Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Reformed View of Patristics and Entire Sanctification


On this week's podcast I answered a listener question about how the Reformed view early church history and concluded with a discussion of the Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification. Here is the program.

9 comments:

J. Dean said...

Great podcast, Jordan, and one that calls to remembrance things that those of us who are ex-Arminian remember. A lot of what was said about the rhetoric used by Wesleyans concerning internal sins being "mistakes" is something used frequently. The pastor at the Nazarene church I used to attend quite frequently used the words "mistakes" or "shortcomings" when it came to things that should be called sins, and he reserved the harsher rhetoric (wickedness, evil) most of the time for the unbelieving world. And there is a real emphasis on the outward actions in the Arminian/Wesleyan world, which I think does indeed give an impression that the externals matter more than the internals.

Seems to me that a pastor who shortchanges his congregation by referring to internal heart matters like lust and unjustified hatred as just "mistakes" is guilty of minimizing sin to his flock.

Question related to this, if you don't mind: do you think there's any connection between this sort of "entire sanctification" idea and the idea that the gospel is only for the unbeliever at the "altar call" (another problem there!) while the solution for sin in the believer is more law?

Jordan Cooper said...

Good observation. I think you are exactly right that there is a connection between these two ideas. You see this very clearly in Wesley's own preaching; he uses an extremely astute law-gospel methodology in his evangelistic sermons, but preaches pure moralism to those who are in the faith. Finney, Moody, and others took a cue from Wesley in bringing about the altar call type of theology.

J. Dean said...

Thank you for the response, Jordan.

An addendum just for an fyi: from what I've read of Wesley concerning perfectionism and entire sanctification, he seems to have believed that at the very least it was theoretically possible to be perfect, but was at least forthcoming enough to admit he was not perfect.

Nate said...

This was really helpful, Pr. Cooper. In fairness to our Reformed friends, they do have a couple folks who have done some work in patristics, most notably Dr. Charles E. Hill at RTS who published what looks to be an interesting work on patristic eschatology called Regnum Caelorum. Of course, as his bio states, he is a professor of NT. I also read once on Dr. R. Scott Clark's blog that Ligon Duncan has a Ph.D in patristics, and I believe there have been a couple graduates from WSC's M.A.H.T. program who have gone on to study patristics. I do think, though that the ones who get into the Fathers tend to head to more historic communions, as evidenced by this WSC graduate.

Anonymous said...

Great podcast. Studying patristics is also one of the things that caused me to question Calvinism. I have a friend who is now Eastern Orthodox that was studying at a Reformed Seminary and asked his professor why they don't study more patristics. He was told that Calvin already picked out all the good parts for them. Calvin himself seems rather irresponsible when quoting the church fathers to support his view of the sacraments. There's a list floating around the web of quotes from the church fathers that supposedly support TULIP. It's taken from Michael Horton's book "What's So Amaazing About Grace." No citations are given in the book and what I discovered when I tried to discover the source is that in many cases these were pieces of sentences from various works that had been pieced together into a single sentence and sometimes he would even include commentary by John Gill as if it were part of the quote from the actual church father. I tried to contact him about this as well as some of the blogs posting this list on the web but never received a response.

Jordan Cooper said...

That list that Horton puts together is terrible. I've been meaning to post a critique of it for a while now, but I haven't gotten around to it.

Anonymous said...

This is my critique of Horton's patristic quotations: http://lambonthealtar.blogspot.com/2011/11/tulip-in-church-fathers.html

Steve Finnell said...

CALLED AND CHOSEN

Matthew 22:14 For many are called , but few are chosen."

Definition of called: Invited or summoned.

Definition of chosen: Those who are eligible or suited for election. Elected and chosen are synonymous.

WHO ARE THE CALLED?

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Every person who has heard the gospel has been called. The call is not limited to a select few who have been predestined for salvation.

WHO ARE THE CHOSEN (THE ELECTED)?

The chosen are the ones who are obedient to the call of the gospel.
The chosen are those who have 1. Faith: John 3:16

The chosen are those who 2. Repent: Acts 3:19 (Repent means to make the commitment to turn from sin and turn toward God).

The chosen are those who 3. Confess: Roman 10:9-10

The chosen are those who are 4. Baptized in water: Acts 2:38

The chosen are not those who were supposedly, unconditionally selected, for salvation. The chosen have to be suited for election.

THE CALLED WHO ARE NOT CHOSEN.

Matthew 22:2-3 "the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.

Many have had the gospel preached to them, but of their own free-will have rejected the call. If men reject the gift of eternal life by rejecting Jesus as Lord and Savior; then they have been called, but not chosen.

Matthew 22:11-14 "But when the king came to look over the dinner quests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?" 13 Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 For many are called but few are chosen."

This wedding quest was disinvited. He was called but not chosen ; because he was not suitable to be chosen. Improper clothing was a big deal.

Galatalians 3:27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

DO YOU HAVE THE PROPER WEDDING CLOTHES TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

When you stand before the KING OF KINGS are you going to be speechless when He asks; where are your wedding clothes? WHAT WILL YOU SAY WHEN HE ASKS YOU WHY YOU REJECTED IMMERSION IN WATER FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS. WHAT WILL YOU ANSWER BE, WHEN JESUS ASKS YOU WHY YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD WITH BEING CLOTHED IN CHRIST?

MANY ARE CALLED BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN!


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Delwyn Campbell said...

When I was in COGIC world, I remember a saying that went something like this: Can you live free from sin for one second? If you can do it for a second, you can do it for a minute. If you can do it for a minute, you can do it for an hour. If you can do it for an hour, you can do it for a day. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.
of course, as long as you only thought if "sin" as the bad things that you do, that can work for you.