Worldly Wiseman and Evangelist Have a Conversation

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If you have not watched the conversation between Dennis Prager and Pastor Alistair Begg discussing religion, good works, faith, and morality, it is definitely refreshing and depressing at the same time. During the course of the event, Dennis Prager from Prager U online placed a heavy emphasis on being a morally good person through good works and obeying The Ten commandments, as well being justified by said works. Meanwhile, Pastor Begg plays three, heavenly notes over and over again – fulfillment of the law through Jesus Christ our Lord, justification by the works of Christ alone, and the divine person of Christ. For the whole discussion, one Scottish battle rhythm was played. Christ. Christ. Christ!

While I enjoyed the conversation, the sad part of it all was how resolute Dennis Prager was about his own convictions. I am thankful for some of the videos he and his team puts out online addressing moral, economic, and political issues facing America, but as he said, thousands of Christians proselytize him all the time. And he’s okay with that. At one point, he said he can appreciate the beauty of the atonement. But, nevertheless, is it clear that the potency and efficacy of that atonement has not yet taking place in his heart. And for this, I lament.

Worldly Wiseman Points to Mt. Sinai

But this conversation between Alistair and Dennis reminds me of two characters in John Bunyan’s classic, Pilgrims Progress. If Evangelist and Worldly Wiseman were to meet together, I can imagine this is how the conversation would unfold (but with a little more worldlywiseman2rebuke from Evangelist if you understand the literature of those days). If you remember the story, it was Worldly Wiseman who turned Christian away from the narrow path to the cross, where he can find true relief from the burden on his back (sin). And instead, he offered him to live in the town of Morality, where Mr. Legality and Civility will show him how to live happily and safely from Christian perils. And where the neighbors are honest and respectable, and will ease him of his burden. But while Worldly Wiseman offered Christian liberty, he himself was a slave of corruption. Because he was directing him to the foot of the hill where such men live. It was called Mt Sinai. Which, coincidentally enough, Dennis Prager explicitly says he wants to point many to.

It was only after a matter of time that the Evangelist, who started Christian on the narrow way, found him at Mt Sinai where the threatenings and thunderings of that hill left Him paralyzed and trembling with fear. After Evangelist questioned Christian about how he was deceived by Worldly Wiseman, Christian was left helpless and didn’t know what to do, seeing that he was deceived into thinking that he could be justified by the Law of God. Then, Evangelist emphatically warned:

“See that you do not refuse to listen to the One who speaks from Heaven, ‘The just shall live by faithbut if any man draws back, I will not be pleased with him.’ Christian, you are the man who is running into this misery; you have begun to reject the counsel of the Most High God, and to draw back from the way of peace—even to the hazard of your soul’s perdition!” (emphasis mine)

Jesus Christ, Not Sinai

Although Evangelist and Worldly Wiseman in the story never meet, we meet men of this sort all the time. Many of them are pastors and members within our churches. Dennis Prager, unfortunately, is just doing it in a bolder and popular platform. But what Dennis is doing is what many American Christians do daily. And that is, abandoning sound, Christ exalting, sovereign grace preaching, and trading it in for political conservatism and mere morality. Also, like Dennis, many have put down their spiritual armor and the sword of God’s word, and have traded it in for theonomic warfare using the carnal weapons of activism. In other words, instead of heralding gospel centered doctrines like justification by faith alone with the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, penal substitutionary atonement, the sufficiency/inerrancy of the Scriptures, monergistic regeneration with the evidences that accompany salvation, we are have sullied and sold away the soul-saving doctrine for 30 silver coins of legalism, formalism, and political morality.  Having a form of godliness, we have been denying the power of the gospel to change hearts and minds, and instead, are placing our hope in the fallen consciences of men and lawmakers who only have temporary sway in the minds of the people, if any at all.

I’m glad Alistair Begg repeatedly trumpets the work and person of Christ in this discussion. I pray for all those in the audience, Dennis Prager, and all who watch this, would see the true beauty and benefit of our salvation in Christ alone, and not in keeping the moral law or by adhering to our fallen morals.

– Until we go home


The Dog and the Shadow (Aesop’s Fables w/ Christian Applications #7)

a1236ffacc57ac4618ab7ddfcab64e95*Artwork: “The Dog and the Shadow” by Raphael Tuck.

A Dog was crossing a bridge over a lake with a piece of flesh in his mouth, and saw his own shadow in the water and took it for that of another dog. In the silhouette, the piece of meat in its mouth seemed to be double his own in size. He immediately let go of his own piece, and fiercely attacked the fictitious dog to get the larger piece from him. But in the process, he lost two things: That which he grasped for in the water, because it was a shadow, and his own portion, because the stream swept it away.

Application #1: What a curse covetousness is! If we could gather all the stories concerning the loss many have already experienced due to this malady, all human resources would be exhausted in the writing of it. Yet, godly contentment is the greatest enemy to covetousness (1 Timothy 6:6). If we would discipline ourselves to be content with what God has placed in our mouths, we would not be so eager to chase the world’s shadows and risk losing what we already have.

Application #2: Even as you read this, many in the world have lost their rational and moral sense, and have cast aside the succulent meant of Christian truth and wisdom in order to gain the shadowy and illusive meats of vain philosophies. They pursue what they perceive to be a better ideology that will justify their immoral actions, but in the process lose their right of way and eventually their souls (Romans 1:21-22). 

6 Things I Learned by Taking Two Months Off Social Media


It is hard to believe that taking time away from social media would be so anathema to Christians today. Some have the best of intentions of using it of course. Because for most, seeing posts and pictures are a source of social connection and encouragement. Even family and friends may tease and push back on you, as if you are leaving this earth! You would think you are walking away from the faith or something by the way some folks act online. And God forbid you should shut down your social media for good (may it never be!). I always feel sorry for the martyr that even would suggest such a thing publicly!

In any case, my wife and I, at the beginning of November in 2018, decided to take a break from social media together. We both noticed some areas that social media was interfering in our lives, and wanted to cut ties in order to prioritize relationships. At first, it was easy and exciting. After about the third week though, we began to see some of the large gaps that social media wedged itself into. With that being said, here are six things that I learned.

  1. I had more time to spend with my wife. This was one of our biggest reasons for getting off. I often felt justified with my use of time because I was commenting and answering inboxes from friends and strangers, meanwhile calling it “ministry.” But I still was neglecting time, and attention (very important), with my wife. Sure, forms of Christian ministry can be accomplished online. No harm there. But when you find yourself and your spouse bickering more, being irritated at each other, or even angry at one another over trivial things, meanwhile giving more attention to your phone rather than a meaningful and intimate conversation at the table with your family (or even friends), it’s time for a break.
  2. My attention span was improved. There are plenty of resources online, even from social media engineers themselves, that can prove what I’m about to say. Social media affects your attention span. I experienced this first hand. It also affects your cognitive thinking skills and how you process information. From trying to finish books and complete projects, to having a simple conversation with my wife and friends, I caught myself often thinking about something else, and even becoming bored with the task or conversation at hand too quickly. (Side thought: Perhaps this may be a contributing factor to why we often feel bored during our pastor’s sermons. Hmmm…) What we don’t realize is that social media does have a psychological (and spiritual) impact on us all. We may deny it, but if you take a long break, you’ll immediately understand what I’m talking about. My hope is that you don’t have to take a break to notice.
  3. I was able to see who my important relationships were. This one is a tough pill to swallow. There are many on our friends list who we enjoy and perhaps have had long time relationships with. But social media has changed the way we interact and stay in contact with them, has it not? Instead of picking up a phone or writing to one another, we just simply scroll through a feed, click like on the post, maybe comment once in a while, and move on to the next thing. This isn’t evil. A short post might provoke a deeper conversation online or on the phone. But more often than not, we’ve depended on social media to gauge and judge what is going on in one another’s lives rather than purposefully taking the time to meet over lunch, at a dinner table, or even going out together on some random outing. More than this though, we may quickly discover who really is interested in a reciprocal and abiding friendship. Because with no social media to keep track of your life, the meaningful relationships begin to surface. And the results may be panful.
  4. I was free from false obligation. Some call it FOMO (fear of missing out). Others call this “just keeping up with the times.” But I’m not surprised so many suffer from so much anxiety these days. The feeling that I should know something because someone I follow posted it, or needing to keep up with the latest controversy because a ministry I support and love is caught up in it, or having to constantly be ready to answer a comment because I or someone else I know is involved in an important discussion, all dissipated like smoke once I was off. I know longer felt obligated to know any of that stuff, or any other unnecessary drama, that didn’t directly pertain to my life and ministry. I don’t think we realize how many things we entangle ourselves with on social media that truly doesn’t require our involvement, nor will impact us in any meaningful way. There’s nothing wrong with stating your position on something online, researching the latest updates on important topics, or using social media to further the gospel of Christ and sound doctrine. But how much emotional investment are you wasting simply because you subtly feel “obligated” to do so? And how much of it is essentially just reading gossip?
    • Part B of this feeling of obligation is something I like to call pseudo accountability. There is this false idea that somehow you are spiritually accountable to all those on your friends list (if you even personally know some of them). Depending on how many you have, you may have developed a subtle need for approval, unbeknownst to you. Of course, many on my friends list would say that they care about honoring the LORD more than man. But what we all don’t realize is that we, as social beings, enjoy approval from others within the circles we most identify with. That is what the like button is for. That’s why Facebook won’t introduce a dislike button, but instead has chosen other emoticons to display how you may feel about a particular post. This isn’t some psychological bibble-babble that cannot be substantiated. The kind of approval we receive from those on our friends list (or particular persons on our friends list) triggers the dopamine in our brains, which is typically the chemical released when we have that feeling of reward. That’s one of the reasons why social media is addicting. And whether we realize it or not, what begins to happen is that we engage social media in such a way that causes us to want that approval. The result is that we begin to feel accountable to people that have no real impact on our lives.
  5. I had plenty of time for more important things. This one is like number 1, but a little more specific. Honey-do-lists, job responsibilities, family time, reading, writing, discipleship, evangelism, other ministry opportunities, going out to lunch with friends, particular church functions, and long, attentive, and meaningful conversations, are all some of the many things I discovered I was truly neglecting. I can remember what life was like before social media was popular. And I can remember all the time I spent reading copious amounts of Scripture, or my favorite books, doing ministry, going out with friends, working on special projects at work, etc., without feeling rushed, out of time, or mentally drained. I almost forgot what it was like to partake of all these things in a meaningful and attentive way, without mental distraction! And guess what, it isn’t just me. And it isn’t simply an issue of will-power, intellectual strength, or time management. Even former Facebook executive, Chamath Palihapitiya, mentions some of the dangers with social media. Because of this, he doesn’t even allow his own children to have it.
  6. Finally, though not exhaustively, although most importantly, my intimate time with God improved. I have kind of touched on this already in an indirect way, but this most definitely deserves its own category. With all the things we could be serving God in, one thing that should never be replaced, neglected, or diminished is our own personal time with our Lord Jesus. Whether it is reading His word or personal time in prayer, meditating and communicating with God will be, and often is, pushed aside when we are heavily engaged in social media. Why? Well, because all the other responsibilities that we must accomplish have been neglected already. And because those things must be done, and we now have little time to accomplish them, things like reading Scripture and prayer require too much time and mental strength we don’t have. It’s no wonder why we are tired in prayer, and can’t pay attention when we read Scripture. It’s no wonder why we feel pseudo-accountability, are often anxious, depressed, irritable, and feel all kinds of emotional distress. Not to say that humans have never felt these things before social media. But when we consider the unprofitable amount of time we spend on it these days rather than with the LORD, let us not be surprised when the feeling of being distant from God is exacerbated. I pray that this distant feeling and conviction would grip us more and more than any other feeling so as to return to our first love, and restore the biblical priorities in our lives.

Now that I’m back on social media as of the New Year, my interactions haven’t been the same. I am posting and engaging, but it is different. I am able to break away if I need to. Put the phone away a lot easier when it is time to converse with someone. I’m not as distracted.  I scroll less. Desire to converse more with friends more. And it has been edifying. This isn’t my first time taking a break from social media, but it was nice taking a two month break with a purposeful goal in mind to restore the disciplines and relationships in my life where they should be. If I need another break, I’ll be ready to take it. But I pray others will read this and will emboldened to do the same.

– Until we go home.

The Ants and the Grasshopper (Aesop’s Fables w/ Christian Applications #6)


The Ants were spending a beautiful winter’s day drying grain that they collected in the summertime. A Grasshopper, dying from hunger, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants asked him, “Why did you not store up food for yourself during the summer?’ He replied, “I didn’t have enough time. I passed the time away in singing.” They then chided him and said, “If you were foolish enough to waste time and sing all summer, you must dance supperless into your bedroom in the winter.”

Application #1: Proverbs 6:6 commands us to “Go to the ant, O sluggard!” Look and consider how they work diligently to sustain themselves so that in times of winter, they are well taken care of. Many of us, in times of trouble, may find ourselves like this Grasshopper for no other reason than we wasted our time upon leisure and recreation when we should have been diligently preparing for the future. Whether economically or spiritually, if we ignore or neglect to discern and make provision for ourselves or our family, it will be no wonder when our poverty comes upon us suddenly and we find ourselves hungry (Supported Reading: Prov 13:4; 20:4).

Application #2: It’s inevitable that spiritual winters will come. Not every season in our lives will be noticeably joyous. Many of us may even have to face wintery years. But when times of peace and sunshine come, don’t squander it! Meditate and treasure up for yourselves rich truths from God’s word. Do not forsake God when prosperity occurs, as is the propensity for many to do (Deut. 6:12; Prov 30:8-9). Graze and gather wheat from the luxurious field of God’s word and store up in your heart Scriptures great and small (Psalm 119:11). So that when the winter comes again, you do not end up dying for lack of knowledge (Prov 10:14).

Rethinking Conditionalism (Part 8c) – Josephus’ Writings


In previous articles, more specifically 8a & 8b, I highlighted how Chris Date uses a passage of Josephus’ works to wrongly assert how the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah are not currently undergoing eternal conscious torment in eternal fire. Even though the Greek grammar and discourse of Jude certainly affirms that the inhabitants are presently undergoing a punishment of eternal fire, Chris takes a passage from Josephus, where similar words are used, to help him exegete the text. But even though the words are the same, the context and semantics are starkly different. If you have not read article 8b, please do so to get context. But here is a brief understanding of what we are looking at.

Jude 7 says:

just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

ὡς Σόδομα καὶ Γόμορρα καὶ αἱ περὶ αὐτὰς πόλεις τὸν ὅμοιον τρόπον τούτοις ἐκπορνεύσασαι καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι ὀπίσω σαρκὸς ἑτέρας πρόκεινται (serve – present tense, main verb) δεῖγμα (example) πυρὸς (fire) αἰωνίου (eternal) δίκην (punishment) ὑπέχουσαι (undergoing – present tense, participle of means)

The color coding will make sense in a bit. Chris Date (and other conditionalists) believe that Jude is not affirming present suffering when dealing with how Sodom is “serving” as an example, but that he is referring to the historical record found in Genesis. In other words, when you go back to read Genesis, the presentness of serving as an example to us is found “via the historical record of their past destruction” as Chris puts it (see article 8b for reference). He then uses Josephus Wars of the Jews passage (6.103) to try and validate his claim on how a present tense verb can be used in the context of talking about a past event. Which I can agree, depending on the context. But of course, syntax and grammar aren’t always thoughtfully considered. Here is the Josephus passage that Chris is referring to.

“But still, John, it is never dishonorable to repent, and amend what hath been done amiss, even at the last extremity. Thou hast an instance before thee in Jechoniah, the king of the Jews, if thou hast a mind to save the city, who, when the king of Babylon made war against him, did of his own accord go out of this city before it was taken, and did undergo a voluntary captivity with his family, that the sanctuary might not be delivered up to the enemy, and that he might not see the house of God set on fire; on which account he is celebrated among all the Jews, in their sacred memorials, and his memory is become immortal, and will be conveyed fresh down to our posterity through all ages. This, John, is an excellent example in such a time of danger, and I dare venture to promise that the Romans shall still forgive thee.”

Here is it again in Greek:

[103] ἀλλά τοι, Ἰωάννη, καὶ μετανοῆσαι μὲν ἐκ κακῶν οὐκ αἰσχρὸν ἐν ἐσχάτοις καὶ καλὸν ὑπόδειγμα βουλομένῳ σώζειν τὴν πατρίδα σοι πρόκειται (present tense) βασιλεὺς Ἰουδαίων Ἰεχονίας, [104] ὅς ποτε στρατεύσαντι τῷ Βαβυλωνίῳ δι᾽ αὐτὸν ἑκὼν ἐξέστη πρὶν ἁλῶναι τῆς πόλεως καὶ μετὰ γενεᾶς αἰχμαλωσίαν ὑπέμεινεν ἐθελούσιον ὑπὲρ τοῦ μὴ παραδοῦναι ταῦτα πολεμίοις τὰ ἅγια καὶ τὸν οἶκον τοῦ θεοῦ περιιδεῖν φλεγόμενον. [105] διὰ τοῦτο λόγος τε αὐτὸν πρὸς ἁπάντων Ἰουδαίων ἱερὸς ὑμνεῖ καὶ μνήμη ῥέουσα δι᾽ αἰῶνος ἀεὶ νέα τοῖς ἐπιγινομένοις παραδίδωσιν ἀθάνατον. [106] καλόν, ὦ Ἰωάννη, ὑπόδειγμα, κἂν προσῇ κίνδυνος: ἐγὼ δέ σοι καὶ τὴν ἀπὸ Ῥωμαίων συγγνώμην ἐγγυῶμαι.

Let’s make this as simple as possible for every reader. If you notice, the words from Jude 7 and Josephus have been color coded to show word relationship. The one, blaring thing that you must pay attention to is what is missing from Josephus’ passage that Jude has. That is, a present participle of means!

When you read Josephus, you can clearly see that the word Chris Date uses to make his point (πρόκειται) is the same word found in Jude, just singular form instead of plural, and it is indeed present tense. So far so good. Furthermore, Josephus talks about how King Jechoniah’s actions in the Old Testament are laid out before (πρόκειται) him (present tense) as an example for John (the recipient) via the historical record. No worries here either. This is perfectly normal usage in language. However, the mistake is to make a faulty comparison that just because πρόκειται is used in both passages, the semantics are the same. Not only that, as I already mentioned, what is missing from Josephus’ passage that is found in Jude?  Our participle of means (ὑπέχουσαι) which expounds upon and extrapolates how Sodom and Gomorrah are serving as an example – by presently undergoing a punishment of eternal fire! If you look at Josephus’ passage, you see no such participle modifying or clarifying πρόκειται like it does in Jude. As I already mentioned in article 8b, if you are going to make a comparison, especially if you are going to go outside of Scripture to do so, at the very least, you should find another context that uses identical linguistics to make your point. This is a fatal mistake, but not literally fatal of course.

***Note: I wrote this article months ago, but withheld it to see what conditionalists would say about my previous article on this topic. Now that Chris Date and I have debated, my suspicions have been verified. You can see the debate here.

And you can see my clarifications on this point here. 

-Until we go home

No Children (Part 2) – The Bad News & Good News


In my last blog post I desired to encourage the men out there who may be a co-struggler in the burden for childlessness. At that point in my life, it seemed like all the treatments weren’t getting any where. Well, last week our medical providers advised that we stop treatments, and that we try something different. Before I get to that part, I think it is pertinent to share how the news impacted me.

The Bad News

At first, I didn’t think anything of it. At some point, you just get numb to disappointment and you sort of expect it. But then, as my day progressed, there were moments where I was deeply saddened. At work, my expression of grief was limited. Also, when I got home, it just seemed like my wife and I were a bit too busy to express our feelings about the whole thing. Privately though, I cried out to God. And my wife and I eventually talked, but I wondered if this is it? Was this the end of the road? Thankfully, it still isn’t. But it didn’t take away from the sting that there is a possibility that we won’t have biological children. But here is some good news.

A Baby Girl

Since I last wrote my article, we have been blessed with a beautiful foster child. She has been a delight to have in our home, and she is a stark reminder that we should expect God to bless us often, but not in a way we would often expect. She came right on the heels of a season of discouragement. And the funny thing is, we were actually praying that God would give us a baby girl! Since this little one has been delivered into our care, she has allowed us to express love and nurturing that we desire to express for our own biological children. So that’s one praiseworthy providence of God.

Untraditional IVF*

Another good thing is that our doctor revealed to us some alternate means that might suit our convictions to have children. He first asked if we were willing to do traditional IVF?* We expressed our disagreement to fertilizing eggs with left over embryos possibly being killed. Thankfully, he understood. I don’t know if he was a believer, but he was very accommodating. Hard to find these days. Nevertheless, he told us about a newer method of IVF that would basically freeze a certain amount of unfertilized eggs, and when we are ready, we can get them fertilized in a lab and implanted that day. We don’t have all the details yet, but I remember the doctor letting us know that this could be a cheaper option than traditional IVF. And we don’t have to compromise our convictions! We’re still looking at thousands to spend, but we know that if this is a possibility, God’s providence will make a way. If not, we will remain content with His will for us.

Embryo Adoption

But there is one more option I’d like to share that perhaps not many know about. This one can be a little different from what people are used to, but embryo adoption is an alternative that has been catching attention. Basically, it is adopting a fertilized egg(s) and having them implanted in the womb. In essence, as you would adopt a born child, you are doing so for a little one that you can carry in the womb. I know, it sounds strange. When I first heard about this, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. Nevertheless, a child is possibly rescued from being destroyed in a lab. This is indeed a testimony of how far we have come in our scientific endeavors that this is even a possibility. But if your conscience is not at all clear or informed about this, or any other alternative, I would not suggest embracing it until you have solidified your convictions on it.

Why Me?

As we continue to plod along after 14 years of waiting to birth our own children, it makes me wonder how many other Christian men are finding it hard to trust the LORD in this kind of trial. It is expected for women to experience grief and sorrow over fertility, but I won’t make the mistake to think that men don’t process this issue in any way. Whether it is the sorrow we feel vicariously through our spouse, or how we ourselves feel (or both), it is my prayer that we men will hunt down contentment in Christ. I know what it is like sitting in a church pew, on your couch, or wherever you may be to yourself and your thoughts, thinking about why *I* have to be the one? Why my wife? Why me? And this is not an easy question. But if we have given eternal life, and we know Christ, we have been given the greatest gift we will ever receive.

The Good News

Christ is a great comforter and High Priest who sympathizes with our weakness and human frailty (Hebrews 4:26). He knows we are burdened and saddened by this. He has been there in every doctor’s appointment, in every miscarriage, in every negative pregnancy test, and has been extremely gracious and faithful to provide encouragement and blessings that we needed (not wanted) whenever the time came. So while I understand the discouragement, disappointment, frustration, and sometimes anger, we can feel inside as men about all of this. Remember that God has been infinitely gracious and loving toward you through His gospel, and your salvation. He has been gracious, and will continue to be gracious by giving you more than you can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), and giving you far less than what your iniquity deserves (Psalm 103:10). This is our hope – Jesus Christ. He is the anchor to our soul (Hebrews 6:9), and the captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). Trust him even when you’re disillusioned. Through the pain of childlessness do not let any root of bitterness take hold upon your soul (Hebrews 12:15). God has promised to fulfill His will and glorify Himself using you. Yes, even in this. And as men, we don’t have to necessarily “man up” by sucking it up or pretending it to be numb to it. But by embracing God’s will and leading our wives, and perhaps other brothers and sisters, in prayer and faith to trust God’s sovereignty.

Grieve if you need to. Call out in bewilderment to God, and truly express your grief through your own heart’s psalm. But while you do it, remember God’s goodness toward you. Don’t ever forget it. While the lashing whip of childlessness cracks against your soul, I pray the truth of the gospel and the healing balm of the Spirit will forever be your great and marvelous consolation.

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

– Until we go home


*(In Vitro Fertilization – this is where number of eggs are fertilized,  and then a certain amount are implanted in the womb. Meanwhile, the rest are frozen or eliminated later on).

** For more information on embryo adoption, you can go here.

Rethinking Conditionalism (Part 10) – Did Augustine believe Annihilation was worse than Conscious Torment?


Why I keep stumbling upon quotes taken out of context by Rethinking Hell and some of their social media warriors is beyond me. At this point, it is predictable to see conditionalists take such easy reads out of context just so they can support their position. I am really trying hard to just stay away from these kinds of low hanging fruit, but like whack-a-moles, they just keep popping up at every turn. In our present case, there is a particular point made about Augustine that really needs to be erased from Rethinking Hell’s playlist.

In Augustine’s City of God, Book 11, Ch 27 Augustine gives an analogy about those that would rather exist and live in misery, than to be “annihilated” (A more modern translation can be found here). It is because of this kind of language that Peter Grice, Christopher Ray, Chris Date, other conditionalists jump on their opportunity. In typical, out-of-context fashion, Peter Grice quotes Augustine saying:

“When Augustine—whose view of eternal torment is far from gentle—weighs in on the question of which would be worse, he strongly opposes the scales used by Piper and others today:

If those wretches were offered immortality, on the condition that their misery would be undying, with the alternative that if they refused to live for ever in the same misery they would cease to have any existence at all, and would perish utterly, then they would certainly be overjoyed to choose perpetual misery in preference to complete annihilation.” (emphasis mine)

This is in response most of the time to those that wish to make the claim that eternal conscious torment (ECT) is worse than annihilation. Though this isn’t their primary argument, it is sprinkled in the mix. And just recently, Peter Grice commented on someone’s Facebook meme by stating:
Peter Grice, Augustine reference, Annihilation Harsher than ECT

Did Augustine really argue that annihilation was harsher than ECT? Christopher Ray, another Rethinking Hell contributor, seems to think so. He says in one of his points to J. Warner Wallace:

 “What Wallace does not seem to understand is that, in the mind of many, the complete cessation of life, the blotting out of existence, is the ultimate punishment. According to some people like Augustine, annihilation is a more severe, more undesirable penalty than eternal torment, and therefore one could argue that annihilationists take sin even more seriously than their traditionalist counterparts. It is no coincidence that governments around the world and across millennia have reserved capital punishment for the most heinous of crimes. So, if one is simply looking to find the worst possible punishment to hang their theological hat on, there is certainly a compelling case that annihilation fits the bill.

As you can read above, both authors feel as though Augustine makes a contrastive argument against ECT by stating that annihilation is worse, harsher, more severe, and undesirable. And both quote Augustine’s City of God to do it. Let’s see what Augustine says. Please pay attention to the emphases, as they are key to understanding the true meaning and sense behind what Augustine is saying.

 “Mere existence is desirable in virtue of a kind of natural property. So much so that even those that are wretched are for this very reason unwilling to die; and even when they are aware of their misery they do not wish to be removed from this world. Instead of this, they want their wretchedness taken away. This is true even of those who appear utterly wretched to themselves and who clearly are so, and of those whom the wise account wretched because of their folly, and also of those whose poverty and beggary makes them wretched in judgment of men who regard themselves as happy. If those wretched are offered immortality, on the on the condition that their misery would be undying, with the alternative that if they refused to live forever in the same misery they would cease to have any existence at all, and would perish utterly, then they would certainly be overjoyed to choose perpetual misery in preference to annihilation.”

“This reaction is the most [unchallengeable] evidence of the fact that we are examining. For why should men fear to die, and prefer to live in such distress than to end it by dying? The only reason is the natural revulsion from annihilation. And that is the reason why men, although they know that they are destined to die, long for mercy to be granted to them, as a great boon, the mercy, that is, of an extension of life in this pitiable state, and the deferment of their death. This shows without any shadow of doubt that they would grasp at the offer of immortality, with the greatest delight, even an immortality which would offer no end to their beggarly condition.” – (City of God, Book 11, Ch 27)

Augustine goes on with an illustration that even animals and plants are endowed with natural instinct to survive and take “every possible action to escape destruction.” In other words, nature has an inherent inclination that says, “We don’t want to die.”

Even though there is more argumentation that Augustine is building upon prior to making his point above, ask yourself one question: Where on earth is Augustine comparing annihilationism (according to Rethinking Hell’s definition) with eternal conscious torment in mind? Nowhere! Just analyzing this discourse alone, it is clear that Augustine’s main point is that mankind has a natural instinct to live! And that they hate death or dying. No surprise there. And that if they were given the choice to live in this world with the fallen consequences of their sinful choices (folly), and/or in beggary and poverty, or die, they would rather choose to live in that same misery, perpetually. They would choose the pitiable state and the distress they are in, over against being wiped out from the earth (aka annihilated, which is another term often used in various contexts, including this one, to describe the first death without any reference or entailment concerning the second). If Augustine was trying to say that annihilation in contrast to ETC is more severe, more harsh, more undesirable as Rethinking Hell would like you to believe, he certainly didn’t get the memo.

It is disheartening to me that conditionalists continue to perpetuate these kinds of arguments. You can’t make that kind of semantic leap that these men make when Augustine’s analogy was clearly moving in a different direction. But, even if that is the direction Augustine wanted to go, we are still only given two choices in this analogy. Annihilation (aka dying the first death) or this present life. I would say yes to living too if those were my options. But that isn’t our options. Augustine knew that. Athanasius knew that. And Irenaeus knew that. Conscious Torment is the biblical reality. And given a choice between living in this world or ECT, I still would choose this life! But Augustine’s point was not even close to what these men above are saying. The simple thesis is that man naturally wants to live and exist in this world. It was a sub-point to the greater argument he was developing. And in their current existence, they would do anything they could to extend and maintain that existence, even if life was extremely miserable in most cases (although many do commit suicide, seeking escape. But that is another discussion). There is no contrast here between final annihilation and eternal conscious torment. Because that kind of misery doesn’t compare to the type of misery Augustine had in mind here. You can’t make that kind of application even principally.

-Until we go home

Rethinking Conditionalism (Part 9a) – Athanasius

athanasius the great

I wanted to deal with this low hanging fruit long ago, but to me it should seem obvious to a normal reader that Athanasius was not a annihilationist/conditionalist. As always, you have to examine the context of any writing. Not only the surrounding text, but other variables like, historical timeframe, audience, speaker, culture, location, semantics, or in this case, other literary works that place the gems of history in their proper setting upon the crown of context. All that to say that if one were to just take the time to pick up two of Athanasius’ most popular and interrelated works, they would quickly pull the rug under those that believe he was a conditionalist. The evidence will be easy to reference.

Who said it?

Glenn Peoples made a video about which early church fathers believed in conditonalism. You can see the part where he mentions Athanasius here.  Aside from the clipped and edited quotes that clearly do not represent Athanasius’ position in context, Glenn is using his own interpretation of Athanasius’ words and reading them into words like “non-existence” and “destruction.” As you will see in part 9b in this series, these words were used with nuance by Athanasius. You will also notice that the majority of the time, conditionalists tend to quote from Anthanasius’ work entitled On The Incarnation. But they neglect to mention that this work was part II of his previous work Against the HeathenUnfortunately, because of videos like this, men like Preston Sprinkle, Chris Date, and others, are stuck in the proverbial echo chamber of conditonalist propaganda. And time and time again, they continue to purposefully or neglectfully spread false information like this out of context whenever the subject of church fathers are brought up. Let’s put this particular father to rest.

Note: As I mentioned before in my previous articles, the views of the church fathers pale in comparison to God’s word which testifies to the veracity of eternal conscious torment. I seek to address this only as a matter of exposing the varying avenues conditonalist leaders will take to push this view. So believe me when I say, God’s word is clear that the wicked will be tormented forever. And Athanasius believed that.

A Tale of Two Books

As I alluded to already, Athanasius had two books which were were essentially his thesis on the human condition and the necessity of Christ’s incarnation to save us from that condition. But conditionalists love to quote from the second book On The Incarnation, while neglecting to read it through the foundation laid down in the first book Against the Heathen. To be brief, The main purpose of Against the Heathen in Athanasius’ own words is to “[vindicate] Christian doctrine, and especially the cross, against the scoffing objection of Gentiles” (Introduction). It is divided into three main parts through which he argues:

  1. Against the (non)existence of evil as a substance and its relationship to the worship of idols and how this affects our degeneration into immorality.
  2. The immortality of the soul and its relationship to God by worshiping Him who is eternal rather than idols.
  3. The divine, monotheistic, and sovereign presence of Christ the Word in creation and the necessity of our corrupt nature to be restored to Him.

These, of course, are my summaries. You can read all the contemporary issues that he goes into yourself, but our goal here is to make a quick work by focusing on Part I where Athanasius explicitly affirms his belief of the immortality of the soul. And if you know anything about conditonalism, this doctrine is one of the first things they challenge.

The Immortality of the Soul

In case you didn’t watch the video, here is the popular quote from Incarnation that Glenn Peoples used in the video above, and that many annihilationists use:

For transgression of the commandment was turning them back to their natural state, so that just as they have had their being out of nothing, so also, as might be expected, they might look for corruption into nothing in the course of time. 5. For if, out of a former normal state of non-existence, they were called into being by the Presence and loving-kindness of the Word, it followed naturally that when men were bereft of the knowledge of God and were turned back yto what was not (for what is evil is not, but what is good is), they should, since they derive their being from God who IS, be everlastingly bereft even of being; in other words, that they should be disintegrated and abide in death and corruption (Section 4, para. 4b thru 5, emphasis mine).

There are different translations to this work of course. And I fully intend to deal with Athanasius’ philosophical and natural nuance of “non-existence” and going back into “nothing” in the future. However, we must first deal with this fundamental question. Did Athanasius really believe that those outside of Christ are eventually annihilated? Since this can be a bit loaded, let’s shave that question down a bit. Because annihilation can refer to just the first death only. A linguistic nuance that conditionalists often manipulate to their advantage. So let’s make it more specific. Does Athanasius believe that the soul will also eventually be annihilated after the first death? This question is answered in his own words. 

In Against the Heathen, Athanasius first discusses how the soul is rational and distinct from the body (Part II, Sections 30 thru 31). Then, in Sect. 32, he expounds a little more on the rationality and eternality of the soul because it thinks of and imagines things that are immaterial and eternal. He further remarks that the mortal body of itself does not have this capability to ponder such things, and that this is one proof of a rational and immortal soul ruling the body. But it is in Sect. 33 where Athanasius drops the bomb on conditionalist conspirators by saying, “But that the soul is made immortal is a further point in the Church’s teaching which you must know, to show how idols are to be overthrown.” He also states, “For if our argument has proved it (the soul) to be distinct from the body, while the body is by nature mortal, it follows that the soul is immortal, because it is not like the body.” But if we really want to receive a full blown, in context, demonstration of what Athanasius’ believed about the immortality of the soul, read this excerpt from sect. 33, and pay attention to the emphasis:

“2. And again, if as we have shown, the soul moves the body and is not moved by other things, it follows that the movement of the soul is spontaneous, and that this spontaneous movement goes on after the body is laid aside in the earth. If then the soul were moved by the body, it would follow that the severance of its motor would involve its death. But if the soul moves the body also, it follows all the more that it moves itself. But if moved by itself , it follows that it outlives the body. 3. For the movement of the soul is the same thing as its life, just as, of course, we call the body alive when it moves, and say that its death takes place when it ceases moving. But this can be made clearer once for all from the action of the soul in the body. For if even when united and coupled with the body it is not shut in or commensurate with the small dimensions of the body, but often , when the body lies in bed, not moving, but in death-like sleep, the soul keeps awake by virtue of its own power, and transcends the natural power of the body, and as though travelling away from the body while remaining in it, imagines and beholds things above the earth, and often even holds converse with the saints and angels who are above earthly and bodily existence, and approaches them in the confidence of the purity of its intelligence; shall it not all the more, when separated from the body at the time appointed by God Who coupled them together, have its knowledge of immortality more clear? For if even when coupled with the body it lived a life outside the body, much more shall its life continue after the death of the body, and live without ceasing by reason of God Who made it thus by His own Word, our Lord Jesus Christ. 4. For this is the reason why the soul thinks of and bears in mind things immortal and eternal, namely, because it is itself immortal. And just as, the body being mortal, its senses also have mortal things as their objects, so, since the soul contemplates and beholds immortal things, it follows that it is immortal and lives forever. For ideas and thoughts about immortality never desert the soul, but abide in it, and are as it were the fuel in it which ensures its immortality. This then is why the soul has the capacity for beholding God, and is its own way thereto, receiving not from without but from herself the knowledge and apprehension of the Word of God.”

Now, let it be known that I don’t agree with the logic in his argumentation. But let it also be known that if we are going to read Athanasius through an historically honest filter, we must take all of his work into consideration. Unless there is a flat out denial, or a confessional change of belief that can be argued, we have no choice but to assume that Athanasius believed in the immortality of the soul, and not in annihilationism as Glenn Peoples and those who parrot would have it. And anything written afterwards should be understood in relation to what was written here. Because to understand his Part II (Incarnation), you must keep in mind Part I, which Athanasius also reminds us to do. Which leads me to my final point.

Change of Mind?

Just in case this is brought up, is it possible that Athanasius could have had a change of mind? Could he have changed his understanding of eternal torment and the immortality of the soul when writing Part II of his work, On The Incarnation? Sure. Anything is possible. But this is really hard to believe when at least three times he purposefully references back to what was formerly written in order to make some of his points in the Incarnation (see 1. Introduction, & Sect. 4 and 11). In light of this, we must interpret any passage quoted by conditionalists through the lens of what we know of Athanasius’ position on the immorality of the soul. They should now read very differently. And in case you are a bit skeptical still, consider what he wrote toward the conclusion of Incarnation:

“He (Jesus) is to come, no more to suffer, but thenceforth to render to all the fruit of His own Cross, that is, the resurrection and incorruption; and no longer to be judged, but to judge all, by what each has done in the body, whether good or evil; where there is laid up for the good the kingdom of heaven, but for them that have done evil everlasting fire and outer darkness.

And also in Against the Heathen:

“For just as for them who walk after His example, the prize is life everlasting, so for those who walk the opposite way, and not that of virtue, there is great shame, and peril without pardon in the day of judgment, because although they knew the way of truth their acts were contrary to their knowledge.”

Couple these quotes together with his affirmation of the immortality of the soul, we can draw some good educated conclusions about what he believed. And no, he wasn’t just using biblical language, giving us no indication whether he really believed in conscious torment like some conditionalist would have us believe.

But I still sense a bit of skepticism, even in the face of these above. So in a second, I will show one more of Athanasius’ writings that will hopefully push you further away from believing this annihilationistic conspiracy. But before I do, I really have to ask, what is it about the above writings that conditionalists leaders fail to understand? Why do we always have to play these linguistic games where conditionalists say, “Well, he was just using biblical language.” Or that “He mentions everlasting fire and peril without pardon, but that still doesn’t mean that he meant unending torment.” Two can play that game though. Because it doesn’t imply that the torment will cease either! And it certainly doesn’t imply annihilation! I might grant “peril without pardon” if one feels like it isn’t explicit enough. But in light of what Athanasius believes about the immortality of the soul, if he truly believed that the lost will ultimately be annihilated (as is proposed by Rethinking hell and their followers) why not mention that ultimate end in these two passages? Was he really just using biblical language, or just affirming an already established truth concerning the eternal torment of the wicked?

Now let’s look at a portion of Festal Letter #7 written circa 335 AD, approximately 10-20 years after Incarnation and Against the Heathen, and see if perhaps Athanasius changed his mind over time. And in light of what we have read concerning his position on the immortality of the soul, which was never contradicted or recanted as far as I have researched, ask yourself what do you think he means in light of what he said he believes.

“But it is the soul which they bury in sins and follies, drawing near to the dead, and satisfying it with dead nourishment; like young eagles which, from high places, fly upon the carcasses of the dead, and which the law prohibited, commanding figuratively, ‘You shall not eat the eagle, nor any other bird that feeds on a dead carcass Leviticus 11:13;’ and it pronounced unclean whatsoever eats the dead. But these kill the soul with lusts, and say nothing but, ‘let us eat and drink, for to morrow we die Isaiah 22:13.’ And the kind of fruit those have who thus love pleasures, he immediately describes, adding, ‘And these things are revealed in the ears of the Lord of Hosts, that this sin shall not be forgiven you until you die.’ Yea, even while they live they shall be ashamed, because they consider their belly their lord; and when dead, they shall be tormented, because they have made a boast of such a death. To this effect also Paul bears witness, saying, ‘Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats; but God shall destroy both it and them 1 Corinthians 6:13.’ And the divine word declared before concerning them; ‘The death of sinners is evil, and those who hate the righteous commit sin.’ For bitter is the worm, and grievous the darkness, which wicked men inherit” (Section. 2)

In this Letter, Athanasius is encouraging the saints to live a life of virtue in Christ, and in some sense, exposing those who come to eat but are not saved. In this portion, as you can see, he makes mention of how the wicked kill the soul with sins, and are drawing nearer to death (the first one). And then, when they have had their fill of sin and death, when they die the first, natural death, their spiritual end is to be tormented. Not only that, he mentions the “grievous” darkness they will experience along with the “bitter” worm that they will inherit. Now, if he had annihilation in mind, surely…SURELY he would have mentioned it. But he didn’t. I mean, he already used “non-existence” before, and going back into “nothing,” right? Why not just say it more plainly, or at least reaffirm it? Yet, what we do read is a contrast between the death you die the first time, and the torment you experience afterwards. If there was to be a cessation of such a torment, and the ultimate punishment is “destruction,” even of the soul (how conditionalists believe), it doesn’t seem like Athanasius got that memo.


This article was not written to be the sole unraveling concerning the whole of the conditonalist/annihilationist position. But only to expose, once again, the deceit, half-truths, and linguistics nuances that are constantly propagated to gain a theological influence in the minds of the unsuspecting. And because my overall goal was to be as brief as I possibly could be, I ask that you, reader, to pick up and read any work that a preacher uses (Athanasius included), and seek to understand that person, their timeframe, their whole theology, etc. Especially when heretical, or even heretically leaning positions like conditionalism are being proposed. Because all too often, we take for granted that everyone is on the same page of meaning. And when it comes to Rethinking Hell and other conditionalists leaders, we ought to be extra suspicious. So let’s be faithful to the language of the Scriptures, and history.

-Until we go home

In Grievance Against Unlimited Atonement


One of the main grievances that professing Christians have against the doctrine of Particular Atonement (or Limited Atonement for the sake of familiarity) is that it is “unfair.” In their mind, it stifles evangelism and makes God’s atonement unjust. One preacher even likened it to inviting someone to a feast with nothing at the table. To others, it is pointless to preach the gospel because not everyone has the real possibility to be saved. And their main point of contention is not just the idea that it flies in the face of man’s free will,  but that it will be impossible for some in the world to believe because Christ’s atonement was intentionally made for the elect alone. Of course, this doesn’t seem very loving. But aside from the fact that without the gracious drawing and regenerating work of the Holy Spirit no man will come to Christ of their own volition, we are left to think that if the atonement of Christ doesn’t give an opportunity for every person on earth to be saved, then it is unjust, unfair, and unloving. This general idea that Christ’s atonement pays the penalty for sin on behalf of every human being is typically labeled Unlimited Atonement (UA). But can this doctrine realistically teach that every single person has an opportunity to be saved? In other words, can someone consistently believe that every human being has a possibility of being born again? Yes, but only if you make a few tweeks in your theology.

The Omniscience of God

The first that that has to be tweaked or denied is God’s omniscience. As I already alluded to, those who are proponents of UA understand that if Limited Atonement (LA) is true, then logically there are some in this world who will never receive eternal life. Despite all our preaching efforts and prayer to reach them, if they are non-elect, they will not be saved. And because the opportunity to be saved doesn’t seem real and genuine, then the gospel isn’t really good news for all. But whether you believe in UA or not, unless you are a universalist, isn’t it true that not everyone will be saved anyway? “Ah! But at least they had a chance, and they could have been saved if they just believed. The only reason why they are in hell is because they chose to continue in unbelief.” True. But I don’t know any who truly understand LA who doesn’t affirm sinners going to hell for their own sin and unbelief. And all these reasons concerning choice and possibility seem reasonable at first. But if God is truly omniscient (that is, He knows the beginning and the end of who will be saved), even if He did predestine some in accordance with their faith as some teach, that still means everyone is not really saveable. Because even if God, who knows who will be saved from the foundation of the world, never willed or intended to save only a particular people, it still doesn’t change the fact that only a particular number of people will believe. And it’s only those to whom the atonement is applied. And God knew that before we were born! Before we would or even could have the possibility to choose! So even if Christ’s atonement truly paid for the sins of every human being, it doesn’t really make every person saveable, nor does it present the “fair” and equitable opportunity for all to believe as advertised. Because unless God doesn’t know all that will come to pass, we are forced to fall square on the shoulders of LA whether we like it or not. Or at least some form of it. Unless you are an open theist, the whole idea behind everyone having a so-called genuine opportunity to be saved, or that Christ’s atonement made salvation possible for every single person that has ever lived is an illusion.

Universalism and Open Theism

Allow me to reemphasize the two sub-points above in case you just happen to be glancing through this article. They are the doctrines of universalism and open theism. If you’re a universalist, then you believe everyone will be saved after judgment no matter what. And if you believe that Christ’s penal sacrifice paid for the sins of every, single human being, then this would be the most consistent conclusion of your belief. However, if you are not a universalist, but still believe that Christ paid the penalty for sin on behalf of every human being, and that God intended to save everyone, and provided opportunity and possibility if only they would believe, then you are not just inconsistent, but untruthful. Because even if salvation were absolutely and utterly dependent on our will to choose Christ in order to have Christ’s atonement applied to us so that we might be born again, once again, the fact that God omnisciently knows who will come to Him by faith aeons prior to our choosing, seals the number of who and how many will be saved. Whether you call them elect or not, or whether or not you refrain from saying “limited” atonement doesn’t make a difference. In others words, although proponents of UA proclaim that salvation was purchased for every single person, and that faith is a condition to receive salvation (which LA’ers believe too), it is still a biblical reality that only some will choose to be saved. And the fact that Scripture even mentions only few will be saved, despite what some may say concerning opportunity and possibility, really reveals that God has made up His mind and the work of who will be redeemed is treated as if it is already complete. We are simply commanded to be faithful to preach and call those whom God foreknew to Christ. Which leads me to reiterate my second sub-point

If you’re an open theist who believes God chooses not to know the future, or that He only has some middle-knowledge by which He can calculate all the possible worlds which any given event can occur (like Molinism believes), only then is UA consistent. To put it another way, in order for this kind of real opportunity to be present for every single human, God cannot know what will happen from beginning to end. God cannot be truly omniscient! Because, as I said, if He knows who will be saved and who will not, regardless if He predestined us based upon our faith, that fact that He knows who these particular people are already leaves us to conclude that Christ’s atonement remains only possible for the elect. But if that word offends, then we can say it is only for those who would believe. Makes no difference really. And despite some open theist’s who say that God doesn’t have to know all things to be omniscient, or that His infinite wisdom and other faculties make Him omniscient, the point remains that UA is only consistent if you are an open theist or a universalist (Both being damnably heretical). And there are plenty of preachers who have understood this, and have abandoned orthodoxy and sought refuge in these heretical twins.

Ethnocentric “All”

I am compelled to give a quick admonition before moving forward to the second point. Ascribing to UA simply because the alternative is a misrepresented view of Limited Atonement (LA) is not wise. Not only that, to believe in UA because some can present it compellingly is just a smoke screen. Even though the Scriptures mention Christ dying for “all” in various contexts, linguistic consideration to the kind of “all” that is meant needs to be taken into account. The one thing that I think that proponents of UA miss is that Limited Atonement does make all men saveable. That’s right, all men. But what I mean by that is that there are no ethic barriers as to who can be saved. Because of the atonement of Christ, there is a definite purpose and intention in Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement. And that it will save a particular people from every tribe, nation, and tongue. Ethnically and biblically speaking, that truly is anyone! But it cannot be everyone. To put it differently. It is anyone qualitatively. And everyone quantitatively. And in that sense, Christ died for all! And if it wasn’t for Christ dying and the Holy Spirit effectually working on the heart of sinful men, no one would believe! No one! And this is the next crucial point too important to pass up.

Original Sin 

The second thing that would need to be tweaked or denied is original sin. Even if human beings had every opportunity and chance to come to Christ, and they had a thousand years to consider it, because of their love for sin and enslavement to it, they would not come. Because, as the Scripture says, they love darkness more than light (John 3:19). And they are slaves to sin (John 8:34-36). Unless Jesus makes us free, we will remain slaves. But, unless you are a Pelagian (another damnable heresy) and don’t believe the human will and their nature is totally ensalved to sin from birth, denying original sin, then you cannot truthfully and consistently say that every human being has real opportunity and possibility to be saved. Because it still requires a purposeful and intentional work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart of the sinner to set them free. And how can slaves under their masters more powerful than themselves be truly free without someone stronger overcoming them? In this case, by the penal and limited substitutionary atonement of Christ of course! And if you are semi-pelgian, and believe that we are indeed enslaved to sin, but not so enslaved that we can still choose to be saved without some regenerative work on the heart first, you still have the same, nagging problem(s). That God still omnisciently knows who will believe. And that Christ’s atonement is still only going to be applied to them. And that God knew from the beginning, before anyone was born, who would be those people. And if God knew this, how can it be believed that the atonement was intended to be truly universal? Or how can God know this settled future, yet decide to fight against it by intending to save all, and yet failing to do so, miserably. This makes the Trinity into some greek demigod, internally conflicted, self-contradicting, and intending to save every single person, but powerless to carry out His intended purpose! So it comes back full circle to Jesus’ atonement being for the elect whether we would like to admit it or not.

Nevertheless, despite all the above, there is still a more precious doctrine that must be tweaked…no!…emphatically denied and manipulated in order for UA to be consistent. It is the necessary and essential doctrine of penal substitution atonement.

Penal Substitutionary Atonement

In this last point, I hope you understand how important penal substitutionary atonement (PSA) is. There are some that believe that Christ’s atonement was substitutionary, but not penal. Penal meaning Christ paid the penalty for our sins, in our place, instead of us. Satisfying the demands of God’s justice and wrath on our behalf. Making full payment for the debt of sin to God so that we might be justified and reconciled to Him! What a Savior! But there are some shady types that try to subtly deny the payment aspect of the atonement, and would deny this only because they logically understand this one aching problem. That if Christ did truly pay the penalty for our sins in full on the Cross (John 19:30), and that He did so for every human being, to punish them in Hell is truly a judicial problem. Knowing this, and being unwilling to let go of UA, some have cast off this important aspect of PSA. And I have seen and read more and more of these kinds of preachers advocating for this kind of atonement. An atonement that must change the nature of penal substitution made on our behalf just to make their view of Unlimited Atonement (UA) consistent. Not everyone who believes in UA does this, nor picks up on the logical demand. But those pseudo-apologists and preachers that do, slip this compromise in their sermons like a date rape drug, and the congregants are completely unaware of the heretical poison in their drink. But regardless if they realize it, the main point here is that UA cannot consistently teach penal substitutionary atonement without making some unbiblical modification to it to suit their position.


My only motivation in this article is to help us see that Limited Atonement isn’t just some doctrine contrived by only a few men in a dark room from the secret corners of a watchtower in Belize in the middle of nowhere. In the most crude sense, Limited Atonement can be understood as every Christian would understand it. That is, it will only be applied to those who repent and believe (but even for some, repentance is a problem too). But if you believe that, then you must believe only some will be saved, unless you’re a universalist. And if you believe not everyone will be saved, unless you’re an open theist, you cannot consistently conclude that every single person can possibly be saved. And if you can stomach that, then it will be much easier for you to see how our enslavement to sin is one of the central issues here. And that even though our wills are free to do as it pleases, because it is totally enslaved to sin, we will always choose sin over submission to Christ. Unless, of course, you’re a Pelagian. And if you can see our sin and enslavement to sin as not just debt, but an injustice against God, making us an enemy of His, unwilling to repent and believe, then the glorious gospel declared in the Penal Substitutionary model of atonement will be amazing grace to your ears! Where the debt has been paid! And justice has been satisfied! And if you are willing to believe in penal substitution, then you have no choice but to affirm Limited Atonement. Because, whether you realize it or not, they are both one and the same doctrine. And although this doctrine has been refined over the centuries, it is indeed a doctrine that our Reformed forefathers believed, our biblical church fathers, the apostles, the prophets of old, our father Adam, and of course, our blessed Trinity who planned it from eternity.

-Until we go home

Basic Greek in 30 Minutes A Day by James Found (Book Recommendation #2)


In order to learn a second language, sometimes you have to know some immediate application. James Found’s Basic Greek In 30 Minutes A Day does just that. I was able to recognize some fundamental second language acquisition technics that really make what you’re learning meaningful. Meaningfulness is certainly a key factor in most language learning courses. Most times, we get bored with rote and repetitive exercises that seem to show no immediate gains when applying it to everyday contexts. James Found manages to bridge that gap and provides some helpful (and fairly quick) reading and writing exercises that any basic learner begs for. Of course, nothing beats learning from an everyday pastor or professor who is knowledgeable in Greek. But, if you can’t afford a learning pack from Bill Mounce, but still want to get your feet wet in the basics, and in way that is fun and easy to follow, this book may be a good choice for you. Oh, and don’t buy a used one. This is a workbook. It would be no fun to see someone else answers.

-Until we go home