John Piper and Rick Warren. What do you think?

Rev. Dr. John Piper, Rev. Dr. Rick Warren by The Christian Post   So my friends, what do you think of Rick Warren and John Piper’s theology?





Here’s a sample of Piper: 

 ( I took out all that stuff about the other blog. I don’t think it was helpful, and I’m sorry I put it up there to begin with)

Thank you, all.


Thanks to flickr and The Christian Post, for the photo.


72 Responses

  1. I just want to state something for the record;

    I think John Piper and Rick Warren are VERY SINCERE in what they believe. And I would bet that they are BOTH very kind and decent people.

    But their theology is twisted towards humanism and ‘the self’, and this works AGAINST faith in Christ.

  2. I have to say, if you were insisting on calling Piper a semi-Pelagian, you were being a troll. Since you think Calvinists are heretics anyway, it’s difficult to see what benefit you would gain by calling him semi-Pelagian rather than Calvinist. The only plausible reason I can imagine is that you were being deliberately provocative and trying to get a rise, while also assuming that you’re smarter than everyone else and therefore the primary authority on what terms like semi-Pelagian mean. Seriously, why not just call him a Calvinist?

  3. JS,

    Roman Catholics are semi-Pelagian, as well.
    As are non-denominational Baptists.
    As is anyone who feels the need and teaches something in addition to the grace of God or in conjunction with the grace of God.

    I have heard many sermons where Piper does just that.

    He denies the presence of Christ in the Sacraments, so it follows that something else will be necessary to PROVE that one is a Christian.

    I say that is semi-Pelagian. We disagree, J.S..

  4. Yeah, you think any Christian who is non-Lutheran is semi-Pelagian. You are also quite aware that the rest of the world uses a different definition. When people insist on redefining words, that’s called being a crank. When someone deliberately uses a definition that is both offensive and guaranteed to not be agreed upon by the other side, that’s called being a troll. You *know* that your quirky redefinition of semi-Pelagian will never be shared by Calvinists, so the only reason you’re using it is to offend and pick a fight. That’s your prerogative, but don’t get sand in your pants when someone calls you on being a gratuitous troll.

    I ask again, why didn’t you call him a Calvinist?

  5. I think any Christian who believes in Christ + (anything) is a semi-Pelagian, AT BEST.

    Calvinist, Catholic, Lutheran, or whomever.

    I know some Lutherans who don’t get it either.

    What’s up with the name calling, J.S..?

    Do you really need that?

  6. Just wondering – did you ever get around to listening to or reading the transcript of the actual interview that you have so many opinions about?

  7. No, not yet, Anne.

    No doubt they said good things in that video. And for the good things they say about Christ and His gospel of the forgiveness of sins, I am grateful to them.

    What I object to, in botyh their ministries is the focus on ‘the self’. That is where the emphasis is for these men. It’s on ‘you’. I have just watched a plethora of videos from the both of them, and no matter that they DO KNOW THE GOSPEL…they rip it right back out of your hands and put you back on the religious treadmill. That’s my problem with them both. It’s about your feelings, your good works, your seriousness. At that point there is very little talk about Jesus’ death and forgiveness for those who ARE NOT SERIOUS. And I think none of us are really all that serious.

    Thanks, Anne.

    I will try and watch it, maybe tomorrow…I have a day off 😀

  8. Your problem with them is well understood. You have made the points you make above often. The topic of the thread was the interview and how Piper and Warren were able to discuss issues respectfully – which they did very well. Ironic, that your obsession with pointing out everything you believe is wrong with faith outside of the Lutheran world, wound up illustrating the exact opposite. Which is very sad on all sides.

  9. Anne,

    I appreciate that they discussed things respectfully on the video. I really do. I think that is a good thing.

    I don’t think that Lutherans are the ONLY ones who know the truth. Although I do think that we know it.

    I may be wrong about Piper being a semi-Pelagian.

    Yes…I may be wrong.

    But where I think I am right is the fact that he robs people of the assurance of their slvation, and takes away the freedom that Christ has won for them. And this he does by (as you rightly say I mention often) having people focus on themselves and their fruits, and also by discounting Baptism and Holy Communion.

    So, I am open to being proven wrong. And if and when I am shown that, I will admit it.

    Thanks, Anne.

  10. Steve, I am more of a lurker these days on Phoenix Preacher. I checked in today and saw that Michael had banned you.

    That surprised me as Michael doesn’t ban people much, if at all, these days.

    Having read your article what concerns me is that you admit to being asked to leave other blogs in the past. So I imagine you are a man with very strong convictions who gets himself into trouble by what you say or how you go about saying it.

    One way we can glorify Christ on a blog is by how we conduct ourselves among our brothers and sisters. Especially when there are disagreements.

    You might want to pray about and consider why you seem to be falling short in this area.

    The layout of your blog looks pretty much like mine so I give you a thumbs up for that! 🙂

    PP is made up of a lot of wonderful people that are learning more and more what it means to disagree strongly while not being offensive.

    It would be a shame if you can’t find your way back there. God bless you Steve. Allan

    • Allan,

      Thanks, my friend. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

      I have been wrong before, and I may be wrong this time. But, in the four times I have been asked to leave a blog, it never was because I was not respectful to the people on the blog. It was always because of my insistance to \stand behind the pure gospel, of Christ at work for us, with our having to DO anything at all.

      I may have been wrong about referring to Piper as a semi-Pelagian. But I really do believe that he puts way too much on folks that would either cause them to despair, or lead them into pride.

      Thanks, very much, Allan.

    • Allan,

      I went to your blog and checked it out. Nice work!

      It looks very interesting. Looking forward to perusing it a bit, tomorrow.

      Gonna hit the hay now.

  11. Well, I have to say that this is interesting! I do not listen to either of these preachers. I don’t know about semi-pelagianism but when I was getting my daily dose of Calvinism (of which Warren isn’t I don’t think) I knew I could never do enough. Only hearing that the Gospel is sufficient for sinners including Christians was able to draw me out. It was Christ outside of me. The new woman breaking forth through the admission that “my goodness I am a mess. I don’t need to improve I need to be saved from this mess” was what hit me square in the face. I never found that from the camps above… hmm… oh well I guess I will get lambasted for that but I guess that is the nice thing about anonymity.

  12. Robin,

    I think I may have been a bit tough on Piper for the semi-Pelagian tag (having the ability to contribute a little bit to your salvation). But, these guys, as you well know, leave you feeling the yoke of the law upon you with all that you should, ought and must be feeling, or doing, to be a “real Christian”, and not just a nominal Christian.

    It’s religious ladder climbing, it’s inward looking and it’s not the freedom that Christ so dearly won for us on the cross. As you rightly say, it’s when we look outside of ourselves that we see the complete and gracious, and merciful God that acts FOR US…doing ALL that is needful…because we could not…would not.

    Thanks very much, Robin.

  13. @Robin – It’s funny that nobody is defending Rick Warren against the charge of being semi-Pelagian 🙂

    @theoldadam – You’reasked what people thought. “Troll” and “crank” are not name-calling, they are just descriptions of a type of behavior. I have no problem with trollery or crankery, FWIW. But you can count on me to call a spade a spade if asked.

    I’ve followed you for a long time, and I think you’re pretty much right about most things. In fact, if you had called Piper a “heretic Calvinist false teacher”, I would’ve seen it as completely in character for you, and wouldn’t have even bothered commenting. I would’ve thought long and hard about what you said, and considered how it applied to my life, but I would have seen no need to comment..

    On the other hand, calling Piper a “semi-Pelagian” just seems deliberately malicious and provocative. And since you asked, I shared my opinion 🙂

  14. JS,

    I may have been wrong to lump Piper in as a semi-P. I tend to do that with folks who deny the grace of God in the Sacraments and who push a holiness project to prove that you REALLY are in.

    There’s no malice in it, though. My motives are that folks will recognize it when people (with the best of motives) steer the believer in the pew back into themselves as proof of the faith. I believe this is wrong and dangerous to faith. It creates doubt, despair, or pride.

    This is why the Sacraments and the presence of Christ (who commanded them) in them, is so important to me and many other Lutherans.

    Thanks, J.S..

  15. The following from, THEOPEDIA, is pretty good on three primary points of issue regarding Semi-Pelagianism:

    Human nature is neither good nor bad, but injured. Just as an injured person can’t quite do whatever he’d like to do, so likewise because of original sin, man’s moral abilities became restricted. His free will remained, but was weakened by the Fall. Man, then, can still decide to seek and receive help.

    Man’s need for grace: Although Semi-Pelagianism believes in man’s need for God’s grace (for man is too weak to help himself), man by his own free will is able to decide whether he wants God’s grace. Whereas Pelagius taught that salvation is totally man’s own doing, and Augustine taught that salvation is totally from God, Semi-Pelagianism teaches that salvation is a combination of the efforts of both man and God. According to Semi-Pelagianism, salvation is accomplished when man decides to co-operate with God and accepts the grace God offers him. This is often viewed as a synergistic concept of salvation.

    God’s sovereignty: Semi-Pelagianism essentially maintains that the sovereignty of God is limited by man’s decision to co-operate with God or not. God’s gospel of salvation in Christ can be rejected by man and so return to God empty. Though God may wish to save someone, He can only do so if that person chooses to accept it and cooperate with grace.

    Over the course of time, Semi-Pelagian doctrine (although couched in terms of grace) became the dominant theological perspective of the Roman Catholic Church, and essentially remains so today.

    • Thanks, Pastor Mark.

      After listening to J. Piper quite a bit lately, I think I may have erred lumping him into that category. He seems to believe in God’s actions alone to save, but then gets bogged down by lack of assurance because he does not believe in the Sacraments (for him they are merely symbols). So then it’s a constant barrage of stuff attempting to make real Christians out of slackers.

      I appreciate the good definition of semi-Pelagianism. I won’t throw it around so hap-hazardly in the future.

  16. Hi Steve,

    I cannot speak to Rick Warren’s theology (which doesn’t seem to be much of a theology at all to me), but I would agree that John Piper’s theology is necessarily semi-Pelagian as he holds to the false doctrine of limited atonement. This doctrine is not true to the revealed Word of God which plainly states that Christ died for all men. With this departure from Scripture, Piper (and all other limited atoners) deny the Gospel, the objective proclamation to another human being that Christ died for their sins personally. Without the objective external Word that tells them that Christ died for their sins personally, they must look inwardly to their own perceived repentance and faith for a ground of standing. Furthermore, they are compelled to wrongly define repentance and faith in an active sense, as only the active fruits of repentance and faith can be objectively identified. Ultimately, this form of Calvinism is another religion of works, placing one’s confidence in oneself, and not in the Word of God.

    True Christianity, however, follows the path of child-like faith. It openly confesses the true universal atonement of Christ, without denying anything of the doctrine of election. It announces the one and only true Gospel to every human being, how that Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross of Calvary for their sins personally. This Gospel Word creates faith and confidence in the hearts of God’s elect. All is of God’s power and grace. Those who receive this blessed Word look to that which stands outside of them. Christ’s death in their behalf always remains objectively true. Their faith rests only upon the Word of God, requiring nothing at all of them. The more they observe this Word, the more confident they become. They have grabbed hold of the love of God in truth, and out of gratitude they now bring forth the fruits of this love (love begetting love) in true Christian works. All is perfect. There is not a flaw in it.


    • Stuart,

      I think you have pin-pointed Piper’s theology correctly.

      So, as J.S., (above comments) pointed out to us, the real problem (the major one) is his Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement.

      Do you think this flaw in doctrine squares with the above mentioned definition of semi-Pelagianism laid out by Theopedia, in Pastor Mark’s commment?

      Thanks, Stuart.

      • Steve,

        Limited Atonement is what drives much of the despair in Calvinism. The Calvinist who does not drive home the L is often teachers such as Tim Keller or Michael Horton. They talk about Jesus being our substitute but do not obsess about who actually benefits from the substitution. I still find this to be difficult because you feel like at any moment you will get the big bait and switch…

      • I never really realized just how damaging that doctrine is to people until these last few years speaking to folks like you that have actually been adversely affected by it.

        I appreciate your thoughts, Robin.

        Thank you.

  17. Hi Steve,

    I have now re-read the definition laid out by Theopedia, and I would have three thoughts.

    1. The definition is correct as far as it goes, but it doesn’t consider the matter thoroughly enough. This is evidenced by the fact that John Piper would probably agree with the definition, and thus conclude that he was not a semi-Pelagian, while in truth, he still is a semi-Pelagian.

    2. Semi-Pelagianism is really nothing different than Pelagianism, but just with a more subtle mask. Whether one ascribes PART of salvation to man, or ALL of it to man, makes no difference in the end. Either one destroys the truth that salvation is all of God’s grace in Christ. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

    3. Semi-Pelagianism (as well as limited atonement) is another manifestation of depraved human reason trying to take the lead in matters that belong to faith alone. When a person does not take his own thoughts captive to the Word of God, but rather seeks to settle matters by his own understanding, he necessarily will find himself at odds with the Word of God. God’s Word plainly and clearly states that if a man is saved, it is wholly and entirely due to the grace of God in Christ. However, it just as plainly and clearly states that if a man is lost, it is wholly and entirely his own fault. These truths cannot be reconciled by lowly human reason. They can only be received by child-like faith in the Word of the One who knows better than we do.


  18. Stuart,

    I believe that I agree with your assessment. I think the nuances in the differences in these theologies ‘of reason’ throw people off the track and cause people to believe that they are ALRIGHT.

    But one drop of poison in the glass, and none of it is fit to drink.

    So, if we are to agree that these folks really are semi.- P’s, what would you advocate as a way to show others the error of that sort of thinking, without shutting down the channels of communication, as apparently I have done, recently ?

    Or would you call a spade a spade and let the chips fall where they may?

  19. “A fine confidence of salvation is left to us, if by moral conjecture we judge that at the present moment we are in grace, but we know not what will become of us tomorrow! The apostle speaks far otherwise: “I am surely convinced that neither angels, nor powers, nor principalities, nor death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come…will separate us from the love by which the Lord embraces us in Christ” [Romans 8:38-39 p.].John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, (3:2:40).

    A Calvinist quoted this to me to explain that Calvin held to the “perseverance of the saints” doctrine. I am trying to find out from him what ” if by moral conjecture we judge that at the present moment we are in grace” means.

    While “semi-pelagian”, “pelegian” and “limited atonement” are a different terms with different definitions, in the end result they are just the same problem. We end up having to look to ourselves for our salvation. Have I done my little part, no matter how small. This is enough doubt to throw you into despair and unbelief.

    Luther said that if he were told to pick up on little piece of straw and he would be saved, he would NOT do it, because he would be taking away from his Savior who died for him and saved him in this way. Even if he could be saved this way, this would be the wrong way.

    Limited atonement takes away the trust in God you should have to be saved, because God potentially did not chose you to be saved. So you must find the fruits in yourself, so that you can conjecture that you are in the faith, and that then can make you sure and your perseverance is even guaranteed. But first the foot in the door and that foot in the door is your works. DA, buzzer sound. Out! Wrong! This is how all religion is works righteousness, be it semi-pelegian or Calvinist turns you back to yourself, which is a mistrust of God, which is a breaking of the first commandment.

    Trust in God alone. He wants to save the entire world including you. This trust is what he wants from you. He is your good God and Father who wants only that you come home and share his love.

    • ” if by moral conjecture we judge that at the present moment we are in grace”

      Apparently, this does not fit into our discussion. Calvin is supposedly talking about scholastic theology, so I just learned. I am starting to think we might have to read some Calvin, so we can quote him when we need to. We have the TULIP and we know we don’t agree, but I do wonder how TULIP’ers got to where they are.

  20. Brigitte,

    “While “semi-pelagian”, “pelegian” and “limited atonement” are a different terms with different definitions, in the end result they are just the same problem.”

    ” Luther said that if he were told to pick up on little piece of straw and he would be saved, he would NOT do it, because he would be taking away from his Savior who died for him and saved him in this way. Even if he could be saved this way, this would be the wrong way.”

    Good stuff, Brigitte! And I like the sound effects, as well! (BUZZER SOUND)

    You seem to be with Stuart on this one. And maybe myself. I’m leaning your way. I guess I’m just not sure about the use of the labels. Maybe it’s alright for those of us to agree on those labels, but not that constructive to use them with folks who don’t agree with us. Maybe just good, clear reasoning, using Scripture and common sense are the way to go.


  21. i watched the videos. thanks!

    Piper says alot of things that are correct and that therefore agree with the Lutheran Confessions.

    Piper makes the central point that faith is “affective”, meaning that it is about the heart or emotions. This is also the central argument that the Apology to the Augsburg Confession makes over against the Aristotelian philosophy “baptized” into christianity by Saint Thomas Aquinas.

    Accordingly, also in full accord with the Lutheran Confessions, Piper says that faith is not the intellectual assent to what the bible says as being true or not.

    Finally, Piper correctly observes that the chief commandment of God is found in the First Table of the Decalog, even though he does not frame what he says in those terms. It is alone in the First Table of the Decalog that the Law deals with those affective movements of the heart. It is there that God demands of us fear, love and trust in God above all things . This is actually faith in Jesus Christ that is being demanded then in the First Table.
    So Piper also here agrees with the Lutheran Confessions.

    So what is not to like? It is this:

    1) Piper is really saying that this heart-love, that is none other than faith in Christ, that the First Table of the Decalog demands is something we can do. But the Holy Scriptures are clear that faith in Christ is something that human reason and strength cannot ever do. And the Holy Scriptures are also clear that it is something we cannot DO even with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

    The other commentators correctly identify this as Calvinism. Arminians teach this in a blatant form similar to rome: they say that reason and works can prepare us to receive grace. Calvinists also teach this, but position this teaching as a result and consequence of justification. It is true that some Calvinists are monergists here, but even the monergists err. How?

    Here I need to touch on an area that will be disorienting to Calvinists and to many Lutherans. It is about the Image of God.

    Lutherans believe that Original Sins is two things: it is the loss of the original Adamic Faith in Christ alone that was Original Righteousness and was also the Image of God in Adam. Original Sin is also a “vicious ” faith in anything BUT Christ, that rushed in with the TOTAL loss of that faith that was the Image of God. So Original Sin, and the Image of God are both entirely and completely about faith. Lutherans see that the greek word in the bible that gets translated “lust” really should be rather translated as “coveting” that is a faith in something other than in Christ in fact.

    Calvinists, along with Rome, alone with …er… semi pelagians… believe that the Image of God consists in mans aristotelian “higher powers’ that are the abilities to reason and to love (“affective power”). Calvin states that this Image ( I paraphrase…) was shattered like a broken mirror so that effectively the Image was so badly damaged that it was “lost”. And here is where Calvin and non-lutherans agree: the Image of God in Adam was found in his conformity to what? the Image of God is found in conformity to the Law of God. Now if this is true, then the Image of God is not entirely lost since the Law is written in the minds of men according to st Paul. And then the task to return to paradise and that Image is to be found in re-conforming man to what? The Law. So then the Gospel ultimately serves the Law in Calvinist theology. It serves the Sovreignty of God as they would put that idea. See the difference? Lutherans place the Image of God alone in Adamic faith in Christ . Alone! And they add this: Only a heart that has this faith in Christ is able to conform to the Law of God. But the Law always accuses.

    Only when the Law can cease to accuse can God truly become an object of Love the Lutheran Confessions point out.

    I know this Image of God thang is not something you calvinist or even Lutheran readers have seen presented as such a crucial difference that divides Lutherans from both rome and the calvinists and the arminians for the same reason. What Lutherans place alone in faith alone in the gospel, rome , calvin and arminius place with the law.

    2)Further it is clear from his presentation that he believes that it is a preaching of the Law of God that God uses to increase this Faith in Christ that he calls “affective faith”. There two the Holy Scriptures are clear that the Law always accuses. I repeat: the Law always accuses. it condemns us. It kills us. it mortifies us (mortify is latinate for ‘deathing’).

    Other commentators are again correct in calling this Calvinism. Calvinists believe there is a 3rd use of the Law that is just for Christians that has the power to increase faith and sanctification. The Lutheran’s also teach a “Third Use” in the Lutheran Formula of Concord art VI. The Lutheran Third use is to inform christians that the same Law appliesto and affects both pagans and christians alike. it kills both pagans AND the Old Adam of Christians identically!

    Further, there is NO difference between ‘fruits of the spirit” and the “works of the Law” according to this Luheran 3rd use. The love produced by both is the same identical love. So what is the difference? it is alone in who is doing the work. And that difference is alone faith in Christ alone. the difference is not found in any way in the works performed .

    • “So what is not to like? It is this:

      1) Piper is really saying that this heart-love, that is none other than faith in Christ, that the First Table of the Decalog demands is something we can do. But the Holy Scriptures are clear that faith in Christ is something that human reason and strength cannot ever do. And the Holy Scriptures are also clear that it is something we cannot DO even with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

      2)Further it is clear from his presentation that he believes that it is a preaching of the Law of God that God uses to increase this Faith in Christ that he calls “affective faith”. There two the Holy Scriptures are clear that the Law always accuses. I repeat: the Law always accuses. it condemns us. It kills us. it mortifies us (mortify is latinate for ‘deathing’).”

      As Patrick said, we ought not judge him on these few short snippets, but we can judge these snippetts on their own merit. And what you point out clearly shows them to be centered on self, rather than on God.

      Thanks, FWS.

      I appreciate your insights.

    • fws: Have you ever actually read any original writings of Calvin himself on the issues you refer to? I was raised in a calvinist church, graduated from a calvinist seminary and I recognize very little in what you just said was Calvin’s views. By the way, I now attend a Lutheran church and have made major shifts in my theological views.

      • Hi RonH!

        I live in brasil. Unfortunately now I have only what I can resource online. I have read Calvin´s commentary on Genesis and his institutes and any other writings of his I can get my hands on.

        I would suggest that what you should be curious about instead is what I assert is the position of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and what I am assert that her confessions teach. I would suggest that you start from that direction. Why? Modern American Lutherans generally cast their theology today in a format that is reactive to and so conforming to a Calvinist frame and outline. Many Lutherans for example see no difference between classic reformed views on sanctification and their own views. Lutherans dont find alot on “sanctification” then in their own Confessions because they are looking for that Calvinistic view. It aint there. For the Confessions, “sanctification”, in the strict or narrow sense of the word exactly equals the New Man and regeneration, apart from the Law or reconformity to it. Just for example. In the broad sense sanctification includes Law and mortification. This parallels the meaning of the word “repentence ” in it´s “narrow” (ie faith alone) and “broad ” meaning.

        I have said that the Lutheran Confessions teach the following:

        1) Original Sin is, definitionally ALL about faith. The definition of Original Sin excludes works, even works of the flesh defined as what we do, and….

        2) the Original Adamic Image of God IS exactly and exclusively ALL about faith alone in Christ, alone, apart from conformity to the Law of God.

        3) the Original Righeousness of Adam was alone faiith in Christ , alone, apart from conformity to the Law.

        Alot of theology deals with restoring man to paradise and Original Righteousness. But to do this, one must first decide what that original state consisted of and is defined as right? Most of us dont think to start there really. We just assume. And reason always assumes a Law understanding as it´s default position. This is how Old Adam thinks. So that assumption makes “good sense” really.

        Calvin, along with Rome, Arminius, and yes, alot of Lutherans who don´t really read their confessions in order to use them to form their theology in a practical way, would locate the restored image of God and the restored original adamic righeousness, at least to some extent, in being reconformed to the Law of God. They would do this at least in a “natural law ” sense (understanding “natural law” in the aristotelian “teleological” sense if you understand what I mean by that: “persons ‘flourish’ by actualizing their divinely created intended design’ ” is a summary of that idea.) Which is a Law idea isn´t it?

        In very stark contrast to this, Lutherans say that Baptismal regeneration immediately and completely restores to New Man the Image of God and the infusion of Original Righeousness. In new man , sanctification then is instantaneous and complete at the point of the new birth according to Lutherans in the narrow meaning of that word “sanctification”. And sanctification, in the broad sense that includes Law is all about death. It is about the killing of the Old Adam and not about life at all in any way. This is not what Baptism does. It is what baptism signifies. (small catechism.)

        And what is that Image and Righeousness? Right behavior or actions? No. It is alone faith alone in Christ alone. And once that is all restored, in Baptism, then , “automatically” and “spontaneously” as “light from sun” and “as the angels obey”, we just are in conformity to the Law of God as a consequence of having that original Image and Righeousness restored.

        This is the radical difference between the Lutheran Third Use of the Law found in FC VI and Calvin´s idea that there is a 3rd use that does not kill but rather instead sanctifies and restores. For Calvin, there is a 3rd use of the Law is a sort of “sanctification helper”. But Lutherans say this about the Law: “The Law always accuses. The Law always kills. The law always demands and gives nothing in return but death. ”

        Many read that article in the Formula titled “3rd use” and then look for a calvinistic understanding.

        One cannot understand FC art VI without first understanding how the Apology defines Original Sin and so also Original Righeousness and the Image of God in article II. One will also not understand art I of the Formula on Original sin in the Lutheran sense without first grasping the Apology. The Lutheran definition of the Image of God and Original Righeousness is radically different than that of Calvin. I hope you can follow this… it is a different contour than you are used to seeing even in Lutheran books apart from our confessions.

        I would urge you to sit down with a pen and paper and outline the first 4 articles of the Apology to the Augsburg Confessions. As you do this, you will need to keep in mind what Aristotle teaches about acquiring virtue as a habit. That is the context, because it is exactly the ideas of Aristotle that the Roman Scholastics turned into “sanctification”. Because Calvin is the Uber Augustinian, he too follows aristotle through Saint Augustine I would suggest. Luther, shortly after the bondage of the will, abandoned Augustine in favor of St Paul. I suggest that the point where he did this is exactly the pivot points of the definition of the Image of God and Original Restored Righeousness. Are these about reconformity to the Law or are they , alone, about faith, in Christ, alone?

        Keep in mind what I have writtten here for you as you parse the Apologies first 4 article and prove for your own self if what I am saying, which is so very radical, is in fact what the Lutheran Confessions teach.

        Bless you!

        So you will need to carefully consider Aristotle, calvin, rome and luther in all this. And I am suggesting you study the first 4 articles of the Apology to do this. I hope that helps!

        I do know dear RonH that this is not something you have ever heard as a contrast between Calvinism and Lutheranism. That is the unfortunate consequience that Modern Lutherans tend to read the confessions as proof texts and do not really read them organically to have those confessions form their practical approach and views.

        So think about what I am asserting is

  22. Hi Steve

    I am not sure about how to best show others their errors, as I seemingly have not been very successful myself, but I offer a few thoughts that have helped me.

    1. Pick your battles. Not every fight is worth the effort, and too much arguing can give others the wrong impression that we are just difficult people who like to be contentious. For me, I wait until I see a very foundational issue, which if correctly understood, will swallow up all of the lesser issues in one bite.

    2. Remember our goal. We are really interested in winning souls, not arguments. As with fishing, seeing and identifying the fish is helpful, but our goal is to get them out of the waters of this world and safely into the boat. We must remember that these people are not our enemies, but are dear souls for whom Christ suffered and died, and who are presently captured by the wiles of the devil . This allows us to have the right tone in our discussions, and to be patient with the results.

    3. Know that “our labor in the Lord is never in vain”. That is a promise made by “God who cannot lie”. The Word itself always accomplished the purpose to which it is sent.

    4. Never let up. We are told to preach the Word “in season and out of season”. Most of what we see today is “out of season”, but out of love for our Saviour and for souls, we continue to preach nonetheless.


  23. Calvinists would be upset with the label “semi-pelagian” because they see themselves as strictly “monergist” which is supposed to be exactly not “semi-pelagian” that’s the whole point of the monergism (God does everything).

    They do, however, not want to see the fallacy in the thinking that if we don’t know that God saved us, and me, too, that we can’t really have faith in him. And if we really can’t have faith in him, we can’t also really love him. They talk so much, like Piper in the video you linked, about loving God above all things, including football, that they can’t really love him. They speak as we say in German like the blind about color. They can describe loving God, they can say all they want about how important this is, but they can’t help you love God. By getting so close to the truth, but at the same time pulling the rug out from under your feet with the limited atonement, the whole thing is very, very wrong.

    We love because he first loved us. I love him because he loved completely unloveable me.

    The Calvinist monergist would say this, too, but he would not be able to say that this applies to you or me, so it becomes an empty speech, all the more cruel for the truth it does contain–like a meal held out for the beggar but pulled away as he tries to grope for it, all the while admonishing him that he should eat and be grateful to the giver of the meal.

    • “We love because he first loved us. I love him because he loved completely unloveable me.”

      “The Calvinist monergist would say this, too, but he would not be able to say that this applies to you or me, so it becomes an empty speech, all the more cruel for the truth it does contain–like a meal held out for the beggar but pulled away as he tries to grope for it, all the while admonishing him that he should eat and be grateful to the giver of the meal.”

      Well said, Brigitte!

  24. Well said, Brigitte. You are right on target. “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”


    • Bless you Stuart. God inspires love because he is indeed an object (person) worthy of love.

  25. Now to discuss what Piper says about baptism and “sacramentalism”

    Again Piper agrees with the Lutheran Confessions on some key points.

    Piper believes, correctly, that Baptism is an ordinance, that is a Law of God. And so do Lutherans! Christ command us to baptise. Christ also command us to preach the word, and to administer the Lord’s Supper. These are all works that christians are commanded to do. Lutherans call that “Law.” Anything at all that a christian can see or do in his body, including faith, including love, is about the Law driving the Old Adam to do that act.

    So then. It IS true that Lutherans teach that men are regenerated and receive faith and the Holy Spirit by what? Lutherans teach that men are saved by means of works that men do. Lutherans teach that we are saved by works is another way this could be said that would not be incorrect on it’s face. the Lutheran Confessions teach this in fact.

    Secondly, Piper would point out that a work done , even a faith in an inerrant bible and what it says is not saving if it is not “affective” , ie if it is not from the heart in faith. The Lutheran Confessions here also agree!

    So the first thing that should grab everyone’s attention is the assertion that Lutherans do , in fact, agree with the Baptists in teaching that Baptism and the preaching of the word are human works that are acts of obedience, ie they are Law.

    Secondly, it is then obvious that Lutherans teach that these works have the power to save men by creating faith. So it is not unreasonable to conclude that Lutherans believe that we are saved by works.

    But Lutherans say that Piper is missing one thing that the Scriptures teach. it is this: God always works through means. God always works ,” in , with and under” things we can see and touch and do. This is not only true in Church . This is true everywhere. How does a fatherly God make his Goodness and Mercy happen in the secular world and the church and the home through the utterly lost Old Adams that even Christians still have in them? He does this “in , with and under” the Law divinely revealed in the minds of men . In their reason. God extorts goodness and mercy with carrot and stick of the Law. Read Luke 18 and the lawless judge driven by a conscience dead to love. Calvinists think we can (and must) do the Law. Lutherans say that the Law does us. The Law always accuses. it always does us and does us until it does us to death.

    And so now baptism.

    It is a work commanded by Christ that sinful Old Adams are driven to do. In with and under that work of man, God has placed his Promise. Faith clings to that Promise that is “in with and under ‘ that splashed on name of the Holy Trinity , And by clinging to the Promise, faith receives the Promised Mercy. Where? Faith receives the Promised Mercy, the forgiveness of sins where God has placed it. God has placed it where? “in with and under” the water of baptism!

    I would encourage a reading of the story of Leprous Naaman and Elisha in II Kings to see how this looks. Naaman was commanded by God, through a prophet/pastor to do what? to wash in water. So ask these questions: would Naaman have received the promised mercy without washing? By washing in any water other than that water where Elisha said the Promise was located? Was it Elishas work that delivered the Promise? Was it Naaman’s work? Who did the healing? Naaman trusted in the promise that was specifically located in an action and thing. Faith trusted in that promise. Faith received the Promised Mercy.

    Or read the story in Luke of the woman who was saved “because she loved much”. was it the love of the woman who saved her, or was Jesus using rather a synechtoche? Jesus was really saying that the woman’s faith is what saved her. but her actions were outward signs of that faith. So he praises her entire worship. And he condemns the worship of the Pharisees why? because they lacked love? No. because their outward acts of love lacked faith in the proper Object which is Christ. So Christ praises the entire act of the woman that included faith that manifest itself in her love.

    Baptism saves us not like a circumcision done by human hands but becuase the holy spirit has place a promise , in with and under the water that faith clings to . That Promise is alone Christ.

    • FWS,

      I very much liked the story of Naaman to show how God actually works, and accomplishes FOR US, that which He commands OF US.

      I agree with you that the Calvinist understanding of the Sacrament, is merely leading them back in on themselves.

      Good points, FWS.

      Thank you.

  26. I won’t judge Piper or Warren based on the few snippets I’ve heard or read. God knows all of us have spoken like our Old Adam many times… it’s our default position. I presume they (and I) are in the kingdom in spite of our theological screw ups. Having said that, here are a couple thoughts…

    Piper may identify himself as a Calvinist, but in the “Test Yourself” video, he sure talked like a “Semi-Pelagian”… the emphasis was on our treasuring, our love, our strength, our decision, our embrace, our feeling etc. instead of upon Christ’s work & promise.

    I tracked with Warren a bit in the early pages of his book “The Purpose Driven Life” (I hated the title of the book)… but then he quickly lost me when he turned the focus of the book from Christ to ‘me’.

    Calvinists generally track with Luther’s “Theology of the Cross” but ultimately and logically must end up with a “Theology of Glory” as they turn their focus inward to look for “evidence” of election.

    Arminian or Pelagian thinkers embrace a “Theology of Glory” hook, line and sinker.

    True Lutherans (and there aren’t many) find their only hope in Christ and His gracious promise.

    God have mercy on us all.

    • Patrick,

      I thought the same thing (about a few snippets) but I felt we needed something to go on. And I do believe they are not too distant, as though their theology would have changed. That said, you are right, we all say things that may not come out like we’d like or maybe the Old Adam was feeling pretty strong that day.

      And, there were many audio snippets that were pretty orthodox in their theology.

      I have heard several of Piper’s sermons all the way through, and afterwards I always seem to feel like the law has been laid upon me. I feel like I have not quite arrived and that maybe there’s something else that I am lacking.

      I do believe this stems from his non-trust in Communion, and or Baptism, as an act that God is doing, for us. So then, the rubber must meet the road somewhere, and that somewhere is in you.

      Whether Piper is a semi-Pelagian, or not, I don’t think I will use that term to describe him to those who ascribe to his teaching.

      Thanks, Pat.

      • Steve,

        We believe that God delivers His invisible grace to us in Word and Sacrament. Baptism and Communion are treasures… gifts of God.

        While others may misunderstand these gifts, they may, nevertheless, receive God’s grace through these means and especially through the primary means of grace… His Word.

        I believe Luther said something like… “It isn’t the lack of baptism that damns, but the despising of it.” I doubt that misunderstanding is the same as despising.

        But again, God have mercy.

      • Yeah, Pat, that is a tricky one.

        When told of the pure love of God in the Sacraments, and they still poo poo them, is that a misunderstanding, or a willful attempt to not have it.

        I guess God knows, and we’ll have to be content with that.

        Thanks, Pat.

      • Pat,

        I just realized that you have a blog that is attached to your church website

        I don’t know how I missed that, but I will get over there soon and check it out.

  27. Glad things seem to be back on track. Here is what Dag Hammarskjold had to say about people who misuse words:

    Respect for the word is the first commandment in the discipline by which a man can be educated to maturity — intellectual, emotional, and moral. Respect for the word — to employ it with scrupulous care and in incorruptible heartfelt love of truth — is essential if there is to be any growth in a society or in the human race. To misuse the word is to show contempt for man. It undermines the bridges and poisons the wells. It causes Man to regress down the long path of his evolution.

    To call Piper a semi-Pelagian because “semi-Pelagianism and limited atonement are both theological errors”, would be like saying that Piper is a Luciferian, “because Luciferianism and limited atonement are both heresy”. It is contemptuous misuse of words that undermines the bridges and poisons the wells.

    Likewise, to call Piper semi-Pelagian “Because his theology also ‘adds to’ the gospel”, would be like calling Piper and elephant, “because elephants have legs, and so does Piper”. It is contemptuous misuse of words that undermines the bridges and poisons the wells.

    Not only does such sloppy imprecision undermine the bridges, it leads to massively long comment threads where everyone talks past each other.

  28. Stuart’s post at 5:02 pm is very wise. It’s like I told you a couple of times – you need to comment on some “neutral” thread / topics so that you are not always seen as the contrarian. Tell a joke once in a while to seem normal.

    And when you get into a meaty issue – bite your key board tongue once in a while, and still get your point across.

    Great comments from some of the commenters above. 😉

    • I think there is MUCH merit to what you say.

      Thanks, MLD.

      Hey…did you hear the one about the semi-Pelagian’s daughter?

      (I know, I know…NOT bad jokes) 😀

  29. JS Allen,

    The point I was trying to make in my comment above is that anyone (including Piper) who holds to the false doctrine of limited atonement NECESSARILY is a semi-Pelagian. There can be no exceptions to this rule.

    The reason for this is that one must believe the Gospel in order to be saved, and Paul clearly defines that Gospel as the objective verifiable truth that “Christ died for OUR sins” (1 Cor. 15:1-4). This truth stands outside of ourselves, and always remains true whether we believe it or not.

    Now, if a person rejects this objective Word (as limited atoners do), then that person must find some other ground upon which to ultimately base his faith. And since the Scriptures give us no other ground than this one and only saving truth, then all other ground NECESSARILY is of one’s own creation and always involves one’s own activity. It is indeed building one’s house upon a foundation of sand. This is why Paul pronounces an Anathema upon anyone who would preach another (heteros – another of a different kind) Gospel.

    Here is a question for you to deeply consider. Do we believe that “Christ died for our sins” BECAUSE it is true, or do we believe that “Christ died for our sins” to make it true? The answer to that question will show you (and anyone else) where your faith resides.

    God’s blessings,


    • Answer: because it is true.

      We would like to warn the Calvinist then: limited atonement is a Trojan horse. You have smuggled semi-pelagianism back in with it in disguise.

  30. @Stuart, @Brigitte: I’m going to continue to ignore all of the tangential issues you raise, and simply insist that Calvinism is not semi-Pelagianism, anymore than a wolf is an elephant (because they are both mammals). There is a reason that there are two different words — because they define two different things.

    You’re taking a page right out of Steve’s trolling handbook:

    Step 1) Equate two words that are not equivalent, purely to agitate and offend.
    Step 2) Once you’ve got people’s attention, soapbox and pontificate about your hobbyhorse theological issue.
    Step 3) When people keep busting your chops about your contemptuous well-poisoning use of language, claim to be persecuted, and pat yourself on the back for being smarter than everyone else.

    You’re not fooling anyone. Calvinism isn’t equivalent to semi-Pelagianism, and wolves are not elephants. The fact that the entire world sees a difference between Calvinism and semi-Pelagianism does not mean that you two are geniuses who are smarter than the whole wide world. It simply proves that you are trolls who will readily abuse the language to serve your selfish desire for attention.

  31. JS Allen

    Any point you are trying to make is obscured by the uncharitable and cynical tone of your words. And since you put so much stock in avoiding the “misuse of words” one can only assume that you mean to be uncharitable.

  32. JS,

    That’s enough. I asked you earlier not to call me names, and that goes for everyone else here, as well.

    You want to disagree, and argue, and debate…that’s fine. You want to belittle people…forget it.

  33. @mark – You nailed it. I held up a mirror, and it’s up to others to decide whether they recognize the person they see in the mirror.

    @theoldadam — I hope you see the irony in this. You initiated this thread because you were upset that you got banned for being tendentious and calling Piper names. Now you’ve emboldened people like Stuart and Brigitte to engage in the same slanderous and false name-calling. I’m glad you’ve admitted you were wrong about the name you called Piper, but this is where we get to the second part of your initial complaint — is it ever OK to censor someone who engages in name-calling?

    I maintain that it is. And now that I’ve forced you into censoring me, I hope you can see that your initial complaint was baseless — you *were* engaging in false name-calling, and it *was* right to censor you.

    Of course, there are some big differences between what I did here and what you were doing on that other blog where you insisted that Piper was semi-Pelgian:

    1) You explicitly asked for it
    2) You were clearly wrong about Piper being semi-Pelagian, while I’m on much firmer footing in claiming troll-like behavior
    3) I did it to illustrate a point about name-calling, and not because I have an axe to grind


  34. JS,

    You haven’t been censored. So stop lying about that.

    No one gets censored here for disagreeing. Your problem is that you want to put people down. You are looking to ascribe motives to people you don’t even know. You are not contributing anything constructive here.

    You are deliberately goading me into excluding you and your malicious comments from this discussion.

    One more snide remark here and you will have achieved your aim. And then you will blame me for it.

    So be it.

    (the snide remark came in from him after this comment) so…

    …NOW you are censored.

  35. To all those contributing to the discussion on this post,

    I have repeatedly asked JS Allen to be civil in this discussion and he has ignored that request.

    He’s not being terminated from the discussion for disagreeing with me or anyone else, but for being disruptive and uncivil.

    Anyone can go back through the comments and see that he was given plenty of chances to repent and speak to us in an adult fashion.

    He just flat out refused to do that, so I will no longer allow him to demean myself or others here with his boorish and malicious comments.

    He claims that what he has done is exactly what I did on the other blog that I was terminated from. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I apologize to you for not doing this earlier and allowing him to spew his venom as long as I did.


    Steve Martin (the Old Adam lives! blog)

  36. The issue of whether Piper or generic Calvinists fit the definition of “semipelagian” is not the point, is it? It’s just a word…

    The effect of semipelagianism is to add something human to the work of Christ, and therefore lose the gospel. The gospel is not limited to justification or salvation (more words); it is the Christian life, from beginning to end. If you try to isolate the sanctification process from the gospel, you have lost the gospel. I don’t care what you call it…

    I’m not an expert on Piper and I haven’t had time to watch the video, but I do know that Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life puts emphasis on human effort (and more so than just cooperation with the Spirit) rather than on the work of Christ.

    Calvinism appears to have a deeper problem — it’s view of God and man — which tends to lead to all kinds of error, including a kind of legalism which appears contrary to a belief in predestination. This might explain the disagreement over whether they are semipelagian or not.

  37. Piper is at least a neo-Legalist. This shows up in his book on Desiring God and Future Grace. He is a confused Calvinists at a minimum. Also he mixes his Calvinism with the mysticism of Jonathan Edwards.

    Even Calvinists are baffled by him.


  38. Brother Saint Steve,

    ” I said they are both semi-Pelagians who constantly are looking to add something to the finished work of Christ. A lot of God, and a little bit of ‘me’. (that is semi-Pelagianism in a nut shell)”

    There’s not one in a thousand of even Lutherans that see this. Or if they do they are quite low key about it.

    Most will say, “Piper’s a Calvinist and therefore cannot have semi-pelagian thoughts or synergism”. But those of us who have been STEEPED in that theology know better.

    This all the better that as a life long Lutheran you recognize this.

    And THAT is what they hate to hear at the end of the day that their religious system is not one wit less adding another righteousness along side of Christ than those “dogs” the Arminians they bellow and fume at. And this is how they trap the “silent despairing” among them!

    But at the end of the day there’s really not a lot of difference between “40 Days Of Purpose” (Warren) and “Don’t Waste Your Life” (Piper). I’m not one BIT surprised they are teaming up more and more now days.

    Ask yourself, why is that Calvinism and Arminianism MEET under the Baptist flag? Because, at the end of the day they are BOTH synergistic and add Christ. Neither deny Christ, they lay something along side of Him. Luther in exposition of 2 Peter I believe it was said THIS is heresy, not the obvious rejection of Christ in direct opposition and its more deadly because it sneaks in under the same words that Scripture uses, “faith”, “grace”, “Christ”, “Spirit” but as Luther said, ‘…they mean another kind…”.

    Don’t let it beat you down, keep up the good work!


  39. Steve,

    This will help: Under Calvinism at the end of the day no Word or Sacrament comes down to man for man to the man for the man in particular. This is why they do not absolve, baptism does nothing when all is said and done, and the body and blood of Christ are not present in which one receives real time in the present that body and blood and thus the forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness of sins is ALWAYS held just beyond arms reach like a carrot on a stick for you to grab “somehow”. That some how is always a spiritualized form of something nebulous, some inward movement of the “spirit” proved otherwise. This is why they NEVER turn a despairing man toward the sacraments, and definitely not absolution. At best they will couch the language something like, “we should assume” but never “YOU ARE FORGIVEN”.

    That withholding of the Word and Sacrament, via their doctrines, i.e. other words, IS the synergism that creates the other righteousness that prevails before God. In short if you remove the ALL THE WAY DOWN TO EARTH TO THE MAN FOR THE MAN WORD AND SACRAMENT, you are left with no other options than synergism.

    It matters very little whether its pelagian or semi-pelagian or Calvinism or Arminianism or Roman Catholicism or Lutheran Pietism or some other religion of fallen manism.

    We take heresy FAR too lightly in our day and age and if there’s one thing Luther was crystal clear on it was heresy. I suspect not many Lutherans today would like Luther. Think about it, let’s be blunt, think about all the infants and children that men like Piper have denied the grace of God too! Yea, I know exactly how that sounds, but Paul didn’t excuse John Piper if he didn’t excuse apostles or angels from heaven that bring another gospel that is no Gospel at all. Are we to think that John Piper is NOT going to answer for his false teachings?

    I’m sure he’s sincere, I was a sincere atheist, sincerity had little to do with it. Luther points out that no ONE will be excused on this basis, NO ONE. Ignorance of a doctrine is one thing, but sincerity in falsehood another.

    Another point Luther makes explicit to heresy and heretics is that he goes to great length in explaining how the devil uses not these “trolls” of men, but the finest of men, the most pious and learned so that more influence may be gained by such “sheep’s cloth” and “fine hair”. Men’s “heart felt sincerity” leads more astray than anything, especially in our day and age. People pretend to love the Word of God, but they really love men’s looks and outward piety.

    Our good brother Bror posted something about this that was at LAST refreshing to hear, last week (check it out), how we don’t take this nearly as seriously as we should.

    Don’t let them cull you out with “nice talk” and pretend “Christian love”, that tempts men to cave in more than a bikini clad woman (and I’m not exaggerating).

  40. Spot on LP, and those two books are horrible.

  41. “This will help: Under Calvinism at the end of the day no Word or Sacrament comes down to man for man to the man for the man in particular. This is why they do not absolve, baptism does nothing when all is said and done, and the body and blood of Christ are not present in which one receives real time in the present that body and blood and thus the forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness of sins is ALWAYS held just beyond arms reach like a carrot on a stick for you to grab “somehow”. That some how is always a spiritualized form of something nebulous, some inward movement of the “spirit” proved otherwise. This is why they NEVER turn a despairing man toward the sacraments, and definitely not absolution. At best they will couch the language something like, “we should assume” but never “YOU ARE FORGIVEN”. ”

    You are right, Larry.
    In all of the videos I have watched and all of the sermons I have listened to by Piper, “your sins are forgiven” seems to be conspicously absent.

    But what is ever present, are all the emotional appeals. Lot’s of emotional appeals. For you to think and act and feel a certain way.

    It’s an internalizing of something that needs to come to us extra nos.

    And you are right in that they use all the right words. They just have (as Pastor Mark often says) a different definition than those words have for us.

    Good stuff, Larry.

    Thanks, again.

  42. The problem with a “strict” dictionary definition rather than a theological one is that it misses the broad point that Luther iterates over and over and over again about there really ONLY being two religions in the world, a theology of glory versus the theology of the Cross. I.e. if we are not “pelagian” nor “semi-pelagian” then we must be orthodox and right. A VERY dangerous assumption.

    Because it really doesn’t matter if it formerly fits the definition semi-pelagian, the real heresy and soul murdering doctrine is ANY doctrine that as Luther points out expositing 2 Peter is that they ALL without exception add along side of Christ, explicitly or implicitly another righteousness that avails before God.

    Technically speaking semi-pelagianism says “we help our salvation”. It’s explicit in its statement. Calvinism “technically” denies this in words but in the whole of its doctrine implies it by other means because fundamentally though it uses words like sola grace, faith, christ, etc…it does as Luther also warns that all false doctrines do; i.e. rather than opposed directly retain the same words such as faith, grace, etc…but mean of “a different kind”.

    Where does it manifest this, the SACRAMENTS (and absolution) which go to the HEART of the Gospel. That’s why the sacraments are not tangential issues but the heart of the matter. It’s why Luther said “this sacrament”, in particular the Lord’s Supper, IS the Gospel and any tinkering with it was de facto tinker with the Gospel producing at the end of the doctrinal day another gospel.

    How so? The pro me. Luther elsewhere emphatically states that without the “pro me” (i.e. for me in particular) you really don’t have the Gospel but another gospel or Christ at all. One may technically define the Gospel accurately, “Jesus died to save sinners”, but until it says “for you” its not the Gospel but talking about the Gospel. Without the “pro me” in Word or Sacrament , i.e. YOU are forgiven in particular in the ever present real time via means (Word and Worded pastor’s lips, water, bread and wine that come all the way down to earth to your body to you for you and actually DO what they say) there is no pro me. No pro me, no Gospel – no Gospel, no Christ – no Christ , no revealed Word/God, and no God then all is simply some form of your trying/doing/exertion, etc…whatever you name it, even if you name it “faith”, “grace” , “sola”, etc…it’s a work done by you in whole or part that in sum total if you don’t do it you will not be saved, elect, etc… This work, however its labeled by whatever doctrinal system, is in the end another righteousness being preached that avails before God for the conscience is not quieted until it is assured of eternal life.

    Thus, when there is no “pro me” there is no Christ and no Gospel, all is damning and soul murdering works. There is no “pro me” in Calvinism whatsoever. It torn away primarily via foolish reasoning. You must realize that the same fallen reasoning that caused the Pope to deny justification by faith alone is the same fallen reasoning that caused Calvin to deny the very and real true flesh and blood of the Son of God in the Lord’s Supper (and their denial of the efficacy of baptism). To deny the sacrament this way differs, in the end, none from Rome’s denial of justification. Because “this sacrament is the Gospel”, it bring in most particular the “pro me”, the very body and blood of God given into death/shed FOR YOU for the forgiveness of sin.

    It’s rooted in fallen human reasoning usurping and thus denying the Word of God, true sola scriptura and sola scripture + finitum non capax infinitum on the one hand, and this same fallen human reasoning logically concluding “double predestination” or “limited atonement”. With this every single “pro me” in the Scriptures is violently ripped from the believer’s child like faith. It’s ripped from the Word as in John 3:16 in which you, the pro me, are removed from the noun “world” (and other places in Scripture). Note how this rips YOU (pro me) from the WORD which rips you away from THE Word, i.e. the incarnate Word Christ! Same thing with baptism and the sacrament of the body and blood of the Son of God. There is no absolution, “In the stead of Christ I forgiven you…God forgives you your sin…” not “just as if” BUT IN FACT Christ is forgiving you, real time, real place, where you are to and for you in particular in the absolution (i.e. Gospel) just like the prostitute He stood before 2000 years ago a continent away.

    Without this ALL they WAY DOWN from heaven to earth in real time and space in particular to and for you Gospel, all man CAN do is grope around in the dark with his foolish reasoning for God forever searching but never finding (theology of Glory). This is the true bondage of the will that is not equal to the TULIPs “T” which is ultimately works righteousness in a much more hidden way than say rank Arminianism.

    This is the hidden works righteousness that the despairing in Calvinism detect when they wish to search out, “am I elect, saved” or “am I just fooling myself”. A Calvinist at the end of the day will never absolve you, never give you the sacraments, never say with Luther, “I don’t care if I’m elect or not I AM BAPTIZED”, never say baptism FORGIVES, or baptism regenerates, “Never put INTO YOUR mouth the body (given into death FOR YOU) and the blood (shed FOR YOU) of the Son of God for the forgiveness of your sins in real time and space to and for you. Never, never, never. To do so is to deny their entire body of confessions.

    The deception is clever, very subtle, as it will say, “look to Christ” but never actually GIVE you Christ for real. They never come to their Lord’s Supper, at least those normally adhering to the doctrine, expecting to have the body and blood of the Son of God put into their mouths or to actually receive the forgiveness of sin (and this is MUCH more contrasted in the Baptist versions of Calvinism).

    Be very careful for the language is very deceptive for they will say, “we should consider it that X is forgiven” (but never presume it to be so). By way of example note the caveat language, it sounds very close in this from Abraham Kuyper 1840 – 1920, Dutch Reformed Calvinist/minister. Quote on his Lectures On Calvinism. “The children of believers are TO BE CONSIDERED the recipients of efficacious grace in whom the work of efficacious grace has already begun and that when dying before attaining the years of discretion, they can ONLY BE REGARDED as saved. Of course the Calvinist NEVER DECLARED THAT THESE THINGS ARE NECESSARILY SO, as they never permitted themselves to pronounce official judgment on an adult, but left the judgment to God. So they have never usurped the right to pronounce on the presence or absence of spiritual life in infants.”

    Compare this to orthodoxy that would say, COMPARE to what we’d say (answering as Scripture actually answers): They (infants and adults) HAVE forgiveness of sins, they HAVE put on Christ, they HAVE been washed & regenerated, this Baptism saves you (1 Peter 3), In Baptism we were buried and risen with Christ (Romans 6), etc…

    • “Calvinism “technically” denies this in words but in the whole of its doctrine implies it by other means because fundamentally though it uses words like sola grace, faith, christ, etc…it does as Luther also warns that all false doctrines do; i.e. rather than opposed directly retain the same words such as faith, grace, etc…but mean of “a different kind”.”

      Exactly, Larry!

      Language can be very deceptive and we musy guard against these deceptions lest we fall.

      Thanks, my friend.

    • So how does this apply to the thief on the cross?

      • Justification always has 3 parts. There is a Promise. Faith clings to the Promise. And right there, where the Promise is located by God, the Promised Mercy is received.

        The thief saw the Promise in the Incarnate Flesh. Faith trusted in the promise. The Thief received the promised mercy.

        So I too am wondering what this has to do with what Larry posted….other than that brother Larry points us always to the Sacraments. in with and under those sacraments is the Promise. The Promise is Christ.

  43. I have completely different takes on the 2 of them. I dont consider either one a heretic like many of the legalistic, heretic hunting blogs do.

    I think Piper takes his stance of theology way too far in language. i agree with him to a point but at some point I leave his slant of theology. I understand him but in the end think his theological leanings are overbaked and stoically describe the gospel message.

    Having going to a Piper language Church here in the cities as we were Church shopping I think he attracts a lot of “higher truth” seekers (I live in a city with a very complex Church network) but very few people that are struggling with their faith. I dont like that at all. I love to see people struggling and wrestling with stuff!

    Warren is just very shallow to me. He is acceptable to all (except the heretic hunters) as is evident of him as a choice for the inagugaral address.

    • what is it you think “heretic” means? false doctrine? not christian? in error to a grave extent rather than to a “minor” extent? It would be helpful for you to define what you personally mean by “heretic”. For me it is someone who publicly persists in teaching and believing things that are contrary to Holy Scripture.

      People dont seem to have a problem condemning Gay men and Lesbians or two people shacked up or… who “continue living in sin”. So what about men like Piper and Warren ,,,, they wont repent of their sin will they?

      so what is the difference between the two grouos? which is a worse sin to persist in?

  44. JOn,

    I think you are right as far as Piper is concerned. he focuses so much on describing God and the gospel, but doesn’t seem to be too interested in giving it away, or handing it over to people.

    And Warren…less complicated. Like you say, he seems to be acceptable to all (except those who know how to distinguish law from gospel).

    Neither of them has the Sacraments. Telling.

    Thanks, Jon.

  45. After we are done wrestling with “our stuff” the finished work of the cross becomes a diamond in comparison!

  46. To be clear Calvinists tend to be anti-pelagians as they emphasize Gods sovereignty. … the center of calvinism is Gods sovereignty, glory, and providence. In that way they are anti-pelagian. Arminians believe in mans free will and therefore will have language that seems pelagian to some degree or another. I tend to see a link between legalism and many calvinistic types since if you have the BIG SOVEREIGN GUY in the sky backing up your legalism you can use language of sovereignty to get others to conform their behavior to what you want or behavior you see as godly.

    Although this is indeed a generality.

    The Lutheran difference in biblical interpretation is different in that they see see scripture with a Gospel lense and Cross, Grace, and mercy narrative. The Cross justifies and the cross sanctifies. Grace justifiies and Grace sanctifies. God doing the work top down, impacting man to do good work in freedom. The only way to have true repentance is in the freedom of the cross!

  47. Tom,

    I apologize I’m not sure I understand your question? Maybe you can elaborate.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: