Rock of Offense

Professing Christian: After much in-depth study of tolerant Calvinist writers such as James R. White and Douglas Wilson that bottle of Limited Atonement is beginning to look surprisingly drinkable.

Christian:  Consider the very heart and life-blood of the gospel:  The efficacious cross-work of Jesus Christ. “Efficacious” — instead of “limited”[1] — because His body is truly meat, and His blood is truly drink.  For many Calvinists this bottle is considered much more than “surprisingly drinkable.”  They say its precious, propitiatory, and expiating contents should be thoughtfully sipped and savored like old sweet wine — with the careful caveat that it be fetched up from the OPTIONAL gospel doctrine wine cellar.

Since the precious and powerful Word of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18-24; 1 Peter 1:19, 2:4-8) is reckoned an OPTIONAL gospel doctrine, these pernicious Calvinist connoisseurs will take slow contented sips from this non-essential goblet …. But IF you preach the atonement that ACTUALLY ATONES as an ESSENTIAL GOSPEL DOCTRINE by proclaiming the lostness of all who deny the cross as the very DUNAMIS of God toward ALL whom He represented, THEN these connoisseurs will forcefully spew out this sweet gospel wine as a SKANDALON and utter foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:17-31).

These “humble, patient, and charitable” Reformed men sparkle with the irenic Calvinistic silver as they agree to disagree with their brothers in Satan, the Arminians.  But why so pseudo-humble?  Why?  Because THEY TOO, spent many arduous and painful years stumbling at the Stone of Stumbling and taking offense at the Rock of Offense.

A quarrel over whether or not the Biblical atonement ACTUALLY ATONES is indeed “fruitless” if it is a doctrine that not all true believers necessarily believe as an immediate and inevitable fruit (result) of regenerating grace (Jeremiah 31:33-34, John 6:44-45, John 15:26, John 16:13-14, 1 Corinthians 2:9-16, 2 Corinthians 4:6).  The sparklier silver (e.g., Charles Simeon vs John Wesley) ought to remonstrate with the dull dross (e.g., Augustus Toplady vs John Wesley).  The seasoned silver glitters a winsome Simeon over a dour Toplady.  Such is the peaceable wisdom that sacrifices TRUTH upon the altar of spiritual porneia  (James 3:15; Romans 10:1-4; cf. Ezekiel 13:9-16; Jeremiah 14:11-16; 2 John 9-11; Revelation 18:4).

From the perspective of silver-haired Calvinist connoisseurs, the so-called “cage stage” is a prideful spectacle of Calvinistic sectarian dross (e.g. Douglas Wilson).  This “cage stage” occurs when immature Calvinist connoisseurs fight, quarrel, and hurl nasty epithets at those they deem spiritual brethren — albeit “extremely muddled” and/or “barely Christian” [2].

The silver cautions the dross about the inconsiderate expectation that their Arminian brothers in Satan will cease establishing their own righteousness overnight since (to the silver-mind) it took like 10 or 15 years to cease from establishing their own righteousness.  Of course, BOTH dross and silver Calvinist connoisseurs have yet to cease from establishing a righteousness of their own (Romans 10:1-4).

If the efficacious atonement of Jesus Christ does NOT constitute the VERY CORE of the gospel, then what sense does it make to thrust this “barbed sectarian shaft” between the ribs of your felicitously inconsistent brothers in Satan?  But if the efficacious atonement of Jesus Christ is actually the ESSENTIAL heart and LIFE-BLOOD of the gospel, then it is certainly NOT the optional and inconsequential pebble that these Calvinists make it out to be.  It is a ROCK OF OFFENSE and a STONE OF STUMBLING that these Calvinists — from the raw cage-stage to the seasoned silver-hair — continue to stumble over to this very day.

[1] “The extent of the atonement is defined by the ACCOMPLISHMENT of the atonement. That’s why I don’t like the term ‘limited atonement.’ ‘Effectual atonement’ or ‘efficacious atonement’ is much better. THAT’S the issue at hand. Was the atonement EFFECTUAL for all whom Christ represented? If it was not EFFECTUAL, then was it an ATONEMENT? This gets to the very heart of the gospel. When Christ died on the cross, did He actually accomplish atonement, propitiation, redemption, for all whom He represented, or was it just a general amnesty that actually secured the salvation of no one? This is no small matter! It goes to the very heart of the gospel, which is the work of Christ! If you get the work of Christ wrong, you get the gospel wrong!”

[2] The God-hating celebrity Calvinist R.C. Sproul wrote:  “People often ask me if I believe Arminians are Christians?  I usually answer, ‘Yes, barely.’  They are Christians by what we call a felicitous inconsistency” (R.C. Sproul, Willing to Believe, p. 25).

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