02 July 2008

A month of memories

by Phil Johnson

uly and August are looking impossible for me schedule-wise. Pecadillo is getting married in Seattle July 18 (I don't think he's coming back to the blogosphere for awhile; we're going to need a new mascot); I have two or three deadlines coming due within 2 weeks after that; and then I'm going to Cape Cod to speak at a conference there in mid-August. So I'm way overbooked and have no extra time to think about writing new blogposts.

Here's what I'm gonna do: For the next month or so, all my posts are going to be reposts of classic material from the original PyroManiac blog. (Warning: some of it is highly flammable.)

Salvaging some of the posts from my original blog and getting them into the permanent record here is something I have wanted to do since we moved to a gangblog. (To make that material searchable on one site with the rest of my bloggage.) Dan Phillips's repost of his "Sister, Have Mercy" post last week settled it in my mind. I've never before posted the same exact blogpost twice (at least not purposely), but Dan has given me the boldness to do it.

Yeah, I know all that stuff is already online (no fair rummaging through it now in quest of previews), but I'm going to pull as much of it as possible over here in the next couple of months. I know we have a lot of readers nowadays who don't remember the glory days of the original PyroManiac blog, so this will be fun and interesting. Back then I was still feeling my way around in the blogosphere, and believe it or not, I used to tick off a lot more people than I do now. So fasten your seat belts.

To take us back to the very start, here's my first-ever substantive blogpost, which for two years or so held the record for being my most commented-on post of all. I had announced my intentions to start blogging about 2 months before I posted this, so a lot of people prolly thought I had been tooling up for this opening salvo for all that time. Truth is, I was burdened with a similar time-crunch then, under a big deadline for a book manuscript coming due June 1 that year. I delivered the manuscript (on time) the day before this entry posted, and then I wrote this post in about 45 minutes' time before going to bed that evening.

Everything else is history.




Quick-and-Dirty Calvinism
Bashing Calvinism is the latest fad in blogdom. My turn.


(First posted 1 June 2005)

hree years ago Rob Schläpfer had the best Reformed website and book business bar none. It was the place to go if you were looking for material responding to Dave Hunt. Schläpfer's online magazine, Antithesis, was the best-looking and most consistently interesting website I knew—and it was thoroughly Calvinistic.

Michael Spencer, aka the Internet Monk, runs one of the most successful group blogs around. It's a lively theological discussion cast as a virtual tavern. The iMonk gained fame earlier this year by "outing" Joel Osteen's frivolous non-gospel. One of the iMonk's famous early blog entries was titled "Why Calvin Is Cool." Judging from the network of links, the iMonk's group blog, The Boar's Head Tavern (BHT), has attracted a lot of Calvinist readers.

But last year with little warning, Schläpfer renounced all things Reformed and started giving rave reviews to almost every postmodern oddity and "emergent church" manual that the evangelical publishing houses could crank out. With a bit of fanfare, Schläpfer's mail-order company dropped some of the best Reformed books from their line. Meanwhile, Schläpfer was posting some fiery blasts both publicly and privately against Calvinists and Calvinism. (Some of them—including one sent to me personally—were pretty much in the spirit of Mark 14:71.)

Recently, the iMonk followed suit with a controversial essay, "I'm Not Like You . . . (Calvinists especially)." He closed it with a paragraph that began, "I am not like you. Every day I wander further from the safety of Calvinism into the wideness of God's mercy." Although the text is still in the process of deconstruction at the BHT, it seems like the iMonk and his drinking buddies have decided postmodernism is a lot cooler than Calvinism.

Schläpfer and the iMonk are by no means alone. More serious Calvinist leaders, including John Armstrong and Andrew Sandlin are saying similar things, albeit usually with just a smidge more subtlety.

Jumping off the Calvinist bandwagon and lobbing rotten eggs at the attitudes and culture of "Reformed" folk is clearly le dernier cri in the blogosphere and beyond.

Before we vivisect these gentlemen and their views (something I may eventually want to devote some bloggage to), I think it would be helpful to ponder why Calvinism, which seemed to be the flavor of the month not so long ago, has suddenly become so odious to so many of its one-time friends.

I have to say with all candor that I can somewhat understand the feelings expressed by some of Calvinism's recent critics. Sniff around some of the Calvinist forums on the Internet and it won't be long before you begin to think something is rotten in Geneva.

But I hasten to add that I don't think the problem really lies in Geneva, or in historic Calvinism, or in any of the classic Reformed creeds. I especially don't think the stench arises from any problem with Calvinism per se. In my judgment, the problem is a fairly recent down n' dirty version of callow Calvinism that has flourished chiefly on the Internet and has been made possible only by the new media.

Internet Calvinism and historic Calvinism sometimes have little in common. Consider:

  1. Fanaticism. The strains of hyper-Calvinism that are flourishing today are more harsh and more hyper than any of the historic hyper-Calvinists ever thought about being.

    If you doubt this, check Marc Carpenter's infamous website and read his ridiculous "Heterodoxy Hall of Shame." Carpenter is so hyper-Calvinistic that he has even labeled Calvin a hell-bound heretic for not being Calvinistic enough! He damns Spurgeon, Iain Murray, and even Gordon Clark (whom no one during his lifetime ever accused of not being Calvinistic enough).

    There are some well-trafficked discussion forums out there that look like they're having a contest to see who can be most extreme in their condemnations of Arminianism or most overblown in their affirmation of über-high Calvinism.

    There is a radical extremism among hypers on the Internet that is utterly unheard of even in the darkest corners of hyper-Calvinist history. At least the early hypers like Huntington and Gill had some profitable things to say when they exegeted Scripture.

  2. Non-evangelism. Among more mainstream Calvinists, there are certainly some outstanding men who are earnestly evangelistic (Piper, MacArthur, and even Sproul). But it would be stretching things more than a little bit to insist that modern Calvinism as a movement is known by its passion for evangelism. Where are the Calvinist evangelists? I can think of only one outstanding example: John Blanchard. (There are surely more, but at the moment I can't think of any other famous Calvinists now living who have devoted their ministries primarily to evangelism).

    Of course, I fully realize that the Arminian caricature of historic Calvinism as anti-evangelistic is a total lie. But one could hardly argue that evangelism is a key feature of modern Calvinism. Neither the writings we produce nor the conferences we hold focus much on evangelism.

  3. Polemicism. Today's rank-and-file Calvinists are more in the mold of Pink, Boettner, and J.I. Packer than they are like Spurgeon or Whitefield. In other words, modern Calvinism is producing mostly students and polemicists, not evangelists and preachers. That's because Internet Calvinism is simply too academic and theoretical and not concerned enough with doing, as opposed to hearing, the Word (James 1:22). To a large degree, I think that's what the medium itself encourages.

  4. Anti-intellectualism. This may sound like a contradiction of my previous point, but both tendencies contribute to the superficiality of Internet Calvinism. Want a sample? I recently received an e-mail inquiry that is all too typical of what I have observed for years among Internet Calvinists. Someone whom I do not know and whose name I will not divulge wrote me to ask:
    Can you explain in one paragraph or less how to make sense of the distinction you make between the "decretive" and "preceptive" aspects of God's will? Please don't give me a reading list of books and articles. One paragraph. One sentence if you can do it. Because the whole idea seems loony to me. So far, no one has been able to describe it in a way that makes any sense. I don't have time to read 10 volumes of dead guys' reflections in Puritan prose. And don't refer me to Piper's article on the subject. It's too long and convoluted. I just want a short answer.

    Right. The quick and dirty approach to untangling the mysteries of the universe. And every forum on the Internet, it seems, has at least one or two freshly-enlightened, beardless Calvinists who are convinced that their understanding of everything suddenly became perfect when they embraced the sovereignty of God. Some of them imagine that whatever difficulties they still can't explain can be easily solved by simply moving to a more extreme position.

The upsurge of Calvinism on the Internet in the 1990s seems to have spawned a large and unprecedented movement of jejune Calvinists who wear arrogance as if it were the team uniform. That kind of hotshot, shoot-from-the-hip Calvinism is ugly. I don't blame anyone for being appalled by it. I'm worried about those who think it's a good thing.

Obviously those criticisms are mostly generalizations, and they don't necessarily apply to every Calvinist on the Internet. But (and here's the hard part) I'm willing to admit that there have been times when every one of those criticisms could be legitimately applied to something I wrote or posted to a public forum somewhere. I'll especially confess to my shame that I'm too much of a polemicist and not enough of an evangelist.

Historic Calvinism is not supposed to be that way. Yes, Calvinism is virile; it's relentless when it comes to truth; and it's not always easy to swallow. But it is full of truths that should humble us and fill us with compassion rather than swagger and conceit. The best Calvinism has always been fervently evangelistic, large-hearted, benevolent, merciful, and forgiving. After all, that's what the doctrines of grace are supposed to be all about.

Until we get back there, some of the lumps the Reformed movement is currently taking are well-deserved.

And meanwhile, my advice to young Calvinists is to learn your theology from the historic mainstream Calvinist authors, not from blogs and discussion forums on the Internet. Some of the forums may be helpful in pointing you to more important resources. But if you think of them as a surrogate for seminary, you're probably going to become an ugly Calvinist—and if you get hit in the face with a rotten egg, you probably deserve it.

Phil's signature

61 comments:

Sarah L. said...

Hello!

I was thinking about this as I was reading what you said about 'Calvinists' not being intellectual:

My mom and I were listening to a recording of someone, and we found it interesting how this person seemed to think that church services are for giving out the gospel, and that Sunday school, or Bible college, is for going deeper (you know, doctrine, hermeneutics and all). But, as John Macarthur says, church is not for the unbeliever! It is for the believer. Church should be our 'Bible college'.

I don't think that it is wrong to go to college, I just think that a lot of the things taught there should be taught in church itself. Students should already know about hermeneutics, and at least basic doctrine before they go to college or seminary.


(you can delete this if you think that it is off topic)

Chris Freeland said...

Phil,

I've read your blog(s) since the outset, and this is by far the best post ever.

One of my biggest beefs with many young reformers is the intellectual arrogance that seems to go with it. They seem to feel that if you don't agree with everything they say without hesitation, it's because you're not smart enough to understand God's sovereignty like they understand God's sovereignty.

Seems like some of the people you cite have reduced their theology to solely an intellectual system that has to be drawn with thick black and white lines and leaves no room for any mystery whatsoever. I read an author one time who talked about people holding to a form of godliness but denying its power... wish I could remember who that was...

Johnny Dialectic said...

Calvinists who wear arrogance as if it were the team uniform.

Well said.

While some accuse TeamPyro of arrogance, I see them rather as pugnacious--a good thing in defense of the truth. Even on those occasions where I disagree (e.g., the hardcore Calvinist discussions) I enjoy the strong debate. True, some comments may veer off into the unseemly, unfunny and/or ill-informed, but by and large the Team offers a hearty mix of advocacy, depth and humor.

But one could hardly argue that evangelism is a key feature of modern Calvinism. Neither the writings we produce nor the conferences we hold focus much on evangelism.

Quite true. I do not embrace Calvinism, but heartily embrace Calvinists with evangelistic fervor. As Wesley embraced Whitfield, and vice versa.

And meanwhile, my advice to young Calvinists is to learn your theology from the historic mainstream Calvinist authors, not from blogs and discussion forums on the Internet.

Again, well said. It applies to all Christians who post on these matters. And know the theology of those you debate, too. Don't just repeat ill considered cliches and throw away lines.

These are fine principles, Phil. Thanks. I would extol them among my Arminian bretheren as well.

Matt said...

Johnny Dialectic - (sarcasm) you're Arminian, eh? Just shows that you aren't very bright. Are you even a Christian? (/sarcasm)

Great post Phil. I remember reading Sproul's "Chosen By God" where he chronicles his journey from Arminianism to Calvinism. He said that the most ardent Calvinists are former Arminians. To a degree, I have to believe that.

At least, I see that tendency in myself. Since accepting the doctrines of grace, I can't quite understand the "me" focus of Arminianism as well as I used to.

This post is a great warning and corrective for somebody like me.

Thank you!

Fred Butler said...

This is utterly off the topic of Calvinism (maybe it is linked to Ephesians 2:1-3), but you ought to repost the article about visiting the corpse museum in Italy. That was like, cool.

Fred

greglong said...

Phil wrote:

Before we vivisect these gentlemen [Rob Schläpfer, Michael Spencer, etc.] and their views (something I may eventually want to devote some bloggage to)...

So, did you ever get around to doing that? ;)

Lisa Nunley said...

My husband and I went to a conference with our teen boys and our pastor and his son, along with several other families this past weekend. We were sitting poolside at our hotel and I began conversing with 2 mothers that had also com with their families to the conference. We ended up on the subject of church... where we go, etc. There was a very slow process of communication that led to the realization that all of us were reformed ("Calvinistic") and the fact that it is one of those things that seems to be a dirty word said with reluctance and much caution because of the escalating hyper- reputation it has relentlessly gained... as though the hyper- form of this doctrine is what defines it.
When first going on-line, in utter ignorance with the delusion that I was merely trying to sharpen my ability to articulate what I believe and why, I am probably one that did damage to the reputation of this Biblical Doctrine.

ugh

Solameanie said...

I hadn't seen this post until now, shame on me. It has a whole smorgasbord of delights, beginning with vivisection. Never thought of that before in dealing with theological miscreants, but I love the term. It's so appropo.

I also like the umlauts. Haven't figured out how to do that myself yet, but hats off to you for it. It always bugs me when I write something Germanic and can't do it correctly. In Germany, the umlaut is a big thing.

BTW, if you need a new mascot, perhaps you should run some sort of contest for someone to fill the position until Pec can return. Perhaps Kent?

Just kidding.

Mike said...

This is why I never announce any religious labels like Calvinist (or even anti-Calvinist).

DJP said...

SolaJust kidding.

About the contest? Or about Kent?

Mike said...

Heck, somebody posted before me. My last post above is in reply to Lisa Nunley.

Phil Johnson said...

greglong: So, did you ever get around to doing that? ;)

iMonk, yes. A few times.

Schläpfer, not so much. He's left the building.

simplemann said...

Nice "gut check". I think this is an honest and heartfelt assessment for many of us who fall into the Calvinist camp. I only recently discovered that I am one of them. I read The Gospel According to Jesus about a year ago and found myself saying, "Yes! Yes!! It's not just me who sees it that way!" At the time my wife and I had been attending what started as a mildly charismatic church, but that was moving erratically away from scripture it seemed.

After reading MacArthur, I discovered Jerry Bridges, James Boice, Philip Ryken, RC Sproul, and perhaps more importantly, the Puritans. Oh bless my soul for the gold mines I discovered. Having been a Christian for nearly 8 years I felt like I had finally found the nourishment I needed to grow.

Shifting gears in a weird way that will hopefully make sense in just a few sentences...

When I was in high school, my sophomore year I was 5'10" and barely 130 lbs. I was a scrawny kid. I got motivated and started working out and within about a years time, I had added about 30 pounds of muscle to my frame. I was eating healthy food and exercising, and the effects on my physical body were pretty obvious. But during the process, I'm sure you can guess what happened. I went from being humble and self-conscious about my appearance to being proud and self-certain. And here, I hope, is the pay-off: I think the same thing happens sometimes when we grow as Christians. And, although I hate to admit it, "Internet Calvinists", as you have called them, do seem to be an obvious example of this.

The solution, which I think you nailed, is not to be so consumed and conceited about your own personal growth, but to take what you are learning and use it to reach out--also known as "evangelize". Don't just feast and grow in the Word and live in an intellectual bubble. Take what you are learning about the goodness of God's grace and share that grace with both the community of believers around you, as well as the unsaved. Don't allow yourself to become a Goliath in the Word.

Peace & Blessings,
Simple Mann

Mesa Mike said...

> And every forum on the Internet, it
> seems, has at least one or two
> freshly-enlightened, beardless
> Calvinists who are convinced that
> their understanding of everything
> suddenly became perfect when they
> embraced the sovereignty of God.

Sovereignty Smimmers!

I hope I'm not guilty...

Mesa Mike said...

Oh, and my wife makes me shave every morning.
Sould I despair?

DJP said...

Very good. So sad, too, to see where the folks you mentioned have strayed since then.

candyinsierras said...

I vote for Todd Friel as new mascot.

LeeC said...

Mike, saying I am a Calvinist is merely a way of avoiding being pedantic.

Just as when I say "I'm American" rather than I live in the United States of America in the state of California and the city of Burbank on such and such a street at such and such an apartment ect. ect.

It saves a lot of background.

I say "I'm a Calvinist" now you can know without a ton of follderol that I probably believe in election, the soveriegnty of God, the totally fallen state of man an his inability to save himself ect.

Now you can get down to tacks in discovering what flavor of Calvinist I am without all the basics.

It has little to do with Calvin (note the guy in Phils article that branded Calvin a heretic!), rather his name has simply become a hallmark like Crayon, or kleenex if I may use such analogies.

As such it is very useful in clear communication and can avoid a lot of wasted time, misunderstanding, and obfustication.

Mike said...

leec, all I do is say I'm a Christian... because most people who are either unsaved or otherwise saved and uninitiated don't know a Calvinist when they hear one, but with a Christian they do. :)

I'd want a clean one, not one with "flavor".

Now you can get down to tacks in discovering what flavor of Calvinist I am without all the basics.

I suppose that's possible, but that's like Algebra before basic Math.

simplemann said...

While I don't much care for "labels" either, Lee C makes a good point. While they do not (or should not) define us, they often offer others insight to where we stand in regards to certain issues. Stating that you are a Calvinist, an Arminian, a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, an atheist, an American, an Australian, a decadent, or whatever NEVER gives someone else a complete picture. But it does give them a reference point on what you believe or where you are coming from without having to explain yourself every time, which would get tedious.

"Tags" and "labels" are not very good ways of defining the essence of our beliefs, no matter which "tag" or "label" you may line up with. However, they are (or can be) useful for saving time and energy when you are discussing something with someone else that relates to those tags or labels. It can help them understand where you line up, and as long as it is understood to be a generalization, that's not such a bad thing.

PB&J,
Simple Mann

DJP said...

Hm. Maybe we should repost this one.

Mike said...

Stating that you are a Calvinist, an Arminian, a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, an atheist, an American, an Australian, a decadent, or whatever NEVER gives someone else a complete picture.

Nothing is more ubitiquous and complete a label than "Christian" when it comes to the Gospel in the USA.

Or, "Christian" I know, "Baptist" I know, but who are you? :)

ReformedMommy said...

Recycled posts - how thoroughly 21st century of you! You could even change all the logo/header colors to a lovely shade of green . . . Our emerg** brothers would be so happy...:)

I think "I'm a Calvinist" was the closest thing I ever had to a prayer mantra in my early days of parenting when I was afraid to let my new baby sleep more than two feet away from me - I don't know how ArminianMommies make it!!!

Mike said...

Dan--very pertinent, but God didn't give us labels... we made 'em.

candyinsierras said...

I don't have a problem at all using the label "Calvinist". I spent many years as a Christian before hearing the labels Arminian or Calvinist. it took a summer of spirited debates at a wilderness ministry for me to realize I needed to understand what it is I actually believed. Churches I had attended were not that big on theology. Labels open doors for conversations with other Christians who otherwise might not even have a clear idea what they believe. I thank God for the summer where lines were clearly drawn, Bibles out, debates ongoing, and iron sharpened iron.

Mike said...

Well, I'm not saying using a "Calvinist" label would be a problem for you or anyone here. I'm saying it's a problem for others who've never heard it or understood it, like the uninitiated or the unsaved.

Mike said...

And dare I say... there's no precedent for attaching a "Calvinist" label to the Gospel.

Mike Riccardi said...

So the obvious answer, then, is to define your terms when you're talking to someone, not scrap your terms.

And Mike, calling "Christian" a complete label is a little bold, no? Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton use the label "Christian." Surely there needs to be a clarification of terms after that, right?

I'm not saying we scrap the term Christian... not by any means (1Pet 4:16). But if you say to some "uninitiated" person, "I'm a Christian," and they say, "Oh, me too," one potential subsequent question down the line is, "What does your church teach?" If they don't understand the terms, then teach them.

DJP said...

Mikebut God didn't give us labels... we made 'em

Yep. Like clothes and toilets.

And what self-absorbed, irresponsible, juvenile prigs we are if we refuse to use them responsibly.

(For Biblical backup, see that post).

Mesa Mike said...

If the muggles don't understand our labels, it's (prolly) because we should be evangelizing them.

Mike said...

Riccardi: yes, very good point. But the term is basically understood, and ev-er-y-bo-dy wants to be a Christian.

Yeah, wisdom is needed to determine who is a Christian and who is not.

Mike Riccardi said...

Dan,

Phenomenal point.

Mike,

But the term is basically understood...

Ok... I'm not sure where you live, but come up here in the northeast and survey a neighborhood of people about what "Christian" means or what a Christian is. If you still hold that it's basically understood, well, then dare I say that you don't understand the term.

and ev-er-y-bo-dy wants to be a Christian.

This one's either over my head or your hallucinating.

Mike said...

Dan-

I prefer the label given in scripture:

(Act 11:26) And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

I've seen the refs in the post you cited, but the labels are named by men, just like the label "Christian". Nothing wrong with naming or categorizing things or organizations.

Mike said...

Riccardi- All I'll say is that I don't live where you do.

Solameanie said...

Dan,

I was joking about Kent (in good fun), and half-joking about the contest. However, the more I think about it, having such a contest might inadvertently get a dispute started.

Pecadillo might not be around much, but he's really irreplaceable.

DJP said...

Plus — taser!

Mike said...

One thing more, Dan:

Yep. Like clothes and toilets.

God provides clothes; he knows you have need of those. But not toilets. :)

DJP said...

So you relieve yourself wherever you feel like it, and everyone else be blasted. Brilliant.

Like I said, "Juvenile."

I truly don't know why you're here. No one can teach you anything. You know everything already.

Mike said...

Riccardi-
"and ev-er-y-bo-dy wants to be a
Christian."

This one's either over my head or your hallucinating.

I'm referring to those people who like calling themselves Christians or appeal to it, but they betray themselves by their own fruit.

I'm not refering to everybody literally.

Stefan said...

This was a great article to set me straight when I first discovered it last summer, just around the time that God was leading me to the Doctrines of Grace.

Even so, I look back on where my head was at last year, and I can see in hindsight that I was to some degree filled with just that kind of pride that a young Calvinist gets when first learning of these things—complicated all the more by the fact that I was a new believer. I was intoxicated with this newfound (for me) revelation of the sovereignty of God.

Thank God I never went nearly so far as to think that only Calvinists can be Christians (probably the most reprehensible of all pseudo-Calvinist errors), but I did think that Calvinists uniquely "get it" and that other regenerate Christians are still somewhat poor, benighted souls. ...Whereas the more important thing is reading, understanding, and obeying the Word of God, and having a biblical approach to faith and life, regardless of what theological label one assigns to this.

A year later (half of which spent in God's word and half in a "dark night of the soul"), I'm learning anew to receive God's wisdom with humility, to see that it encompasses so much more than a few intellectual axioms, and to apply the fundamental principles to my daily walk with the Lord.

But I'm still a Calvinist (if I must choose a label), because Calvin was Augustinian, and Augustine was Pauline, and Paul was God-fearing, Christ-exalting, and Spirit-filled.

Hadassah said...

I didn't realize that Gill was a hyper. I've been enjoying his Exposition of the Entire Bible.

Lisa Nunley said...

I live in the Bible-belt where everyone is a "Christian." Sometimes in conversation, proclaiming to be a Calvinist is necessary for clarification, as long as it is not used in a Pharisaical tone. That is why I even approach this with caution. Not because I am ashamed of this Biblical doctrine, but because I have to personally be careful about how I come across. And yes... there is that reputation of this doctrine of being a dirty word to consider.

My motives for such clarification must be in constant check. If I am not careful in my words when handling this doctrinal truth, I can cause more harm. It is too easy to claim this doctrine with the wrong heart and focus.

Think about when sharing the Gospel and talking about hell. Do I share this with the attitude of Spurgeon? "If sinners be dammed, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for." -Spurgeon
Do I share these things because I am deeply concerned for someone's soul or because I am a Pharisee with a different label?

I personally must fall on my face before my holy God to plead for the right heart and words to handle this truth carefully so as not to come across as holier-than-thou. Why? Because I know that I have a propensity to get frustrated with stupidity.... not ignorance, but stupidity. (big difference)

I still have MUCH TO LEARN! We all do. May we remain teachable, but not tossable for His glory.

Mike said...

Dan-

I truly don't know why you're here. No one can teach you anything. You know everything already.

You might call me juvenile, but so is this. I'm here for dialogue and fellowship (albeit only through the web interface).

There are things I don't know, but they're off topic. Things like the emergent church and the difference between hyper- and normal-calvinism.

And I did learn a few things.

Stefan said...

...And I'm currently reading Owen's Sin and Temptation, so it's not like I've left the camp.... ;)

DJP said...

You learned something, Mike? I must have been sick that day.

All I see, to be candid, is you saying something... mm... "naive" is the kindest word; then you're schooled by one of my betters here; then you just repeat yourself.

IN VAR I AB LY

That's when "naive" turns to "ignorant," and thence to "unteachable."

Stefan said...

Hadassah: I love Gill's commentaries as well. He was a lifelong Hebrew scholar, and his OT exposition is full of erudite references to various rabbinic sources. Who knew!?

Rick Frueh said...

Gandhi - I think I would have become a Calvinist had it not been for Calvinists! :)

DJP said...

Did he? What a fool Gandhi was, wasn't he?

Gandhi...

[ QUOTE ]

...came to the conclusion that there was nothing really special in the scriptures which he had not got in his own, and "to be a good Hindu also meant that I would be a good Christian. There was no need for me to join your creed to be a believer in the beauty of the teachings of Jesus or try to follow His example," he said.

"What do you think is the essential lesson for man in the teaching of Christianity?" Gandhi asked Millie. "I could think of two or three. But one that stands out strongest is "One is your Master Christ and all ye are brethren," said Millie. "Yes," replied Gandhi, "and Hinduism teaches the same great truth and Mohammedanism and Zoroastrianism, too."

[ /QUOTE ]

Certainly not an example for anyone to emulate

Lionel Woods said...

Hey,

I am coming a bit late; however, here are my two cents if it is worth anything.

I am black dude from a pretty rough area. I was raised a nominal baptist unitl the streets took me, after some crazy circumstances I went to an Apostolic Pentecostal Church and was baptized in Jesus' name and spoke in tongues to seal the deal. But I fell away for a few years only to go to a Seventh Day Adventist Apostolic Pentacostal Hyper Holiness Church. I fell away because I couldn't reach God's standard of Holiness. Well in 2003 God woke me from my sleep applied the Gospel to my heart right on the spot. Within a month or so I met a guy who gave me a MacArthur CD, then shortly there after a co-worker gave me all of Piper's sermons on Romans.

These white dudes preached the Doctrines of Grace and the gospel so clear to me that I finally realzied the freedom from condemnation found in Jesus Christ. I am teary eyed writing this. No one had ever done that before. No one. During those early years I wanted to please God so I kept on working but I knew when the lights were off that I wasn't good enough no matter how much I smiled and said everything was okay.

So why do I say all of this? Because you got some cats like me (that means people) who love the Doctrines of Grace systematized or not. That God would purchase me from hell (which I was headed in a gasoline soaked hand basket) seal me with the blood of His Son (the middle falls into place between the two book marks of election and perseverance) through the Spirit was rest fo my weary feet folks.

We dudes get at it! Weekly giving this Gospel to whoever will give us five minutes? Why because we believe God saves bad people! Not only that we understand and believe the Sovereignty of God in salvation, so we are privellaged that God would use, a sinner deserving of the hottest of hell fire, like me to call people to himself and at the end of my life the crowns I receive will be laid back at my Master's feet. Because the slain lamb deserves every ounce of the Glory and praise!

We aren't expecting anyone to pat us on the back or give us an "evangelism of the year award" because we believe Jesus' words in John 3, John 6 and John 10. We understand that just as God uses us, that He would just as well use a Jackass to call people to himself. So we preach the Gospel! Not decisionism, but enmity, sacrfice, wrath for rejection and personal responsibility.

We don't look for someone to make a decision so that we can parade our evangelism campaigns before the people of God. We have tracts, maybe a don't waste your life book, maybe a "what Jesus demands from the world" maybe we get some McDonalds and rap about The Old versus the New Adam, mabye we tell them that they are God's enemy and it is proven by their daily rebellion and rejection of the precious lamb!

Maybe we hand them a Holy Hip Hop CD and follow up with them over some doughnuts! What we don't do is coerce them into decisions, because the scriptures consistently show the regenerated sinner seeking God "what must we do" they ask!

So to sum it up, we love the Lord Jesus and we love the lost and we esteem the work of the Spirit in giving us a monergistic view on salvation. It prevents us from being high-minded when I worship. I can't beat my chest like the pharisee while the sinner stand far off. All I can do when I hear those beautiful hymns is lift my hands in adoration and worship for a God who would step down in time and space to redeem a people who rebelled since the first two people took a bite. So this is the Gospel we share and the life we live and yes we are Calvinist, evangelist, lovers of sinners, and humble servants. We don't have all the answers but we know God saves monergistically and for His own purpose and we can't wait to lay our crowns at the feet of lamb.

Chosen in Christ

Lionel
www.blackandreformedministries.com

DJP said...

What a great testimony, Lionel. Thanks; glory to God.

ReformedMommy said...

I vote for Lionel!!! :)

Stefan said...

Praise God for such an amzing witness like Lionel Woods! What an absolutely spellbinding testimony! You get intimately what I'd been groping around, struggling all these long months past to figure out. God is surely using you mightily in your evangelism.

"Seventh Day Adventist Apostolic Pentacostal Hyper Holiness Church"—I'm shuddering just at the thought of it. Eek!

Solameanie said...

Dan,

Wow, wow, wow! For a minute I thought I was reading McLaren and it turns out to be Gandhi. They're more alike than I thought, down to even baldness and glasses.

Lisa,

GREAT Spurgeon quote.

Mike,

You've been watching the old Libby commercial too much. "If it says Libbys Libbys Libbys on the label label label, you will like it like it like it on your table table table."

Labels are sometimes necessary in discourse, along with clear definitions, especially in this day and age. Besides, I don't think most of us here who are Calvinists or adherents of the Doctrines of Grace would choose to get into a discussion off the bat with a typical, untaught unbeliever over Calvinism vs. Arminianism. This herring is becoming redder and redder all the time.

John said...

Giving names is what we do :^)

Gen. 2:19 "Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name."

Rick Frueh said...

"Did he? What a fool Gandhi was, wasn't he?"

No, it was a joke. He actually said "If it were not for Christians I might have become a Christian."

DJP said...

No less foolish.

Solameanie said...

I am reasonably certain that Gandhi is now a Trinitarian.

Gilbert said...

I saw this on Symphony of Scripture. A little late, but if anyone is still here before the lights are turned off:

“I believe that very much of current Arminianism is simply ignorance of gospel doctrine; and if people began to study their Bibles, and to take the Word of God as they find it, they must inevitably, if believers, rise up to rejoice in the doctrines of grace.”
- Charles Spurgeon

(Courtesy of www.symphonyofscripture.com)

eastendjim said...

But if you say to some "uninitiated" person, "I'm a Christian," and they say, "Oh, me too," one potential subsequent question down the line is, "What does your church teach?"

Another good question is, "If I was not a Christian, had a knife in my back, was bleeding to death and had three minutes to live, what would you tell me?"

I've heard WOTM radio use this question when "phone fishing" on their show and the answers can be quite revealing.

BlackBaron said...

What a wonderful post!

Thanks for reposting it.

"If vain spending of time, idleness, envy, strife, variance, emulations, wrath, pride, worldliness, selfishness (1 Cor 1), are the mark of Christians, we have them among us in abundance. May the good Lord send us a spirit of mortification to cure our distempers, or we will be in a sad condition" John Owen

the8thperson said...

Thanks for displaying the courage in writing such a observant piece.

I've noticed that the four observations that you mentioned seem to not only apply to internet Calvinist, but many of those that have recently embraced reformed theology.

What can we do to change the direction of a Calvinist who demonstrates some of the things that you've mentioned?