Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Three Fingers Pointing Back at You

Antonio da Rosa has something to tell us concerning faith and boasting:

Faith, as to its very nature, is contra to boasting. Everyone has the same capacity and opportunity to believe. Everyone is on equal footing. There is no grounds to boast. The man who rejects Christ had the same opportunity as the one who was persuaded.

I agree with Antonio that the nature of faith is contra to boasting, but my reason for affirming this is different than Antonio’s. I base this fact on the one who gives faith, not on some generic principle that “everyone has the same capacity and opportunity to believe.” Yes, Antonio, everyone is on equal footing. Everyone has the same capacity, in that no one has within himself the capacity to believe. Does Antonio think that Reformed theology has two sets of people: those who have the capacity to believe and those who do not? I suppose such a situation would certainly give some grounds for boasting. But that is simply not the case. No one has the capacity to believe. No one can come to Christ apart from the drawing of the Father (John 6:44).

But does Antonio honestly think that his scenario (where everyone has the capacity to believe) excludes boasting? Does he think that statements like “the man who rejects Christ had the same opportunity as the one who was persuaded” will prevent prideful boasting? Rather, such a statement is the very recipe for boasting!

There are obvious questions we must ask Antonio: if everyone has the capacity to believe, and if faith originates from the autonomous will of man, then what distinguishes between those who believe and those who do not, other then the fact that one person did something needed that the other one failed to do? “I had the faith that you lacked. The distinguishing mark between my salvation and your damnation is not what God did (he did the same for both of us), but what I did.”

Let me tell you where the boasting can come:

I am elect. God loved me and Christ died for me.
You are a reprobate. God hates you and Christ did not die for you.

Antonio takes the unconditional out of “unconditional election.” The only distinguishing factor in this scenario is not what one did and what the other didn’t (as is the case in Antonio’s scenario), but God’s decision on his mercy alone. Antonio points a finger at Reformed theology, but he has three fingers pointing back at his own anthropocentric traditions.

Reformed Theology: I am elect by God’s mercy alone. Christ died for me, out of His mercy alone.

You are reprobate and God hates you as he would me, apart from his mercy through Christ’s death alone. There is no difference between me and you apart from the mercy of God, which is no obligation of his.

Antinomian Hyper-Arminian Antonio-ism: I am elect because God looked down the corridors of history (crystal ball theology) and saw I would believe (my own action). I believe because I was more spiritual, more fearful, or smarter. So I am elect because of intrinsic qualities in me and I was smart enough to be convinced.

See the difference? The three fingers pointing back at Antonio are quite telling.

There is no boasting in faith. God is not partial, but is just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Christ died for all, the gospel message is for all.

You’re telling me that God “is not partial” and yet you affirm that your election was conditional upon your own actions, that God chose you based upon something in you? Once again, Antonio points a finger at unconditional election, but three fingers point back at him.

Evan May.


  1. You know, meat of the Word? :)

    Good stuff, Evan.


  2. Yes, something to chew on that is meaty and much appreciated in light of what is out there. So thank you for your diligence in studying the Word of truth so that I can read it and be fed for I have much to learn and am an eager student of His truth.

  3. Ah, that kind of meat. :-)