Thursday, September 17, 2009

Andrew Teo on Reclaiming the Biblical Care of Souls in The Body of Christ

This is another excellent piece and worthwhile reflection of the Nouthetic Counseling, which clearly identifies the issue at stake, which resists the temptation to engage with the Psychology, and which at key point keeps a continuity with the Reformation spirit of Sola Scriptura and Solo Christus in line with the modern counseling reformer Jay Adam. The paper was written by a pastor whom currently serve at Ann Arbor Chinese Christian Church in Michigan, Rev. Dr. Andrew Teo. His paper can be accessed here. An Excerpt:

The Reformation was a turning point in church history. Two great teachings of the Reformation are Sola Scriptura and the Priesthood of all believers. Sola Scriptura meansby Scripture alone. The Priesthood of all believers means that believers, guided by theWord and empowered by the Holy Spirit, are equipped and called to counsel one another in the Body of Christ.

Gideon Teo whom is now licensed in the PCA, his responds to this paper here.

The work of Jay Adams is undeniably groundbreaking. As the Father of Nouthetic counseling, Adams is arguably the Luther who began our modern Counseling Reformation. Acentral theme of Nouthetic Counseling, as presented by Pastor Andrew's essay, is that the use of Secular Psychology for biblical counseling is contrary to the principles of Sola Scriptura; therefore, Psychology must be utterly rejected.

[This paper are now opened for discussion.]


franas said...

To find a psychologist who is also a faithful Christian can be hard. For Catholics, it is an easier task since a psychologist must adhere to the clear teachings of the church. In Protestantism, there is no such unanimity of faith so the prospect can be bleak.

Of course, for all Christians, Christ is our Great Physician. In his name, Christ also instructs his disciples to "cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons" (Mt. 10:9). In today's world of increased strife and emotional stress, it is ever important to avail of us of sacramental Confessions. Christ understands human conditions when he gave Catholic priests the power to dispense God’s mercy: “Those sins you forgive, they are forgiven, and those sins you retained they are retained” (Jn 20: 21-23). The assurance and comfort to hear the words of forgiveness from another human acting in persona Christi can be invaluable.

Another great gift from God is the sublime Eucharist. Paul warns us of the consequences of the unworthy reception and profaning of the body and blood of our Lord: “For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died” (1 Cor 1129-30). Christ tells us: ”Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6: 53-54). Here is an occasion where we were told that many of Christ’s disciples complained that it was a “hard saying; who can listen to it … and many drew back and no longer went about with him” (Jn 6: 6-66). Christ did not bother to stop them; he turned to the twelve and ask: “Do you also wish to go away?” (Jn 6: 67). No trivial matter if you ask me.

So the question is: Do you avail yourself of the two great gifts of Christ? If every Christian is faithful, perhaps there won’t be such demand for psychological counseling. BTW, a great Christian psychologist is Dr. Ray Guarendi, a convert to Catholicism from Evangelical Christianity (

Augustinian Successor said...


1. And what are the clear teachings of the Roman Church?

2. Roman priests as 'in persona Christi'? No. They lack the GOSPEL. The Gospel is UNCONDITIONAL. FORGIVENESS is unconditional. This is why Reformers did away with the distinction between eternal and temporal PUNISHMENT.

"If every Christian is faithful, perhaps there won’t be such demand for psychological counseling."

And faithful Romanists do NOT need counselling?

franas said...

To Augustinian Successor:

"And what are the clear teachings of the Roman Church?"

The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

"This is why Reformers did away with the distinction between eternal and temporal PUNISHMENT

By whose authority?
Christian women still experience the temporal punishment of birthpangs (Gen. 3:16), although Christ paid the infinite debt of man’s original sin (Rom. 5:12–21). The sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice is not lessened by the fact that God’s work of perfecting his children is a process that often involves suffering and even temporal punishment. While "for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant" (Heb 12:11), it is all a part of God’s promise made through Paul, "that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil 1:6), even if it should be "as through fire" (1 Cor. 3:15).

Augustinian Successor said...

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church."

What does the Catechism say?

1. Jesus did not pay anything. He DESTROYED the Law. Christ is the END of the Law so that there may be RIGHTEOUSNESS to all who BELIEVE(Romans 10:4).

2. The passages are not about temporal PUNISHMENT. To be punished is to be DAMNED. In Adam (and Eve), all DIE. Remember:

"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the DAY that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely DIE." (Genesis 2:17)

"THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH" (Romans 6:23).

Thus, PUNISHMENT is NEVER redemptive.

The saint is only subjected to discipline/chastisement. The difference is between God as JUDGE and God as heavenly FATHER.

See how PAGAN the Roman Church is?

Augustinian Successor said...

The birth-pang Eve was now to be subjected to was a CURSE.

And unto Adam he said, BECAUSE thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy WIFE, and hast ***EATEN*** of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

(Genesis 3:17-19)

franas said...

To Augustinian Successor:

"What does the Catechism say?"

It is available at any major book stores. Then at least you can quote directly from it instead of repeating the myths, fables and tall tales you heard from your parents and your parents'parents!

I would not believe the Gospel unless moved thereto by the Church. – ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO

Augustinian Successor said...

"There is therefore now NO condemnation to them which are IN Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

(Romans 8:1)

"For to be carnally minded is DEATH; but to be spiritually minded is LIFE and PEACE. Because the carnal mind is ENMITY against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is NONE of his."

(Romans 8:6-9)

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this PRESENT time are not worthy to be compared with the GLORY which shall be revealed ***IN*** us."

(Romans 8:18)

This is why Purgatory is unbiblical.

Augustinian Successor said...


What are the clear teachings of the Roman Church on counselling and psychology?

Augustinian Successor said...

I would not believe the Gospel unless moved thereto by the Church. – ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO

Which Church? The Roman Church???

No, the Catholic Church.

Augustinian Successor said...

So, Genesis knows nothing of infused grace as per the Roman Church but only the PROMISE.

What is the promise?

The NEW is hidden under the OLD through DEATH and RESURRECTION.

"And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."
(Romans 8:10-11)

Augustinian Successor said...

To Franas,

See how biblical, catholic and evangelical the Reformation Faith is?

Timothy Peng said...

I thought this post is about the use of psychology / biblical counseling? Dear Franas, we love you very much, but do you really have to come debate in a "reformed" conference? aren't there Roman Catholic conference you can attend? Trent? Scotus conference? Thomism conference? no I don't mean to send you away, but your conversation is really unrelated to the post here. blessings in Christ.

Augustinian Successor said...

Yes, so therefore, I'm refraining from anymore responses to Franas.

Just this last one:

The Roman Church is pagan, not Catholic. The Reformations Churches by succession represent the Catholic Church.

That is all for now.

Mejlina Tjoa said...

Thanks for the article & comment. If struggles of life are to be treated as spiritual problems with spiritual solutions (asserted by the paper), is there actually a place for Psychology in common grace (asserted by the comment)?

franas said...

To Timothy Peng:

Well, I thought I contributed a pretty good Christian response to "biblical care of souls" (using important verses which Protestants glossed over) until ... the monkey was again spitting out irrelevance and the typical Jack Chick's nonsense. I probably overstayed here anyway so I will move on. God bless always.

To Augustinian Successor:

I've to say that I admire your dexterity at least. You just "keep on, coming on" although you are merely repeating all the antipapist smugness which is based on lies. It's good to be passionate especially when you are young. Just don't be caught up in perpetuating some untruths and finding yourself "fighting even against GOD"
(Acts 5:39). Buy that catechism!

In Christ,

Timothy Peng said...

my question is also, can there be more of a both/and approach than either/or one? if psychology is a science of studying human behaviors, can we carefully weed out the non-Biblical principle and use what's good? I mean, unless we want to completely reject everything from the world (common grace), which we can't, can we pastors/church counselors build a mutually beneficial relationship with the professionals?

In my pastoral experience I had a Christian brother who was a heavy drug addict, and some of his symptoms were severe. I felt inadequate to provide any major help. I still loved him and had him stay in my house for 3 months, but I was not able to help him psychologically and medically. The writer of the article doesn't seem to allow rooms for seeking professional help at all.

Doorknob said...

Quote Jason Loh (Aug Suc)

"The birth-pang Eve was now to be subjected to was a CURSE."

Are curses compatible with omnibenevolence? I mean, could an omnibenevolent Being curse and be consider OMNI-benevolent?

Timothy Peng said...

Doorknob, that's an ancient theodicy question, I doubt this would be a place for such an lengthy discussion. Alvin Plantinga, Cornelius Van Til, C.S. Lewis and many Christian apologists have already provided excellent answers.

Now, Biblical counseling? anybody?

David Chen said...

The approach to Biblical Counseling should be the same as a Christian's approach to every system of knowledge in the world: how can the light of the Gospel challenge and redeem the corrupted and sinful autonomy of humanity?

Timothy Peng asks is there a middle ground? The answer is no, because one cannot add and mix anti-Christian systems of knowledge that denies God in its core with Christian systems of knowledge that seeks to glorify God and hope that the sythesis of this product will be God glorifying alone, it cannot. For this Kuyper is right: there's an antithesis to Christians and non-Christians epistomology.

However, on the other hand the answer can be yes (at the same time.) When one challenges the secular psychology with the wisdom of the Gospel, reveal and redeem the parts that are really Christian in nature (although being denid by secularists), and use it for the benefits of Biblical Counseling, then there is a common ground for Biblical Counselin and Secular Psychology, but this common ground is NOT compromise, nor "sharing", but this common ground is strictly overrule and directed by the wisdom of the truths of God and the light of the Gospel. This is what Van Tils calls "Borrowed Capital" - non-Christians using Christian values and epistemology without realizing it. I see many Borrowed Capital in secular psychology and its good Christian stewardship to recognize them and use them for the glory of God.

Finally, I urge nouthetic counselors to humble themselves. While they courageously holds up the banner of "Five Solas" as their foundation for Nouthetic Counseling, however, an in-depth analysis will show that even Jay Adams himself (and the Nouthetic Counseling) have used (maybe unintentionally) many philosophical assumptions of secular psychology and not recognize it. We should not be ashame of this accusation, as even the most careful Biblical exegete will from time to time fallen prey to worldly assumptions to exegete Biblical truths. As Van Til has taught us we are all bound to our presuppositions of our environment, and the hardest challenge is for us to be humble enough to recognize that and let the light of the Gospel shine to us and challenge us and redeem us, yes even our Epistemology.

Doorknob said...


"Doorknob, that's an ancient theodicy question"

Yeah, but that's in response to the comment by Aug Suc. So, that's absolutely relevant to the discussion here. If one wants to make a point, he should also be ready to defend it.

"I doubt this would be a place for such an lengthy discussion."

I doubt your doubt.

"Alvin Plantinga, Cornelius Van Til, C.S. Lewis and many Christian apologists have already provided excellent answers."

Since so many Christian apologists had spoon-fed the laity, isn't it going to be really easy for one to defend his point?

What's the "excellent" answer then?

Are curses compatible with omnibenevolence? Yes or No?

You see, not much space is needed for an answer. Only one word is needed - Yes or No.

Timothy Peng said...

Dear David Chen,
I think I agree with you in principle. When non-believers aligned themselves (unconsciously) to Natural Law and Biblical view of man, they can be making correct diagnosis and observations. And that's what my question was, not so much of a 'compromise' position per se, but a mutually beneficial, reciprocal relationship. No, Bible makes no mistakes, but we do make exegetical mistakes. Especially when we lack confessional boundaries on how to approach this issue. I think it was Thomas Boston's wife (correct me if I am wrong) that constantly suffered depression, mental illness and had to be confined/isolated. The Puritans had the general principles right, but they definitely can get some help from some professionals too.

not every mental malfunction is demon's attack, and not every depression is spiritual weakness. This world is fallen, the human race is fallen, our DNA's aren't always functioning the way they were originally created, and I hope that we all can stand on good Reformed traditions to carefully approach this psychology/counseling issue.


Doorknob said...

Quote Peng "Doorknob, that's an ancient theodicy question."

Hi Peng

Aye, since it's an "ancient" question (how ancient?), I think it ought to have been resolved by now.

What's the excellent answer? Yes or No.

Or there's really no answer? ;)

Or you can direct me to writings you've studied (e.g. of Plantinga, Van Til, Lewis etc since you mentioned them) that answer the question:

Are curses compatible with omnibenevolence?

If so, are curses then compatible with benevolence-simpliciter?

Thank you very much.

Timothy Peng said...

Dear Doorknob,
let me first state that I have no desire or time to debate you on theodicy (it's so ancient the ancient Greeks were already discussing it.). say, you can begin reading Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief? Lewis' Problem of pain? Van Til, hmm... his work is so scattered, but he would probably begin by asking you to define 'omnibenolevent' and 'curse'. What do you mean by that when you use these words.

look, I am not saying your question is unimportant, it's just you pick the wrong place and wrong time. And your question is embedded with a false dichotomy.

If I said yes, you will tell me that I am illogical. If I said no, you would tell me that God doesn't exist and therefore I am illogical in believing in Him. The question is set up with a wrong 'presupposition.'

Let's say I asked you this question:
"Have you stopped beating your wife?"

If you answered Yes, that means you have been beating her till now, but you've stopped.

If you answered No, that means you are still beating her.

See that? this kind questions is set up to entrap the person who replies it. It's a false dichotomy.

So, have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or No? (and you may not even have a wife). But by demanding an yes or no answer is simply silly.

Okay, I said I would not debate you, and I have said enough. Happy reading now.

blessings. omnibenovelently. (curses are removed in Christ)

Doorknob said...

Hi Peng,

I’ll give you Wiki’s definition of Omnibenevolence:

Or you could use a rather simple definition e.g. as John Stackhouse calls it “absolute goodness.” (cf. Can God be trusted, p. 13).

Ah, Aug Suc should define “curse” coz he’s the one who used it. How would you Christians define “curse?” You mean you understand the fall and the curse, but you don’t have a definition for “curse”? ☺

"Have you stopped beating your wife?" is a loaded question, not a false dichotomy. Just use our simple wiki:

It is a QUESTION after all.

My question assumes a premise that Christians accept i.e. that God is omnibenevolent. I was simply asking if “curses” are compatible or incompatible with His omnibenevolence. Unless you deny Aristotelian logic, can something be both compatible AND incompatible at the same time? The only “presupposition” here is Q, where Q = God is omnibenevolent.

You may answer: It is compatible, or, it is incompatible. What would be your logical third option (since you brought in the issue of logic)? If there is, please do enlighten me. As you have claimed that such an “ancient” question would have “excellent” answers from Plantinga et al, please explain your position in conjunction with Aug Suc’s assertion, i.e. that "The birth-pang Eve was now to be subjected to was a CURSE." (emphasis original)

Your allegation is really a childish straw man. The question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" assumes the presupposition that P, where P = The questionee is beating his wife. Alternatively, if the questionee is a lesbian, then she is beating her wife. It is a loaded question only when that P is false.

My question, “Are curses compatible with omnibenevolence?” does not entail a presupposition which you reject as a Christian. If you say that your God is not omnibenevolent, then I must admit that I have misunderstood Christianity. But you do believe that YHWH is omnibenevolent, don’t you?

On the other hand, if I have asked, “Are curses compatible with a sadistic God,” then it is indeed a loaded question coz here I assume that P1, where P1 = God is sadistic.

Since Aug Suc asserted that:

"The birth-pang Eve was now to be subjected to was a CURSE."

Do allow me to ask in reply, “Are curses compatible with omnibenevolence?”

PS: Since you mentioned that curses are removed in Christ, you should define “curses”, right?

Henry said...

I believe that David Chen has pointed the way to a good approach, that the Bible is our guide in counseling, but that non-Christians, using borrowed capital can come up with helpful methods or principles AT TIMES, by use of borrowed capital, while even the most zealous Christians seeking to understand and apply the Bible sometimes fall prey to using humanistic presuppositions. This is not to say that Christian counselors need to become experts in humanistic psychology, but rather in applying the Bible to life problems. I am not now saying that Timothy Peng did anything wrong as I don't know the details of the case he mentioned, but there are Christian ministries that specialize in helping deliver people from drug addiction. Here in the U.S., David Wilkerson set up Teen Challenge for that purpose, with great success, and in Hong Kong, Jackie Pullinger did similar work with her St. Stephen's Society. To acknowledge that you Asians can do just as well as us Westeners, at the start of the 20th century, Pastor Hsi operated in China a network of Christian rehab centers to deliver people from opium addiction, a problem God had enabled him to overcome. This is not to say that overcoming drug addiction is easy or that some medical intervention may not be required at some point in some cases, but the Resurrection power available in the Gospel can enable people to overcome it.
Finally to Doorknob I would say that God's omnibenevolence can not be considered apart from His justice and righteousness, which are contradicted by sin. In a sinful world, a curse (which is to invoke suffering upon someone) upon sinners is to remind them that God hates sin and needs to be reconciled to them-- or they will face the curse of eternal punishment. God, in His goodness, provided a way to avoid the curse of eternal punishment by trusting in the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus, which also guarantees that the temporal curse of suffering and pain will one day be permanently removed for those who have trusted in Jesus-- praise His Name! Why don't you trust in Him now?

CREDO500 said...

Good discussion so far, you guys encouraged me with those words.

Another voice crying in the wilderness:

Dr.Lois Chan had warned her students 25 years ago, that“The next wave of apostasy in the Christian church would come through the door of counseling psychology.” See Dr.Lois’s shocking book, Unholy Alliance: the dangers of mixing Pop Psychology with Christian Truth, you may access it here:

She has discovered that most aspects of New Age channeled teaching can be found in the secular psychology and over half of them appear in Christian psychology via books, sermons and counseling sessions, unknowingly incorporated the demonic teaching into their own teaching. We’re fighting with Goliath, right?

Paul urged Corithian Christians to have no partnership with demons.[1 Cor 10:22].


Timothy Peng said...

Dear Henry, thank you for your balanced view on the subject. The person I counseled, let's call him "Tom", he had heavy drug addiction and was able to overcome the addiction by God's grace. But because of his heavy usage of drugs his nerve systems were damaged and he was later diagnosed with schizophrenia, (not severe), and with the help of psychiatrists and medicines he was able to recover. I as his pastor was not equipped to deal with his nerve endings, just like anyone of you pastors there are not equipped to perform surgeries and such. All I am sayings is we as Christians with discernment should be able to use psychology for our benefits. But no, we don't completely trust them.

Jonah, I understand your point. I cannot deny that there might be demonic influences in modern psychology, but demonic influence can be said to exist in every aspect of our world, our TV, Internet, movies, philosophy, biology class in public schools, and you name it, we can find traces of demonic influence in them. But it is not helpful to simply say certain thing is demonic and let's reject it completely. The demons use the internet to corrupt many minds, but we as Christian are using the internet for our benefits, as what we are doing now.

I appreciate your feedbacks, it has been really helpful. Blessings.

Doorknob said...

Dear Henry,

Your answer is a red herring (and begs the question as well); God’s justice and righteousness does not in itself absolve Him from moral culpability. This is further compounded by the fact that you had already assumed, irrespective of what is the outcome, His attribute of omnibenevolence – so it really begs the question.

Are you saying that an OMNI-benevolent (emphasis on “omni”), omniscient and omnipotent God cannot be just and righteous apart from that which might be construed as an act deserving (of any degree of) moral culpability?

Furthermore, one of you really should define “curse” for us.

CREDO500 said...

Timothy, I agree with your hesitation, even a broken clock still manage to be accurate twice a day. In fact, I have no problem with Gideon’s intention either, provided that we do not forget what we’re witnessing to.

While we can’t simply answer“yes or no” to the tough question, I think David’s observation rightly leads us to a peculiar paradox, that most of us seemed to be“non-integrationist” and certain form of“integrationist”(mine emphasis) in the middle-of-the-roader.

At this point, we should at least have two mutual agreement here: First, we all deny particular knee-bows to the unbiblical worldview in the psychological marketplace. Second, we all eager to protect the necessity of the Scipture for serious discernment.

Hope this help a bit,

Timothy Peng said...

Nicely put there, Jonah. Completely agreeing with you.

Gideon Teo said...

I fully agree with David Chen with his comment, though I must confess I smiled when I read his statement:

"I urge nouthetic counselors to humble themselves...."

I must say that this is a very "nouthetic" approached! =) I suppose that is 1 Thes 5:14 in action my friend. Of course, we as biblical counselors need to also be humble to accept criticisms when given. =)

Henry said...

I fully agree that psychology in general is humanistic at best, and frequently can be thoroughly anti-Christian, with some areas within it sympathetic to, if not outright recommending the New Age movement. The chief qualifications of a Biblical counselor should be knowledge of the Bible and being able to apply it in a helpful way to the problems of life with which he is presented. Your second comment following mine I would also agree with then.
To Doorknob, I would say:
Your desire to find coherence in the Christian concept of God is good if you pursue it honestly to the end. By "moral culpability" I assume you mean a moral defect, which is not found in God, as He is perfect, and the standard of righteousness, i.e. that which is bad or wrong is that which contradicts His nature. Let me ask you, since you are trying to use logic to show incoherence in the Christian concept of God, are you not assuming several things here yourself? First, are you not assuming the validity of the laws of logic? What is your authority for doing so? How do you explain the origin and validity of the laws of logic? (I would say they reflect the thinking of God as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures.) Also, are you not assuming that there is a concept of a perfect being in which you are trying to find incoherence? From where did you get this concept you are trying to refute? If you answer "from Christians", how do you explain the origin of Christianity, in particular the empty tomb of Jesus, and the impetus it gave to the spread of the Gospel? I am no philospher or even a pastor, but have read Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Mackie's Evil and Omnipotence, Rowe's article expounding the evidential problem of evil, and Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation, among other things which question the Christian concept of God. What classical or modern Christian works on theodicy or the attributes of God (Randy Alcorn's If God is Good and John Frame's Doctrine of God would be good recent works with which to start) have you read? Most importantly, how familiar are you with the Bible itself? Finally, I gave you a definition of a curse, namely the invocation of suffering upon someone, something which I believe God in His righteousness is fully justifed in placing upon those who rebel against Him.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Are curses (OR IS evil) compatible with God's benevolence?"

Do curses PERSIST? Does evil persist?

The answer is NO. Curses, evil, etc. are NOT the FINAL answer.

So, YES, curses are compatible with God's benevolence. "Zion shall be redeemed through judgment," the prophet Isaiah says. Judgment HERE is NOT punishment, but the EFFECTS of punishment (This is where the Romanists have it confused).

Evil and God's benevolence CANNOT be RECONCILED in this age. This is why the Christian walks by FAITH. The JUST shall walk by faith.

God in His majesty does EVERYTHING.

God in His humiliation has conquered sin and death.

Does evil persist? Does the curse persist?

In JESUS CHRIST, the answer is no.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Zion shall be redeemed through judgment."

[ZION] shall be [REDEEMED] [THROUGH] judgment.

Zion = The People of God

Redeemed = Saved, is being saved, shall finally be saved

* Through = with

* 1. The judgment of God here and now SEALS the fate of the reprobate.

*2. The JUDGMENT of God here and now REVEALS His grace in the elect.

Example A: In his vocation, the Christian dies to self, crucifies the flesh through service to the neighbour. The baptismal death re-applied throughout the Christian life. The judgment which God had pronounced on creation becomes the setting for the Christian's SANCTIFICATION.

Example B: In his vocation, the reprobate increases in sin and demonstrates his depravity towards God and humanity. The judgment which God had pronounced on creation becomes the setting for the reprobate's DAMNATION. The reprobate finally dies the eternal death.

This is the working out of the decree of double predestination.

Augustinian Successor said...

So, God's benevolence is not compromised at all by predestination and sin. It may SEEMED to be compromised.

That's the whole point.

God's benevolence is REVEALED in predestination and sin. By FAITH, we believe God IS benevolent DESPITE predestination and sin.

PuritanReformed said...


eh, would it be possible not to use that many CAPS? It sortof make you seem angry and out for a fight.

Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Daniel,

Sure. The caps are intended for emphasis, anyway.

Doorknob said...

To: AugSuc

AS: AugSuc
DK: Doorknob

AS: "Are curses (OR IS evil) compatible with God's benevolence?"

DK: Do you equate “curses” with “evil?” [Or at least consider curses as belonging to the category of evil?] I have yet to see your definition of “curses.” But it suffices for me to perceive that you understand “curses” as belonging to “evil” [morally speaking].

AS: “Do curses PERSIST? Does evil persist? The answer is NO. Curses, evil, etc. are NOT the FINAL answer. So, YES, curses are compatible with God's benevolence. "Zion shall be redeemed through judgment," the prophet Isaiah says. Judgment HERE is NOT punishment, but the EFFECTS of punishment (This is where the Romanists have it confused). Evil and God's benevolence CANNOT be RECONCILED in this age.”

DK: Do allow me to summarize your argument as stated above (correct me if you believe otherwise):

1. Curses are evil.
2. Curses are present in this age.
3. But curses do not persist in the age to come.
4. Therefore, God – as an OMNI-benevolent being – is not morally culpable in allowing curses [and even in His act of cursing] in this age.

Your understanding is such that, as long as curses (and the act of cursing) are terminated within the timeline of history [“Curses, evil, etc. are NOT the FINAL answer”] and not allowed to persist into eternity, it is morally non-culpable for an OMNI-benevolent Being to allow curses (and to curse).

A few points of note:

Point 4 does not follow from 3; it’s a non-sequitur (and hence, a bare assertion). If curses were evil, how would curses then be compatible with OMNI-benevolence – by the mere fact (or assertion?) that they (i.e. the curses) would allegedly be terminated? [emphasis on OMNI].

Does your argument apply to both contingent beings and necessary beings? If it doesn’t apply to contingent beings, why is that so? If it does apply to contingent beings, then is it morally non-culpable for human beings to curse [and hence an act compatible with benevolence], given that these curses would be terminated within the timeline of history and not allowed to persist into eternity (the age to come)? That is:

1. Curses are evil.
2. Curses are present in this age.
3. But curses do not persist in the age to come.
4. Therefore, contingent beings are not morally culpable in allowing curses [and even in their acts of cursing] in this age.

Or do you propose that there is a double standard in morality where cursing and curses are concerned – one for God and the other for contingent beings?

Let's just deal with your first post for now :)

Henry said...

Dear Doorknob,
Perhaps AS has gone on to the other papers in the blog conference, which you might interesting yourself. I would like to suggest that curses are not instrinsically evil, but that it depends on how they are used. When God does them, they are always judicial and never evil. The necessity for new curses from God will terminate when He chooses to eliminate evil from the earth by bringing in the new creation at Christ's return. Those who have refused to receive Christ will then find themselves to have chosen a permanently cursed condition, however, away from His presence. Don't you want to avoid such a situation? Receive Jesus now!

Not Henry said...

If (IF!) God is malevolent, then why should anyone believe to "receive" such an One?

Theism falls apart. God is not omnibenevolent.

Augustinian Successor said...

Do I equate curses with evil?

Yes, I do.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Therefore, God – as an OMNI-benevolent being – is not morally culpable in allowing curses [and even in His act of cursing] in this age."

God as an omnibenevolent being does not allow curses. He 'causes' them. God is God. He works all in all.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Point 4 does not follow from 3; it’s a non-sequitur (and hence, a bare assertion). If curses were evil, how would curses then be compatible with OMNI-benevolence – by the mere fact (or assertion?) that they (i.e. the curses) would allegedly be terminated? [emphasis on OMNI]."

Yes, I understand your point.

But it is through curses and evil that God's omnibenevolence is displayed.

Look at the Cross. The 'heart' of the triune God was revealed on the Cross.

The Cross was the most evil, despicable, etc. etc. act in history. The Cross was deicide. God died on the Cross. He died in the hands of you and me. We are implicated in the act of killing God. Your sins and my sins which include our hatred of God nailed His Son to the Cross.

The Co-Maker of heaven and earth, things visible and invisible was literally handed over to the powers of this age, visible and invisible, His creatures to be killed.

Yet, in, with and under the Cross, the love of God triumphed.

You see, the question of the omnibenevolence of God and evil is not 'out there,' but right here on the Cross. It's real because we put Jesus to death on the Cross. You and I.

Augustinian Successor said...

"4. Therefore, contingent beings are not morally culpable in allowing curses [and even in their acts of cursing] in this age."

Human beings are morally responsible precisely because they have been predestined to be morally responsible. If God is not God, human beings are not morally responsible. That is to say, human beings are independent of God.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Or do you propose that there is a double standard in morality where cursing and curses are concerned – one for God and the other for contingent beings?"

Yes, there is because God is God. God does what He wills. I know it is frightening, which is why no amount of speculation will help.

The only remedy is the Gospel. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The Gospel is the presence of the Cross here and now in the living present, reclaiming lost sinners. Outside the Cross, there is no answer. None at all. To attempt that is only piling more problems on present ones. In other words, you're only going in circles.

God outside Jesus is hidden. The predestinating God is the God St. Paul proclaims to the sinner who questions God's goodness as 'Who are thou o man that repliest against God.' Romans 9.

The only 'breakthrough' is the Cross, where God Himself broke through the bondage of man and delivered him from his divine ambition. Thus, God Himself has to come and get us out of our blind alley.

Augustinian Successor said...

"If curses were evil, how would curses then be compatible with OMNI-benevolence – by the mere fact (or assertion?) that they (i.e. the curses) would allegedly be terminated? [emphasis on OMNI]."

The Cross is the answer. Because of the Cross, God's love for His creation was revealed. Thus, evil is compatible with God's benevolence.

I take it that your're an atheist? If you are, then you are justifying your own belief regarding God.

What the Cross does is to shatter that and replace it with an attitude which justify God in our belief.

Christians justify God despite evil. Faith triumphs over sight/experience.

In other words, your worldview offers no hope for evil.

Christians do not trivialise evil. Nor are they pessimists. But is through the Cross that the love of God is revealed in the midst of evil. Thus evil does not persist.

Augustinian Successor said...

On the Cross, God gave Himself, of Himself, to mankind - the self-donation of God. Nothing can be deeper than the love of God in giving Himself. God gave Himself by dying, giving Himself to be killed by us.

God's *omni*benevolence? Yes.