Edward Reiss: “What did I lie about? Apparently I set up a ‘dichotomy’ because subjective assurance is a guarantee.”
i) This is so confused. Assurance is a psychological state. So, by definition, the sense of assurance is subjective.
ii) That’s not the issue. The issue is whether the basis of assurance is subjective. In addition, whether the basis of assurance are purely subjective, purely objective, or a combination of both subjective and objective factors.
“From the WCF. Notice the bolded parts. The word ‘may’ appears in section I, while Steve says there is such a promise in Calvinism. This means that not all will, but some may receive assurance by looking within themselves. As I have said a few times, I don;t know why this is even controversial, this self examination to prove to one's self one is elect is baked right into Calvinism. But the writers of the WCF disagree with Steve, so I suppose the writers of the WCF lie about Calvinism, too.”
Does Reiss suffer from a mental block? How did he possibly get that from the passage he quoted?
i) To begin with, the fact that not everyone appropriates a promise doesn’t negate the promise. Doesn’t Reiss know the difference between a conditional promise and an unconditional promise?
ii) 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.”
Why does Reiss feel the need to dissemble about what the Confession explicitly states? 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.
iii) Furthermore, there’s an obvious difference between what grounds a state of mind and conscious awareness of such grounds. It’s quite possible to have a certain mental state without having any consciousness of what grounds that mental state. Doesn’t Reiss know the difference?
iv) Apropos (iii), the Confession doesn’t say that every Christian must be aware of what grounds the assurance of salvation to have the assurance of salvation. Rather, it’s dealing with cases in which, for whatever reason, a Christian lacks the assurance of salvation.
“Also see the bolded part of section II. Notice there is ‘inward evidence’. Now, inward evidence is by definition not ‘extra nos’, outside of us. So once again the Calvinist is pointed to himself for assurance he is one of the elect.”
So, once again Reiss misrepresents the Confession by isolating the internal grounds from the external grounds. He can’t bring himself to honestly state or summarize what the Confession actually states. Instead, we’re always treated to his deceptive half-quotes and deceptive summaries. Why does he feel it necessary to indulge in blatant falsehoods about Calvinism?
“Notice the bolded part of section III. The Christian is called to make his election sure to himself by dilligence. And how does one know one is diligent? By looking for the ‘inward evidence’ plus the outward works of a true believer.”
i) Did you catch that? “Plus outward works.” So it’s not reducible to subjective grounds.
ii) Moreover, the ordinary means of grace are external to the practioner. When the Confession, in the very passage he quotes, refers the reader to “right use of the ordinary means,” that’s not the same thing as “inward evidence.” Why can’t Reiss even register these elementary distinctions?
“What about his contention that there is a difference between th eelect and the non-elect? Please see the bolded part of section IV. Since the subjective assurance may be revived, by definition the subjective assurance was lost. I didn't make any of this up, I just read the Calvinist confessional documents. Steve Hays seems to argue by vigorous assertion, along with taking what his opponent says and extrapolating it to a point his opponent never meant”
i) To begin with, Reiss says that “subjective assurance” may be “lost,” as if that somehow disproves what I said. Really? What did I say in my previous reply to him, to which he is allegedly responding?
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.
So why does Reiss act as if he’s disproven my contention when he says that assurance can be lost? What was he thinking?
ii) In addition, how does the fact that, in some cases, the elect can lose the assurance of salvation, become equivalent to “self-deception”? By what fallacious logic does Reiss draw that inference?
The lack or loss of a given belief is not equivalent to misbelief. To say I don’t entertain a certain belief doesn’t mean I thereby entertain a false belief.
Doesn’t Reiss know the difference? Is he even trying?
iii) Moreover, in one of the very passages he quoted, the Confession specifically limits delusive assurance to “hypocrites, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions.” So it’s only the reprobate, not the elect, who are liable to delusive assurance.
Reiss seems to be too blinded by his reflexive hostility towards Reformed theology to even make sense of the passages he cites to prove his point.