Evangelicals & Immutability

It is important to ensure I do not lose anyone right off the bat so let me deal with the word “immutable.”  It means “unchanging over time or unable to be changed.”  When used theologically it refers to our understanding that God does not, because He CAN NOT, change. Unlike humans who are constantly in a state of flux God is the same today as He was on yesterday and will be evermore.

This blog post will look at the mutability of our politics leaders, not because of new or better data being made available but because of political expedicency.  We will also be introduced to a concept called “Plausability Structure.”  

The goalpost concerning what is acceptable in the public sqaure is rapidly changing. Sadly, it is NOT changing for the better.  Social issues, which were once taboo and forbidden, are now celebrated in our culture and if you do not embrace the sexual/moral/LGBTQ revolution you are deemed on the wrong side of history.

I grant there must be some doctrine for which I will one day stand before God Almighty and humbly accept (I will have no choice) that despite my best efforts I will have come to the incorrect interpretation.  I trust this will be the exception and not the rule.  Maybe it will be some fine point of eschatology (events concerning the end of time) or maybe it will concern some aspect of soteriology (doctrine of salvation) or ecciesology (doctrine of the church).

I grant this is a real possibility but I trust it will NOT be because of my inconsistent logic or my inability to apply rationale thought consistently.  I am convinced of this maxim:  If one is to be proven wrong it should be also be because they were inconsistently wrong in their thinking. If I am deemed to be wrong I want to be consistent throughout the entire process concernig the matter under discussion.

If I have lost you let me explain, if you believe God has sovereignly predestined all of the “elect” to salvation then one MUST logically conclude that God has “necessarily” predestined the “non-elect” to eternal damnation.  The logic behind that conclusion is inescapable.  All faithful members of the Reformed Camp (of which I am proudly a card- carrying member) subscribes to this Biblical position.

(Reformers comprise Evangelicals who embrace what is termed “Calvinists who are known by the following five prepositions:

Total Depravity: All of man’s faculty have been negatively impacted by the Fall. His mind, his thoughts, his actions, etc. etc.

Unconditional Election: God makes His choice of those for salvation without regard to any human consideration.  God simply chooses based on His kind intention of His will.

Limited Atonement: Jesus Christ’s intention by His death on the cross was done to secure the salvation of  the elect only. Succinctly: Christ did not die for everyone salvifically, only the elect.

Irresistible Grace: All those who God the Father has sovereignly given to Christ will response, without fail, with faith in God.

Perservance of the Saints: All the elect will perserve to the end.  None of the elect can or will be eternally lost.

This, of course, raises the issue of whether the Bible teaches “double predestination.” Surprisingly, to most, the Reformers believe the Bible does in fact teach “double predestination.” What most do not understand is what Calvinists understand when they posit “double predestination.” Reformers do not believe in what is called “Equal Ultimacy.”  Equal ultimacy means God does one act (provide grace) in this same manner He does the opposite corresponding act (provide wrath).

Calvinists posit God is ACTIVELY at work when He chose to predestine the elect to salvation. Calvinists believe that God was NOT, I repeat, God was NOT actively at work when He chose the non-elect for damnation.

The Bible clearly (at least according to the Calvinist understanding) posits God “passively” chose the non-elect for eternal damnation. He did so by leaving the non-elect mired in their sinful disposition. For reasons only known by the mind of God He chose to “pass over” the non-elect and leave them in their sin.

That is why Grace, properly understood, is so amazing!!! Why God choose me and not my neighbor is unfathomable. I will NEVER begin to understand how the elect of God can so causally worship a God who has so richly lavished them effectual grace that He does not yield to all of His fallen creatures.

But back to my central thesis. Whether I am proven right or wrong I trust it will not hinge on my lack of consistency in my thinking and rationale. This is not to say a person can not change their thinking over time when provided new information or acquiring a better understanding.

What we see quite often of people in general but politicians in particular is the inability to consistently apply thinking or rationale. This is not to say there are not times when it is prudent to change one’s position because of new information or better understanding. The probem is when one changes because of political expediency.

I want to point to two examples, one historical and one contemporary. They are President John F. Kennedy and 2020 Presidential Candidate for the Democratic Party Joe Biden.

President Kennedy, while attempting to secure support for his candidacy, when to Texas in 1960 to meet with a delegation of Protestant Clergy to assuage their fears of his Roman Catholicism.There was great apprehension whether a Roman Catholic was “fit” to serve the highest office in the land.  Candidate Kennedy understood the public angst so he decided to address the matter head on.

What is alarming, at least to me, was Kennedy’s willingness to distant himself from his Catholicism by declaring his political decisions as president, if elected, would NOT be influenced by his faith. Now, granted I disagree vehemently with Roman Catholicism, but I would hope those who embrace Roman Catholicism would be faithful to the tenets of their faith. As an aside it is alarming how many Roman Catholicism in Congress govern in direct opposition to the official doctrine of the alleged Roman Catholic Church. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are two individuals that quickly come to mind.

I do not know what is more startling regarding the Kennedy summit with the Protestant Clergy: Kennedy for conveniently distancing himself from his Catholic faith where he purported that NO decision he would make would be influenced by his religious worldview or the Protestant Clergy who believed his attempted repudication was a satisfactory answer.

Let me be frank: Either Kennedy was NOT a true Catholic or he was a blantant liar. The clergy were either naive to believe a person’s worldview is NOT always influenced by their religious convictions (even convictions held loosely) or they were incompetence or defective in their own religous convictions (that is they too did not truly possess true religious convictions).

How is possible for people to claim their faith (religion in general and Christianity in particular) do not impact their beliefs, their worldview and their inevitable action? This is only possible in Christianity when professing Christians display what is called “Cultural Christianity” or “Nominal Christianity.” So if Kennedy, would in fact, not allow his Catholicism to impact his decision-making then he was NOT a geniune Catholic or the only logical alternative is he was lying.  Neither one is noble or to be applauded.

Next, we turn our attention to Joseph Biden. He is in the news because of his recently long anticipated announcement that he is running for the Democratic Presidental Nomination for the 2020 Presidental Election. Biden has served in some national governmental capacity since 1973. He is one of the most tenured and respected voices in the Democratic Party.

Not surprisingly, considering the maddening cultural landscape, Biden has convienently changed his position on abortion now that he is running for president.  It was once plausible for a Democratic candidate for national office to be the right of the leftist worldview currently yielding power in the Democratic Party. The operative world is “was.”

Plausible it is no more. Sociologist, Peter Berger, has coined a new phrase in the American conversation: Plausibility Structure. Plausibility Structure is a basic unit of thought that defines plausibility. It classifies things that are “imaginable” or “conceivable.” It assists


society in establishing the basis for right and wrong. Plausibility becomes paramount in elections as voters shy away from candidates who don’t espouse views that are consistent with the views of the voting public.

Joe Biden understood that reality as a US Senator. Americans, of all persuasions, have consistently been opposed to taxpayers funding abortions. Even “pro-choice” Americans believe it is improper to force the general public to pay for an abortion, even if they come to believe it is morally acceptable for a women to have said abortion.

In response to a constituent’s letter from his district Biden proudly defended his voting record on the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits the use of federal funds to perform abortions). Biden emphasized in his reply to the concerned citizen that he had voted 50 times in support of the Hyde Amendment.

That was then and this is now and now the “Plausibly Structure” has dramatically changed, at least for Joe Biden. In response to a questioner at a recent public appearance while on the campaing trail Biden was asked pointedly if he would, as president, work to repeal the Hyde Amendment. After an initial hedge and after being pressed by the questioner (who was a representative from the ACLU) Biden was forced to come clean on his new position. He declared, “It [Hyde Amendment] can not stand.”

What changed from Biden consistently being against the use of federal funds to perform abortions? What changed from voting 50 times to support the provisions of the Hyde Amendment? Even to the most fair minded observer it is readily apparent what has taken place. What was implausible then is plausible now. Not because of new information or better understanding.

If forcing taxpayers to fund abortions was wrong at one point in out nation’s history what has changed that makes it morally permissible now. Truth is absolute and can NEVER be abrogated in any significant manner.

Again, I readily concede it is granted people are entitled to change their minds over time. I once believed that Jesus was the Angel Michael when I was a new believer. Thanksfully, I had the benefit of being exposed to new information, to better data. Thus, once introduced to the new data I changed my theological understanding.

The issue is not people should not or do not change.  Clearly people do change and for that we should be thankful in many cases.  The issue is in the WHY factor of the change. John F. Kennedy changed because he realized if he did not he would not secure the support of a bloc of constituents that likely impacted his ability to win the presidency of 1960.  I believe both literally and metaphorically Kennedy “sold” his soul for the office. When he repudicated his Roman Catholicism he was either being a “lapsed” Catholic or he was flat out lying.  Either way, pox on his head.

Joe Biden is the exemplum perfectum (Latin for perfect example) of what is seemingly ubiquitous in our culture.  A bunch of politicians with no true moral convictions. I will always respect President George H. Bush and President Jimmy Carter.  Bush, because even after pledging “no new taxes” as a campaign platform directive President Bush came to the conclusion raising taxes was the proper thing to do for the nation.  That single act greatly contributed to his defeat in his second term election against William J. Clinton.  Also, President Bush refused to push into Iraq when he had the chance to do so because by doing so he would have violated the stated mission of the Gulf War.

President Jimmy Carter will probably go down in history as one of least effective president for a varied list of circumstances, many of which I believe were outside of his direct control.  The oil crisis and the hostage crisis are two vivid illustrations.  Yet, I respect both President Bush & President Carter because they seemed to do what they believed to be the best course of action at the time.  Whether it would doom their chances for a second term or not they did not attempt to govern by checking the “politicial winds” of the time.

Evangelicals are, of course, thankful for God’s immuatability.  We never have to wonder if God will cease loving us or providing grace upon grace.  He can no more stop being patience with us then I can stop breathing to survive as a human being.  We celebrate change when it is born out of contemplation on the truths of God’s Word.  When we are exposed to God’s revelation but when it is because when we bow to what the culture demands then we have sunk to the lowest rung of leadership.

Real leaders resist change for expediency sake and real leaders understand there are some hills worth dying upon, both metaphorically and even sometimes, when necessary, literally.

Evangelicals are immutable concerning the understanding and application of God’s Moral Laws.  They will never change, they are fixed, so no matter how the culture continues to move to the left we will remain committed to the bedrock principles laid out for us in Holy Writ.

I welcome your interaction with the blog.  Until then and if the Lord tarries His coming keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One!

 

 

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