Agonizomai: Autosoterism - Warfield

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Autosoterism - Warfield
"...surely this teaching (Liberalism) has overspread the world. We are told by Erich Schader that during his professorial life no student has ever come before him on the mind of whom the presentation of the two parables of the Pharisee and the Publican praying in the temple and of the Lost Son, in the sense that the forgiveness of God is conditioned by nothing and no atonement is needed, has not made for a longer or shorter time a great and deep impression. It is a Pelagianism, you see, which out-pelagianizes Pelagius. For Pelagius had some recognition of the guilt of sin, and gave some acknowledgement of the atoning work of Christ in making expiation for this guilt. And this theology does neither. With no real sense of guilt, and without the least feeling for the disabilities which come from sin, it complacently puts God’s forgiveness at the disposal of whosoever will deign to take it from his hands. The view of God which is involved, some one has not inaptly if a little bitingly called "the domestic animal conception of God." As you keep sheep to give you wool, and cows to give you milk, so you keep God to give you forgiveness. What is meant is grimly illustrated by the story of poor Heinrich Heine, writhing on his bed of agony, who, asked by an officious visitor if he had hope of the forgiveness of his sins, replied with a glance upwards of mocking bitterness, "Why, yes, certainly: that’s what God is for." That’s what God is for! It is thus that our modern Liberal theology thinks of God. He has but one function and comes into contact with man at but one point: he exists to forgive sins.

In somewhat the same spirit we hear ringing up and down the land the passionate proclamation of what its adherents love to call a "whosoever will gospel." It is no doubt the universality of the gospel-offer which is intended to be emphasized. But do we not shoot beyond the mark when we seem to hang salvation purely on the human will? And should we not stop to consider that, if so we seem to open salvation to "whosoever will" on the one hand, on the other we open it only to "whosoever will?" And who, in this world of death and sin, I do not say merely will, but can, will the good? Is it not forever true that grapes are not gathered from thorns, nor figs from thistles; that it is only the good tree which brings forth good fruit while the evil tree brings forth always and everywhere only evil fruit? It is not only Hannah More’s Black Giles the Poacher who may haply "find it difficult to repent when he will." It is useless to talk of salvation being for "whosoever will" in a world of universal "won’t." Here is the real point of difficulty: how, where, can we obtain the will? Let others rejoice in a "whosoever will gospel:" for the sinner who knows himself to be a sinner, and knows what it is to be a sinner, only a "God will" gospel will suffice. If the gospel is to be committed to the dead wills of sinful men, and there is nothing above and beyond, who then can be saved?

(read the entire section here)


B.B. Warfield - The Plan of Salavtion - Part II



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