Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Luther's Heidelberg Disputation is quite another refreshing study for those wearied by the Law of God. The link below includes proofs. The second section, which has to do with philosophy, is more connected to what was happening historically in the field of philosophy. The first section is wonderful and refreshing, and wise for many of us Calvinists to consider.

Friday, July 10, 2009


In honor of the fact that it is John Calvin's 500th birthday today (he must be getting pretty old by now), I thought it only fitting that all my fellow Calvinists celebrate who they are, in honor of the great French theologian. Here are 10 suggested ways to "enjoy your Christian liberty" on Calvin Day:

10. Try and find a French beer.

9. OK, then try a French wine.

8. Try some French cuisine . . . preferably some without the word "rat" somewhere in the name of the food.

7. Try a good French cigar.

6. OK, then try any kind of cigar.

5. Grow your beard like ZZ Top. It helps to do this by watching ZZ Top videos and cropping pictures of Calvin's face on top of the band members. You have only one day, so you'd better be pretty manly.

4. Learn Latin--fast--and then read Calvin's Institutes in Latin.

3. Go and play thumb wars with an Arminian. Tell them you're doing it of your own "free-will."

2. After you win in thumb wars with your Arminian friends, tell them it was predestined to happen anyways.

And, the #1 way you can celebrate John Calvin's birthday today is . . .

1. Limit your beer drinking and cigar smoking to the elect alone! Have fun figuring that one out. But, since we don't know who the elect are, we may as well make a universal offer to the party!!! :)


Sunday, July 05, 2009


I found a helpful chart that I am linking below that helps us see some examples of what Luther meant by the theology of glory vs. the theology of the cross. It also helped me continually to see why I oppose all theologies of glory, whether they be evangelicalism, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, modern-day Calvinism (as opposed to traditional Calvinism which I espouse), or any other religion that tries to ascend to God.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


More from me on the Baptist view and whether the credobaptist view is clearly found in Scripture. --Josh Brisby

First, I want to address brother -----'s request of showing him an infant in Scripture that was baptized. We want our reasoning to be good reasoning, and I have to confess that this was one of the reasons I left the credobaptist view. (I don't mean that in any derogatory way.) I could respond to this request by demonstrating its fallaciousness in several ways:

(1) Brother -----, please show me just one example of a female President of the United States. I don't see any. Therefore, only males should be President of the United States.

(2) Brother -----, please show me just one example of a woman partaking of the Lord's Supper. Most seem to agree, after all, that they did not partake of the Levitical Passover (especially the unclean ones on their period).

(3) Brother -----, please show me one example in Scripture of a child professing faith first, and then being baptized. After all, Baptists believe that children can be baptized if they profess faith. So can you show me just one example of a child professing faith and then being baptized in Scripture? This would be the perfect way to demonstrate your view.

(4) What if I were to define "sleeping" by pointing to an example of a horse sleeping? I would surely conclude that the definition of sleeping included the posture of standing up.

I could give more to demonstrate why this kind of reasoning is not sound. It is quite clear to me that the credo view commits the "descriptive equals prescriptive fallacy": namely, taking examples of baptisms (description) and saying that this must be the command of *how* and *who* (prescription). You cannot take an example of something and make it the command or prescription for the definition of something. Otherwise, we would be forced to conclude that sleeping includes standing up from our sleeping horse example.

Both sides use inference. I *do* believe I can point to examples of infants being baptized. The problem is, brother ----- won't accept those examples because they are not clear to him. It is likewise not clear to me that *only* believers should be baptized, even on -----'s own grounds.

Both sides use inference. The question is, which side uses "good and necessary" inference, to quote the WCF? It is clear to me that the Baptist side does not.

Blessings in our Savior!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


As my Reformed Oasis readers know, I was a Reformed Baptist for nine years, and I became a paedobaptist (believer in infant baptism) just last year. Recently, a Baptist brother asked me to share with him a text "clearly" demonstrating an infant being baptized. I wanted to share my response, and I invite readers to comment. -- Josh Brisby

Brother ---------,

I would like to keep this short, since ---------'s Facebook account is not the proper place to dialogue/debate about this. I would love to dialogue with you about this by e-mail, if you wish. You may e-mail me at I will be happy to respond and dialogue in a brotherly and cordial fashion.

Since you asked a question publicly, I will answer publicly, but then I hope you will e-mail me so we can continue. You asked if I could show you one verse showing an infant baptized.

Respectfully, I don't think that's a helpful question to ask. I could ask you to show me one verse showing me that *only* (key word "only") professors should be baptized. Neither side is clear in an explicit sort of way. Both sides use inference. For example, the credo side looks at the texts which speak of people believing and being baptized, and they assume that we can draw an inference from that that *only* believers should be baptized. (I will digress at this point
to say why I believe that is fallacious reasoning.) These brothers look at the household passages and believe that in every case (or every except perhaps one case), people believed first. They also look at the various texts which speak of God's view of our children, and they consider those texts as not proof for the paedo side, or they interpret them differently.

The paedo, on the other hand, looks at the various texts which show God's view of our children, both in the OT and NT, the meaning of both baptism and circumcision, etc., and then takes that model and is not surprised when he/she sees household passages, Jesus' blessing of babies, Paul's calling of our children as holy as opposed to unclean, etc.

So, both sides use inference. I am convinced that it is simply not true that the Baptist side is so clear, b/c there is not one text that says that *only* believers should be baptized; nor is there even one example of someone being born into a Christian home, growing up,
professing faith, and then being baptized.

So, perhaps we can continue from there by e-mail. My e-mail is

I wish you every blessing in our Savior!

Monday, May 25, 2009


A friend of mine brought up the question on his blog about whether the Lord's Supper is a gift from God to us, or if it is something that we do. I wish to share my response.

Keith Mathison’s book revolutionized the way I think about the Table years ago. It’s an excellent read. I highly recommend it. It’s called Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper.

For Calvin (and I believe the biblical view as well), the Table was not just a memorial, but it was the gift of Christ’s actual Body and Blood. As Mathison rightly notes, throughout Christian history, there were disputes over the *nature* of the Lord’s presence in the Table, but that presence was never denied until Zwingli in the Reformation.

The apostle calls the Table a “participation in the Body and Blood of Christ”. He also argues that we are to be in unity with one another as we partake. I see the Table as very much connected to the Word, in the same way that, when a husband and wife take their marriage vows (analogous to the Word), their vows are sealed and renewed every time they join in physical union in the act of making love (analogous to the Lord’s Table).

The Table, therefore, Calvin rightly saw as very much connected to our union with Christ. It strengthens our union with Christ, and, since we are the Body of Christ, with each other as fellow believers. It would hardly make sense to partake of the Table with someone we are at odds with, even as it would hardly make sense to partake of the act of making love with our spouse if we were at odds with him/her.

So, to neglect this great and mysterious sacrament is also to neglect one’s soul. Imagine if a husband and a wife hung out all the time, talked, enjoyed one another’s company, but only made love once a year. Or once a quarter. Or once every 2 months. Or even once a month. They are missing out on a great blessing…the blessing of a stronger and closer union and unity with one another.

Although Calvin believed that the elements remain bread and wine, he also truly believed that we receive the real and proper and natural Body and Blood of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Belgic Confession of Faith, I believe, does well in wording this mysterious truth as well. It is also found in the Westminster Confession of Faith (although not as developed), as well as the London Baptist Confession of Faith, as well as the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.

So, Calvin’s view of the real and spiritual presence of Christ in the Table won the day at the Reformation. Luther’s view differed from his, but it would be wrong to think that Calvin was closer to Zwingli than to Luther. Calvin, along with Luther, condemned Zwingli’s view. He was much closer to Luther than to Zwingli. It is not quite correct to say that Calvin was a “middle road” between Luther and Zwingli. ***In fact, Calvin and the other Reformers believed that Zwingli was no different than Rome, in that, for Zwingli, the Table was something that *we did* to “remind” ourselves of what Christ had done to obey God, just like in Rome it is something the people do for God.*** But both Luther and Calvin rightly saw the Table as a gift–as something that *God* does for us in Christ.

And all of the above is only a quick glimpse into the riches of Calvin’s view! I am convinced that Calvin’s view was the biblical view as well. I highly suggest Mathison’s book, and Robert Letham’s quick book as well called The Lord’s Supper: Eternal Word in Broken Bread.

Thanks for bringing this excellent discussion up! I hope you are blessed as you see the gift of the Lord’s Supper for what it is.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I thought the following from a famous adherent of the Westminster Confession was very helpful. Table fellowship is Christian fellowship. --Josh Brisby

I believe it to be the mind of Christ, that all who are vitally united to Him, should love one another, exhort one another daily, communicate freely of their substance to one another when poor, pray with and for one another, and sit down together at the Lord’s Table. Each of these positions may be proved by the Word of God. It is quite true that we may be frequently deceived in deciding upon the real godliness of those with whom we are brought into contact. The apostles themselves were deceived, and we must not expect to do the work of the ministry with fewer difficulties than they had to encounter. Still I have no doubt from Scripture that, where we have good reason for regarding a man as a child of God, we are permitted and commanded to treat him as a brother; and, as the most sacred pledge of heavenly friendship, to sit down freely at the table of our common Lord, to eat bread and drink wine together in remembrance of Christ.

The reason of this rule is plain. If we have solid ground to believe that a fellow sinner has been, by the Holy Spirit, grafted into the true vine, then we have ground to believe that we are vitally united to one another for eternity. The same blood has washed us, the same Spirit has quickened us, we lean upon the same pierced breast, we love the same law, we are guided by the same sleepless eye, we are to stand at the right hand of the same throne, we shall blend our voices eternally in singing the same song: “Worthy is the Lamb!” Is it not reasonable, then, that we should own one another on earth as fellow travelers to our Father’s house, and fellow heirs of the incorruptible crown? Upon this I have always acted, both in sitting down at the Lord’s Table and in admitting others to that blessed privilege.

I was once permitted to unite in celebrating the Lord’s Supper in an upper room in Jerusalem. There were fourteen present, the most of whom, I had good reason to believe, knew and loved the Lord Jesus Christ. Several were godly Episcopalians, two were converted Jews, and one a Christian from Nazareth, converted under the American missionaries. The bread and wine were dispensed in the Episcopal manner, and most were kneeling as they received them. Perhaps your correspondents would have shrunk back with horror, and called this the confusion of Babel. We felt it to be sweet fellowship with Christ and with the brethren; and as we left the upper room, and looked out upon the Mount of Olives, we remembered with calm joy the prayer of our Lord that ascended from one of its shady ravines, after the first Lord’s Supper: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe in me through their word, that they all may be ONE.”

The Table of Christ is a family table spread in this wilderness, and none of the true children should be absent from it, or be separated while sitting at it. We are told of Rowland Hill that, upon one occasion, when he had preached in a chapel where none but baptized adults were admitted to the sacrament, he wished to have communicated with them, but was told respectfully,“ You cannot sit down at our table.” He only calmly replied, “I thought it was the Lord’s Table.”

The early Reformers held the same view. Calvin wrote to Cranmer that he would cross ten seas to bring it about. Baxter, Owen, and Howe, in a later generation, pleaded for it; and the Westminster Divines laid down the same principle in few but solemn words: “Saints, by profession, are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God—which communion, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.” These words, embodied in our standards, show clearly that the views maintained above are the very principles of the Church of Scotland.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Oh that I could have read something like this during the past 12 years while I struggled with assurance of salvation:

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I thought the following thoughts from Martin Luther, as mentioned by my friend Jamey Bennett, are very useful and helpful to us Calvinists. As Calvinists, we have a tendency to *focus* on predestination. We say that we believe Christ is more important, but I'm afraid that our reactions against Arminianism may have inadvertently caused us to focus on and start with what should have come later.

The doctrine of predestination is biblical. But the doctrine of Christ and His gospel is more important. Consider, as taken from my friend's website:

"[Martin Luther] spoke of predestination and said that when a man begins to dispute about it, it is like a fire that cannot be extinguished, and the more he disputes the more he despairs. Our Lord God is so hostile to such disputation that he instituted Baptism, the Word, and the Sacrament as signs to counteract it. We should rely on these and say: 'I have been baptized. I believe in Jesus Christ. I have received the Sacrament. What do I care if I have been predestined or not?' In Christ, God has furnished us with a foundation on which to stand and from which we can go up to heaven. He is the only way and the only gate which leads to the Father. If we despise this foundation and in the devil's name start building at the roof, we shall surely fall. If only we are able to believe that the promises have been spoken by God and see behind them the one who has spoken them, we shall magnify that Word. But because we hear it as it comes to us through the lips of a man, we are apt to pay as little attention to it as to the mooing of a cow."

Friday, January 09, 2009


The following article is from the Lutheran radio show Issues, Etc. I am sick of the Theology of Glory. I can't get enough of Luther's Theology of the Cross.

A Theology of Glory and a Theology of the Cross

Everyday in every way we are getting better and better. Really?

by Don Matzat

Theology is systematic. All the pieces are supposed to fit together. Within Protestantism there are two very distinct systems of theology. One is a Theology of Glory and the other is a Theology of the Cross.

I believe that it is very important that we understand the differences between these two ways of thinking. In so doing, I believe we will arrive at the conclusion that these two systems cannot be mixed.

The Place of the Gospel

The Protestant theology of glory begins with a one-time trip to the Cross of Jesus Christ. The preaching of human sin and divine grace is only directed at the unbeliever in order to "get him saved." The person who gets saved can sing, "At the Cross, at the Cross where I first saw the light and the burden of my sin rolled away . . . and now I am happy all the day."

Very often, when discussing on Issues, Etc. the place of the Gospel in preaching and teaching, someone will call-in and say, "I’ve already been to the Cross. I’ve heard the Gospel. I’m saved." In other words, in the thinking of that person, the preaching of the Gospel is directed at unbelievers. Once unbelievers are saved the Gospel in no longer relevant.

The theology of the Cross is quite different. The preaching of sin and grace or Law and Gospel is not only intended to convert the unbelieving sinner but is intended to produce sanctification in the Christian. The preaching of the Law continues to convict the Christian of sin, leading to contrition, and the Gospel continues to produce faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

The Definition of Repentance

A theology of glory defines repentance as a sinner being sorry for his sins and determining not to sin anymore. Repentance is the determination of the sinner to live a better life. Before being saved, the sinner is required to repent of all known sins. Incomplete repentance will cause a person to doubt whether or not they have really been saved.

Alternatively, the theology of the Cross defines repentance as contrition and faith rather than contrition and human determination. While the preaching of the Law will lead to contrition or sorrow over sin, the preaching of the Gospel will produce faith in the redemptive work of Christ Jesus.

Repentance is therefore not a singular act that precedes "getting saved" but defines the totality of the Christian life. The preaching of Law and Gospel produces repentance – sorrow over sin and faith in Christ Jesus.


A theology of glory separates the Christian life from the Gospel. Once you are saved you are given a list of do’s and don’ts. More often than not, these are "evangelical house rules." If you continue to break the rules or backslide, the solution is the rededication of your life to God or, in some cases, the emotional determination to keep your promises. You wouldn’t go back to the Cross again because you already did that when you got saved. Rather, you rededicate your life, because "once saved, is always saved."

The theology of the Cross never gets you past the Cross. The preaching of the Law is not intended to provide you with a list of do’s and don’ts. Rather the preaching of the Law is intended to drive you back to the Cross through the hearing of the Gospel. As a result of the Gospel, your faith is strengthened. Out of faith, the good works defining the Christian life are produced.

Those who mix the theology of glory with the theology of the Cross may initially preach Law and Gospel but will end the sermon with Law, principles, or house rules. This is usually introduced with "May we" or "Let us." Such a sermon will cause you to go home, not rejoicing in forgiveness, but determined to live a better life.


A theology of glory produces people who think they are better than other people. "Getting saved" moves you to a higher level. You are now a better person, a step above those who are not saved. You can think of yourself as a part of the "moral majority" as opposed to the "immoral minority." You share your testimony so that other people will get saved and be a good person just like you are.

The notion of getting saved as taking a higher step on the ladder of holiness begets other steps. Some teach that getting saved is merely the first experience, now you have to get sanctified. This is the "second work of grace." This second work removes your old sinful nature so that you are no longer a sinner.You now add to your testimony your experience of perfect sanctification. You not only witness to unbelievers, but you tell other Christians who still refer to themselves as "sinners saved by grace" that you are no longer a sinner. You have taken the next step. They should do the same.

The Pentecostals (and Charismatics) add another step on the ladder of holiness. They promote a baptism in the Spirit with speaking in tongues which gives you spiritual power that you didn’t have before. Former Southern Baptist pastor Charles Simpson said, "Before I got baptized in the Spirit I almost wore out my rededicator." In other words, now that he has received power, unlike other Baptists, he no longer has to rededicate his life. There may be many more steps and experiences for you to take. The popular Charismatic showman Benny Hinn speaks of four or five different anointings awaiting you as you climb the ladder of holiness. The so-called revivals that have broken out in Toronto and Pensacola offer a wide variety of experiences from being "slain in the Spirit," to being "drunk in the Spirit," to simply standing in one spot and shaking your head back and forth. According to testimonies, these experiences will produce in you higher levels of spirituality and holiness as you move on to glory.

Your testimony will now focus on trying to convince other Christians that they should come to where you are and get baptized in the Spirit, speak in tongues, and seek these other experiences. Even though you don’t say it, everyone knows that you think you are a better Christian, because you have taken the next step.

Living in a theology of the Cross never makes you any "better" than anyone else. Every day in every way you are not getting better and better. In fact, the preaching of Law and Gospel will not lead you to an awareness of your holiness, but rather to greater awareness of the depth of your sin. As a result, you will develop an ever-increasing faith in and appreciation for the redeeming work of Jesus Christ.

Your witness will focus upon the work of the Cross, not upon your experience of getting saved, sanctified, or becoming more spiritual. You have taken no step toward God or arrived at any higher level of holiness. You don’t talk about your spirituality. You talk about the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

When dealing with these issues on the radio, I often encounter opposition. People will fight to defend their theology of glory. I often challenge them to share their testimony without ever talking about themselves. I have developed the pet phrase, "This thing called Christianity – it’s not about you!"

Martin Luther accurately defined sin as man turning in on himself. While a theology of glory continues to turn you to yourself as you measure your growth in holiness against a plethora of spiritual experiences, the theology of the Cross turns you away from yourself. As a result of the conviction of the Law, you forsake your own good works and spiritual experiences and cling to the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Which is Correct?

Any reading of the New Testament will demonstrate that the systematic theology of the Apostle Paul was a theology of the Cross. His focus was not upon his spirituality but upon the Cross of Christ. He boasted of his weaknesses. He referred to himself as the "chief of sinners" and a "wretched man." As far as he was concerned, his holiness and goodness was manure compared to the righteousness of Christ. For the Apostle, the dynamic of both justification and sanctification was "not I, but Christ."

The Reformation theology that characterizes both Lutheranism and traditional Calvinism is a theology of the Cross. There is no doubt that the theology of glory appeals to natural man. It is a theology of Adam. It is self-focused. It defines "popular Christianity." The reality is, it is not biblical Christianity.