Tuesday, July 20, 2010

R.C. Sproul and “the holy rape of the soul”

At the request of Ken Temple, I became involved in his Beggars All thread, Answering the charge of “rape” against the doctrine of God’s effectual grace -Part 1. In his opening post, Ken wrote:

The very Biblical and Reformed teaching of God’s effectual grace, where He internally calls, draws, and changes the sinner, is anything but rape. God’s effectual calling is sweet love, grace, and joy. Many Christians from an Arminian theological perspective also call it, “rape” or “spiritual rape”.

In my first post to Ken, I responded with:

I personally do not like the term “rape” for the Reformed position concerning regeneration (i.e being born again) prior to belief. Yet with that said, I think I understand why non-Reformed folk invoke the term, for despite protestations, when one breaks down Reformed soteriology, one is left with the fact that regeneration occurs against the will of the unregenerate sinner—the sinner has NO CHOICE in the matter; as such, there is some truth to the claim that it is “a forced love”.

My assessment must have ‘hit-a-nerve’, for a number of the responses (not all) directed at me were openly bitter and hostile (with one poster even resorting to dishonesty to further his rather dark agenda).

Anyway, it is what it is…

With that said, I would now like to get to the primary reason why I have started this thread. Prior to this morning, I had thought (with Ken it seems), that within the Christian paradigm it was only non-Reformed folk who employed the terms/phrases “rape” and “spiritual rape” to depict the Reformed understanding of the “effectual/irresistible call”; however, I was wrong about this, for this morning I came across the following:

God does not violate our wills?

Moral Necessity writes: Remember that God does not violate our wills, and force them to go in a direction opposite to them, hence we are responsible for our choices. Our wills are governed by our nature. But, he has now imparted his Spirit within our nature or persons, and he does both impose and withdraw his Spirit, in varying degrees of activity, within ourselves.

Yea, the part about God does not violate our wills. Dr James White says that God ordains the means and well as the ends. Or, he works in us to change our wills (as I understand it). Isn't that almost the same as violating our wills?

"Jonathan Edwards has sometimes been quoted—notably by R. C. Sproul—as referring to the irresistible call of God as the "holy rape of the soul," but the phrase does not appear in Edwards' Works. Instead, the phrase seems to have been coined by Puritan scholar Perry Miller, and most Calvinists distance themselves from it."

Would not we say that the "holy rape of the soul" violates our will?Or maybe you do not agree with that statement.

I am not dogmatically making a statement here, but would like to discuss it. (Post by pm at THE PURITAN BOARD)

After reading the above, I wondered if R.C. Sproul himself had actually used the phrase, “holy rape of the soul”—the following Google searches revealed that he did:

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22holy+rape+of+the+soul%22&btnG=Search+Books&tbs=bks%3A1&tbo=1

http://books.google.com/books?ei=hcJFTMb_AYr2swOBrvjwAQ&ct=result&id=x1kYa2PyPy4C&dq=%22holy+rape%22+Sproul&q=%22holy+rape%22

http://books.google.com/books?id=EbjSJCQBw-UC&pg=PA93&dq=%22holy+rape+of+the+soul%22&hl=en&ei=OsxFTNvJI5PCsAO6t_3AAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22holy%20rape%20of%20the%20soul%22&f=false

Unlike the Arminians who use such terms/phrases in a negative sense, Dr. Sproul does so in a positive sense.

For the record, as I clearly stated more than once in the BA thread linked to above, I personally DO NOT ENDORSE such terms/phrases—whether they are used in a negative or positive sense. But I do wonder if there are any readers out there who support Dr. Sproul’s positive use of the phrase, “holy rape of the soul”, to describe the Reformed teaching of the “effectual/irresistible call”.


Grace and peace,

David

15 comments:

Ken said...

As I wrote over at my post at Beggar's All Reformation and Apologetics:

Now I see the documentation; wow; I would disagree respectfully with Dr. Sproul on his choice of words there. It is in a novel, and a rather unknown one - I did not know about this one that he wrote.

I appreciate the fact that you have communicated that he meant it in a positive sense; but I personally do not agree and would not use it that way; and I would continue to hold to my view and I like the way Neal expressed it - that the unable soul is first repaired/changed/healed/made able and then chooses freely; so that all the objections are dealt with and God is still both Sovereign, Loving, and Wise all at the same time.

Ken said...

In case people don't go to Beggar's All and read all the comboxes; I feel they would at least need to see what I also wrote about you thinking that my argumentation from Ezekiel 36:26-27 and other verses along with the 2 Reformed confessions that I cited say, "no violence is done to the will". (ie, no force and no rape)

Again, I completely disagree with Sproul on this and I am actually surprised that he wrote in his novel. But I have never seen any Reformed person write this way.


I wrote:
Bottom line, your argument with me and saying I am being inconsistent is wrong, because I am basing my understanding on both Ezekiel 36:26-27 (and all that goes with it, John 3:3-8; John 6:44, 65; Acts 16:14, Romans 8:28-30, I Corinthians 1:18-26, etc.); AND the 2 Reformed confessions that explicitly say, "no violence is done to the will of the creature".

It seems like "force" to you in what you are asking, and yet, that is not what the Scriptures, nor the confessions say. Since the Reformed theologians chose to explain their believes that way; that is the way it is; because they also believe God is all wise and all good and all love and all sovereign at the same time. As D. A. Carson says, "we have to believe multiple theological truths at the same time" in order to grasp the difficult issues of the love of God and the sovereignty of God; but only God the Spirit Himself can give the peace and love and confidence to accept these truths all at the same time.

Like I wrote in my original post, "I am glad God chose me and changed my deadness in sin and rebellion and blindness and hardness so that I could then freely choose God." (something like that.) I am happy with that; joyful. It is like the fact that we are all going to die physically; you can keep being bitter and shaking your fist at that reality, but it does no good; it is truth and reality that no one can argue against. So, I am happy and joyful that I have eternal life also and that I am not going to hell and I was not left in my un-able to choose will that hated God.

Samuel Storms, to me, had the best explanations of this in his book, Chosen for Life. (that I have read) I recommend it for understanding Reformed theology.

God, in His perfect love and wisdom and grace and sovereignty, knew of a way to change the will/heart/soul/mind so that He would be both Sovereign and love and all wise and avoid the charge of "violating the will" or "rape", because He bypassed any force by first changing and healing the will so that it then could freely and willing choose. Again, no true Christian, even Arminians are angry that God saved them and they are on their way to heaven. They disagree with us with how it happened; but they are glad and joyful. If they are bitter that God saved them; then they are not regenerate; I don't see how they could be.

Neal said...

Wow. Dark agenda?

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

With the name of God, Peace be unto those who follow the guidance from their Lord.

Awesome! By the way it would have been nice if steven would have had the decency not to misrepresent David.

I think that he made it quite clear that he simply saw the point of view that the Arminians have, but he repeated again and again that he did not endorse the language.

But nooooooo the combativeness types had to press on.

David is not one to antagonize;yet when push comes to shove wow!

This information that David brought will make a foot ball field of Calvinist go quite as church mice.

Sorry to be immature but to borrow the language of today's video game generation......
somebody got completely owned!

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

With the name of God, continued...

on a more serious note.

Ken you said,

"God, in His perfect love and wisdom and grace and sovereignty, KNEW OF A WAY TO CHANGE THE WILL/heart/soul/mind so that He would be both Sovereign and love and all wise AND AVOID THE CHARGE OF "violating the will" or "rape",

If God came up with a way to avoid a certain charge it seems to me that he didn't do a sovereign job of it. Why? Because the charge is indeed being leveled.

Than you said, "because He bypassed any force by FIRST CHANGING and healing the will so that it then could FREELY and WILLINGLY choose"

I don't buy that. I tell you why I don't. That statement is a complete contradiction of OSAS or Preservation of the Saints.

Why? Think about it. Would a broken will that has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit freely and willingly choose anything other than God?

If not than give some examples?

Because what you people end up saying about all those people who 'leave the faith' is that they weren't really regenerated any way.

Now please do not obfuscate by saying, 'well why would it want to choose anything other than that'. This is not answering the question.

If I change a will so that that the will only accepts me that still does escape the charges. Rather we agree with the verbiage or not.

David Waltz said...

Hi Neal,

So good to see you over here at AF; you wrote:

>>Wow. Dark agenda?>>

Me: Sure hope you know that you were not the referent in mind, for you (like Ken) conduct yourself in Christian manner (IMHO). The ‘gent’ I was referring to not only was dishonest in more than one post, but chose to lower himself to make comments about me that included: “doormat”, “hollow”, “deist”, et al. Such methods, at least to me, are devoid of ‘light’, hence my “dark” statement. I have pretty broad shoulders, and harbor no ill will towards this ‘gent’, but if one is looking for “the fruits of the spirit”, I do have some questions…


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi GV19,

Thanks much for your continuing interest and contributions for/to this beachbum’s blog (hope you know that you are always welcome); you wrote:

>> This information that David brought will make a foot ball field of Calvinist go quite as church mice.>>

Me: Forgive me, but I am bit confused by the above; could you clarify?

As for Calvinism, so many that claim to represent it on our modern day blogs would probably cause/raise some concerns for the Reformed scholars of the 18th thru the mid-20th centuries that I have great respect for.

Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

The GV19 wrote:

If God came up with a way to avoid a certain charge it seems to me that he didn't do a sovereign job of it. Why? Because the charge is indeed being leveled.

True, you have a good point here. The charge is being leveled.

How do you say, "Prove the charges are false" in my statement?"

Is that better?

"God, in His perfect love and wisdom and grace and sovereignty, KNEW OF A WAY TO CHANGE THE WILL/heart/soul/mind so that He would be both Sovereign and love and all wise AND Prove THE commonly held charges and misunderstandings of "violating the will" or "rape" are false."

Thanks for helping me word it better.

Ken said...

GV19 wrote:
"This information that David brought will make a foot ball field of Calvinist go quite as church mice."

I think the GV19 meant:

"This information that David brought will make a foot ball field of Calvinist go as quiet as church mice."

No, it only shows that David agreed that R.C. Sproul put it in a "positive" way; but I think we Calvinists would all agree that he was wrong on the wording he chose, and it was in a novel, not a theological book; and according to the Puritan board website, it was not something that even Jonathan Edwards said.

Still, Scripture is our final authority, not R.C. Sproul and he would agree with me on that point.

The two Reformed confessions that I quoted still stand as the best interpretation of all the relevant Scripture on God's Providence and Regeneration.

Ken said...

I don't buy that. I tell you why I don't. That statement is a complete contradiction of OSAS or Preservation of the Saints.

Not true. You don't understand Perseverance of the Saints doctrine completely; and you did not understand what the Reformed mean by apostasy. Judas was around the truth and claimed to be a believer and with the other disciples, but eventually, his true nature was revealed. So there are people who went to church and claimed to be believers and "fell away", it means they fell away from the truth and God, it doesn't mean that they possessed true faith or the truth or had a relationship with God; it means that they have manifested to us what God already knew in secret.

Why? Think about it. Would a broken will that has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit freely and willingly choose anything other than God?

That is why the old Calvinists called it "irresistible" grace. I prefer "effectual" or "effective" and "powerful" grace; but rightly understood, "irresistible" is also true.

Neal said...

I'm reposting this comment I made on the Beggar's all thread because I think it is helpful in understanding the Calvinist position:

I think one of the problems with this thread is that we live in an age where "libertarian free will" is assumed from the outset, so discussion of regeneration is a completely bewildering concept to many people. That God effects regeneration by resuscitating the will doesn't make sense because most people don't think that their wills are dead in the first place. But the scripture tells us that we were dead in trespasses and sins and God made us alive with Christ (Eph. 2:1-5) So resuscitating the will is not an act of violence, but an act of mercy in that it is a resurrection of our will. We have to get away from the unbiblical concept of LFW and embrace a biblical concept of man's will. A will that is dead is not done violence when it is made alive.

Ken said...

Very well said Neal! I agree with you wholeheartedly; you communicate this truth better than I do; and I really appreciate your contribution to this discussion.

David Waltz said...

Hello Ken and Neal,

I was hoping that others would weigh in on this discussion, but alas, it seems that interest is lacking (maybe due to the fact that the Calvinist/Arminian debate is centuries old, with little real resolution between both sides).

I also think many Calvinists and Arminians tend to forget that this debate is not limited to the Protestant paradigm, leaving our Catholic and Eastern Orthodox brothers in Christ ‘out of the mix’.

Ken, do you remember the posts by Perry Robinson (EO) IN THIS THREAD?

Neal, last night I reread R.C. Sproul’s Chosen By God (1986 edition), and feel he made a number of comments that are germane to your last post. Later today I plan to type of a post (the Lord willing) that will provide some selections from the book, and a few of my own thoughts…


Grace and peace,

David

mark said...

It was Jonathan Edwards that used the term holy rape of the soul was it not?

David Waltz said...

Hi Mark,

Forgive the tardiness of my response, but I just now noticed your post; you asked:

>>It was Jonathan Edwards that used the term holy rape of the soul was it not?>>

Me: Someone else suggested this too, but I have not been able to locate it in corpus of Edwards' writings that I own (though substantial, I do not have everything he wrote).

Question: have you read this in one of Edwards works? If so, could you provide the source?


Grace and peace,

David