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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Monday, January 30, 2006
"Free Grace"
If you have heard the name Antonio de Rosa, you have heard about "free Grace." Antonio has been beating the "free Grace" drum for a few months now, and made some waves in the Christian blogosphere, not because he has anything particularly important to say - surely the one tune he plays on his droning drum has been heard before - no, Antonio is becoming somewhat infamous because of his Quixotian zeal to promote his pet theology. And like that famous Don I am certain that Antonio regards his solitary axe grind as a noble and worthy thing. But just as Don Quixote lowered his lance at the windmill, so too our dear Antonio champions his charge - and there is sort of a tragic beauty in it. Just as Quixote held our interest because he obstinately refused to interpret reality properly - so too, we see Antonio's eisegesis, exposed and corrected by learned men and children, only to watch in morbid fascination as he ignores it all, and continues to beat his drum.

I admire that level of gusto, but at the same time I find it tragic and dangerous; tragic for Antonio, and dangerous for those who don't see the wolf for the wool.

So as I was typing out a response to a comment Antonio made - trying in vain to say how wrong it feels in my soul to examine his teachings in greater depth, having rejected the core about which all his teaching seems to orbit - as I was typing this I say, I decided to make it more general, and simply speak of "free Grace" and the root problem, rather than speaking directly to Antonio - as though this didn't apply to all attacks against the gospel of grace.

Surely our command of the Greek language has shown us that the word "pistis" (faith/belief) has no perfect synonym in English. Likewise, we know full well that when we employ the verb form of the word, we amplify any asynonymity inherent in the verb. How then (when we lack an English word that carries all the subtleties of the Greek) do we flesh out the nuances that are in the Greek which cannot be translated into English? We must translate the word into its closest English equivalent yet retain in our understanding the full spectrum of nuance the word carries in the original context, culture, and grammar. We do ourselves damage if in translating a word we neglect its full meaning. I think we can all agree that this is a sound principle.

Sometimes however, scripture gives us more information about a word than we might realize. For instance, if we want to know more about "pistis" (belief) we can see examine the other side of our sword. Scripture is, after all, a double edged sword, and we learn as much about "belief" by examining what scripture says about unbelief. No tricks or gimmicks here - just rightly dividing the word.

When we look at the way "unbelief" is used in scripture (that is, in opposition to belief) we will necessarily form a more complete picture of how "belief" was understood. To this end we must not fail to observe that in various places in scripture we see the same word ("apeitheo") translated as unbelief and elsewhere as disobedience. God be praised for this sort of consistency in scripture! Even were we so careless in our translation as to drop the nuance of obedience from our understanding of "faith" - yet we see from the other half of the double edged sword, that the meaning is retained!

So when I talk about faith, I am talking about that same faith that is described in verses like Romans 10:16 ("But they have not all obeyed the gospel") that is, I recognize that "faith" is synonymous with "obeying the gospel" - genuine faith is characterized by obedience ; and simultaneously a faith that is not genuine is characterized as apathetic/disobedient.

That is why when I read how Paul describes the gospel that he preached in Acts 20:21 ("testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ") I do not imagine for one moment that Paul was "adding repentance" to the gospel - or inventing some new "two step" gospel, whereby repentance comes before faith - as though the idea of obedience was foreign to the concept of "faith." I rather believe that Paul is articulating clearly (for the benefit of people who need it spelled out to them...) what genuine faith looks like - it is submissive - mixed if you will or at least inseparable from "repentance."

It is for this reason that when scripture speaks of "belief" or "believing" - I do not extract the idea of obedience from the word just because the closest English equivalent lacks that particular nuance; when I read, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved" - I understand that the "faith" spoken of would have been understood by the first century hearer as a trust born of a submissive spirit.

When I talk of repentance being a part of saving faith, I am not saying that it is a two step thing - obedience then belief. No, no, no! No one I know believes that! That is painting a picture that makes obedience a prerequisite for faith - and that is not the way it works. It isn't that you have to be obedient before you can have faith, as though in order to have faith you had to do some sort of repentance as a qualifiying act. That is a slanderous characature; twice wicked because those who paint it ought to know better. I believe Paul mentions Repentance towards God as being a defining characteristic of "faith towards Jesus Christ" - that is a "trusting submission" as opposed to an intellectual decision.

Can a child have "faith" in his or her parent's "parenting" if that faith fails to includes submission to the parent's authority? Of course not. If the child rejects the authority of the parent, it demonstrates that contrary to whatever their mouth may profess - they in fact do not have "faith" in their parents ability to parent.

In just this same way, a faith in Christ that lacks submission is in fact defiant and "dead." Faith is never placed in "the facts" as though "believing the facts" about something could ever save a person (c.f. John 14:42) such faith is counterfeit, cheap, and worthless. No, faith has only one object -the Lord Jesus Christ- and unless that faith is described/characterized by submission to Christ - it is not saving faith.

My faith looks like this: Jesus Christ is the Lord, and I trust that if I am a child of the Kingdom, Christ my King will save me. The moment I was saved was the moment that I bowed my knees to my King, trusting in Him and Him alone to save me. My bowing before the king cannot be separated from my trusting the king to save me. He is -The- King and any trust I place in Him that avoids His crown is by definition illegitimate. I cannot trust the King, and at the same time reject the Crown. The King is the King, and I must accept Him as the King or my trust is not placed in Him - but in some bizarre doppleganger - a man made reflection of Him - as impotent as it is idolatrous and ineffective. I do not worship a God that my own mind has made - and I see great folly in doing so.

If a King declares that He will save all who come to Him - that is, all who come and partake of His Kingdom, only those who are "in the kingdom" (that is, those who have bent their knee in fealty) can expect to be saved by Him. Those who imagine they are children of the Kingdom because they one day decided to "trust that the King will save them" may have entered the fold - but they are by no means a part of the flock - they have come into the fold some other way and not through "the Door." Such as these may put all the trust they want in the king, but that trust is impotent not being founded on the person of the King, but rather on the fact that the King saves people. Truly, a subtle, but horrible mistake to make.

This false faith is the faith that "free grace" (easy believism) strikes me as embracing. Some, not content to simply embrace this false hope, go about promoting it with a hellish zeal - such cause me to shudder.

With regards to Free Grace, it should be obvious that at the very heart of the gospel itself, we disagree - since those in the free grace camp take faith to mean much less than our own understanding of scripture would suggest it means. Surely, we cannot admire any theological house that might be built upon such faith, since from our vantage that house is already sinking in quicksand. That is, I can't really respect much of what a "free grace" person teaches knowing that this particular leaven, leavens the whole lump.

Thankfully, the "easy believism zealots" tend to ring the one and only bell they have loudly ad nauseum and praise the Lord for that, because it makes their error easy to spot for those who have eyes to see.

My hope and prayer is that "free Grace" is exposed as deficient and that those who have been deceived will begin to understand what faith really is, and recognized that the "faith" that they teach disqualifies them (in the estimation of those who oppose them) from the office of 'reputable' teacher. Scripture teaches us to stay ignorant of evil, which is why I do not spend much time studying heresy - except to expose it.

So please excuse me when I reject what I consider a wayward man when I see that the man has been soundly corrected two or three times yet rejects the rebuke. Even were I not guided by scripture to reject such a one, yet reason itself teaches me that we are at best, at an impasse.

Thus, lacking agreement on what faith really looks like, it behooves me to avoid "Free Grace" sites. If their theology is sound, and my own is lacking - God help me, because I am blind indeed!
posted by Daniel @ 11:33 AM  
  • At 2:11 PM, January 30, 2006, Blogger Truth and Zeal said…

    Amen on the post Daniel.

    Dan (T&Z)

  • At 2:40 PM, January 30, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Susan - Contrary to the nomenclature, Calvin is not the father of "Calvinism."

    A fellow named Jacubus Arminius, a reformed theologian, in attempting to answer the objections to predestination imposed by one Dirck V. Coornhert, not only failed to defend the doctrine, but in his failure, gave birth to what is commonly called "arminianism" today.

    Not that Jacob led the charge, rather his admirers (we'll call them the "remonstrants") formalized his teachings and published them in 1610.

    One of the men who rose up to correct this -new- theology was John Calvin. The five points that the Arminian remonstrants stood on, were addressed by John Calvin. Thus the "five points of Calivinsism" are not something that Calvin dreamed up - but rather were originally just the orthodox answer to a teaching that had been condemned previously by the church every time it had come up (see Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism)

    I was a "Calvinist" long before I had ever heard of John Calvin or knew that what I believed was currently being labeled as "Calvinism."

    My point is that studying Calvin, to understand the doctrines of Grace might be a little over kill, and even a bit misleading.

    Christianity has historically been "Calvinistic" long before John Calvin ever was born. The early church used to hold ecumenical councils whenver some heresy would threaten the church - these councils would meet - hundreds of pastors from all over the known world would gather to discuss the new teaching, and see whether it was a correct interpretation of scripture, or flawed. When a teaching was flawed, the universal church rejected it - branding it as heresy. Eventually however, the churh splintered into competing factions, and when a heresy rose that was put down by one faction - the heretics would leave and start their own faction wherein such a heresy was accepted.

    This is what happened with Arminiansism - instead of being thwarted and throttled the way it had always been in the past - semi-pelagianism was allowed to grow and grow. Soon, calvinism - the historical teaching of the church - became the minority - and even today it is a small minority.

    So if you are interested in learning about Calvinism - you need not restrict yourself to Calvin - read Luther, read, Spurgeon etc. Listen to free sermons preached by men such as John MacArthur, and John Piper.

    There is benefit in being taught by godly men - but above all this - search the scriptures yourself, asking God to open your eyes to the truth. God is able to do that. Be a berean, checking the scriptures to see if what these people say is actually true.

    My greatest advice: When reading scripture, read the whole book. If you are reading from John - read the whole gospel, beginning to end. You might not be able to read it all in one sitting - but don't go flitting about here and there and everywhere in scripture. Each book in the bible was written front to back - and we should read them that way. More confusion and pain are born of whimsical reading than anything else.

    Also - read the whole bible - read it all, cover to cover, and continue to do so for the rest of your life - and believe every word of it. If you are picking and choosing things that you believe and other things that you chalk up to the "ignorance of these cavemen who wrote the bible" you are setting yourself up as the final authority about what is really true and what is not. You will never be convinced by scripture if you doubt any of it - you must accept it all, or you may as well accept none of it.

    Don't worry about feeling ignorant, there is a wonderful site on line called The Bible Bulletin Board where you can find hundreds of bible studies, and answers to tough questions - a gold mine that has helped many (though it isn't the prettiest site on the web...)

    Like yourself, I am just some person on the internet - and I can be wrong. By that I mean to once again emphasize that it is better to be convinced from scripture than by books or other people. The purpose of our walk is not to have the most knowledge, but to have a relationship with Christ - so filter your pursuit through that lens - how am I pursuing Christ?

    Grace and Peace Susan, I am glad to see a teachable spirit.

  • At 5:01 PM, January 30, 2006, Blogger Matt Gumm said…

    I didn't have time to read your whole post (I'm actually on my way out from work to Greek class), but I will get back to it. I find your posts more like steak, where I need to chew them for awhile.

    In any case, re: the faith issue, I wanted to add that faith isn't really faith without some action. If I say "I have faith in my chair," but won't sit in it, that's not real faith, but just faith in name only. It seems to me that's the point on obedience.

    Thanks again for your post.

  • At 5:42 PM, January 30, 2006, Blogger étrangère said…

    Thanks for that post Daniel, you've put that very clearly and helpfully but without the patronising tone so often found in the Christian blogosphere. Having said that, it's true of all your posts so is fairly redundant in a comment on one... but er thanks anyway.

  • At 11:45 PM, January 30, 2006, Blogger David said…

    Well done, Daniel.

  • At 12:39 AM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Correy said…

    Good old Free Grace theology or as I like to call it "expensive works dogma". I like how you used the beating drum analogy. And defended your position/Bibles position very well.

  • At 8:41 AM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Rose~ said…

    I am not a "Free Grace" theology person. In fact, I have never heard of that label until I saw Antonio around the campus. But, I don't really see why you find his teaching so "dangerous". It almost sounds as if you are calling his teaching heretical. I just don't know why you or any of the other reformed people would dismiss him that way. Granted, he dismisses you all in an even more dramatic way, but I think you both make some good points and I don't see why you can't learn from one another.

    As far as faith goes and what it means ... It seems to me that you are complicating it. Why? Why would we want to complicate the simple, wonderful grace of God? That is what stabs at my heart. I remember my own conversion. If those witnessing to me would have attached repentance to the message of salvation, I believe I would not have listened. That is why it is so tragic to me to hear of a teaching of faith that requires repentance, because I am sure there are many others like I was. Repentance came for me, but when you are speaking to lost people, they need to hear of what God has done for them, not an obligatory message of what they must DO to be saved, or what it will imply if they turn to Christ. Don't you think that is God's work and their own longing for growth after He makes His home in their life?

    I think part of the concern may be because the church is longing for a pure fellowship. We want our church to be filled with people who are walking with the Lord, so maybe we want to fend off those who wouldn't be willing to do that. Doesn't that seem dangerous? What if God is not pleased with this 'fending off' of the Lordship salvation gospel? Does that ever concern you?

  • At 9:01 AM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Matthew Celestine said…

    I think Antonio's exegesis makes perfect sense.

    I read his opponents comments, but most of the time all they do is quote Scriptures at him without making any attempt to set them in any kind of context.

    There is a consistency, clarity and concern for the Biblical text in Antonio's writing that I just have not seen in any Reformed writers that I have ever read, and I have a few.

    I do not visit your blog regularly, so I do not know if your exegesis is better than the guys who regularly visit Antonio's blog, but I have not been impressed so far with anyone who has attempted to refute Antonio's stuff.

    Every Blessing in Christ


  • At 11:37 AM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    If those witnessing to me would have attached repentance to the message of salvation, I believe I would not have listened.

    I think it would be better to answer this with a new post...


  • At 11:45 AM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Rose~ said…

    Please no! Don't make my comment the subject of one of your posts. Daniel, show a little mercy!

  • At 12:02 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    My apologies Rose - I had already posted by the time I noticed your comment.

    If this is a mercy, then it is a small one - I didn't address you, but rather the opinion you have expressed. You are certainly not alone in your opinions, so I am really addressing the idea and not the person.

    No sting intended. :-D

  • At 12:10 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Rose~ said…

    I still think you should be open to Antonio. He is not like you, but he has something good to "share."

    Many members ...

  • At 2:51 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Shawn said…

    Thanks Daniel.

    Good stuff.

  • At 12:57 AM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Antonio said…

    To the readers of Daniel's blog, I request that you read my response to this post of his which I have published on my blog. The link to my response to Daniel is here:

    Response to Daniel of Doulogos

    Thank you as well, Daniel, for your post, as it is a great forum by which to juxtapose our two theologies.


  • At 2:34 AM, February 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    What's your definition of grace? Do you see grace as a created quality from God (placed within each person) or as donum gratiae the person of the Holy Spirit (see Rom. 5:5 and the inclusio that follows from Rom 5 through 8).

    You do realize that the typical "reformed" position, which you seem to adhere to, anthropologically sees grace as a created quality a la the Thomistic synthesis of Aristotelian categories and medieval theology? The unsettling implication of such an epistemological framework leads to your understandable conclusion that works serve as the touchstone for determining whether a person is one of the elect. Functionally speaking "works" then serve as the basis for your understanding of justification/sanctification.

    Going back a bit in salvation history, what did God base Abraham's salvation on (cf. Gen 15:6; Rom 4)simple unconditional/unqualified belief in YHWH's promise. You seem to think that the basis of salvation is rooted in the conditional Mosaic Cov. which, BTW, Jesus fulfilled (cf. Gal 3, etc.). But again this would make sense given your apparent committment to Federal Theology and the Covenant of Works provided by such a theological construct.

    Before you make such slip/shot assertions, maybe you should check the informing factors that historically shape your position. Maybe then you wouldn't so carelessly paint someone as a heretic as you do with Antonio.

    BTW, your assertions about the carry over of pistis into English from koine Greek, is again misleading and just plain untrue. I'll just make the assertion here since Antonio provides substantion on his site refuting such a non-sensical and misguided claim.

    I'll stop now, BTW, which learned teachers have refuted the concepts that Antonio is articulating: again another naked unsupported assertion--this seems to be the pattern and thread that flows through your whole article here. Very un-Christian in my humble opinion.

  • At 2:46 AM, February 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel said to Susan:

    "A fellow named Jacubus Arminius, a reformed theologian, in attempting to answer the objections to predestination imposed by one Dirck V. Coornhert, not only failed to defend the doctrine, but in his failure, gave birth to what is commonly called "arminianism" today.

    Not that Jacob led the charge, rather his admirers (we'll call them the "remonstrants") formalized his teachings and published them in 1610.

    One of the men who rose up to correct this -new- theology was John Calvin. The five points that the Arminian remonstrants stood on, were addressed by John Calvin. Thus the "five points of Calivinsism" are not something that Calvin dreamed up - but rather were originally just the orthodox answer to a teaching that had been condemned previously by the church every time it had come up (see Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism)"

    I just read this response by Daniel to Susan: unacceptable Daniel. Again another unfounded, and historically inaccurate assertion. How could Calvin respond to the five pts of Arminius if he was already dead? Calvin lived from 1509 to 1564 and Arminius from 1560 to 1609--just a 4 yr old squirt when Calvin died.

    BTW, Luther saw discontinuity between Law and Gospel (i.e. Law vs. Gospel); while Calvin saw continuity (i.e. Law and Gospel).

  • At 8:26 AM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bobby - good eye, and thanks.

    Susan, it wasn't "Calvin" personally who answered the error of Arminius, but it was Calvin's exposition that was used to demonstrate what was wrong with it.

    The important point, is that the theology attributed to Arminius was rejected by the church.

  • At 8:28 AM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bobby - I wish I had more time to interact, but I am off to work.

  • At 8:31 AM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Antonio - It may seem that this post was directed at you personally - and I would like to mention, for your readers and my own - that this was not anything of the sort. Our theologies are at odds with one another, and this post draws that into the light. I am strengthened in seeing that understand the Berean benefit to examining any theology.

  • At 1:27 PM, February 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel said:

    "Susan, it wasn't "Calvin" personally who answered the error of Arminius, but it was Calvin's exposition that was used to demonstrate what was wrong with it.

    The important point, is that the theology attributed to Arminius was rejected by the church."

    Actually Daniel, it was primarily Theodore Beza, Francis Turretin's, and others answer to Arminius rather than Calvin (although you're right some of Calvin's principles were used).

    When you say the "church" rejected the Remonstrants points, does this imply that Arminians were outside of the church? It's interesting to me, both Calvinism and Arminianism took shape within the same soteriological construct: and socio/cultural milieu. One just "front loads the gospel with works" (Arminianism); while the other back loads. In other words, works play a central role in proving ones election--what an un-healthy/un-scriptural emphasis.

    Notice this summary of Calvin's understanding of works provided by medieval scholar (not a Christian, no theological axe to grind ;):

    " “For Calvin, good works did not have the direct bearing on salvation that medieval theology taught (read Roman Catholic theology); they attested divine favor and gave presumptive evidence of election, but they did not put one in a position to expect salvation as condign merit. On the other hand, Calvin’s teaching, like his conduct of the Genevan church, once again made good works and moral behavior the center of religious life and reintroduced religious anxiety over them. In Calvinism the presence or absence of good works came to be taken as a commentary on one’s eternal destiny.” (parenthesis mine) (Quote taken from: Steven Ozment, “The Age of Reform 1250-1550,” 379

    Calvinism is'nt that much different than that which it was protesting after all (same with Arminianism).

    Conversely, note the difference presented by Martin Luther's understanding of works relative to justification:

    "“. . . while he too (Luther) recognized the commandments as a guide to Christian behavior and stressed them as emphatically as any other Protestant leader, he also resisted more firmly than any other the temptation to find either evidence of salvation where good works were present or indications of damnation where they were not.” (parenthesis mine) (Quote taken from: Steven Ozment, “The Age of Reform 1250-1550,” 377)

    Luther's understanding seems much closer to our brother Antonio's understanding than your caricature presents, Daniel.

    What do you think?

  • At 3:28 PM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    sir, my wife is in labor, and I cannot answer you now- forgive my absense - and thank you muchly for your historical foot work here. I myself would do it, but I am, as I hope you can appreciate - not myself at the moment.


  • At 11:08 PM, February 01, 2006, Blogger marc said…

    Bobby, where you been man?

  • At 1:31 AM, February 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Marc,

    I have a touch of tendonitis in both arms, too much computer time at work, and probably too much blogging in the past too ;). I'm still not totally better, but I had to comment on our brother Daniel's outlandish article here.

    I notice that you have my friend, Antonio in your purgatorio blog roll, come on, he's a good student of the word, and our brother in Christ ;-). Give him a break :)!

    Doesn't Daniel's equivocation of faith/repentance cause you some pause, Marc? He can posture all he wants, this still makes salvation a process, making justification and sanctification synonymous. There is no difference between this and the Roman Cath. soteriological construction--accept for the assertion that indeed it is somehow distinct.

    Anyways, good talking with you, Marc! I'm trying to lay off the blog thing still--it's highly addictive for me--so I'm walking the line right now ;).

  • At 7:44 PM, February 02, 2006, Blogger marc said…

    Bobby Grow,

    I hear you on the blog thing. Blessings on you brother

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