Evaluating John Owen’s Trilemma and Double Payment Argument for Limited Atonement

Comprehensive exams are coming up for me… but let’s talk theology! ūüôā

Since I’ve written several times on what I believe to be the errors of limited atonement from biblical, logical, and practical standpoints, I have already addressed the double payment or double jeopardy argument before in passing. ¬†I will try to discuss the argument here in more detail and further describe why it fails to be convincing. ¬†Essentially, it relies on problematic assumptions while introducing serious problems regarding the importance of faith. ¬†Thus, not only does it not suffice to overcome all of the other problems of limited atonement that I’ve talked about before, it’s not even a powerful argument in itself, no matter how straightforward it seems.

John Owen’s Trilemma

Most modern Calvinists hold to a view of limited atonement that is more or less inherited from John Owen. ¬†I want to point out that not all 5-point Calvinists think the following argument is a good one (some people claim that neither Calvin nor Edwards held to such a view). ¬†However, I don’t think it’s controversial to say that this argument is indicative of the most popular rendering of limited atonement by most these days.

Owen sought to back non-Calvinists in a corner with a trilemma that forced them to concede that limited atonement, the view that Christ only died for the elect, is the only possible view.  He gives three options for the Christian.  Christ died for:

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Review of the Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Since I reviewed the first two parts of the Hobbit trilogy, I may as well do the third one.  I was impressed with the first installment and somewhat less so with the second, but I nonetheless was looking forward to getting to watch the movie because it contained the final battle.  I would say that the movie is entertaining and I delighted in seeing many parts of the book come to life.  Still, as I said in the first two reviews, the action scenes often became a bit over-indulgent and there were some additions and subtractions from the source material that either did not make sense or were just stupid.

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The Murky Theology of the Song “Though You Slay Me”

It seems almost too cold-hearted to evaluate the song “Though You Slay Me” by Shane & Shane, given the tragic events, pure intentions, and honest faith that produced it. ¬†I do not doubt these Christians’ faith and was moved by their story and their trust in the Lord. ¬†However, this does not preclude sober reflection on the possible theology songs can convey. ¬†Believe me, I understand that songs are not theological or philosophical treatises, and there is a certain poetic license that should be allowed for the medium. ¬†I do not think songs need to try to be overly precise nor do I think that every song needs to be “deep.” ¬†That said, whether we like it or not, songs still carry meaning, Christian or secular,¬†and those meanings can be internalized by listeners and singers. ¬†Song lyrics are still therefore fair game for critical evaluation, though I want this to be clear: I am questioning nobody’s faith. ¬†Shane & Shane have made some great songs over the years, and I know God will continue to use them. ¬†This does not, however, make their songs immune from critique.

I had not heard the song before until a couple of weeks ago, and when I heard the first verse and chorus, I immediately became concerned.  I recognized the allusion to a famous verse in Job, which made alarm bells go off in my head, though I kept it to myself.  Here is the verse and chorus:

I come, God, I come
Return to the Lord
The one who’s broken
The one who’s torn me apart
You strike down to bind me up
You say You do it all in love
That I might know You in Your suffering

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the One who’s all I need

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Anonymity, Resources, Flash, and Ease: Why Mega-Churches Grow While Christianity Does Not

It’s been a while since I’ve written on this site, so what better way to get back into it by addressing a controversial sermon.

Recently, while on Facebook, I saw a link to an article criticizing a Christmas eve sermon preached by Pastor Perry Noble, a pastor of a mega-church in South Carolina called NewSpring, which boasts more than 25,000 regular attendees per week. ¬†I honestly had not heard of either Noble or NewSpring before, but the article was both interesting and concerning: The author alleged that Noble basically rescinded the Ten Commandments and turned them into “promises,” basing his argument on the notion that there is no word for “command” in Hebrew. ¬†Apparently, this was told to him by a Jewish friend. ¬†In the sermon, Noble goes through each of the commandments, changes them to reflect promises to people rather than commandments, and ultimately makes an offer to “say yes” to Jesus. ¬†While that is obviously not a bad thing to ask, the premise of the offer was that Christianity is not this stale, rule-based religion that many mean Christians make it out to be because, lo and behold, the Ten Commandments aren’t even commandments.

This whole argument from the Hebrew, of course, is flat wrong. ¬†A bit incredulous that a pastor of such a large church could make a mistake like this, I went online and found the sermon and listened to it, and sure enough, the article was right. ¬†Evidently, Noble never finished seminary, and while finishing seminary is not a pre-requisite for ministry, the lack of training shows. ¬†Still, a seminary degree is not necessary to do a modicum of research. ¬†It’s surprising that a church of that size would not be able to give Noble access to basic Bible software; heck, Google could have solved that for him quickly.

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