Monday, August 13, 2007

More on the Sufficiency of Grace…

The greatly esteemed Reformed scholar, Charles Hodge, penned the following concerning sufficient grace:

The Weslayan Arminians and the Friends , admitting the insufficiency of the light of nature, hold that God gives sufficient grace, or an inward supernatural light, which, if properly cherished and followed, will lead men to salvation. (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol.1, p. 31 – Eerdmans 1981 reprint.)


In his section on soteriology, Hodge writes the following about the Remonstrant/Arminian doctrine of grace:

This divine grace is afforded to all men in sufficient measure to enable them to repent, believe, and keep all the commandments of God. (Ibid., vol. 2, p. 328.)

The quotes from Dr. Hodge indicate that he understands the phrase “sufficient grace” in the same historical sense as Dr. Pohle, contra James White (though, of course, he rejects the theology behind it).

And there is more, the sects listed by Dr. Hodge have an understanding of grace that is quite close to that of Catholicism. James White at least understands this aspect of grace in its historical context, for he said:

Furthermore, a word of warning should be presented for the non-Catholic reader of this work. If you are a Christian, the chances are great that you will be challenged by what will be said about the work of Christ in this book as well. The sad fact of the matter is, a large majority of modern “Protestantism” has embraced concepts in regards to the work of Christ, and all of salvation in general, that do not come from the Reformers, but from Catholicism itself! Modern “evangelicals” are quick to place the final decision in regards to salvation in the hands of man; the atonement of Christ, for the vast majority of modern Christians, is universal in scope; that is, Christ died for everyone, yet in dying, He really didn’t save anyone, since the is up to us. Just as Romanism was, at the time of the Reformation, and remains today, man-centered in its doctrine of salvation, so too is modern evangelicalism…

We believe that modern evangelicalism has little to say to Roman Catholicism, since it agrees with Rome on some the most basic issues of the Gospel! (James R. White, The Fatal Flaw, 1990, pp. 21, 22 – emphasis in the original.)

James’ above comments flow from his understanding of what constitutes “the Biblical Gospel”. Earlier in the same book he wrote:

The first distinctive of the Biblical Gospel over against the message taught by Rome was the role of God. Rather than God simply providing a way of salvation, the Reformers discovered that the Bible taught that God actually saved men. That is, rather than salvation being dependent upon men’s striving to take advantage of the plan made available by God, the real Gospel taught that God was able to save men independent of any action on man’s part. God, the Reformers taught, was absolutely sovereign in the matter of salvation…

The Reformer [John Calvin] taught that God, in His mercy and love, did, soely and completely on the basis of His own holy will, choose, elect, and predestine certain men unto salvation. His choice was not in any way, shape, or form based upon any action of man. (Ibid. pp. 13, 15 – all emphasis in the original.)

Now, with the above fresh in our minds, note the following conclusion of James:

The Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on the work of Jesus Christ (specifically His atonement) is anti-Biblical and false; hence, the Roman Catholic Church is not in possession of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and cannot, therefore, be considered a Christian Church. (Ibid. p. 19 – emphasis in the original.)


Further, we must also conclude that the same applies to “modern evangelicalism… since it agrees with Rome on some the most basic issues of the Gospel!”

Yet one cannot stop here, for James White’s “Biblical Gospel” was not taught by any Christian writer prior to the 16th century, for by his own admission “the Reformers discovered” it! (Concerning the novelty of the Reformers “Gospel”, see Alister McGrath’s Iustitia Dei, now in its 3rd edition.)

Conclusion: no "Gospel" for nearly 1500 years!


More later, the Lord willing…


Grace and peace,

David

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