Red Wave Rebuked

Many of us were hoping that the 2022 midterm elections would provide, if nothing else, some needed clarity about the current state of America and where we are headed. We received clarity in more ways than one. The anticipated “red wave” expected to launch Republicans into massive electoral victory was, save a handful of States, a huge disappointment. As of this writing, it appears that the GOP will indeed take control of both houses of Congress, but those will be slim margins. Many Democrats who were projected to lose their seats came out on top. What happened?

Conventional wisdom held that the worsening economic situation in America would spell doom for the incumbent party. This summer’s move by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade incited many on the Left to political action, but it was assumed that this outrage would be dwarfed by months of increasing inflation, general market instability, and higher crime. People would simply “come to their senses” and vote Republican. Not only did these expectations fail to materialize, but it became very clear that the economy does not actually trump the spirit of the age.

Several States, including Michigan, codified abortion as a right into their respective constitutions via referenda. In Montana—a State which Trump won twice—voters rejected a referendum to mandate emergency medical care for infants born alive as a result of failed abortions. Meanwhile in Kentucky—sitting on the northern end of the “Bible Belt”—voters rejected a referendum to amend their constitution to clarify that abortion is not indeed a protected right. The Bluegrass State echoed a similar action in deep-red Kansas over the summer. Looking back on Michigan, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer was re-elected governor, for the most part, because of her support for legal abortion. Various States witnessed the advent of their first “transgender” candidates elected to office.

While I could go on with more examples of cultural rot in this most recent election, it’s noteworthy that supposedly “conservative” States produced very horrific results. For my entire adult life, I’ve heard about the so-called “Silent Majority” which purports to be the pulse of America’s moral conscience. If this majority really does exist, then what we experienced Tuesday night was an uncomfortable realization that America’s conscience is deeply flawed to say the least. When the Democratic Party—a party which now openly endorses baby-murder and child genital mutilation—can comfortably retain elected office in most parts of the country, we have to go beyond the usual election “post-mortems” to discover the root problem.

The demographic which is probably most upset by these election results—the Baby Boomers—are at the same time the most responsible for our current state of affairs. This generation was the first to grow up in the post-World War II democratic order which was coupled with modernity’s deliberate drive to de-Christianize the West. They ushered in the cultural upheaval of the 1960s, dove head-first into the Sexual Revolution, and buttressed the secularization of our institutions. Rather than put a stop to it, Boomers did the grunt work for globalism by pushing open borders, mass immigration, free trade, and frequent military intervention abroad. Financial success became the epitome of the good life rather than virtue. You could be a degenerate dirtbag in your private life and still be accepted as long as you upheld the ideals of democracy.

On every front of American society—familial, ecclesiastical, civil, and so forth—Boomers failed to confront and defeat the corrosion of modernity. Instead, each of these institutions was brought into conformity with the spirit of the age. Fornication, shacking up, out-of-wedlock births, abortion on demand, and no-fault divorce were normalized within a few decades. The broader Evangelical church in America became an increasingly impotent force within the culture at large. Piety was exchanged for pietism. Whenever the church did depart from a heavy other-worldly spirit, she was rubber-stamping a crass political agenda. What it meant to be an American was more nebulous than ever, our history along with its heroes was now suspect, and established constitutional jurisprudence was superseded by the Civil Rights Act.

While the Millennials are often simultaneously mocked and disdained, we have to keep in mind that they largely grew up with broken and dysfunctional families being the norm. Ostensibly Christian Boomers didn’t catechize their Millennial children in the faith and most didn’t make church attendance a priority. Instead, they sent their children to be catechized by pagans in the public school system. The arrested development among many Millennials which is lampooned in popular culture can be attributed to their parents not passing onto them any useful skills, pitching the big lie that a college education is the ticket to prosperity, and ignoring the reality of today’s economic situation. To put it simply, the Millennial generation as a whole was not properly prepared to deal with real life. As a result, they became yet another disenchanted demographic robbed of any meaningful telos.

This is how you get to where we are in 2022. Boomers will lament, rightly, that they don’t recognize the country in which they grew up. Yet their generation as a whole did next to nothing to invest in future generations to ensure that the tide would be turned. Those who put all their eggs into the political basket don’t want to hear this, but the demographic changes in America from both abortion as well as mass immigration have ensured that the Republican Party will not enjoy any serious national success moving forward. It is not unreasonable to assert that Donald Trump will probably be the last GOP president for at least a generation. This is why the “red wave” predicted this year was ultimately a pipe dream.

Folks on the Right love to bring up gerrymandering and voter fraud as explanations for their electoral defeat. I won’t deny the reality of both nor their impact, but there’s an overreliance upon this rhetoric which has become a cope. Both of those factors are nothing new, but what is actually new is the degree to which the American electorate is seriously terrible. Not only is the average American grossly ignorant, but he believes awful ideas, tolerates awful practices, and behaves in awful ways. Like the degenerate men of Sodom groping blindly for the door to Lot’s house, the typical American voter in 2022 willfully ignores his own economic plight in order to ensure that women can legally murder their own children. Let that sink in.

There is no democratic solution. We can’t vote our way out of this cultural decay. If it hasn’t become self-evident in recent years, then let me point out that democracy is a terrible form of government anyway. It is not possible to have self-government with a society which is fundamentally degenerate. The way forward will take lots of time. It involves building viable communities centered upon solid churches. This takes lots of work, for building relationships with real people always does. Hospitality is key along with daily investing in our children. We have to say no to public education and make the necessary sacrifices. Churches must be prepared to welcome visitors who don’t fit the mold of upper-middleclass suburbanites, preaching truth to ordinary people.

To the degree that we invest in electoral action, it must be local. Who becomes the next county sheriff matters more than who becomes the next President of the United States. You ought to be more concerned about who sits on your local school board than who sits on the U.S. Supreme Court. Get to know the civil magistrates in your local area and build good relationships over time. If possible, elect actual Christian men who are unafraid to make their counties explicitly Christian communities.

I view elections as something of a proverbial canary in a coal mine. They’re worth analyzing to the extent that we know where we are and where society is going. Christians ought to be encouraged by the fact that natural law itself will not be thwarted. The “red pill” movement is a clear example that even non-Christians are aware of our present state of cultural rot. The American church needs to reassert biblical truth—preaching a robust, masculine Christianity that fears God rather than man. Don’t back down, don’t apologize. Play the long game. What we are building will outlast the suicidal cult of popular government.

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To Us and To Our Children

I’ve wanted to write this post for some time but I’ve lacked the right words (and frankly, the right amount of motivation) to do so.  I also wanted to let the dust settle after I basically let the proverbial cat of the bag regarding my new stance on baptism.  I had both positive as well as negative reactions.  And I expected as much.  I’m not saying that going from credobaptism to paedobaptism cost me friends or anything like that, but a lot of people who know me wanted to know exactly why I landed where I did.  So here we are.  I promised some good friends of mine that I’d write such a post and so I’ll do my best to articulate my reasons.

This is by no means an exhaustive argument for the Reformed view of paedobaptism.  I’m not writing an polemic or theological treatise on the matter.  This is merely an expression of my own journey to covenant theology through a careful examination of the Scriptures and the implications of what I was reading.

The Status of Children

When I was a Baptist, something always bothered me about the status of children in the New Covenant.  I was taught that the covenant sign and seal which we see given to children in the Old Covenant (circumcision) was replaced with baptism in the New.  This is true.  Yet only those who could articulate a profession of faith in the New Covenant were supposed to receive the sacrament of baptism.  There was a clean break rather than a continuity between the covenants.

Certainly we were to do our best to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  Everyone agrees with that.  Yet I kept wondering in what sense children of believers differed from children raised by pagans.  I even had a Reformed Baptist pastor acknowledge to me that children of believers do indeed have a special blessing and benefit, but he couldn’t really articulate what that is or what really set them apart as such.  This nagged at me as time went on.  If my children are outside of the covenant, then how do I pray for them?  How do I disciple them?  These were serious questions which demanded serious answers.

The Nature of the New Covenant

Was the New Covenant something so drastically different from the Old that only professing believers could receive membership into the covenant people of God?  One thing I knew for sure was that the debate over baptism was not going to be solved by debating what was meant by the word “household” in the New Testament.  To me, these are merely supplemental arguments as part of the bigger picture.  What it really boils down to in the end is having a proper understanding of the nature of the New Covenant itself.  In order to justify their position, credobaptists routinely invoke Jeremiah 31:31-34 as their proof text:

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lordbut this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

What we see here is a covenant people whose hearts are changed.  They are delighting in God’s law because they have a genuine faith wrought in them by the Holy Spirit.  This, credobaptists argue, is the nature of the New Covenant as we see it today.  Thus, the only valid recipients of baptism are those who outwardly profess the Christian faith and demonstrate a changed life as a result.  Sounds reasonable, right?  Indeed, as we read in Hebrews 8:6, Christ is the Mediator of a better covenant.  And what better covenant do we have than when all of its members exhibit the outward signs of an inward reality of salvation?

The Problem of Apostasy 

Yet there’s a problem with this interpretation.  There remains in the New Covenant people of God today the problem of apostasy.  The credobaptist practice of limiting the covenant sign and seal to those who profess faith in Christ does not in any way solve the problem of apostasy.  I can recall over the years people I knew in the church who made what seemed like a genuine profession of faith, were examined, received the sacrament of baptism, and yet are no longer abiding in the Christian faith today.  And certainly credobaptists themselves acknowledge the fact that there are those in their midst who become apostates.  We all agree that such persons were never regenerate to begin with and their departure from the church signals an inward reality of its own (1 John 2:19).

In other words, no church today is a pure church.  On this end of the Parousia, the church will always be a mixture of wheat and tares (Matt. 13:24-30).  As we’ve seen both in Scripture itself as well as examples throughout church history (especially the American church today), there are those in the visible church who do not in fact possess a saving faith.  Since we are fallible human observers, we cannot see into the hearts of men.  At times, the tares in the church reveal themselves through their apostasy.  But scary as it may sound, there are those tares who remain in the visible church and who go to their deaths with a false assurance of salvation (Matt. 7:21).  This should rightly give us pause.

So how should we understand Jeremiah 31:31-34?  I humbly assert that we need to see this passage in light of future fulfillment.  Indeed, this isn’t speaking about the church as we see it today in our age but rather in the age to come.  We can accurately assert that credobaptists who use this passage in order to argue in favor of their position have an over-realized eschatology in that sense.

A Better Covenant?

All of this brings me back to Hebrews 8 and the discussion about the New Covenant being a better covenant, one that is inherently superior to the Old.  What Paul is doing here (and yes, I believe in the Pauline authorship of Hebrews) is exegeting Jeremiah 31:31-34.  He says that the New Covenant is built on better promises (v. 6) and then proceeds to explain what these promises are.  At the end of the chapter, Paul articulates that the Old Covenant is passing away.  Consistent with the theme of Hebrews itself, he’s pointing to the fact that the entire ceremonial system of the Old Covenant is obsolete and no longer binding upon the people of God.

That God’s covenant people possess these inward spiritual realities is an example of the “already but not yet” dichotomy.  We see solid examples in the present church of hearts changed and genuine faith lived out, but we also realize that we aren’t seeing these promises manifested perfectly in this current age.  The church is continually sanctified and the promises of the New Covenant ultimately point toward that day when we will perfectly obey and love our Lord.

So what does all of this have to do with baptism?  The fact that this is a better covenant has implications for how we view this baptism debate.  Last year I read through the 1541 edition of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and came across a passage where the Reformer picked up on this point:

What excuse, therefore, do we have for not testifying and sealing it today as was formerly the case? It cannot be claimed that circumcision was the only sacrament appointed to witness to it, and that circumcision is now abolished. There is a ready answer to that: our Lord ordained circumcision for a time, but after circumcision was ended there was still reason to confirm the covenant, since it is common to us and to the Jews. That is why we must always carefully reflect on what we jointly have in common and what is different. The covenant is common, and the reason for confirming it is the same. The difference lies only in the fact that for them it was circumcision which confirmed it, and that for us baptism now serves that purpose. Otherwise Christ’s coming would have meant that God’s mercy was less familiar to us than it was to the Jews, supposing we were denied the testimony which they had concerning their children. If such a thing cannot be said without greatly dishonouring Jesus Christ, through whom the Lord’s infinite goodness has been more richly than ever exhibited and shed upon the earth, we must allow that God’s grace must not be more veiled or less assured than it was under the shadows of the law.

In other words, Calvin is pointing out that it is a contradiction to say that this is a better covenant if we’re also at the same time going to conclude that the children of believers are now excluded from the covenant.  It can’t be a better covenant if our children are in a worse position in the New Covenant.  For me, this was the most powerful argument and served as the tipping point for me moving to embrace paedobaptism.

Abraham is the Model

A proper reading of Scripture gives us a proper understanding of the covenants.  When we compare the people of God in the Old Testament with the people of God in the the New Testament, we see that there is one overarching Covenant of Grace separated into two administrations–the Old and New covenants.  Even though we no longer practice circumcision (an administration of the Old Covenant), the substance of the Covenant of Grace remains the same.  Baptism replaces circumcision, but the candidates who receive the sacrament are still the children of believers.

Put another way, Abraham is still the model.  The pattern established in the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 17:7-8 is repeated in Acts 2:37-39.  There is a continuity despite these different administrations in the Covenant of Grace.  Again, this is not meant to be an exhaustive study of this issue.  I’m only laying out the issues as I came to see and understand them.  There are plenty of books, articles, podcasts, and blog posts out there which go much deeper than what I’m doing here.  I urge my readers to avail themselves of these resources.

Today my family and I are members of a Reformed Presbyterian congregation.  As of this year, all of our children have received the covenant sign and seal of baptism.  I don’t write this with any sense of pride.  In fact, those who seriously wrestle through issues like this quickly learn to bury their pride.  I was wrong about baptism before and I now humbly submit to biblical teaching on this matter.  And so I write this as an encouragement to other men who also wrestle with this issue and are looking to lead their families accordingly.  I’m thankful that God placed men in my life who helped me as I struggled to understand.

Most of all, I’m thankful that I can now tell each of our covenant children that Christ is their Mediator.  I can disciple them accordingly and rest in the promises God has given to believing parents.  In pointing them back to their baptisms, I can show them these promises in a very tangible way.

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Review: Gideons Brown Leather Personal Bible (KJV)

As a member of the Gideons International, there are numerous types of Scriptures which I can order. The vast majority of these Scriptures are intended for evangelism purposes. There are a handful of Bibles, however, which are for personal use. One of these is a brown leather Bible which, according to the website, is carried by many Gideons. I purchased one of them late last year and I decided to write a review of it.


When I use the word “leather,” I really mean it. The color is a “chocolate brown” with gold fringe on the pages. When most people receive a Gideon-produced copy of the Scriptures, it’s usually made of the imitation leather material used in their evangelistic copies. The reason for this is cost. A Personal Workers Testament (PWT) in the KJV only costs $1.35 for this reason. That’s great if you’re handing out PWTs on a college campus or something like that, but not for a personal Bible. That’s why I was so pleased to see this particular copy they produced was made of genuine leather.


Note the phrase, “personal Bible.” It’s size is decent, but it’s definitely not the size of a family Bible or even a “preaching Bible.” I believe it was designed mainly for devotional use or just general reading. True to this point, there are no marginal notes or cross references within the text. Its approximate size is 5.5″ x 8.25″ x 1.25″ to be specific. No font size is listed either on the website or within the Bible itself, but my guess is that it’s roughly 10-point. For some people this may not be adequate, but I think this is a decent font size given the relatively compact nature of the Bible itself.


Cost – At $24 per copy, that’s a price that can’t be beat for a medium-sized leather Bible.

Quality – I’ve been using it almost exclusively for over six months now and I have yet to see any kind of serious wear or tear. Granted, that’s certainly not long-term use, but it definitely seems to be well made.

Simplicity – Some people will object that there are no notes or cross references, but I think that’s part of this Bible’s strength. There are times when study notes and things like that tend to get in the way of a good, devotional reading.


“Floppage” – In terms of “floppage” (I didn’t coin that term), it tends to rank very poorly. If you’re not familiar with that term, a Bible’s “floppage” refers to its ability to lay flat when opened to a given page. With this particular Bible, you’ll have to use both hands to hold it open unless you happen to be reading through the Psalms or some other section in the middle.

Exclusivity – Unfortunately, only members of the Gideons International are able to order this Bible (and that’s true of all their other materials). Even so, you can still obtain a copy if you happen to know a Gideons member (more on this below).


Outside of the positives and negatives, there’s not much else which can be said. There’s a golden Gideons emblem stamped on the lower right corner of the front cover. Inside the Bible, you’ll find the usual things you’d expect to find in a Gideon Bible: a basic Gospel message with Scripture proofs, John 3:16 printed in various languages, and various Scripture helps. It also comes with a yellow ribbon to mark your page.

I recommend this Bible for use as a simple, devotional copy of the Scriptures. It makes a great gift as well, especially for someone who has never had a nice Bible before. As a service to my readers, I’m willing to purchase a copy on your behalf should you desire it. So please contact me if you’d like a buy a copy. I won’t be making any profit on this whatsoever. My desire is simply to meet the needs of those who are without a quality Bible. Hope you were blessed by this review!

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The Gideons and the ESV

As I noted in this blog about a month ago, I officially joined the Gideons International.  They have a solid reputation for worldwide Bible distribution and I’ve heard plenty of people say that the Gideons are responsible for giving them the first Scriptures they’ve ever had.  To date, the Gideons have distributed complete Bibles and New Testaments to the tune of 1.7 billion in over 190 countries.  As we ponder over that, we must praise God for this ministry and their efforts to bring the Word to so many people.  With a legacy such as this, I can say that I’m proud to be a part of this organization.

Yet with such a high volume of Bible distribution, shouldn’t it matter which translation(s) the Gideons are using?  Most people who have any degree of familiarity with the organization know that the Gideons have been handing out the King James Version (KJV) since the ministry was founded.  Even today, the KJV is the rock-solid standard of the organization.  However, the Gideons also pass out a modern English version as an alternative.  The version used for the modern translation has changed over the years.  I’m told that the New International Version (NIV) was used at one point but later abandoned, probably because of the cost of the royalties (all modern translations have copyrights).  After that, they switched to the New King James Version (NKJV).

Setting the NKJV as their choice for a modern translation was probably one of the best decisions the Gideons ever made.  I say that because, in my humble opinion, the NKJV is the best modern translation available.  While I won’t go into all of the reasons why I say that, suffice the say that I believe the textual basis is superior, the translation itself is trustworthy, and it is very readable.  This year, however, the Gideons International decided to drop the NKJV.  I was taken aback by this, especially since their usage of the NKJV as a modern translation was one of the main reasons I joined the organization.  I was very much looking forward to ordering cases full of Personal Workers Testaments in the NKJV.  No more. Continue reading

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We Have Tradition Too! – Part 2

In Part 1 of this article on tradition, we looked at the distinction between sola Scriptura and so-called “solo” Scriptura while emphasizing the necessity of tradition.  Sola Scriptura does indeed mean “Scripture alone” as the ultimate authority of faith and practice, but this doesn’t mean that biblical interpretation is done in a vacuum.  The practice of modern Evangelicalism appears to be the me-and-my-Bible approach of “solo” Scriptura in which all tradition is thrown out altogether or otherwise made subordinate to the interpretative whims of the individual.

With respect to the individualism found in modern Evangelical approaches to biblical interpretation, it is important to concede that Roman Catholic critics are at least partly right.  There is most certainly an element of the “lone ranger Christian” at work here along with a very low view of the church.  Membership in the local church is now seen as something loose or fluid, assuming that it exists at all.  Yet where these same Roman Catholic critics err is their assertion that this situation in modern Evangelicalism is somehow representative of historic Protestant teaching.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Aside from Scripture, the magisterial Reformers consciously and openly appealed to early church fathers as well.  They made it clear that their efforts at reforming the church were not rooted in something novel, but had the backing of centuries of church tradition.  Indeed, John Calvin relied heavily upon the testimony of early church fathers in his famous reply to Cardinal Sadoleto in which he articulated a systematic defense of Reformation doctrine.  In particular he cited Chrysostom in echoing the warning to beware of those who promote new doctrines under the auspices of the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit affirms what God has already spoken in the Scriptures rather than theological novelties.  Both Rome and the Anabaptists had been guilty of the latter. Continue reading

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Thornwell on the Purpose of the Church

We live in a day and age in which the church is having an identity crisis, much of which is rooted in a misunderstanding of the Great Commission.  Like many problems in the church today, this one is nothing new.  The 19th century saw the same problem in which many people started to see the role of the church as an agent of social change in the world.  Responding to this trend, James Henley Thornwell said the following:

[The church] is not, as we fear too many are disposed to regard it, a moral institute of universal good, whose business it is to wage war upon every form of human ill, whether social, civil, political, moral, and to patronize every expedient which a romantic benevolence may suggest as likely to contribute to human comfort….  The problems which the anomalies of our fallen state are continually forcing on philanthropy, the church has no right directly to solve.  She must leave them to providence, and to human wisdom sanctified and guided by the spiritual influences which it is her glory to foster and cherish.  The church is a very peculiar society;…it is the kingdom of her Lord Jesus Christ.

This view stands in stark contrast to the sentiments of many modern Evangelicals who are not satisfied with the biblical purpose of the church: a ministry of the Word, sacraments, and discipline.  Ditching these three marks of a church, Evangelicals have redefined both its nature as well as its purpose.  Churches are now seen as agents of cultural change within the community, arms of larger political movements, and visible extensions of social welfare programs.  Thornwell continues: Continue reading

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We Have Tradition Too! – Part 1

In today’s milieu of theological discussions, it seems prudent to properly define our terms and ensure that all participants are on the same page.  The onset of post-modernism certainly hasn’t helped matters and our discourse is often given over to confusion more than anything else.  I’ve noticed this especially in discussions between Roman Catholics and Protestants regarding the issues of sola Scriptura and the proper role of tradition.  There’s a great misunderstanding on each side both in terms of the definitions themselves as well as the history behind them.

The point of this article isn’t so much to refute Roman Catholic arguments as it is to help fellow Protestants to understand what sola Scriptura actually means while at the same time articulating an appreciation for tradition in its proper role.  Many Protestants have an incomplete or even distorted view of what constitutes tradition.  In a knee-jerk reaction against Rome, there are Protestants who deny that they have any kind of tradition at all.  While having good intentions, they mistakenly assume that upholding the doctrine of Scripture-alone means eschewing tradition altogether.

Yet as Keith Mathison and others have demonstrated, there is a huge difference between sola Scriptura and so-called “solo” Scriptura.  Roman Catholics and Protestants alike seem to miss the difference.  This, I believe, is what has given rise to the “solo” Scriptura defense among Protestants who simply don’t know any better.  Here we see the importance of church history along with a solid understanding of basic theological terms.  The modern Evangelical church is woefully ill-equipped in this regard. Continue reading

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Soteriological Positions at Dort

After sitting through church history class last night, I got a much better picture of the various soteriological positions presented at the Synod of Dort in 1618-19.  This was the first time I heard of the phrase “hypothetical universalism” used to describe one of the viewpoints.  I don’t want to confuse anyone, so let me lay out the ground of these four main soteriological views:

1. “Straight” universalism: everyone is saved and heading to heaven.

2. Synergistic universalism: Christ died for everyone, making it possible for them to go to heaven if only they will believe.

3. Hypothetical universalism: Christ died for everyone, but the Holy Spirit applies that salvation to the elect only.

4. Particularism: Christ died for His elect and the Holy Spirit applies that salvation to the elect only.

It is apparent to me that the “synergistic universalism” could conceivably apply to both Pelagianism as well as Arminianism.  That’s why it makes sense to me that many Arminians end up moving over into outright Pelagianism.  Some self-described Arminians I know are actually closer to Amyraldianism which falls under the category of “hypothetical universalism.” Continue reading

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