Book Review: A Place Like Heaven by Samuel Miller

eoem3usI requested this book (or booklet) from Log College Press not only to share some quotes or do a review, but also get to know the Synod of Dort. As you might not know this year marks the 400th year of the event. It’s worth celebrating because how the church stood up and defend the doctrine of grace against Arminianism.  I have been exposed to it on a lecture of Ryan Reeves on Youtube and it’s excellent. And after reading  A Place Like Heaven, all I can say that it can share the impression I have with the Ryan Reeves video. It’s excellent!

A Place Like Heaven is a primer booklet that explores Synod of Dort. The booklet tackles the events that leads to the synod, during the deliberation and the aftermath of this ecumenical gathering with a American Presbyterian perspective. It ends with some defense The title of this work came from on of the moderators of the synod describing it as a “place like heaven’. The title might sound like a devotional book but that doesn’t discount the weight of what has been examine in this booklet. I think it lightens up a bit by putting an encouraging tone to the book.

Though this is a primer, you’ll praise Samuel Miller for his remarkable writing that which makes this booklet accessible and clear. At first you might have some inhibitions  reading this, although short it’s written in an 18th century English. However as you read on, you’ll get the hang of it. The content is actually engaging and what you might dismiss as a Smithsonian relic, this booklet is really good. Whenever you start reading it, it grabs your attention and for me this is not a boring read. Miller ends this booklet by answering some arguments against the doctrine of grace.

For a 48 page booklet, I can’t believe I learned a lot about Synod of Dort. Sometimes I ask myself if this is really a primer because it really covers lots of areas of the event. Not that it gave all that is to know about the Synod of Dort but the content of this is enough for you to appreciate that important event. Once you read this, Log College Press books will be on your reading list.  A Place Like Heaven is a great addition for your Synod of Dort resources. Please don’t miss out on this book. Highly recommended!

My verdict:

5 out of 5

The Quotable Round-Up #116

znu4bd1Log College Press has a latest book that I recently received. A Place Like Heaven by Samuel Miller tackles Synod of Dort, an important event for the doctrine of grace, with an American Presbyterian perspective.  My book review is on the way but for now, you can be assured that this is a great book and you can get it through Amazon by clicking this link. Here’s some nuggets from the book that I hope you’ll enjoy.

“It was fondly hoped by many that when Arminius died, the controversy to which his speculation had given rise, would have died and been buried with him. But this, unhappily, by no means, proved to be the case.”

“When heresy rises in an evangelical body, it is never frank and open. It always begins by skulking, and assuming a disguise.”

“The opinions denominated Arminian had been substantially taught long before Arminius appeared. The doctrine of Cassian, of Marseilles, in the fifth century, commonly styled Semi-Pelagianism, was almost exactly the same system. Bolsec, too, in Geneva, about the year 1552, according to some, had also taught very much the same doctrine, though justly regarded as infamous on account of his shameful moral delinquencies. And about fifteen or twenty years before Arminius arose, Corvinus, in Holland, had appeared as the advocate of opinions of similar import. But having less talent than Arminius, and being less countenanced by eminent men, his error made little noise, and was suffered quietly to sink into insignificance, until a stronger and more popular man arose to give it new consequence, and a new impulse.”

“Perhaps it may be said, that no theological system was ever more grossly
misrepresented, or more foully or unjustly vilified than that which is commonly
called Calvinism; but which had been drawn from the word of God, and preached
by some of the best men that ever lived, many hundreds of years before Calvin
was born.”

“The enemies of the system allege, that it represents God as really the author
of sin, and man as laid under a physical necessity of sinning, and then as damned
for it, do what he can. They insist that our doctrine of depravity, and the mode
of inheriting it, if true, destroys moral agency; reduces men to the condition of
mere machines; and, of course, makes all punishment of sin unjust and absurd. In
short, they contend, that the views which we give of the plan of salvation, makes a system of heathenish fate, or of refined Antinomianism, equally destructive
of holiness and of comfort; and that, under the guise of free grace, we build up
a fabric of favoritism on the one hand, and of fixed necessity on the other; at
once making God a partial being, and a tyrant, and man a mere passive subject
of his arbitrary will. But, is it true that Calvinists embrace any such system as
this? Nothing can be further from the truth. It is a shameful misrepresentation,
which has no correspondence with anything but the caricatures of prejudice
and bigotry.”

 

5 Questions A Biblicist Should Ponder

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The term Biblicist has a broad definition. However in this article, I’ll address the Biblicist as a Christian who claims to be neither Calvinist or Arminian and believes that the Bible alone is the only and final authority. You can find them in some fundamental, independent or Bible Baptist circles . They encourage us to be one rather than choose the two, because for them, the Biblicist stand is the biblical one. While it might look noble and virtuous, however by testing the Biblicist position with these five questions, you’ll be surprise that it won’t hold water.

Are you just ignoring the issue?

Some believers just don’t want to be caught in this controversial topic, so they use the position as a trump card to dismiss it. Rather than look at it as an opportunity to have a meaningful discussion and to hear both sides of the issue, they resort it by saying that they are a Biblicist. Well this is not merely an exercise of choosing which side. It’s a question on who or what is biblically sound.

Are you just ignorant of the issue?

Yet some doesn’t have any clue of the matter.  So they jump on the bandwagon to fellow Christians who holds the Biblicist position without thinking it over.  However, the first question and this one doesn’t solve the issue, rather it leads to further anti intellectualism that is so prevalent in this group.

How do you define the Biblicist view?

Whenever I hear someone explain what a Biblicist is, some automatically quote 1 Timothy 3: 16-17, then declare that their belief is on the Bible alone in matters of Christian living, ministries and doctrine.   If by defining Biblicist meant that you adhere to  Scripture alone as the final authority, then a Calvinist can also be called Biblicist (Remember the 5 Solas include Sola Scriptura). In fact,  looking at their theological richness biblically and historically, Calvinism fits in that category. And please don’t appeal on the catechisms or confessions and view it as equal to Scriptures. You’ll end up misrepresenting the Reformed view.  I cant speak for the Arminian but I believe they will also appeal and say that the Bible is their final authority. So by that they are also Biblicist.

What are the basic doctrines a Biblicist adherent to?

As a Calvinist I can point out the doctrine of grace through the TULIP acrostics. As for the Arminians, well I’m not sure but as I check out the web, some might sum it up with the acrostic DAISY (Diminished Depravity, Abrogated Election, Impersonal Atonement, Sedentary grace and Yieldable Justification) although our Arminian friends might disagree. So how about our Biblicist friends? What doctrinal points can they show that is neither Calvinistic or Arminianistic? If they claim to be neural from both and scriptural at the same time, then they have to present something distinct  from the two.

Which brings us to the last question….

Are you just a closet Arminian? 

When push becomes a shove, a Biblicist will try to defend their position against a Calvinist. As they defend their position, you’ll notice that their counter arguments are similar with what an Arminian. Sure, they might not believe in losing ones salvation (neither some Arminians), however by looking on what doctrines they stand you can easily say that their defending Arminianism. They might say they don’t but in reality they are.

As we question the so called Biblicist position, we can see that rather untangling themselves from the issue they further thrown into confusion.  Rather side stepping the issue why not confront it. Try studying it, checking the Scriptures and praying for it. By then we will really understand and know the issue.

The Quotable Round-Up #89

f11jjqtHowdy! It’s a great day to sit down, chill and sip your favorite drink! And while at it, add some awesomeness in your day by reading our latest collection of quotes.  This time we are featuring fresh quotes from the books “Know the Creeds and Councils” by Justin Holcomb and “The Potter’s Freedom” by James R. White. And if you got stoked with these quotes, please get the books at your nearest Christian bookstore or on Amazon.

“A catechism is a book or document giving a brief summary of the basic principles of Christianity in Q&A form. Catechisms represent the practical, “on-the-ground” application of the main teaching agreed upon at church councils and expressed through creeds and confessions. The word “catechism” comes from the Greek word katechein, which means “to teach” or “to instruct.” Catechisms are basic outlines of the teachings of the Christian faith, set forth in a way that those unfamiliar with doctrine can easily understand.” — Justin Holcomb

“Because creeds are bare-bones structures (the outlines of the sketch), it makes sense that the earliest statements of the church are creeds, while later statements of particular denominations are confessions. Creeds distinguish orthodoxy from heresy (or Christian faith from non-Christian faith). Confessions distinguish denominational distinctives (or one type of Christian faith from another type of Christian faith.” — Justin Holcomb

“Creeds aren’t dogmas that are imposed on Scripture but are themselves drawn from the Bible and provide a touchstone to the faith for Christians of all times and places.”– Justin Holcomb

“Christians of the past were no less concerned with being faithful to God than we are, and they sought to fit together all that Scripture has to say about the mysteries of Christianity — the incarnation, the Trinity, predestination, and more — with all the intellectual power of their times. To ignore these insights is to attempt to reinvent the wheel, and to risk reinventing it badly.”
— Justin S. Holcomb

“Grace is a wonderful word that speaks of God’s freedom and God’s power. I cannot earn grace, merit grace, purchase grace, or force grace. It is free or it is not grace. Yet the grace of God that brings His elect safely into eternal rest is not merely some persuasive power that may or may not accomplish the ends for which God intends it. Grace is no servant of man, dependent upon the creature for its success. No, saving grace is God’s own power. Saved, and kept, by grace. That is the Christian’s hope.” –James R. White

“Arminians teach that God sends his grace to “persuade” men to believe, but they deny that God can actually raise a man to spiritual life without his assistance and agreement. They deny that there is an elect people, based solely on the choice of God, to whom God will infallibly apply the benefits of Christ’s atonement. Grace is limited to being effective on the “willing,” i.e., it is submitted to the power and will of man and his decisions. It becomes a mere “wooing” force. The Reformed Christian who has sought to share the gospel of grace with Roman Catholics recognizes that this is the same view of grace found in the Roman communion, and it is deeply troubling to find it expressed within what is called Protestantism.” –James R. White

“The question is, Who, ultimately, is responsible for my union with Jesus Christ? God is both the one who is the origin and source of salvation in general, and the one who powerfully, purposefully, and perfectly draws His elect people into blessed union with Jesus Christ.” –James R. White

 

The Quotable Round-Up #87

tpn6bjcHowdy! It’s a great day to sit down, chill and sip your favorite drink! And while at it, add some awesomeness in your day by reading our latest collection of quotes.  This time we are featuring fresh quotes from the book “The Potter’s Freedom” by James R. White. And if you got stoked with these quotes, please get the book at your nearest Christian bookstore or on Amazon.

“The religions of men, Roman Catholicism, and Arminianism, all share one thing in common: the deep desire to maintain the ability of man to control the work of God in salvation and always have the “final say.” The blunt assertion of Christ refutes this error. The fact is, outside of the divine action of drawing the elect to Christ none would come to Him. It is beyond the capacity of the fallen man.”

“All men would be left in the hopeless position of “unable to come” unless God acts, and He does by drawing men unto Christ. Outside of this divine enablement no man can come to Christ. No man can “will” to come to Christ outside of this divine drawing.”

“Why is one man raised to eternal life and another left to eternal destruction? The Scriptures offer an answer that is satisfying to the believer, but insufficient for the person unwilling to trust in God’s goodness. What is the basis of God’s act of predestination? It is “according to the kind intention of His will.” Each word is important. It is His will, not our will. And remember, this is speaking not of some general plan to “save” so that it is God who “initiates” but man who actuates. This is the specific predestination of individuals to sonship. The basis of this specific decree is God’s will. No mention is found of man’s will.”

“Synergism is the hallmark of man’s religions: monergism the mark of the biblical gospel.”

“When the Scriptures say that men are spiritually dead, we are not to understand this to mean that they are spiritually inactive. Men are active in their rebellion, active in their suppression of the truth, active in their sin. Instead, spiritual death refers to alienation from God, the destruction of the positive, active desire to do what is right in God’s sight, and most importantly, the ability to do what is good and holy.”

“Reformed theologians insist that for one to be free as a creature then one must have first and foremost a sovereign Creator. God is the free and sovereign Creator and acts freely in that realm that is His: we are mere creatures, never sovereign, never autonomous (i.e., without law, without a superior authority), but responsible within the realm of our createdness.”

“The Christian heart is glad to confess, “Salvation is of the Lord.” All of it. In completeness. In perfection. The God who decrees all things saves perfectly. Salvation is a divine act, a divine work. It is centered upon God, not upon man. It is God’s glory, not man’s, that is at stake. The God-centeredness of the gospel is what makes the biblical teaching so fundamentally different than all the religions of men.”

A.W. Pink on Holy Fear

Arthur W. Pink in one of his writings states:

It is true that believers are bidden to fear Him which is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell (Matt. 10: 28), yet it should be pointed out that there is a vast difference between fearing God and dreading eternal punishment: in the parallel and fuller passage Christ added, yea, I say unto you, fear Him (Luke 12:5)-not fear Hell. one of the covenant promises which God has made concerning His elect is, I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me (Jer. 32:40), and that is a filial fear, a respect for His authority, an awesome veneration of His majesty; whereas the fear of the unregenerate is a is a servile, anxious and tormenting one. The holy fear of the righteous causes them to be vigilant and watchful against those ways which lead to destruction, but the fear of the wicked is occupied only with destruction itself: the one is concerned about evils which occasion God’s wrath; the other is confined to the effects of His wrath. But the exercise of faith and the operations of filial fear are not only principles which regulate the saint: the love of Christ constrains him; gratitude unto God for His wondrous grace has a powerful effect upon his conduct.

(Eternal Security: It’s Opposition by Arthur W. Pink)