Posts Tagged ‘New Birth’

Philosophers must become kings

September 16, 2009

The society we have described can never grow into a reality or see the light of day, and there will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed, my dear Glaucon, of humanity itself, till philosophers are kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.

Plato, Republic, 473 d,e, (380BC)

And these philosopher-rulers (presumably men like Plato himself), says Plato, will be ‘saviours of our society’ (Republic, 502, d)

in The Republic, Plato’s hope for change for the better in man’s lot is the application of external factors, i.e. educational, environmental and of course through eugenics (good breeding). Bad nurture causes ills he avers.

Plato, like Marx and Rousseau failed to appreciate the need to transform man by the new birth. They believed in changing society to change man instead of changing man that society would be transformed.

The consequence of this thinking is the totalitarianism that flowed through their political children: From Marx the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union etc., and from Rousseau the Terror of the French Revolution.


There is a kind of seeing that does not see

September 6, 2009

There is a kind of seeing that does not see. We can gaze vacantly in the direction of an object but we do not really see it since our minds are otherwise occupied. Or consider how one person may walk through a wood and see nothing but trees, but the trained botanist sees here an alder, there an ash. So to in the spiritual realm. One person hears the gospel but his mind is not on it – he is preoccupied and it makes no impression. He is like a man who looks but only vacantly. To really see his mind must be made to focus on the Word of God. This is the work of the Spirit.

Man – powerless to save himself

August 23, 2009

Freud has unfortunately overlooked the fact that man has never
yet been able single‑handed to hold his own against the powers of
darkness — that is, of the unconscious. Man has always stood in need
of the spiritual help which each individual’s own religion held out to

Carl Jung, quoted by Hans Küng

It’s one thing to diagnose the illness – prescribing an effective treatment is another.

Not able not to sin

August 19, 2009

Augustine states that in his current state man is non posse non peccare (i.e. not able not to sin) The four stages of man were, are and will be

  1. able to sin, able not to sin (posse peccare, posse non peccare) the state of man in innocence, before the Fall

  2. not able not to sin (non posse non peccare); the second the state of the natural man after the Fall

  3. able not to sin (posse non peccare) the third the state of the regenerate man

  4. unable to sin (non posse peccare) the fourth the glorified man.

From Albatrus

NB The new birth is essential to ever move from stage 2 to 3 and 4.

Salvation through faith

August 17, 2009

As George Whitefield preached from John 3 – ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent…’ the wife of a jailed convict cried, ‘I believe! I believe! I shall not perish because I believe in him now! I’m born again, I’m saved!

Her husband gripped George’s hand as in pain, and cried, I’m on the brink of hell! But the next moment his face changed, I see it too! I’m saved! Oh joy! joy! joy! George was astonished. He’d tried so hard for a year, but these two sinners seemed to have been forgiven in a second.

George Whitefield, John Pollock, 1972, p.14

Charles Finney’s Defective Theology

October 25, 2008

Denying original sin, Finney asserted that we are only guilty and corrupt when we choose to sin, Christ’s work on the cross couldn’t have paid our debt but could only serve as a moral example and influence to persuade us to repent and be obedient. “If he had obeyed the Law as our substitute then why should our own return to personal obedience be insisted upon as a sine qua non of our salvation?” So Finney goes on to write, “the atonement is simply an incentive to virtue,” rejecting the view that “the atonement is a literal payment of a debt” Finney can only concede it is “true that the atonement of itself does not secure the salvation of anyone.” Justification by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness Finney says, “is not only absurd, but undermines all motivation for personal holiness. The new birth is not a divine gift, but the result of a rational choice to turn from sin to obedience.” In fact, his most famous sermon was “Sinners Bound to Change Their Own Hearts.” Christians can perfectly obey God in this life if they choose and only in this way are they justified. In fact, he adds, “Full present obedience is a condition of justification. No one can be justified while sin, any degree of sin, remains in him.”
Finney declared concerning the Reformation formula “simultaneously justified and sinful,” “this error has slain more souls I fear than all the Universalism that ever cursed the world. For whenever a Christian sins he comes under condemnation and must repent and do his first works or be lost. As I have already said,” he writes “there can be no justification in a legal or forensic sense but upon the ground of universal, perfect, and uninterrupted obedience to Law. The doctrine of an imputed righteousness or that Christ’s obedience to the Law was credited as our obedience is founded on a most false and nonsensical assumption. For Christ’s righteousness could do more than justify himself, it could never be imputed to us. It was naturally impossible, then, for him then to obey in our behalf. Representing the atonement as the ground of the sinner’s justification has been a sad occasion of stumbling for many.” Referring to the framers of the Westminster Confession of Faith and their view of an imputed righteousness Finney writes, “If this is not antinomianism then I don’t know what is.”
Folks, this is exactly the heresy that we have identified from the church councils of the fifth and sixth centuries. It is remarkable that the catholic church in fifth and sixth centuries recognized these very positions as outside the bounds of the Christian faith, while Billy Graham can say of Charles Finney that he was the greatest evangelist since the Apostle Paul. And this is a concern that is hardly limited to a few grumpy Calvinists and Lutherans. “Self salvation is the goal of much of our preaching,” complains United Methodist Bishop William Willimon and he says in this respect, “we are heirs of Charles G. Finney who thought that conversion was not a miracle, but a purely philosophical result of the right use of constituted means.

Michael Horton, White Horse Inn

No Roots, No Fruit

October 3, 2008

If you try to take the fruits of Christianity without its roots, the fruits will wither. And they will not come again unless you nurture the roots.


Margaret Thatcher

These remarks are taken from a transcript of Margaret Thatcher’s May, 1988 speech to the Church of Scotland, reprinted in BIBLICAL ECONOMICS TODAY by the Institute for Christian Economics, and made available by the Modern History Sourcebook: