Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Vic Reasoner

Book Review: John and Jude by Vic Reasoner

Dr. Vic Reasoner is one of my favorite Arminian theologians today.  His writings are biblical and yet he has in his mind the average preacher of God’s Word as he writes.  Dr. Reasoner writes with a conviction that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God and that all doctrine must flow from the Word of God (Titus 2:1).

In this work, Dr. Reasoner goes verse by verse through the epistles of John and Jude.  Dr. Reasoner leaves no stone uncovered as he writes.  He deals with his text while also including sound Arminian theology in there as well.  I appreciate how Dr. Reasoner is willing to deal with tough texts and along the way includes everything from doctrines of salvation, sin, holiness, sanctification, and even end times.

In regard to debated texts such as 1 John 2:1-2 within the Arminian/Calvinist debate, Dr. Reasoner does two things.  First he deals with the text in regard to propitiation and then he looks at how Calvinists have understood John’s words in 1 John 2:2 in regard to an unlimited atonement.  To the average reader 1 John 2:2 seems to teach that Jesus died for the entire world.  John Wesley, for example, taught that Christ’s atonement was as extensive as the curse of sin.  In other words, sin has extended to the entire world and likewise the work of Christ is powerful enough for the sins of the entire world.  Sinners who go to hell go to hell because of their own sins and the fact that they have not repented and placed their faith in the Lord Jesus who alone can appease the wrath of a holy God by His graceful work of the cross.

The good thing about Dr. Reasoner’s commentaries are that while it is clear that Dr. Reasoner is a sound theologian and knows his content, he writes with the average preacher in mind.  As a man who loves expository preaching and practices this art himself, Dr. Reasoner is offering his commentaries to help the preacher preach the text.  He wants preachers to work through the text.  Therefore his commentaries, as any good commentary will do, works through the letters.  I read this work as a devotion.  It is that easy to read and follow.  So while Dr. Reasoner does dive into the Greek text or the history behind a debate over a text, he writes with the average preacher in mind.

Overall I once again am impressed by this commentary.  I pray that Dr. Reasoner will write more biblical commentaries.  While I praise God that we have so many good commentaries out there, we need more solid Arminian commentaries and this one fits the bill.

You can find more information about obtaining a copy of this commentary here.

The Key Difference Between Wesley and the Puritans Over Postmillennialism

I know that was a long title.  I tried to think of ways to make it shorter.  I could not.

I rarely dive into eschatological views.  I try to limit my blog to mainly defining and defending Arminianism as well as just writing about general Christian subjects.  The purpose of this post is not to give a scholarly understanding of the postmillennial views of John Wesley versus the Puritans.  I will leave that to others and frankly I am not that good of a writer to jump into such an issue.

Let me begin by stating that it may come as a shock to some that John Wesley was a postmillennialist.  When I was first saved, I instantly was taught a premillennial view of eschatology.  I was taught the rapture of the Church before the seven year tribulation followed by the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.  I remember I use to pray (as my father had prayed) that I would be worthy to be raptured by the Lord Jesus.  I would have dreams of Jesus coming back to rapture His Church and I would start to rise only to be dropped back on earth after flying a few feet off the ground (probably because of some sin I had committed).

My eschatology views have changed since those days.  I bounced from a pre tribulation view of the rapture to a mid tribulation view before I ended up embracing the postmillennial views of John Wesley.  I was shocked when I first learned that John Wesley was a postmillennialist.  I honestly thought only liberals were postmillennial (a view still held by some in the premillennial camp I might add).  I was unaware that most of the Reformers were either amillennial or postmillennial (Arminius was likely amillennial though not proven).  As I studied Church History, I begin to see that eschatology has long been a hotly debated subject.  Thus, I have often avoided the issue.  It seems to me that Jesus will come back and this should be our starting point.  From there we can debate the future but so long as we stay faithful to the fact that Jesus will come again (though I was told once by a lady that I would surely miss the rapture since I didn’t believe in it anymore).

The key difference between the postmillennial views of John Wesley versus the Puritans lies in their salvation doctrines.  Wesley, being a faithful Arminian, believed that Jesus died for all men and thus he believe that the doctrine of unlimited atonement was the passion for world evangelism.  Further, he believed that the kingdom of God would spread all over the world because of the doctrine of unlimited atonement.  The victory of Jesus would go forth in the power the gospel until the end would come and the Lord’s enemies would be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26).

The Puritans passion for postmillennialism was based their view of God’s sovereignty from their Calvinist perspective.  Further, the Puritans were divided over how the world would be won to Christ with some saying that it would begin with the top (leaders, authorities and nations coming to faith in Christ) while others held from the bottom (churches preaching in small towns that would spread to the nations with the gospel bringing a mighty revival).  Both the Puritans and Mr. Wesley held that God would ultimately be glorified through the preaching of the gospel to all people though the disagreed over the doctrine of unconditional election.

A great book to read on this issue is Dr. Vic Reasoner’s book The Hope of the Gospel.  In the book, Dr. Reasoner lays out a biblical and faithful Arminian eschatology based on the doctrines of biblical Arminianism.  He shows how the early Methodists were driven by a passion for the gospel for world missions based on their view of the atonement and their view of eschatology.  Our eschatological views do matter and they do effect how we live our lives.

A final note on this.  It is easy to look around at our sin-filled world and become discouraged.  Some premillennialists (and myself at one time would be included here) often do their eschatology based on what they see in the news and not in the Bible.  We can look around and see our sinful world and start to believe that surely it will get worst  before it gets better.  I am the opposite.  In fact postmillennialism is the only truly optimistic view of end times.  I hold that Jesus will win (as do the others to be fair) and in the end, the gospel will transform our world (Mark 4:30-32).  It might not happen in my lifetime but the Lord is faithful to His promises and I believe a great harvest is coming.  I long to see sinners saved by the grace of God just as He saved me by His grace.

I close by pointing back to the truth that all true Christians share and that is that Jesus is coming again.  Many are passionate for their end times views but I believe that we should have grace toward one another over these issues.  I would gladly fellowship with those who do not agree with my eschatological views.  One truth that unites us is that Jesus died for us on the cross.  This we know (1 John 5:13).  We know He will come again (Acts 1:11) though we not know the day nor the hour (Mark 13:32).  The hope for the disciple of Jesus is the resurrection from the dead that He secured for us by dying for our sins and through Him we will live (John 5:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  My hope is in the gospel (Hebrews 9:27-28) and not my end times views.  I pray that for you as well.

I do say with John, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

Making Sense of the Bible (But Not Really)

Adam Hamilton published a book called Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today.  The book is written by Hamilton who pastors one of the largest mainline United Methodist churches in the world, The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas.  Many mainline churches look to Hamilton for leadership as they face mass losses of people leaving their churches.  Hamilton comes across, at times, much like an evangelical while holding to his mainline theology.  This has led pastors of United Methodists to flock to hear Hamilton speak because they see in him a hope for mainline churches.

I have an old friend who pastors a mainline United Methodist church.  He is liberal.  He wasn’t always that way and comes from a strong Wesleyan family who holds to conservative theology.  He himself turned apostate years ago for sin (in this case, an immoral relationship with a woman).  From there he had a “conversion” back to Christ after 9/11/2001 but decided to attend the very liberal Chandler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.  This led to his complete rejection of what he saw as “fundamentalism” and embraced mainline theology (liberalism).  Hamilton became his hero.  My friend viewed Hamilton as he viewed Rob Bell or other liberals.  He found in Hamilton though an evangelical passion that he missed but was not willing to return to.  My friend loved that Hamilton preached from the Bible and preached the Bible as if he actually believed it but my friend knew that Hamilton rejected the Bible.

Now let me state here that Hamilton probably would not say that he rejects the Bible.  He would state that he rejects the “fundamentalist” view of the Bible.  For example, in this book Hamilton builds a case for the Bible while trying to argue that the Bible is not the “inerrant and infallible Word of God.”  Hamilton holds that the Bible is only faithful as it relates to salvation.  So where the Bible disagrees with modern science (Genesis 1-2) or where the Bible disagrees with modern culture (homosexuality, genocide, slavery, women) then we reject the Bible.  God allowed the human beings who wrote the Bible to record these events as if God did them but He did not.  When it comes to Darwinian evolution for example, Hamilton holds that the Bible is wrong about creation in Genesis 1-2 and he holds that the writer of Genesis 1-2 (whoever that may be) is not writing science but allegory.  Modern science (in Hamilton’s worldview) has proven evolution and the Bible is just wrong about creation.  Hamilton goes on to write that there are countless errors in the Bible and even fundamentalist know this.  He points to the various resurrection accounts as proof of this.

Yet Hamilton wants to have his cake and eat it too.  After all, Karl Barth saw what happened in Europe when liberalism won the day.  He saw the mainline churches dying, the world turning toward evil and the rise of Nazi Germany out of the ashes of liberal theology.  Barth wanted to save the Bible while rejecting the Bible.  Hamilton wants that as well.  He wants to hold to the good stories in the Bible, the morals that it teaches (especially about peace and love) while rejecting much of the Bible.  He wants to preach the Bible as if its true while holding that it is not.  So while trying to tear up the “fundamentalist” views of the Bible, he wants his own liberal friends to still read the Bible and respect the Bible though don’t take it too serious.

There are so many holes in Hamilton’s views.  First, Hamilton fails to deal with Jesus’ view of the Bible.  What view did Jesus have?  Liberals love Jesus but they love the Jesus they have created in their own images.  They want a “hippy” Jesus who loves everyone, is all about peace and love, and wants nothing more than for people to find purpose and happiness in life.  They want to reject the Jesus who affirms the authority of the Bible.  Hamilton never points out that Jesus said His Words were true (John 17:17) and His Word cannot be broken (John 10:35).  Hamilton never points out that Jesus affirmed that God created all things including Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4-5).  Hamilton never points out that many of the stories that Hamilton would see as made up such as Jonah and the great fish, Jesus affirmed (Matthew 12:40).  Hamilton never deals with Jesus’ affirmation of the authority of the Bible nor with His affirmation of its timelessness (Matthew 5:17-19 which would include the issues of homosexuality within the law of Moses).

Secondly, the Bible affirms its inerrancy.  Texts such as Psalm 12:6; 18:30; 19:8; 119:140; Proverbs 30:5; Isaiah 45:19 affirm this.

I highly recommend Dr. Vic Reasoner’s The Importance of Inerrancy.  He deals with the biblical arguments as well as the Wesleyan historical issue here.

Thirdly, Hamilton places himself as the judge of Scripture.  This happens over and over again not just in Hamilton’s book but with others who reject inerrancy.  How do we decide what is from God and what is from man?  Who knows?  Like others before him, Hamilton can pick and choose what he regards as “Scripture” or not.  In fact, he could reject the entire thing (and many liberals do).  Yet he holds that the Bible is true about salvation.  Why?  Because he believes that this is the bottom line issue for the Bible.  The Bible is not a science book or a history book per se.  It is all about Jesus and His work in saving us.  He applauds those evangelicals who see the inerrancy issue as separate from salvation (in other words, one can be saved while rejecting inerrancy).  He wants his own people to accept what the Bible says about salvation while ignoring what it says about creation or about homosexuality or about slavery.

Yet who is the judge here?  Why accept what John 3:16 says if Genesis 1-2 is wrong?  Why accept what God said in John 5:24-25 if the story of the Exodus is full of errors?  Why even believe in the resurrection of Jesus if in fact the four Gospels record four different views of the resurrection as Hamilton states?  Why should a person accept Hamilton’s view of salvation if the Bible is full of errors?

Hamilton could not say why.  I suppose he would argue that he has experienced salvation (sort of the Karl Barth view of salvation and Scripture) and this makes it true (pragmatism).  But if salvation is not based on a historical truth (in this case the resurrection of Jesus which Hamilton believes in while saying that the Gospels are full of errors), how can we know?

John states that we can know (1 John 5:13).  John states that the resurrection is based on the truth of God’s Word (John 20:31) as does Paul the Apostle (1 Corinthians 15:1-7).  Hamilton would affirm all this while rejecting the inerrancy of the Bible all because it doesn’t equal his worldview.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 states clearly that all Scripture is inspired by God or breathed out by God as the ESV states.  God is truthful (Titus 1:2) in all His ways (Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Samuel 7:28; Psalm 33:4; 146:6; Isaiah 65:16; Romans 3:4; Hebrews 6:18).  If Hamilton is wiling to affirm the goodness of God, the truthfulness of God, why reject His Word which 2 Timothy 3:16 states He breathed out by His Spirit?  2 Peter 1:16-21 is clear that Peter did not regard his experience as the foundation for truth but the sure foundation of God’s Word.  I again point to Jesus who said that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17) but Hamilton would say that only some of it is true and that only with regards to salvation.  This is not logical.

In conclusion, Hamilton offers nothing for mainline churches.  Nothing.  He gives the same old answers liberals have always been giving for the Bible.  Keep reading it!  Keep studying it!  But reject it!  Because of pragmatism, Hamilton’s voice is listened to even by some who would say they believe the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  If I could have five minutes with Adam Hamilton I would want to talk about his Bible.  Does he read it?  Does he study it?  Why?  How does he determine what is true in it or not?  How can you trust that God will save you if you can’t trust that He will preserve His Word?

My prayer is that Arminians would reject Hamilton’s views.  Let us remain faithful to the Word of God.  As John Wesley stated about the Bible,

“This is that word of God which remaineth forever: of which, though heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle shall not pass away.  The Scripture therefore of the Old and New Testament is a most solid and precious system of Divine truth.  Every part thereof is worthy of God; and all together are one entire body, wherein is no defect, no excess.”  (Wesley, Journal, 24 July 1776)

Dr. John MacArthur is correct when he writes:

The most important lessons we ought to learn from church history seem fairly obvious.  For example, in the two thousand year record of Christianity, no leader, movement, or idea that has questioned the authority or inspiration of Scripture has ever been good for the church.  Congregations, denominations, and evangelical academic institutions that embrace a low view of Scripture invariably liberalize, secularize, move off mission, decline spiritually, and either lose their core membership or morph into some kind of political, social or religious monstrosity.

May that not happen to true disciples of Jesus.  May we embrace the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God the same as our Savior held.  May we be willing to die for its truths.

Do Wesleyan-Arminains Believe in Inerrancy?

Here is a link to an article on the subject of inerrancy among Wesleyan-Arminians.  Dr. Vic Reasoner has written an excellent book on inerrancy called The Importance of Inerrancy.  It is an easy read on an important topic.

You can find the article here.

You can find Dr. Reasoner’s book here.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/16/2015 at 1:56 PM

Thoughts on Arminian Book Publishing

I was honored to be able to attend the 2014 Fundamental Wesleyan Conference held at the Southern Wesleyan College in Orangeburg, SC.  I was blessed as I listened to brother Mark Horton, pastor of Faith United Community Church in Nicholasville, KY teach us on John Wesley and the early Methodists use of accountability groups as a form of both conversion and discipleship of true saints.  He pointed out that George Whitefield lamented at his death that Wesley had done that right, by starting his “bands” for the purpose of accountability and overcoming sin.

The theme of the conference was on Christian perfection.  We heard lectures related to that theme.  It was pointed out that the Bible calls us to perfection (Matthew 5:48; 19:21; 1 Corinthians 2:6; Philippians 3:15; Colossians 1:28; 4:12; James 1:4; 3:2).  We are be a people of holiness (Hebrews 12:14) just as God Himself is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Yet the modern rise in Calvinism has brought with it the antinomian approach to sin.  The Calvinist mindset is that we can never conquer sin even with the Spirit of God abiding within.  Our best hope, says Calvin, is Romans 7.  John Wesley differed greatly with this and he emphasized that Christians must first rightly define sin and then we can see that the call to holiness is not hypothetical but very real.  We can be holy.  We can live in a godly life in Christ Jesus.  We don’t have to live a life of sinning (1 John 3:4-10).  We can “stop sinning” (1 Corinthians 15:34).

While that was all very good teaching, I appreciated Dr. Vic Reasoner speaking on the subject of the need for Arminian publishing of books.  He pointed out that less than 50 years ago, there were essentially four major Christian publishers and all were located in Grand Rapids, MI.  Those family publishers have since been bought out and now are owned by very large and very liberal companies such as News Corp and Penguin Press. He pointed out that a Christian publisher in Waterbrook Multnomah was recently ousted from the NRB for their willingness to publish openly homosexual and “Christian” authors.  Why?  Reasoner points out that the bottom line is money.

Reasoner went on to discuss how he had a friend who was asked by his publisher to remove things from his work because it was too offensive or didn’t follow the policies of the publisher.

Reasoner also talked about how most of the major books today are Calvinistic especially in the area of discipleship and Biblical studies.  This, he said, must change but it will not so long as the publishers are only willing to publish what they deem follows their agenda or makes them money.

The need then is for Arminian publishing to arise.  The Nazarene Publishing House (NPH) is closing its doors in December.  The NPH had once been a vital Arminian voice publishing the works of Wesley and Arminius.  My own copies of Arminius’ works came from the NPH.  Other Arminian publishers such as Pathway Press (Church of God, Cleveland, TN) and Gospel Publishing House (Assemblies of God) are avoiding theological books these days and are not a major player in publishing Arminian books.

During the 18th century Wesleyan revival here in the West, the Wesleyan movement published thousands of books mainly in London.  These works went out into the world and impacted a generation.  It was not uncommon for even Calvinists to be reading Wesleyan books on theology or Bible commentaries.  The works of Adam Clarke and Thomas Coke both were used by God to send forth sound Arminianism.  Even Charles Spurgeon owned a well used copy of Clarke’s Bible commentary.  The sermons of Wesley and Asbury were published and sent forth.  The works of John Fletcher or Richard Watson were sold all over the world.  It was a book by Daniel Whitby that led John Gill to write his book countering the rise in Arminianism.

My point here is that we do need Arminian books and Arminian publishers.  I urge you to pray for this endeavor.  Dr. Reasoner and the Fundamental Wesleyan Press is teaming up with a few other smaller Arminian publishers to seek to get out Arminian books.  Pray that the Lord is glorified in this work.  Pray for the finances to come forth for this work.  Pray that solid biblical truth goes forth.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/24/2014 at 12:54 PM

When We Lose The Authority of Scripture

I am thankful that disciples are now standing up for the Word of God.  Brothers such as Dr. Vic Reasoner or Dr. Norman Geisler are standing firm for the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  It is a fight that is needed.  Some have suggested that we abandon the inerrancy of the Bible.  Some hold that the Bible is infallible but not inerrant.  Others hold that the Bible is infallible only for salvation and nothing more.  Yet there are many problems with such views.

When we lose the authority of the Bible, we no longer have any authority to speak for God.  The Roman Catholic Church has falsely taught that their priestly ordination has led to the infallibility of the Pope beginning with Peter.  Sadly, their long history has produced countless errors, the sins of fallen men who claimed to be speaking for God, and persecution of the true Church that has withstood the Catholics and preached the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  The Catholic Church continues to teach that authority lies in three places: the Bible, the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, and the Pope.  Yet her history shows that the Bible is often completely ignored, twisted, or even forbidden to read.

The modern liberal church movement in the West has completely rejected the authority of the Bible.  What do they have?  Nothing.  They are a dying bunch.  Their causes have turned to socialism, fighting for human rights, etc.  They have nothing by which to stand for God or His truth.  They have no gospel.  They offer nothing spiritually.  They are not known for their soul winning, their turning sinners away from a life of sin, nor do they have a solid prayer ministry they can point to.  Missions among the liberal churches typically involves just “helping people” while not giving them any truth from God nor speaking peace into their souls that are far from God because of their sins (Isaiah 64:6).

Many evangelical churches have replaced the authority of the Bible with the opinions of men.  Their sermons are full of movie clips, skits, shallowness, and little to no exegesis of the Scriptures.  The Protestant pulpits were once known for their study and explaining of the Bible but today, to appease the world, many churches have abandoned the careful study of the Bible to be replaced with happy, feel good sermons designed to keep the crowds happy and coming and of course, giving money.  Evangelism has been replaced with “friendship evangelism” or just inviting lost sinners to church in hopes that they like it, find it cool, and keep coming back.  Nothing is said about the wrath of God, the justice of God, the holiness of God, our utter sinfulness before a holy God, our accountability toward this God.  Nothing is preached about true repentance, sanctification, obedience to Christ as Lord, and forsaking sin.  Nothing is said about taking up our crosses and following Christ, living a life of holiness and discipline.  Instead we hear over and over again that God loves us just as we are and we stop at that.

Because the evangelical church has replaced the authority of the Bible with feelings and a desire to please the world (1 John 2:15-17), the evangelical church does not address social issues or sins because she has no authority to speak on them with.  The church is silent on many issues when the people are hearing the sinful thoughts of the world all week on issues such as homosexual “marriages,” adultery, gambling, etc.  The church could and should address these issues biblically but she doesn’t.  She remains silent.

This is why the Church must stand firm on the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  The Church can address issues ranging from sin to science to history to what does God require.  We can preach that God will save sinners by His grace because of the authority of the Bible (Ephesians 2:8-9).  We can preach holiness and righteousness (1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 John 3:7-10).  We can preach salvation through Christ alone (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5-6).  We can preach the wrath of God toward sin (Romans 1:18).  We can preach the existence of God (Romans 1:19-23).  We can preach the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).  We can preach baptism (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16).  We can preach that God answers prayer (Matthew 7:7-11).  We can preach that Christ is coming again (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  We can preach the end of the world (Revelation 21:1).

We can preach all these truths because of the Bible.  We don’t have to listen to the world.  In fact, the Bible says that we must listen to God first and foremost (John 8:47).  The Bible alone is the God-breathed Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16).  Peter the Apostle said in 2 Peter 1:16-21 that even his own experiences with Christ is not as important as the Word of God.  1 Peter 1:23 says that we are born again through the Word of God.  James 1:21 says that the Word is able to save our souls.  Jesus said that we are His true disciples when we abide in His teachings (John 8:31-32) and this only comes through faithful study of His Word.  Jesus Himself said that the Word of God cannot be broken (John 10:35) and thus we can trust the Word of God.

The hope I have for my own salvation and the preaching of salvation to the lost is found in the Bible.  It is through the Bible that I learn more about God, I love God more, I grow in my own holiness and discipline, and it is through faithful study of the Bible that I hunger to worship God and seek His face.  Whenever I cease spending time with the Word, I find that the other things wane as well.  I daily seek to spend time in the Word.  Some days are better than others but daily I seek to know God through His Word.  I believe that it is His Word that has kept me all these years by His grace.  I rejoice that the Word both comforts and convicts me (Hebrews 4:12-13).  At times, the Word is my delight (Psalm 119:16) and at times it is a sword to my soul.  I need them both.  I need the grace of God when I sin but I also need the Word to show me my sins and expose my wicked heart (Romans 7:7).  I rejoice that God’s Word does all that and more (John 17:17)!

May the reformation Arminian movement find joy in the Word of God!  May we Arminians celebrate with our Calvinist brethren in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Word of God!  May we all love the Bible and preach its truths to the lost.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/31/2014 at 11:30 AM

%d bloggers like this: