A Calvinist writer, Randy Seiver, with whom I have engaged in discussion from time to time has written a post asking several questions about prevenient grace. Most of the questions center around how enabling grace works and whether it can be resistible.
I am not going to tackle these questions in this post. Instead I am going to tackle something he says in part of his opening statement. Before posing questions, Randy lays down two charges against those who reject Calvinism. The first is that they have a system built on philosophy. The second is that their system is not a biblical one.
I would like to pose a few “philosophical” questions about their position … . Since their position is a philosophical and not a biblical one, I should be permitted to ask what they call “philosophical questions.”
It is this set of charges that I want to address.
Before we begin we need to ask and answer two questions.
- What is philosophy?
- What does it mean to be Biblical?
Irenaeus, a 2nd century theologian, defended Christianity from the Gnostic philosophies that were popular at the time. His 5 volume work, Against Heresies, dedicates the first two volumes to describing the Gnostic views and then precedes to dismantle them in the remaining volumes.
Throughout the work we are invited to explore the fundamental beliefs of the early church as they are contrasted with the opposing system.
Underlying Irenaeus’ defense lies the questions: how do we know what the truth is? and how do we decide between different interpretations of Scripture?
The heretics did not just offer a different worldview. They were using Scriptures to uphold their ideas – which centered on two gods – a good one and an evil one. It was the evil god who created the physical world that we must rid ourselves of. Continue reading
In the last post we examined the idea of using the early church theologians as guides to help us make sure that we are rightly interpreting Scripture and evaluating doctrine. In this post we will explore how the principles presented in that post might work when the “bowling ball is thrown down the alley”. Or using the more common expression when the “rubber meets the road”.
Before we go much further let’s make sure we understand what this post sets out to do and what it does not set out to do. Each of the case studies presented in this post are not meant to be a full treatment on the subject.There are other aspects that can be brought into the discussion to provide a more robust examination. Obviously, it is not my goal to settle each of these doctrinal debates in this post.The main point of this post is to highlight how the early church writings can be used as part of a theological argument. Continue reading