Identifying the Seed, chs. 2 and 3

There is a lot that could be discussed from these two chapters but the main thing I want to focus on is McKenzie’s charge that Lewis Sperry Chafer was an Arminian. He says it twice: in footnote 18 (loc. 497) without reference and at loc. 671 where he quotes Chafer and Walvoord’s Major Bible Themes, then interprets what Chafer has said as demonstrating that he is Arminian.

What is interesting here is that true Calvinists claim you must hold to all 5 points of the TULIP system to identify as an actual Calvinist. It appears that McKenzie is following that scheme but going further with the false dichotomy that one can only be a Calvinist or an Arminian and since Chafer is not a Calvinist he is therefore an Arminian. Of course Arminianism is also based on its own five points (no pretty flower comes from it though!) and it seems unfair to say that one cannot be a 4 point Calvinist but that one can be a 1 point or 3 point Arminian. That is what McKenzie appears to be doing. Chafer is in no way an Arminian.

McKenzie uses this quote to demonstrate that Chafer is Arminian:

Although men contend, as they do, that that they are not responsible for Adam’s sin,    the divine revelation stands that because of the far-reaching effect of representation    of Adam as the federal head of the race, Adam’s one, initial sin is immediately and      directly imputed to each member of the race with the unvarying sentence of death      resting upon all (Rom. 5:12-14) (quoting from Major Bible Themes).

McKenzie explains how this demonstrates Chafer’s Arminian bona fides:

Chafer believed that the effect of the Adamic sin results in our inheritance of a sin nature. What Chafer is actually trying to do here is have it both ways. What he is saying is that all are imputed with the guilt of that one sin, but the effect of that guilt is that we are born sinful with the ability and inclination to sin. This is very different from believing that we are guilty of Adam’s actual sin and are born spiritually dead. If we are born guilt of that sin, we are under the judgment from that sin; if we are born with a nature that wants to sin, we are born only with a slight effect from Adam’s fall but not with the guilt (loc. 679).

As it turns out the Walvoord and Chafer book is only around 400 pages long while Chafer’s Systematic Theology is in eight volumes, so I can understand why McKenzie didn’t want to consult this more thorough source where he could have let Chafer interpret himself. Let’s turn to Chafer:

The Bible’s answer to the question why each person is subject to physical death is that each one had his share  in the sin that injured Adam himself and caused him to die physically, and they share the penalty, also. Physical death is not an inheritance, much less an infection which parents pass on to their children. It is a penalty for that form of impersonal, unconscious joint action with Adam in his disobedience … it is not forgotten that the sin nature does engender a form of guilt, but it is that which arises from a state of being while the guilt of the participation is due to action … The assertion is that all sinned at one time and under the same circumstances. In like manner, the penalty-death-is not for pollution, which would indicate spiritual death, but for guilt, or for participation in an act… (Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 2, pgs. 298-301).

Fast forwarding to Chafer’s volume on Soteriology where he summarizes three Calvinistic teachings on “the order of elective decrees” and one Arminian view, he concludes:

The three schools of Calvinists contend alike that divine election is the sovereign choice of God which expresses His grace apart from every form of human works foreseen or actual; and that the Arminian school, by making election no more than foreknowledge of human merit, asserts that, in the end, man elects himself by his faith and obedience. The Calvinistic schools are the result of a faithful induction of the Word of God bearing on the elective decrees, whereas the Arminian school is an intrusion of human reason (Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, pg. 182).

Clearly Chafer is not an Arminian. He may not be a true and blue 5 point Calvinists either, but perhaps there’s a better way.

Overall the two chapters cover the Covenant of Redemption and the Covenant of Works. I don’t think I’d ever heard of the Covenant of Redemption before but I get the gist of it, it relates to when Reformed folks talk about salvation, etc. And always with the Covenant of Works I think I don’t understand it, but then when it’s explained to me, I realize I do.

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