Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Free Grace Theology

Free Grace Theology and Repentance

Antonio writes a post entitled "Free Grace Theology and Repentance -- A Reply To Matthew Waymeyer Part 1"
He taught me something that I had not thought of before - or at least I did not know how to articulate it - the difference between a logical necessity and a theological necessity.

What do you think? Go read it.

35 Comments:

  • Rose,

    I don't think there is really much difference between the two. I.e. "logical" and theo-"logical" necessity. This presupposes that logic and theologic are at odds with eachother, but they aren't since God is the source of all necessity and logic ;~).

    In Christ

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at 8/13/2006 2:37 PM  

  • Repentance in its fulness is in no way a necessity for receiving eternal life.

    Some degree of repentance may lay the foundation for faith in Christ, but this is not strictly necessary in all cases.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 8/13/2006 3:32 PM  

  • Bobby,
    Judging by that comment, I am not sure that you read Antonio's post. Let me try and put it into my own words - there is a difference between "You must be born-again to see the kingdom of God" (theological necessity)
    and
    "You are going to have to take those earplugs out of your ears and turn off that jackhammer to see the kingdom of God." (logical necessity for the situation wherein a street preacher is trying to tell an unbeliever the gospel.)

    Hi Matthew,
    A person who spends every waking hour in a state of drunkeness may have to turn from alcohol at least long enough to hear and consider the gift of God. They are not saved by turning from the alcohol, but by hearing and considering the Word of God, which they couldn't have done without turning from the alcohol at least for a day. Is that what you mean?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/13/2006 3:56 PM  

  • I was hoping Bobby would give it a read... I have come to appreciate his comments.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 8/13/2006 7:35 PM  

  • Rose, I read the article . . . I guess I'm not understanding the significance of the distinction. I'll have to re-read it, since it was a "quick read" the first time. BTW the repentence, as prepatory, that Matthew mentions, sounds very much like Calvinism's "prepatory grace".

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at 8/13/2006 8:57 PM  

  • Okay I re-read, I see Antonio is arguing that "repentence" would fall into the "logical necessity" category; while belief in Christ alone for eternal life falls into the "theological necessity". I see the significance that Antonio is drawing out . . . but I'm going to probably have to take the road that says that belief in Christ for salvation is pre-supposed by the fact that a person recognizes their need for a savior in the first place; which is presupposed by the fact that a person recognizes they are a sinner; which is presupposed by the fact that that person will change their mind and turn away from their way to Christ's way as the only viable alternative for salvation.

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at 8/13/2006 9:04 PM  

  • In your theology, Bobby, those presuppositions are logical necessities to faith alone in Christ alone.

    By Blogger Antonio, at 8/14/2006 12:32 AM  

  • The following excerpt is from Solifidian's blog where he has transcribed a tape of a conference where Zane Hodges was answering questions concerning minimum content:
    ----------
    Question from the audience:

    This may be a unique problem to me, but I doubt it. Where I live and minister, the people do not have a very strong sense of their sinfulness. And in your presentation, I was looking for that, and I’m not disappointed that I didn’t hear it, but how much of a sense of man’s sinfulness does one need? Now you mentioned the terms salvation and savior. Are we to assume that people are going to naturally know that they are sinners, that there is a rift between them and God? How do you handle this when you’re presenting the gospel?

    Answer from Professor Hodges:

    That’s an excellent question. And the way I would want to answer that is this: In saying that you trust Jesus as the One who guarantees your eternal life, that implies that you need someone to guarantee it. If you came to Jesus and thought, “I don’t really need anybody, not even Jesus, to guarantee my eternal future,” then obviously you couldn’t trust Him to guarantee your eternal future.

    So this gets us off what I think is a terrible and misleading dilemma that sometimes occurs in the evangelical movement – how sinful must we think we are before we can believe in Christ? Well if I know that somehow or other I need somebody besides myself to guarantee my eternal well-being, then I have the grounds for believing in Christ.

    But in America, as we know, this is not a very major problem. You don’t need to talk to most Americans very long before they will acknowledge that they are sinners. And most people have, because of the near-Christian culture that we have in our society, something of a fear of the future precisely because they know that they are not everything that they ought to be. But when you get, let’s say, to the experience of a little child, how deep must a child’s conscience be of sin before he can trust Christ? If the child is able to say, “I’m going to believe in Jesus to take me to heaven,” that’s enough, regardless of the degree of the child’s sense of sin.
    ----------
    Thanks, Solifidian for the transription!

    I hope this puts the issue into clearer focus.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 8/14/2006 12:45 AM  

  • Yes Antonio,

    I see the distinction of pre-conditions, that lead technically to actual appropriation of salvation--but from my perspective the whole "preparation" (your logical necessity), and the actual moment of appropriation (your theological necessity) is all the work of the Holy Spirit (i.e. Rom 10:14ff; John 16:1ff; etc.)--which then leads me to believe that it is all of "theological necessity", thus leading me full circle back to my original comment (which Rose initially responded to ;)--that this distinction (logical/theological) is a faulty distinction.

    BTW thanks for providing that transcript, that was helpful for clarification.

    In Christ

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at 8/14/2006 2:11 AM  

  • That might be an example.

    On the other hand his alcoholism might lead him to see the deadly effects of sin and he mioght begin the process of repentance before his conversion. This might help him to see his need for a Saviour.

    On the other hand, a woman's husband might become a Christian and the transformation in his life, his becoming a more gentle and caring husband might lead the wife to see the power of Christ and the reality of His work. She thus might come to believe in Christ for eternal life without coming to see her own sinfulness.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 8/14/2006 2:47 AM  

  • Hi Rose,
    just stopping by to say hi, like your new picture!

    take care
    have a great day!

    By Blogger jel, at 8/14/2006 6:41 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Sorry we missed Friday's festivities--but tired and sore will do that--Happy Birthday Eve!

    I was all set to begin this with a smart aleck remark (which I guess I am doing anyway) about having to think in order to believe (which would require quite a bit of effort on my part). Instead of stopping there though I looked up a few passages of Scripture (Trying to get out of that 43%--inside joke)and re-read parts of Antonio's post.
    These two seem to show repentance as part of the logical necessity.

    "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." 2 Cor 7:10

    "Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth," 2 Tim 2:25

    Repentance leading to salvation.

    I also found this passage in Romans (addressed to believers I think) calling on them to Repentance still:

    "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?
    But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." Rom 2:4-5 .

    The Lord knows I still have repenting to do---daily.

    Bill

    By Anonymous Still Just a Bill, at 8/14/2006 10:31 AM  

  • Hey Bobby,
    I see what you are saying, but I still am not sure you see what he is getting at. Of course, the Holy Spirit is at work in conversion. Without Him, we wouldn't have a chance. However, would you not agree that the Holy Spirit works in different ways with different people to bring them to conversion? In other words, it might be "logically necessary" for me to have met a certain evangelist to lead me to Christ, because of my unique outlook, experiences, disposition etc... In this way, the circumstances for my conversion were tailor-made for me. Your own situation was necessary for you.

    Conversely, God doesn't tailor-make a plan of salvation for individuals ... in other words, there is the "theological necessity" of coming to God through Christ and only through Christ.

    I am probably talking way under your head, but I think it is so true what A. is trying to say.

    DF,
    Good examples. Everyone is different! (Jude 1:22-24)

    Hi Janice,
    Thanks for stopping by. It is nice to "see" you!

    Hi Bill,
    I personally think repentance means different things in different passages. "... repentance from dead works and of faith toward God..." (Heb 6:1)
    Right there it seems to mean give up trusting in your works and turn to God in faith. My husband is convinced that in some of the passages you quote (2 Tim) that it means "changing your mind about God" and I am convinced in some places it means "turning or ceasing from a particular sin." Obviously, believers need to do this when we are in sin.

    The other thing, too is that turning from sin will "save" you from a lot of sorrow and trouble, -not necessarily hell- and sometimes I believe a few of the passages could mean that.

    It is an interesting discussion. One thing is for sure - faith in Christ, not good or reformed behaviour, is what brings new life to wretched sinners and brings them into the family of God.

    I still have repenting to do---daily.

    Amen and me too!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/14/2006 11:28 AM  

  • Rose,

    I really do see the point, but I don't agree with it, nothing against Antonio. Yes the Holy Spirit reaches us through different circumstances and mediums, but that's just my point, it's the Holy Spirit at work; which then makes me think this is "Theological Necessity". Rose, how do you separate logic from theological. If we view life from a wholistic perspective, I don't see how you can make this distinction--thus its faulty nature. I guess if this distinction helps you think this issue through, that's great, I just don't see it as a very rigorous defendable distinction.

    In Christ

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at 8/14/2006 3:45 PM  

  • Bobby,

    funny you say
    ----------
    I just don't see it as a very rigorous defendable distinction.
    ----------
    When nothing you have said (which is all assertion) has repudiated the distinction between theological necessity and logical necessity.

    To me, it is your very rigorous theological presuppositions that feed your dissentions.

    By Blogger Antonio, at 8/14/2006 6:01 PM  

  • I suppose at some level, everything we say is assertion, the question is; does an assertion correpsond to reality or not. I've simply argued, given the holistic nature of reality--e.g.relative to metaphysics and epistemology--that logical and theological presents us with a faulty dilemma. In order for this distinction to stand, you (Antonio) would have to show how there is an ontological reality (its own independent isolated entity), known as "logic" that is separate from God, in a metaphysical sense. As soon as you can show that, then I suppose I will recant my "assertions" ;~).

    In Christ

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at 8/14/2006 6:18 PM  

  • Hey Bobby,
    The distinction does help me think this issue through. It reminds me of how the Lord knows everything about everybody and he has a personal way of dealing with each and every one. Some theologies make me think that if you don't have a certain precise experience, then you are not God's child - they make individual logical necessities into theological requirements of salvation. That is unfortunate to me.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/15/2006 9:42 PM  

  • Thank you Rose. I see what you're saying, I think . . . but I have a problem with lumping "repentance" into a "logical necessity"; which is what I think Antonio was getting at. I Cor 3:1ff provides an interesting discussion on this issue, and the prepatory work that the LORD does through us prior to salvation. This would illustrate how the whole process, even preparation, of salvation is a theological necessity. I thought that was what Antonio was getting at.

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at 8/16/2006 1:58 PM  

  • Hi Rose, congratulations on the soon to be addition to your family.

    I am a little confused by the discussion of logical necessity versus theological necessity. If something is a logcial necessity for the theological necessity to happen, then it is also an implied theological necessity.

    Let me explain a little more. I have a mathematics background. In developing a formal (versus informal) mathmatical discipline, such as gemometry, you start with postulates or axioms and/or definitions. You look at these and see there are some logical necessities that follow from this. In plane geometry, the Pythagorean Theorem follows by logical necessity from the axioms of geometry. When a proposed theorem is checked and validated, that theorem then becomes one of the known facts of geometry (or the other mathematical disciplines) along with the axioms.

    In theology, you start with the Bible and derive your theological necessities. In a sense, these correspond to axioms in mathematics. Logical necessities corresponds to the theorems in mathematics. These become part of the "known facts" of theology. Examples of logical necessities in theology would be aspects about the Trinity, which are not explicitly stated in the Bible, but are readily inferred logically from Biblical statements.

    So, coming to the issue of repentence -- if "repentence" is a logical necessity, then it stands just as much as a necessity as "faith", which is a theological necessity. This is because of the nature of "logical", things that are logical necessities of alreaady accepted facts stand just as equally as those other facts. If in some way you say that repentence is not necessary, then it is not a logical necessity.

    You see my confusion?

    I think the answer to this is that repentence is the "flip side of the coin" of faith. They go hand and hand together. Repetence is part of faith, and faith is part of repentence. There are various passages in the Bible state speak of repentence where you'd normally expect the word faith.

    Also, because we are such sinners, and we always need to look to Christ in his work on the cross for our salvation, there is built-in an implied repentence for the sin we see in our lives. Hence I am loath to seperate faith from repentence. I think it takes something out of the meaning of faith.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/22/2006 12:34 PM  

  • Earl,
    What do you mean when you use the word "repentance" in the context of this discussion?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/22/2006 3:55 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/22/2006 5:38 PM  

  • Rose, repentence is a turning from your former life and looking to Christ. Repentence, like faith, has different manifestations in different people. Some will break down in sobs, others will appear to be entirely unemotional. In very young children, they might not be able to articulate it. They may love Jesus and have a simple faith in him, but they may not understand the concept of "repentence" per se. But I would point out from my experience with very young believers, both in my family and elsewhere, there is an implicit attitude of being sorry for doing things that displease Jesus, with a desire to please Jesus.

    I can see how repentence can be abused. But I think it is implicit in faith. The humble publican crying out "have mercy on me a sinner" exhibits both the faith to turn to Christ and the recognition of his sin and implicit repentence. Just as the faith as small of a mustard seed is called for, so accompanying it is the mustard seed of repentence that is at the same time bound with with.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/22/2006 5:39 PM  

  • I do not see repentance as a logical necessity for receiving eternal life.

    In some cases repentance may aid reception of the Gospel message, but it is not necessary for a person to repent to believe. Some may believe without repenting or even being convicted of their sin.

    I do not think the distinction between logical and theolgical necessity has aided clarity to this discussion.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 8/22/2006 5:44 PM  

  • Matthew, I agree with you that logical and theological necessity does not add clarity to the discussion. But with respect to repentence, I think I am missing something that you see. I have an enormous respect for you and your thinking. Don't you think that in turning to Christ in faith is an implicit repentence in that you are forsaking something else in turning to Christ? What am I not seeing that you see? (btw, my purpose is not to argue, but to understand.)

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/22/2006 9:30 PM  

  • Matthew (and Anotonio, Rose, and others).

    Sometimes in various Ordo Salutis, there is a step broken out of repentence, then faith, and then justification. In everyone's Ordo Salutis, justification is the immediate result of faith -- period. Without faith, there is no justification. There is no other linkage like that.

    In every Ordo Salutis that I've seen, Arminian, Calvinism, Lutheran, there is also a place for repentence. The question is what exactly is repentence. There is no universally agreed definition, as far as I can tell, even within Calvinism. I happen to fall into the camp that repentance and faith are so joined together that you can't cut them apart. Often the typical Protestant definition of repentence puts to much baggage into the concept. I think of it as more of a turning away. It is certainly possible for a child to grow up always having faith in Christ, from their very first memories and understandings. In that sense there is no "repentence" prior to "faith". However, because of everyone's sinful nature, there is sin and sins we all commit. There is a desire to turn away from sin and cling to Christ through faith. This desire, however weak, is repentence, which is integral to faith, however weak that is.

    Here is where, perhaps (and only perhaps) where logical necessity enters in. Faith in the full payment of our sin by Christ on the cross implies we do not like our sin -- that is a form of repentence.

    So, I am curious, what am I not seeing that y'all are seeing?

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/22/2006 9:47 PM  

  • Earl, no repentance is not part of the order of salvation.

    Repentance is a duty of all mankind. It is an act of obediance. For a Christian, repentance aids her sanctification.

    Repetance may help a person to see their need for Christ but it is not a logical necessity for faith in Christ.

    Saving faith is essentially trusting in Christ for the gift of eternal life. Being convicted of sin helps one to see one's need for that gift, but a person may come to believe in Christ for eternal life without being convicted of sin.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 8/23/2006 3:30 AM  

  • Matthew, thanks for that clarification. I am seeing better now what you are saying.

    In Reformed circles, there is a debate among those who seperate repentence from faith, which comes first, repentence or faith. You can't have repentence without faith, and faith is turning to Christ so there is repentence.

    I can see your point now. I understand. I see good reasons for your view. I will not argue for my viewpoint. Thank you.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/23/2006 6:10 AM  

  • However, I am a bit troubled by your statement:

    but a person may come to believe in Christ for eternal life without being convicted of sin.

    Perhaps if we were to examine what you mean by "convicted" of sin, I would get further illumination of your thinking. I could see some extraordinary cases where someone believes in Christ and dies quickly after that, without a sense of "conviction of sin".

    I would think, however, that upon regeneration (and I am not concerning myself with the order of regeneration vs. faith), a person would see their sin and repent.

    In any case, don't mind me. thanks for your comments.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/23/2006 6:17 AM  

  • Well regeneration should lead to a greater sense of sin and thus may begin the process of repentance if it has not begun already.

    However, there are various reasons why a person might come to beleive in Christ without coming to see the reality of sin-

    children being taught about Christ by their parents, a wife whose husband has become a Christian and sees the power of Christ in his changed life, a person who has come to see the reliablity of the Bible, a person whose prayers are answered.

    Conviction of sin is not necessarilly the starting point of faith and it may be delayed even after regeneration by the hardness of the heart and by ignorance.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 8/23/2006 12:06 PM  

  • Earl, the reason I asked that is because sometimes people mean "changing your mind about God" when they use the expression "repentance." Others mean "turning from sin." I see that you think both are a part of it, right?

    I just am not ready to say that any action (turning from any particular sin) is necessary to receive Christ. I guess I am a fan of "Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me."

    Thanks for your gracious conversation on this issue.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/23/2006 1:05 PM  

  • Matthew, thanks so much for the response to my query. I'm done with this line of questioning and chew on what you've said. Thank you again for being articulate and clear, and for putting up with me. :o)

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/23/2006 1:06 PM  

  • Rose, thanks for your response. Yes, repentence is turning from sin. My take is that we will never repent from all the particular sins in our lives, and when we do repent, it will be as some old puritan prayers say, pathetic and weak. That's be beauty of the Gospel, our faith and our repentence are not near what it should be, but God does take us "Just as I am".

    I think I'll write about what I see the releationship of faith and repentence is in some future blog entry. Its been good discussing with y'all.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/23/2006 1:13 PM  

  • Earl, your Calvnism is refreshing. I am glad you do not set our repentance as a rigorous test to be passed for assurance.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 8/23/2006 5:39 PM  

  • Earl,

    I am sad to see that this conversation has gone on without me seeing.

    Logical necessity is a valid distinction from theological necessity.

    Not everyone has logical necessities to faith in Christ. And again, not everyone would necessarily have the same logical necessities.

    For instance:

    A ticket to a baseball game is all that is necessary FROM THE VIEW OF THE STADIUM for entrance into the baseball game.

    A man living a block away may walk to the game and not incur any additional monetary necessities in order to actually step foot into the game.

    A man living a 4 miles away may have to take a trolley and incur some more monetery debt to step foot into the game (or he may put on his jogging shoes and run there).

    A man living in another city may have to drive there (incurring gast cost) and park there (incurring parking cost) as a logical necessity to going to the baseball game (or he could carpool with a ride from a friend, and incur no additional monetary necessity to enter the game).

    A man living in another state may have to fly in by airplane, take a taxi from the airport, shack up in a hotel, and bus in from the hotel in order to step foot into the stadium, which by the way, only requires a ticket for entrance. Or this man could leave a week in advance, hitchhike to the city, sleep in a sleeping bag on the side of the street by the stadium, and eat at rescue missions, and thus incur no extra monetery necessity OTHER than the purchase price of the ticket.

    Each person in the world is at a different subjective state in relation and relativity to the probability that faith can occur in him.

    But the requirement by God is that one only exercise simple faith in the promise of Christ for eternal life.

    How one gets to that point, well there may be various logical necessities (and they don't even have to be an absolute program for the same person -- just think of how many routes you can take from your office to your home).

    Repentance may indeed be a logical necessity to faith in Christ for some people. Yet it is not a necessary requirement for eternal life.

    The man at the stadium does not require anything but the ticket for entrance. How the man actually gets to the point where he can purchase the ticket and get his body to the stadium IS AN ABSOLUTELY SUBJECTIVE CONSIDERATION WITH MANY DIFFERENT SCENARIOS.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 8/24/2006 8:45 PM  

  • Antonio, thanks for the response. I know it is difficult to catch where all the conversations are being made. I go to many places myself and forget we're I've been.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/24/2006 10:45 PM  

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