE: Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Romans 11:26-27

YH Ng said...

Yah.. The atonement is for the whole world, and the Gospel is for everyone. Thats why it is to be preached in every corner of the world for everyone. The invitation is for everyone and thus Christ died for the sin of the whole world. Some actually died giving them the gospel. Apparently, not everyone accepts the invitation. There are some that rejects the invitation. These will not be saved and will suffer hell for eternalty.

Therefore its "Sufficient for the whole world, but efficient for the elect". Is there any contradiction in that?

a helmet said...

chalee,

yep, the identities of the elect are one of the secret things belonging only to God.

Does that mean you don´t know whether you are one of the elect? Or are you just unable to tell whether the person sitting next to you in church is actually your brother in Christ?

Richard Coords said...

YG Ng,

McGee is a 4-Point Calvinist, who affirms Unconditional Election. But I agree that "his" view of the atonement may be summed up in those sentiments.

McGee writes: "God has never predestined anybody to be lost. If you are lost, it is because you have rejected God's remedy. It is like a dying man to whom the doctor offers curing medicine. 'If you take this, it'll heal you.' The man looks at the doctor in amazement and says, 'I don't believe you.' Now the man dies and the doctor's report says he died of a certain disease, and that's accurate. But may I say to you, there was remedy, and he actually died because he didn't take the remedy. God has provided a remedy. Let me repeat, God has never predestined anybody to be lost. That's where your free will comes in, and you have to determine for yourself what your choice will be." (Thru the Bible commentary series: Ephesians, p.35)

McGee would add that the Holy Spirit only touches that hearts of the elect, in order to believe, because as God, He has the right to plan His church. (p.2)

While I may disagree with McGee's perspective on Election, I agree with what he said about the atonement being a provision.

McGee adds: "One drop of the blood of the holy Son of God can save every sinner on topside of this earth, if that sinner will put his trust in the Savior." (pp.41-42)

McGee is like Spurgeon. He has excellent quotes for both sides of the argument. I have some great quotes from him for Conditional Election in Christ, and then he has quotes supporting Unconditional Election, especially when citing Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, ect.

McGee went to seminary under the training of Lewis Sperry Schaefer, who I believe is also a 4-Pointer. McGee gives great quotes on regeneration being after faith, but then he argues regeneration before faith. Afterwards, he sometimes concludes with, "I don't propose to understand all that--I just believe it." So it's difficult sometimes to see exactly where he stands on certain points of doctrine.

Richard Coords said...

Hey Stephen,

A world "without distinction" must imply a world collectively but neither individually nor distributively. That, I have a hard time conceiving. To me, the world means everyone, indiscriminately.

I cannot conceive of a world collectively, without also regard to the sum of the units.

Citing Spurgeon as a hostile witness: "What is the election of a nation but the election of so many units, of so many people? and it is tantamount to the same thing as the particular election of individuals." (Jacob and Esau)

What are your thoughts on Spurgeon's quote?

Richard Coords said...

Also Stephen,

You stated: "we read that God 'hates all workers of iniquity,' and Esau before he was born."

I believe that's a common misconception, as Esau was dead for hundreds of years before that statement was ever uttered at Malachi 1:1-4, and was applied to Edom. Often, Israel is denoted as "Jacob" and Edom is denoted as "Esau." Paul's quote at Romans 9:11 is taken from Malachi 1:1-4, as it pertains to Obadiah 1:1-16.

Kevin Rhyne said...

Richard,

You're not saying that the Apostle Paul misapplied Malachi, are you?

10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! (Romans 9:10-14 ESV)

Doesn't seem to be much room for saying that Paul is talking about the nation of Edom here. Nor does it take a scholar to see he's applying Malachi 1:2,3 to the twins' situation before they were born.

That's a plain reading, brother. You're reading something into the Text there, I'm sorry to say.

Richard Coords said...

Hey Kevin,

You wrote: "Doesn't seem to be much room for saying that Paul is talking about the nation of Edom here."

But Paul mentions the part about "just as" the older serving the younger, which in my mind, can only refer to the nations, since Jacob confessed to being Esau's servant, whereas in terms of the nations, the nation of Edom was definitely in servitude to Israel, especially during the reign of David. So to me, that solidifies that point that nations must be in focus. Thoughts?

chalee said...

Helmet said: "Does that mean you don´t know whether you are one of the elect? Or are you just unable to tell whether the person sitting next to you in church is actually your brother in Christ?"

mcgee was arguing that saying "i am not elect" is a copout for nonbelievers...a dishonest excuse for rejecting the Son. all are invited to come. on those points, i was just saying that he and i agree (although we would disagree on some specifics of why.)

but sure, i'm always up for a digression ;) :

as believers, we can have assurance that we are elect, but i don't think the bible encourages any sort of absolute or reckless assurance. we are to walk the fine line of working out our salvation with "fear and trembling", yet to do that with the foundational confidence that "it is God who works in (us) to will and to act according to his good purpose." phil 2:12-13

i think the grace we are given is powerful, not just head knowledge that is useful as "fire insurance" to save us from Hell but to actually change us and conform us to the image of Christ. (1Cor15:10) "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." (2pet1:3) if we are "in Christ", we will naturally bear fruit as a result. (john15:5)

this is how peter comes to his conclusion:

2pet1:10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

so our sanctification - by which i mean the process of the Spirit conforming us to the image of His Son - is the evidence of our election...how we are given certainty. naturally, there are some (the "rocky soil" of the parable) who exhibit some sort of belief for a time, but do not persevere as God enables the elect to do (Mark13:13; 1Cor1:8,9; Jude24; 1Pet5:10; Phil1:4). the bible instructs the church to expel any alleged "believers" who might claim to be elect but refuse repentance and deny the Lordship of Christ. (matt18:15-20; 1cor5) in those cases, the church is not saying that those expelled are "absolutely not elect" (because again, only God knows) - and hopefully it will be a means of God bringing the offender to repentance - but we as a Body are commanded to act if there is evidence that should discourage certainty of one's salvation (or in the terms of 2peter: their election is "unsure".)

only God knows with absolute certainty. God chooses and the Spirit goes whereever He wants - but we can only see the evidence. (john3:8 again) so yes, as a believer i'm confident that i'm elect but at the same time, i think there's a degree of caution and reverent fear that is appropriate.

BTW, even though mcgee apparently denied the "lordship" half of rom10:9, if you are heading toward a full blown discussion of (so-called) "free grace" vs. "lordship" theologies, then we are probably on a tangent and should take it to your blog. feel free to dissect this post over there (and i'll complain over there if you chop too much...;) )

chalee said...

richard said: "I cannot conceive of a world collectively, without also regard to the sum of the units.

Citing Spurgeon as a hostile witness: "What is the election of a nation but the election of so many units, of so many people? and it is tantamount to the same thing as the particular election of individuals." (Jacob and Esau)

it's hard to know where to start with this, but i'm tired enough of seeing this quote repeatedly misused, so let's take a swing:

1) richard quotes this as if he honestly believes that spurgeon thought that the election of each nation required the election of every single individual "unit" or person comprising the nation. if even mcgee (as i quoted earlier) understood that God could be faithful to His promise to save "all israel" by "reserving a remnant chosen by grace" (rom11), surely richard understands that spurgeon is not speaking of every single unit of national israel being elected in this random side comment he is making.

therefore, if richard insists on continuing to call spurgeon as an imaginary "hostile witness" in this "case", let them agree that "world" is also speaking of a great number of people throughout the history of the earth - both jew and gentile - but by no means every single person.

2) spurgeon's central point was that it does no good to extend God's love or hatred to a nation. if before esau or any of his descendants were born - or "had done anything good or bad", God decided to hate the whole lot of them and that "(edom) may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the LORD," (mal 1:4) how exactly does that improve the argument over "God just hated esau before he was born." (and God didn't have to hate every single edomite for it to be true that He hated edom...i'm just sayin'...)

3) it's not clarified in spurgeon's argument, but part of what i think he was getting at is that in such a case as jacob and esau, even if you say they represent nations, those nations will necessarily include the individuals known as jacob and esau, who are their heads or founders. while some appear to believe it is a random coincidence that God loved jacob who is mentioned in the line of faith in heb11 while God hated esau who is remembered for being "godless" in heb12:16, it's safe to say that if God loved any in the nation of israel, jacob as a man of faith was included, and if He hated any in the nation of edom, esau was probably on the bad list if he's only remembered in the NT as a bad example.

IMO, this situation makes the case spurgeon is discussing a failure as an analogue for understanding what john means by kosmos, or "world."

OTOH, if john referred to the worldly, disobedient unbelievers as the "children of the devil" (john8:44, 1john3:10) and elect/believers as the "children of God", i bet i can guess which "nation" God loves and which He hates between those two...

4) another minor sticking point:

if paul was referring to nations, he could have simply quoted gen25:23:

The LORD said to her,
"Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger."


instead paul left that alone and focused on the individuals, referring specifically to "children" and "twins."

jacob may have "confessed" things that were not so when he was afraid esau would come and attack him - jacob was not always precisely honest - but i'm inclined to think the truth was otherwise, even if jacob was too afraid to trust God at that point:

gen27:37Isaac answered Esau, "I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants...40 You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother."

as usual, though, the biggest problem not being dealt with by the noncalvinists is that the topic at hand from the end of rom 8 on through rom 9 clearly involves the salvational promises of God. as a result, their explanations of rom 9 necessarily wander implausibly from salvation to some other sort of election and back at random.

a helmet said...

chalee,

if we are "in Christ", we will naturally bear fruit as a result. (john15:5)

Well, this actually only shifts the problem farther ahead. Because how do you identify good fruit ? You will know them by their fruit (Mat. 7:16) is a command to identify different trees by their fruit. And here I think the christians from a calvinistic background do not answer that.


so our sanctification - by which i mean the process of the Spirit conforming us to the image of His Son - is the evidence of our election...how we are given certainty. naturally, there are some (the "rocky soil" of the parable) who exhibit some sort of belief for a time, but do not persevere as God enables the elect to do

Sanctificatin is the bearing of good fruit. And again, it seems like not all produce good fruit.You mention the "rocky soil" beleivers, who soon fall away. But there are as well the "thorny soil" believers, who might never fall away, yet nevertheless do not bear any fruit. And now again, this is important: what exactly is the good fruit, so that it can be known? .


God chooses and the Spirit goes whereever He wants - but we can only see the evidence. (john3:8 again)


Note that the Nicodemus discourse in John 3 is highly judicial in character. It is meant to confuse.
We see only the evidence --- yet what exactly is that? For example, the mormons like to point to their works, to their charity, to their wealth to their social commitment, to their intact families, their integrity, their blessings, their growth etc. ....

and then they ask: "is that not good fruit?"

Or the Muslims . They point to their supposed good morality, their good fellowship ("Umma"), their faithfulness and their growth.

So, is all that good fruit in the sight of God?

chalee said...

helmet-

honestly, if we're starting at the beginning such that you have any illusions that we're discussing "good works" apart from faith and need to bring up muslims and mormons, we probably should start from scratch over at your blog. I feel like you haven't read anything I've posted for you to be making these sorts of comments.

calvinists are huge on head knowledge, which seems to be the focus of your blog. have you ever seriously met a calvinist who would consider the charity work of someone who denies Christ a "good work?"

heb11:6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

those who deny the God who revealed Himself through the bible can't possibly have faith in that God. this would certainly include muslims and also mormons who rely on the book of mormon's accounts of the Son as a created being.

but the head knowledge alone is not enough. paul tells the corinthian church to expel the immoral so-called "believer" from among them, not on the basis of any quiz on the 10 commandments or the nature of the deity of Christ, but on his openly unrepentant lifestyle.

if you don't understand what "good fruit" is supposed to look like, go back and read 2pet1 like i suggested...tell me what you think peter means in v10 by "making your election sure" and why its predicated on "if you do these things," which involve putting our natural selves to death and being conformed to the image of the Son.

read gal5:16-25. read romans 6. read james for crying out loud.

for his part, john is more than clear that real love for God is directly connected to obedience to Him (john 14:24, 15:10; 1john5:3). if we truly understand what God has done for us, if the Spirit has truly opened our eyes to the reality of the kingdom of God, our gratitude will change our lifestyle.

eph5:17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.

paul is not starting from scratch at that point, referring to some "secret will" of God. instead he's referring back to the last couple of chapters, wherein he has explained in detail what fruit looks like...eph4:1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

calvinists are the ONLY christians i know who will contend with scripture that a true living faith necessarily changes the way we live...and so desire their churches to discipline those who are openly unrepentant...again, according to scripture.

is there some perfect, exact standard for everyone, by which to measure their fruit? no. fruit is ultimately secondary. we are saved by faith alone in Christ alone...but if that so-called "faith" is really all alone, offering assurance in that case would be profoundly unbiblical.

chalee said...

helmet-

let's be clear that it is arminians like billy graham and c.s. lewis who believe muslims have no need to confess the name of Christ but can be saved by their works, which in their view can imply an "unconscious" belief in Christ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axxlXy6bLH0

c.s. lewis wrote in "the last battle" of a pagan who served "Tash " faithfully and believed in him and been a good man by how he grew up, and yet was forgiven in the end by Aslan, saying that 'all service done unto Tash has been done unto me'."

http://rtjones.wordpress.com/2007/06/24/cs-lewis-on-inclusivism/

a helmet said...

chalee,

you had first said
if we are "in Christ", we will naturally bear fruit as a result. (john15:5)

I certainly agree on that. No question. All who abide in the vine stalk produce good fruit. All who are on good ground produce good fruit.

making your election sure.... and if you do these things

The things spoken of here are:
godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

Sure, these things are necessary. "Love" at the end here means "love towards everyone", (in addition to love towards the brethren). Yet what, if our brotherly love and kindness is not always what it is supposed to be?

How do we know whether we "love enough" or "love rightly" ?

And most importantly: What is the content of love here?

I wrote a good bit on that matter in the articles "On Sanctification I-III" on http://meditationonthegospelofjohn.blogspot.com

but more importantly in the series "On the knowledge of Good and Evil" on http://livingbyknowledge.blogspot.com

a helmet said...

addition,

let there be no misunderstanding: I resolutely believe in "Sola Fide". Faith alone.

Kevin Rhyne said...

Helmet,

I'm just curious. What happens to the native on the island who dies without ever hearing the name of Jesus?

a helmet said...

kevin,

I don't know. What do you think?

Kevin Rhyne said...

Helmet,

It’s pretty clear from Scripture that they go to hell.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

chalee said...

helmet asked: How do we know whether we "love enough" or "love rightly?"

our demonstrations of love will never measure up to God's perfect standard, so it's fortunate that we are forgiven based on Christ's merit and not our performance.

the standards set in matt18 and 1cor5 are relatively low. you don't have to have "great faith" to avoid the openly unrepentant attachment to your sin depicted in those chapters. those who despise the correction of scripture through their local church body should not receive any assurance of salvation.

beyond that, i think we just need to keep going back to scripture, keep re-learning the gospel, keep meeting together with other christians who will challenge us to be honest about our sin in areas where we can't see it ourselves, and keep trusting Jesus to help us in our repentance and to finish what He started. IMO, the calvinists are correct that perseverance is essential, meaning that those "who stand firm to the end will be saved." (Mark13:13) not because of their own strength and goodness but because of His commitment: "He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful." 1Cor1:8-9 (also 1Pet5:10; 2Cor3:17-18 among others)

we won't love perfectly, but believers should be marked by a willingness to continue to repent and continue loving as best they can, in obedience to Christ out of gratitude for His work. i think any sort of marker that would tell us that we had "loved enough" would be counterproductive...we aren't done with this "race" called life (heb12:1; 2tim4:7; phil3:12) till God takes us home.

so if you are maintaining fellowship with other believers and running the race with perseverance - even though haltingly and imperfectly - then yeah, i would say there's valid reason for assurance.

but yeah, i would not set up any list of performance expectations or whatever besides what is taught in scripture...i do think there is an expectation of a willingness to be changed and a description of what the "fruit" of such change will look like (as in the verses/chapters quoted earlier) but other than the "minimums" listed above, i don't think there is any specific "fruit" required for every believer that would "prove" their election.

if i'm still not getting you or you think i'm taking something for granted as obvious that needs to be stated, feel free to clarify further...or i'll comment on your latest post when i can get to it and it can be discussed there.

(BTW, while i disagree with billy graham and c.s. lewis on that issue - and think their arminian leanings are part of what led them toward that "inclusivist" error which denies romans 10 in their desire to defend God as "fair" and "good" by human standards - i have a high regard for both of them in general. just to be clear.)

a helmet said...

chalee,
Concerning fruit, this article

http://livingbyknowledge.blogspot.com/2008/07/on-knowledge-of-good-and-evil-viii.html

might be good to read.

a helmet said...

kevin rhyne,

the text you quote does not contain that word. I do not share your opinion.

Kevin Rhyne said...

Helmet,

If they are not coming to the Father, where are they going? If they are not coming through Christ, what other way does the Text say is available?

a helmet said...

"The wages for sin is death".

"The day you eat thereof you shall surely die."

Kevin Rhyne said...

Helmet,

So we all deserve death. We are all condemned to death already. (John 3:18) How do we get eternal life?

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Also, as Peter testified,

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

So, again, what happens to the man on the island who never hears of Christ?

a helmet said...

kevin rhyne,

you said it already. He dies. Period.

:-)

Kevin Rhyne said...

Helmet,

I take it that you do not believe in an eternal Hell...am I correct?

a helmet said...

kevin,

I think the scriptural foundation is quite weak. I do not know what will actually happen in the future. Note, when the first humans were cast out of the garden, they were actually damned for ever. At least so it must have looked at that time. There was no mentioning that God would mercifully contact mankind later on. They were cast out of the garden -- period. But later God showed mercy and made a covenant.
So while it may look like something is definite, there may come more light in later times. The book of Revelation says somewhere "the first things are over" (or something like that).

But note also, when the first humans were cast out of paradise, the reason was that they should not have access to the tree of life. They had been informed that they would die, yet the tree of life would bring everlasting existence. Wouldn't that mean everlasting existence in a state of damnation? It looks like God was mercifully avoiding that by driving them away from the tree of life, so that they might die.

Also the book of revelation speaks about the wrath of God being completed by the last bowl. The wrath completed -- finite.

So to answer your question: No, I do not believe that.

Kevin Rhyne said...

Richard,

Do Arminians deny a literal and eternal Hell?

a helmet said...

kevin,

I think it is important to know the effect of human sin on God Himself. In what way does sin harm God? How severe is sin in the sight of God? In what way does sin destroy the order of God? Does God suffer from our sin? And how angry, in human terms, is He at sin ? Is God irascible? Violent? Insulted?

I think those are crucial questions as well.

Kevin Rhyne said...

Helmet,

Setting aside the doctrine of impassibility for the moment, I’ll bite. Tell me your view of sin’s effect on God.

I am curious to hear this in light of verses such as “For I the Lord do not change;” (Malachi 3:6).

Second, as to the literal and eternal existence of hell, Jesus spoke more about it than any other person in the Bible. I wonder if you have considered the following uses of the word “hell” in your charge that “the scriptural foundation is quite weak.” Of course, there are other references to eternal punishment that are not listed below.

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:22)

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:29)

And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:30)

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. (Matthew 18:9)

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23:15)

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? (Matthew 23:33)

And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. (Mark 9:43)

And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. (Mark 9:45)

And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, (Mark 9:47)

But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! (Luke 12:5)

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (James 3:6)

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (2 Peter 2:4)

a helmet said...

kevin,

first of all, of course I know the passages you quote that contain the word "hell". The greek word here is "gehenna" and it meant the garbage dumpsite of Jerusalem, outside the walls of the city. The fire was burning constantly there.
It surely is associated with judgement. The Jews believed in a military messiah, who would execute the judgment in a worldy way, that is, quite literal, destructing all the enemies and raising all the faithful dead. Destroying the enemies would fit into the picture of burning at "gehenna". Actually the Messiah fullfilled the judgment in a radically different way. "Gehenna" does not exist any more. Surely it was metaphorical. But we do not know whether it was intended to bring anything else than death and we neither know, whether after the crucifiction of Christ this threatening is still valid. For note as well, all these sayings are pre-easter aren't they? They were spoken before the redeeming work of Christ. The synoptics with all the parables are very judicial in their style. They appeal to the jewish understanding of a Messiah, as the Jews expected the Messiah. But there are good reasons to believe that the judgment was fulfilled in a vastly different way.

The gospel of John very clearly says that 1) The father does not judge any one but has deligated this to the son. 2) Jesus says there he doesn't judge any one either.

"you judge according to the flesh, I don't judge anybody".

"I did not come to judge, but to save".

With the son of man judgement was fulfilled, but not the way it was expected.

The crucial judgment passage, where condemnation is actually explained, is John 3:19-21.

There is much said about in "On the Knowledge of Good and Evil" parts IX and X. On the blog http://livingbyknowledge.blogspot.com

As to your first question, how does sin affect God Himself, there is some explanation in the post "The fulfillment of the law by Jesus Christ" on http://meditationonthegospelofjohn.blogspot.com

It explains what the transgression of the laws in fact means and answers that question.

You may comment there.

Kevin Rhyne said...

I thought Calvinists were supposed to be the logicians...

Jay said...

Helmet:

I have looked at verses that you cite for the contention Jesus claimed the he did not judge anyone. I am afraid that you have lifted these verses out of their context and given them a meaning that was not intended, either implicitly or explicitly. For example, John 8:15 cannot be read in the way that you do if you read the immediately following verses in context. Clearly, Jesus was chastising the pharisees for their judgment of people based on external actions and based upon their own "sensibilities." Jesus was drawing a distinction between their judgment and His judgment, which is not based on outward appearances but is a judgment of a person's heart. Jesus was also articulating the fact that He, in fact, does not judge alone but in conjunction with the Father. To lift this verse out its context and to give it a meaning such as the one that you have imposed is disingenuous at best.

Jay said...

I am new to this blog, so forgive me for being so bold. But, if Helmet's views are representative of the Arminian view, and Arminians do not believe that Jesus is the judge of the living and the dead, then one wonders how an Arminian can claim to be orthodox. Wouldn't such a view be, by definition, heretical?

Richard Coords said...

Sorry guys,

I apologize for the delays. I am a catastrophe insurance adjuster and with Tropical Storm, Fay, I've been slammed. My contributions will be minimal for a couple of weeks.

I'll post some quotes from McGee tonight.

I haven't had a chance to go through all of the posts, but I caught Kevin's question about Hell. The majority of Arminians hold the view that there is a literal Hell. Luke 16:19-31 is commonly cited to show the state of the damned (remorse, memory, regret, ect, wide specturm of emotions). I do not believe that it is merely a parable. Jesus never used people's real names in parables. Even if it was a parable, Jesus ' parables were based upon things that people could identify with, such as runnaway children, lost & found coins, buried treasure, merchants, farming, ect. I believe in a literal Hell with eternal torment. I also believe in a literal Heaven with eternal glory.

I'll now post the new Blog post.

Kevin Rhyne said...

Richard,

Glad to know that Arminians are not completely unhinged from Scripture...generally. ;)

Watch out for alligators...

a helmet said...

I did not claim to speak for others. Surely the orthodox view is as presented by richard. And jay, let me say that I believe that surely Jesus is the judge of the living and the dead. But what exactly is "gehenna" -- I leave this an open question.

Kevin Rhyne said...

Helmet,

The gospel of John very clearly says that 1) The father does not judge any one but has deligated this to the son. 2) Jesus says there he doesn't judge any one either.

"you judge according to the flesh, I don't judge anybody".

"I did not come to judge, but to save".


...then...in the next comment...

And jay, let me say that I believe that surely Jesus is the judge of the living and the dead.

You get the gold for the backstroke.

a helmet said...

kevin,

Jn 3:19-21 is the key. It is the definition and explanation of judgment.

Sheila said...

I agree and thank you for this very important and informative blog. I enjoy studying with J. Vernon McGee.