Friday, February 05, 2010

Lying lips

Lutheran epologist Edward Reiss continues his campaign of disinformation. What’s so odd about this is that all my replies are in the public domain, so nothing could be simpler than to compare his misrepresentations with what I actually said.

“Steve claimed the elect will have subjective assurance--as he stated there is a promise--and the WCF does not say that there is such a promise by the cunning use of the word ‘may’, as is shown in my citation above.”

Was that my claim? No. I never made a blanket claim that the elect “will” have subjective assurance. My claim was always more qualified than that. That’s in the public record.

This is one of Reiss’s standard tactics. I present a carefully qualified statement. Reiss replies by crudely paraphrasing my statement, minus the qualifications. He then proceeds to burn the straw man that he’s erected.

He does the same thing with the Westminster Confession. The WCF presents a painstakingly nuanced statement of Christian assurance. Reiss strips away key distinctions, then proceeds to burn the straw man he erected.

As I explained in my last reply to Reiss, the use of the word “may” is perfectly compatible with a promise in case the promise is conditional. Such a promise must be personally appropriated. As such, some individuals may enjoy the promised assurance while others may not inasmuch as not every interested party complies with the terms of the promise. Notice that Reiss offers no counterargument.

Moreover, the Confession cites the “promises of salvation” as one basis for the assurance of salvation. Therefore, that connection is explicit in the Confession. And Reiss is the one who is making the Confessional his frame of reference in this discussion.

If Reiss imagines that “may” is incompatible with “promises of salvation,” then the onus lies on him to explain why the Westminster Divines would endorse.

“Apparently for Steve, an elect person who has no light still has assurance, which is frankly bizarre.”

Is that what I said? No. Can he quote me on that? No.

And notice the bait-and-switch. Whether it’s possible for one of the elect to lack the assurance of salvation is a separate issue from whether it’s possible for one of the elect to have the assurance of salvation.

These are not the same questions. Moreover, Reiss is setting up a false dichotomy, as if we must either say that all the elect always enjoy the assurance of salvation or else none of the elect ever enjoy the assurance of salvation. But the Westminster Confession, from which he’s quoting, clearly rejects that antithesis.

“He also claims the document does not say the elect should look to themselves for their assurance--despite the fact the confession states just that as I cited above.”

Is that what I actually said? No. Let’s compare his attribution with what a really said:

“Moreover, the chapter doesn’t say they receive assurance by ‘looking within themselves,’ simpliciter. Rather, it gives three grounds for assurance: ‘founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit’…Does the Confession reduce the grounds of assurance to ‘looking within yourself?’ No. It also mentions the ‘promises of salvation.’ That’s external to the believer, not internal to the believer.”

So notice that I made a carefully qualified statement. The Confession doesn’t “reduce” the grounds of assurance to ‘looking within yourself.’ The Confession doesn’t say they receive assurance by looking within themselves, “simpliciter.” Rather, it gives three grounds, including the “external” basis of divine promise.

I also pointed out that the ordinary means of grace, which the Confession refers the believer to, are external to the believer.

So how does Reiss respond? With his simplistic, utterly dishonest representation of what I actually said.

“The confession I cited plainly says the elect may experience a loss of assurance, which directly contradicts Steve's claims.”

“Directly contradicts” my claims? Here is what I said in response to Reiss in my previous reply:

I quoted his statement: “Calvinist assurance: You are assured of eternal salvation and under no circumstances will you lose it.” To which I replied:

That confuses two distinct issues:

i) Under no circumstances can the elect/regenerate lose their salvation.

ii) Under no circumstances can the elect/regenerate lose their assurance of salvation.

But (i) is true whereas (ii) is false.

Notice in my reply to him that I said it was possible for the elect to lose the assurance of salvation.

And that, in turn, referred back to my earlier reply. So I specifically statement, two posts ago, that it’s possible for one of the elect to lose his assurance. And I reiterated that same position verbatim in my previous reply to Reiss.

Yet Reiss continues to attribute to me the polar opposite of what I said. It would take a very sharp scalpel to peel away all the layers of falsehood that Reiss is piling on.


  1. Having been a Lutheran and discovering the flaws in Lutheran theology in my own study, Edward Reiss' linguistic apprehension may be influenced by the hermeneutics required to support Lutheran theology.

  2. Lips are lying, hearts are frying!

    The Commandment:

    Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

    Possibly, ?, this axiom makes sense:::>

    Oh the Saints, in Heaven, full of His blissful Glory!

    Oh, the Saints on earth, sometimes full of another man's story!