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Friday, December 02, 2005 

Dealing with Post-Calvinism
Exegetical

Scott McKnight, formerly professor at Trinity Divinity and now at North Park, writes in a series of blog posts that he has gone to a position he calls "post-Calvinism:"

I am reflecting here in a series of posts on how “I changed my mind” about Calvinism and adopted a more Ariminian view of whether or not the Christian can throw away redemption.

This journey took me through the book of Hebrews, where I suggested we can find four elements to each Warning Passage. Today I want to look briefly at the fourth element, the consequences. Very few will disagree with this (I hope).

During one of his courses, specifically NT 612 Advanced Exegesis when he and his class marched through Hebrews, McKnight was challenged by the warning passages in the book of Hebrews.

Frankly, I think all this post-everything is post-ridiculous. Dr. McKnight, if you ever find yourself reading this, with all respect:

I am firmly sure that you are wise enough to know that centuries of intelligent, thoroughly Reformed men and women have read the same texts you marched through in NT 612. Why did they not feel the need to abandon ship and become a post-Calvinist? Why did I. Howard Marshall's arguments in Kept by the Power of God not produce lemming drives of people out of the confines of Reformed orthodoxy into the welcoming folds of Arminianism? You happily recount your experience with said texts and Dr. Osborne's influence. What is your expertise in Reformed theology to discredit it?

To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure what the big deal is with the warning passages in Hebrews. The Reformed have been exegeting these texts for a long time. I realize that for some people, they offer a live defeater for perseverance, but I don't think so if we deal honestly with the text first, and with the historic orthodox faith second.

A person who tastes the "powers of the age to come," is "enlightened," has benefitted from the Holy Spirit, and ultimately trods the Son under foot in his blasphemy, is the classic definition of Matthew 7 apostates, the perfect definition of I John 2:18-19 antichrists, and the way the historic church has always defined these; whether patristics, (scripturally) faithful medieval scholastics, Reformers, Protestant Scholastics, Puritans, and contemporary confessional Christians. What really sheds light on this subject is covenant theology. Just like Ishmael, like Esau, like the generation in the wilderness who had been liberated from Egypt, there have always been people who have benefitted from God's covenant blessings on His chosen people, yet shown they have been ultimately reprobate. The line continues, through King Saul, apostate kings, Judas, Ananias and Sapphira, Hymenaeus, and the scores of others who gave life to the covenantal threats in Hebrews. These have sealed themselves, but for those who trust in Christ for a living faith, "we hope for better things."

Finally, to Dr. McKnight, the classic covenantal theology promoted by John Calvin, Herman Witsius, Z. Ursinus, G. Vos, Bavinck, and L. Berkhof are well aware of Hebrews, and (in my opinion - which may not be worth much!) more than adequately deal with these texts, letting the full force show while explaining how historic orthodoxy is shaped and supportsthese very texts. I do not say this to think that you should change your position regarding the various pericopes in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Nevertheless, a tag like "post-Calvinism" seems hardly apropos for what you are dealing with. Thank you for your labor for the kingdom, especially at TEDS.

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Transplanted from the artic blight of Minnesota to the sunny paradise of SoCal, I am attending school and learning to say "dude." I like to think of myself as equal parts surf rash, Batman, heavy metal, Levinas, poetic license, and reformational. Other than creating blund blogs, I enjoy reading, sporting, and socializing with serious and funny people.
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