Reformed Tolerance
September 28, 2012, 5:33 pm
Filed under: Tolerant Calvinism

by Mark Mcculley

The same gospel preached in an “evangelical” church will most likely be preached in a Deformed Church.   That same gospel is, Jesus died for the elect alone, or Jesus died for nobody personally except to make an offer to everybody.

(What’s the difference?  In a Deformed church, you probably didn’t hear much about election, which sounds so private and all about you.    Instead, you probably heard more about  “the covenant” and the need to stay in the covenant by attending to the ordinary means of staying in after your birth automatically put you in  it (God’s choice not yours).   It is the same basic gospel either way; a general atonement which then depends on faith.)  

In the “evangelical” church you will hear how “faith is a condition”, while in the deformed church you will hear that regeneration is before faith.

(maybe you were regenerate when you were born or baptized?)  

In either case, you most likely won’t hear anything about the specific sins of the elect having been imputed already to Christ, nor will you hear about this faith being given because it was purchased by Christ.  To say that Christ died for the elect alone, and that this means that God gives faith because of the atonement, you probably won’t hear this in either place, because it’s incompatible with the “same basic gospel” that the evangelical and the deformed claim to have in common.

The common message is both is that faith alone gets you in, but faith alone is never alone.

(If that confuses you, then the other common message is that you should not think too much about it, because you are too dumb to get it right now)

You are to just accept that faith alone gets you into justification, but that salvation is a lot more than mere justification.  Why?  Well, because, for one thing, you have to be regenerated first and regeneration never ever gets you faith alone.   Rather, it gets you works also, because it’s an ontological breach with the dominion of sin, and the dominion of sin is not the guilt of sin, so therefore, atonement and justification are not what get you free from the dominion of sin.   And anyway, since you need to be regenerated to get justified, then regeneration is more important, and since regeneration is what causes you not to be a sinner

(I mean a sinner by pattern)
(a sinner because you want to sin)
(a sinner worse than I am)
(or at least a sinner worse than Paul Washer is)
(which I’m sure according to Paul Washer, means I am a sinner worse than he is)

then of course, regeneration is more important than justification and the atonement.  And since regeneration is more important than justification and atonement, then we need to then stop being so cross-centered and justification centered, and instead talk more about the resurrection, and our present “union” with the risen Christ, and stop always looking back to the past and being thankful, and instead focus on staying in the covenant as a condition of future grace.

When you visit this evangelical church, I wouldn’t worry much about them not thinking you are a Christian, because they think God can save people without them knowing the gospel.   In fact, they think pretty much anything counts as gospel.  Okay, maybe not Mormonism or Catholicism,  but honestly, who really knows?    And anyway, this evangelical church is most likely a “bible church”, which means it’s not credobaptist, which means it has no convictions at all about baptism or the Lord’s Supper.   This means it won’t be too totally backwards from what you grew up with in the deformed church, because although they might not start with law, they will at least still have the same basic (no cherries on top like covenant) gospel in which there is no mention of Christ’s election and the election of some sinners in Christ.   Instead, they’ll have the same vanilla “gospel” proposal that gets them quickly back to the law.

A deformed gospel is also a modified law, because now that you are in, now that you were born in, baptized in, you have to now figure out how to stay in, because remember, faith alone might be all you needed for justification and getting in, but once you are in, staying in takes a lot more than mere justification.  What you do to stay in makes all the difference in the world.   That is why the deformed gospel becomes a quick-carry, easily unfolded, now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t, doable law.    Why you were unregenerate you couldn’t do the gospel, but now that you are regenerate, you can.    Of course, unlike those evangelical yokels, the deformed know the difference between law and gospel, because they’re smart, lots of smart

(which I”m pretty sure according to Paul Washer, that means way smarter than me)

so smart that they’ve practically outsmarted themselves.   They know all the stuff the evangelicals know, because they began with what the evangelicals have, and they’ve added plenty to it since then.

Of course, they have never repented of what they began with, because they don’t believe there is anything wrong with what they began with.  And that’s the problem.  Same basic gospel, just doctored a bit to sound more educated.  They might disagree with the Catholics about justification, but they agree with the evangelicals that faith alone is not alone, and that regeneration will cause you to obey the law, which they say is what keeps you in the covenant which they say is by faith alone.

(If that confuses you . . .  well, you know the drill)

When it comes right down to it, they want the same thing the Catholics want, to see the fruit of sanctification.

(which I’m sure according to Paul Washer, this means Wesley and Mother Teresa has more than you)
As long as they see this fruit of sanctification, then doctrines like atonement and justification don’t matter too much.   It’s more important to them that they give their children a head start on being smarter than their Arminian brothers and sisters.

2 Comments so far
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I find it ironic that the name if this site is the sovereign grace society. After reading a few of your articles I have yet to come across a single hint of any grace at all, only sarcasm and ridicule. I realize that by voicing my opinion here I run the risk of being ridiculed; possibly even having my comment placed in a work of sarcastic, disrespectful, and distasteful ‘art’. There is no space here to outline a statement of all my theological views so you can tear them to shreds line by line, but let it suffice for me to say this: salvation is dependent on the finished work of Christ alone, through his grace and mercy, NOT on having absolutely correct theology. If salvation is by correct theology alone (which is not what you say but what you imply), then I fear we all are in dire trouble, even you. Let us remember the most important things according to Christ; love for God and love for our neighbour. That doesn’t mean that nothing else matters, but if we don’t have love what’s the point of spending all our time pondering theology? “If anyone says he loves God yet hates his brother, he is a liar and the truth of God is not in him.” Paul said that if you have all the knowledge in the world (and just to be clear, you don’t) but have not love you are only a clanging gong. Sadly that’s all I’m hearing here – a lot of noise.

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