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Are we the baddies?

Get this.  Here's Clark Pinnock as quoted by Mike Horton here:

I cannot deny that most believers end their earthly lives imperfectly sanctified and far from complete.  I cannot deny the wisdom in possibly giving them an opportunity to close the gap and grow to maturity after death. Obviously, evangelicals have not thought this question out.  It seems to me that we already have the possibility of a doctrine of purgatory. Our Wesleyan and Arminian thinking may need to be extended in this direction. Is a doctrine of purgatory not required by our doctrine of holiness?

Now, I don't usually engage in Arminian bashing.  (Usually when I see such beat ups I want to side with the Arminian even if I agree with the critique).  But, with this quote... come on.  Seriously?  A protestant starts thinking that their theology requires a doctrine of purgatory?  Because evangelicals haven't properly thought about it??  Really???

At that point, if not years sooner, shouldn't Pinnock wake up and say "Hold on a minute.  I think I've become one of the baddies!"

...Like in this scene (perhaps Mitchell and Webb's only funny sketch - though obviously Peep Show is untouchably awesome)...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsNLbK8_rBY

This is not my attempt at a reductio ad Hitlerum.  I just relate to the whole process of waking up on the wrong side of a battle.

I remember my early days at a certain church where I found myself saying of a certain preacher that he really shouldn't preach Christ so much and definitely not from certain Scriptures.  Let the reader understand.

At that point I had my own "Am I a baddy?" experience.  I've had others too.

What about you?  Have you had an "Are we the baddies?" experience??

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0 thoughts on “Are we the baddies?

  1. Chris E

    Everything before the sentence starting "Our Wesleyan and Arminian thinking may ..", could equally be said by a non-Arminian.

    So the problem isn't really with Arminianism per se - at least not in this case - but with the view that sees the Gospel as something to makes bad people good, and good people better.

  2. Chris E

    .. and so at the base, the root of this problem is with any view that doesn't see the christian in this life as BOTH sinner and saint simultaneously.

  3. Glen

    Hi Chris,

    Ah you've made me think...

    I'd agree with simultaneously saint and sinner. But would it be true to say that those who believe "saint and *not* sinner" have avoided the purgatory trap also? If they believe we are already righteous with the righteousness of Christ they've closed the door on purgatory haven't they? Or is the belief in my sinner status also important for ruling out purgatory?

  4. Chris E

    Hi Glen -

    On the face of it, it would appear that those who believe "saint and *not* sinner" have avoided the purgatory trap, however this view doesn't exist in a vacuum, neither is it stable in the long run as it fails to adequately deal with the reality of continued sin in a Christian's life.

    The Holiness traditions which take this view end up putting the stress right back on the will when it comes to santification - it's simply a case of perfectly living out the life of the Spirit within us. Death in this view can become a mere transition rather than the final end of the sinful human nature (because there is no sinful human nature left). There are various ways in which this theology can develop, but an interregnum period which consists of Christians learning to 'perfectly yield to the Spirit' after death is certainly one of them. In fact, you can see the traces of that Pinnock's quote above.

    In the original article, Mike Horton not only links Pinnock's remark to a denial of 'simul justus et peccator' but ultimately to a denial of justification of faith altogether.

    It's certainly possible to hold both a Reformed sotierology and a Holiness view of the nature of man after salvation, but I think both history and scripture show that ultimately the two don't cohere particularly well.

  5. John B

    Why the expectation that Pinnock should've experienced an epiphany? That would violate his freedom to choose! Is God even capable of doing that?

    Theology has moved from the church to the academy. The latter calls its members to freely pursue their intellectual pilgrimage. On the other hand, the church calls its members to repentance, by which means God often brings about epiphanies that are stunning, but not painful, and happen "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye", mirabile dictu, without purgatory!

  6. Chris E

    JohnB -

    It is not so much Pinnock's view of free will that leads him to this sort of conclusion, but his view of santification (which is shared by most Wesleyan denominations).

    A number of self professed Calvinists also have similiar views as I allude to in the my last comment.

  7. John B

    Hi Chris,

    Yes, you're right, it's Pinnock's view of sanctification that's at issue here. I just couldn't control my will from making a little sport of Open Theism's view of a diminished God. Borrowing heavily from Process theology, Open Theism is a spirit of the age, nurtured by academia, that's wandered away from traditional church understandings—even those in non-Augustinian circles.

    If Pinnock is looking to extra-biblical explanations for the process of post-death sanctification, he should consider the doctrine of the aerial toll houses within Orthodoxy. It's a far more interesting and inventive speculative theory than just plain old purgatory.

  8. Pingback: Am I one of the baddies? (part 1) | Confessions of an Undercover Theologian

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