21 July 2010

Filthy Calvinists, and the people who love to hate them

by Frank Turk

Before the real antics begin today, our friends at Triablogue have digitally-published a book called The Infidel Delusion to respond to John Loftus' cadre of sad-faced clowns' most recent book, the Christian Delusion -- because it's the Christians, you see, who slavishly follow the thoughts and edicts of their mentors and heroes.

Anyway, Peter Pike's announcement for the book is worth the read as well, and there you can download the PDF for your reading pleasure. Bring a Lunch.



The best way to ensure, by the providence of God, that I will have a full week at work is to promise to post something controversial which will require significant moderation and a lot of time disambiguating people regarding their own bum preconceptions.



So on Monday, I promised to write a blog post where hating on Calvinism would be on-topic. And here we are.

Back in February 2009, Challies made a post called A Portrayal of Calvinism in which he was reviewing two different books entitled Finding God in The Shack (ugh -- and he survived) where the authors of these books were taking pot-shots at Calvinism.



Before we get to the meat there, I just want to point something out: the real barking dogs of horrible theologically who want to still call themselves Christians always always always find it necessary to beat down on Calvinism in order to say, "see how much better my system of thinking about the Bible and Jesus and God and people is?" Why is that I wonder? Why is Calvinism the whipping boy for people who want to find God in the Shack, and the people who want to say God doesn't know the future, and the people who want to say all roads lead to the same God Almighty, and the ecumenicists, and the social gospelists, and so on?

Why is it that all these people hate Calvinism -- if it's such an obvious falsehood?

That's a thought to ponder if you want to fire up your vitriol in the comments -- in fact I insist: why do all the nut-jobs hate Calvinism most of all rather than, for example, the idea that God is the Eucharist, or that your soul will suffer in purgatory for your sin before you get to spend eternity with God and the Virgin Mary? Why is Calvinism the one they know they have to overcome?

OK -- back to Challies. In what may be the most strongly-worded statement Tim has ever made publicly, he had this to say about the way these books treated Calvinism:
My reaction when reading all of this was, if not anger, real frustration. I hate to think that thousands of people will read such an inaccurate, uninformed, fictitious view of Calvinism (and this by an author who has some credibility by virtue of his position as a Professor of Theology). Even where Rauser is correct, his words often lack the charitable nuance we might well hope for. But in so many ways he is really, really wrong. Not surprisingly, he does not quote any sources; I know of none that would support his statements.
You know: Challies was almost angry. That's saying a lot.



But people hate calvinists, right? I mean, let's do some benchmarking here. I dropped this into Google, and look at the results I got:


About 557,000 sites which are decidedly not Arminian, yes? But when we put the competition into Google, check it out:


Wow! Like DOUBLE the number of sites! Seriously -- if the problem is that there's quite a lot of venom going around, check the internet, because clearly someone out there is wrong.

So what's your beef? You hate Calvinism? Really? Let's hear your beef - in comments which are neither vulgar nor insulting, si vous plait - with only one limiting factor: one comment of complaint per customer, limited by Blogger's new-found character limit of about 4,000 characters.

Have at it. You loyal Calvinists need to buck up for this because it's going to be instructive one way or the other. Stay away from brawling and responding to taunts. You have heard this all before, and all I'm asking is that you spend you time today thinking about why people will be glad to dump on Calvinists in the first place.

I'll moderate at will. Enjoy.






254 comments:

1 – 200 of 254   Newer›   Newest»
Matt said...

So pointing out the flaws in the Calvinist movement is now equated with Muslim extremists. Nice.

If you want to know why people take serious issue, you need look no further than the content of this particular blog. Perhaps it is because of our (for I too lean Calvinist) claim to have perfect doctrine while not exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit.

Perhaps it is because the Calvinists, more than any other group in modern times, display most clearly the attributes of the Pharisees of the New Testament. I will probably get ridiculed or attacked for saying these things, but I no longer care. I am tired of the hypocrisy and the lies. This isn't an issue of doctrine -- I agree with most of the tenants of Calvinism. It is rather the utter blindness to our own faults and excesses that have caused great harm to our own churches and the Church as a whole.

We like to think that our "perfect" doctrine can save us, and we look down on the rest of the world for their problems while completely ignoring the fact that we are "wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked." It is our arrogance in the midst of our sin that makes us the target of derision.

I am sick of a life of religion and dogma without the Holy Spirit. I long for the days of true revival where people had a passion not just for doctrine but for an intimate relationship with God. I want nothing more than to bask in the beauty and majesty of who God is as He reveals His glorious truths to me from His scripture and guides me by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Instead of letting the attacks lift you in pride, let them lead you to humbly examine yourselves to see if those attacks have any merit. Could God not be trying to awaken your cold and empty hearts to realize how desperately you need to repent before a righteous, holy, and loving God? Do you love your doctrine more than the One who made you and died for you upon the cross? Do you love your doctrine more than your brothers and sisters in Christ whom you denigrate and belittle even as they pour out their very lives for Christ?

I encourage you to do a simple exercise. It is something that I did several years ago, and it was very humbling and convicting. Read Matthew 23, but every time you see "scribes and Pharisees", insert your name and see if it applies.

And remember that pure doctrine is revealed by the Holy Spirit not by man-made study tools that can be manipulated or inconsistently applied. Our hearts are deceitful and wicked. We need God to transform our hearts, our minds, and our lives.

Mike said...

Wow, I was just gonna shout Servetus! But Matt has already given us a pretty good start...and it comes from the inside too as it were.

I agree Matt. Pride is a MAJOR issue for us Calvinists, however it is way too simple to narrow down the problem to a single issue. You can do that with any doctrinal system, and ultimately they all come back to pride.

Before I had my eyes opened to the doctrines of grace, I was of an Assemblies of God background. Word of Faith, Arminian the whole way. Even then I could play find the Pharisee in my own denomination. They're everywhere.

Because of that, we must be careful not to cast stones at generalizations. Keep in mind, you said that you also lean towards Calvinist (or as I like to call it...scriptural) understanding...Would you like people to throw rocks at you, deeming you guilty by association?

Personally I think the problem with the church as a whole is that we don't stop to consider a man's life and judge him by that. We judge by label, which should really just be a tool of convenience rather than a soul signifier. When we do that, are we any different from a world who judges protestants, catholics, Jehovah's witnesses, and mormons all together because to those outside, they all look the same?

The Muslim extremist shot is apropos in the post because the two sides attack each other with the same vehemence....sadly.

olan strickland said...

Frank, your Google search is almost three times the sites for Arminians than for Calvinists.

Matt, it is an issue of doctrine and primarily one of whether man is saved by grace or by merit; whether man has free-will or enslaved will; and whether man is as bad as God says he is or not - just to name a few.

You equate Calvinists with Pharisees forgetting that the mistake of the Pharisees was their belief in conditional election - they had Abraham as their father and they supposed they had the ability to obey the Law.

Frank Turk said...

It's my duty to point out that Matt is not arrogant for doing to Calvinists what he says they do to everyone else. Just like Dave Hunt, for example.

He is also not arrogant for his (in)ability to take a joke regarding that muslim guy who seems to always show up at the rallies and get himself photographed.

Sarah : ) said...

I would not have always considered myself a Calvinist. Primarily, because I hadn't even heard the term until after college. The church I grew up in wasn't Calvinistic, and by God's grace I grew up in the fear of the Lord (especially through Old Testament study in Sunday School as a kid). I knew God was all powerful, and I knew He knew everything. I didn't know what else to do, but after several months of struggling and being suicidal. I cried out to God, and finally was graciously regenerated. I still had no idea of the concept of TULIP or who John Calvin was, however as the Holy Spirit taught me through the Scriptures over the next few years I would say my beliefs were basically Calvinistic. Obviously divine sovereignty was completely to blame for my very conversion and growing in knowledge, because I didn't go to a "reformed" church, and had never read anything on the subject apart from the Scripture.
That being said, I have many friends and loved ones who are particularly Arminian in their views of God and salvation. I hope that Matt is not right that many who hold these views are haughty and proud and arrogant as the Pharisees. And I must say that has not been my experience in the reformed realm. I came knowing absolutely nothing when it comes to theological terms for things and catechisms and church history and dogma, but was shown and am endeavoring to show grace to others who don't share my understanding of Scripture.
I don't pick fights with those who disagree, and I don't even like the whole Arminian vs. Calvinism stance. I don't agree with Arminianism, but I also believe that it's possible to be truly regenerated and just not have your doctrine fully correct. For example I might believe I can lost my salvation if I sin, but if I am truly saved, I can't really lose it and have as much assurance of it as anyone else saved, I just don't know it.
Thus, the accusation that some in reformed circles are being almost bullyish in their proclaiming the doctrines of grace is a disgrace and to be repented of if it is occurring. And I pray that I am not coming across that way here, for I am saying this out of love for the faith, love for the glory of God, and love for the brethren period.
The problem isn't however, I think, primarily within the individuals (although our natural wretchedness makes it a huge potential), but I think rather that it comes from a primal deep place within our souls. And just as I was scared of God as a child in Sunday School when the Old Testament was taught and I learned that God killed willingly and only chose some and only had mercy upon some, we are terrified by God's absolute sovereignty.
A side issue that also contributes is exactly what I experienced growing up. Learning in a church where either no doctrine is taught, or where the "other" is misrepresented, or where (and I've heard it done on many occassions) preachers and teachers openly call Calvinism wrong and heretical without giving a true description of what it actually is.
What I encourage people to do is not to study Calvin or get into debates, but rather read their Bibles literally and believe what it says literally whether you agree with it, understand it, or like it.
We must realize that only God can regenerate others just as He did us, but that those holding Arminian beliefs can still be our brethren without our compromising doctrine. If we want to convince others of the beauty and wonder of the divine doctrines of sovereign grace, then we must first be the greatest example of that grace living before them. Love in Christ, and to God be all glory!

Sarah : ) said...
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Sarah : ) said...
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olan strickland said...

Frank,

Be careful about the (in)ability stuff - that's one of the main beefs against Calvinists :)

The Seeking Disciple said...

I don't hate Calvinists I just disagree with them. If I hated them, I am not saved (John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:7-12).

David Rudd said...

it might be a worthwhile distinction, before this gets too far down the road, to point out a difference between taking issue with "calvinism" and taking issue with "calvinists".

i know many people who hold firmly to the doctrines of grace but (like Matt) would never call themselves a Calvinist.

as i read Frank's post, it seems to be more about calvinism than calvinists. for that reason, i'll just say, i'm a fan of calvinism!

butterfli75 said...

How would you non-Calvinists react in a church where the pastor declares that"Calvinism is a lie from Hell!" This pastor's main focus is decisional regeneration, praying the prayer and accepting Jesus into one's heart. How do you speak to a brother about that situation? It could reveal much.

Phild with joy said...

Matt,

Wow!

Phil

Robert said...

Along the lines of what butterfli said, I'd like to add that my sister-in-law's pastor had/has her believing that Calvinism is a cult. This man is a larger-than-life SBC preacher with a very large congregation and fallows the line of thought butterfli described. My sister-in-law thought I had married her sister and moved her mom out here and got them into a cult because, as my pastor would say, we follow what the Bible teaches (not just blindly following Calvin).

Mike, I am glad nobody has shouted Servetus because I think we all need to dig into the culture of the times and understand everything involved before running down that trail. Of course, I'd probably follow the lead of others and say we're looking more at Calvinism than Calvin himself. I honestly think (from reading about him) that he would not care to have his name attached to this anyways.

John said...

Many seem to think that studying the bible and reading theology disqualifies one from being filled with the Holy Spirit. Doctrine = BAD, Feelings = GOOD

Paul said...

I'd break down the objections into at least two classes, regarding Calvinism, not its adherents.

1. Fear-mongering and its fruits, common in those SBC churches that aren't Calvinistic themselves, and in many other southern churches (it's what I know). I was brought up regularly informed that Calvinism was a cult, not unlike Mormonism, but that its adherents weren't as nice, but harder to spot. There isn't usually any coherent objection to Calvinist doctrine at this stage. To the extent there is, see 2.

2. Objection to Election - among those who actually know a thing or two about Calvinism, and reject it, that rejection seems to be tied primarily to discomfort, disgust, and/or repulsion at the idea of people never REALLY having a chance to accept Jesus. I've heard many who give this objection regularly pray for God to change someone's heart, so they recognize the basic inability of a person absent some work by the Spirit. But they cannot stomach the apparent injustice in God only allowing that help to some people. "WHO SO EVER!!!" is the rallying cry. It's a relatively basic objection to Calvinism, but I think that's the big one.

Rob Bailey said...

Where did you get all those pictures of me?

buddyglass said...

People hate on Calvinism instead of "God is the eucharist" for a couple reasons:

1. The consequences of Calvinism are more repugnant.

2. Many popular proponents of Calvinism are highly combative. (See: Frank Turk)

3. Modern American Calvinism is highly correlated with extreme political conservativism.

4. Calvinism has enjoyed a recent surge in popularity and visibility in the American evangelical community. Any time something "gets hot" like that its bound to attract more attention (and criticism).

5. Calvinism is less "obviously wrong" than some other heresies, and therefore perhaps more deserving of being addressed.

DJP said...

Rob: last Sunday's church picnic.

(ba-dum bum)

Tom said...

In my experience, people that hate Christianity are more likely to hate on the Catholic "church," not Calvinism. In fact, using Frank's scientific Google survey, there are over 17.3MM sites dedicated to "why I'm not a catholic."

So, perhaps Frank is experiencing a little delusional paranoia. I think the Calvinism vs. Arminian discussion is more in house. Whereas, in the broader scope, many view Christianity via the Pope and are rightly disgusted.

Just some thoughts...

Nathan said...

"why do all the nut-jobs hate Calvinism most of all rather than, for example, the idea that God is the Eucharist, or that your soul will suffer in purgatory for your sin before you get to spend eternity with God and the Virgin Mary?"

I've got to admit, as a paid up, card carrying, bona fide Calvinist, that we have our fair share of nut-jobs in our own camp.

Tom said...

Just as a follow up, if I take out the contraction "I'm" and enter "Why I am not a catholic" the scientific Google survey results jump to 185MM.

Me thinks Calvinism isn't the whipping boy after all.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Citizen Grim said...

Matt said: "So pointing out the flaws in the Calvinist movement is now equated with Muslim extremists. Nice."

First of all, I don't think Frank was talking about people who point out flaws in the Calvinist movement. (After all, Calvinists should be the first to admit they were and still are wretched sinners.) But as he clearly said throughout this post - what motivates the people who hate Calvinism? Not those who point out its flaws, but hate it?

My guess is: remnants of sinful rebellion. Having subscribed to Arminian theology for the majority of my Christian life, I mostly rejected Calvinism (when I became aware of it) because of its implications that I was not as in control of my life as I wanted to think I was. I was thoroughly saturated with Enlightenment notions about free will and human potential. Even after coming to Christ as my savior, I was still clinging to a certain worldly predilection for autonomy and independence. With my lips I confessed Christ as my Lord, but I didn't really submit to him as Lord. Thankfully, by his grace, he drew me into submission anyway.

And just FYI, but the Islamic Rage Boy (real name: Shakeel Ahmad Bhat) is somewhat of a joke. He's a professional protester who used to travel around to various protests in the Middle East and get photographed by the Western press, thanks to his extraordinarily expressive rage. You can see the wikipedia article here, or you can search "islamic rage boy" on Google images.

I don't think Frank was comparing anti-Calvinism with Islamic extremism so much as he was making a tongue-in-cheek statement about the authenticity of anti-Calvinists' rage. But I could be wrong. :) I'll leave that up to Frank to elaborate on if he wants.

Frank Turk said...

buddyglass is my favorite comment so far. I'd like him to find any non-Calvinist/anti-calvinist on the whole internet who would do what I have done here today -- which is to essentially give the other side an open mike to air grief.

If you find two, I will be shocked. If you find one, it will be because it was published after this comment is posted.

Because Calvinists are the bad guys -- the scum of the earth, as someone once said.

Matt said...

Sarah, well said.

buddyglass, thank you for your summary list. I think you are quite accurate in your observations.

I agree with much of the doctrine of Calvinism. I do believe we tend to go too far on election and eternal security -- God in His sovereignty has given us a measure of free will -- but I talked about that the other day.

I strongly disagree with the mid to extreme Arminian views which deny the sovereignty of God and our utter dependence upon Him for salvation. The scripture is very clear on the depravity of man and our inability to save ourselves.

I too am repulsed by the health-wealth Gospel and relying totally upon feelings and emotion instead of the Word of God. However, I see a reverse idolatry prevalent in many Calvinist circles: the elevation of our study methods. There is a sense in which we discount the Holy Spirit in favor of methods exegesis or inductive study. These tools, while not necessarily evil in and of themselves, are no match for the power of the Holy Spirit and what He reveals at times through the simple reading of scripture. It is the old proverb: we don't see the forest for the trees.

For example, in our in-depth analysis, we are quick to point out that it is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil without allowing the Spirit to convict us that we all love money, especially in America, to some degree. We may not want to be rich, but we love the feeling of security that money brings us in the form of savings or retirement accounts. In this we also ignore the commands to lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven, but we find nice clever ways of protecting the doctrine of the American dream -- not to be "rich" but to be comfortable (while ignoring the fact that by the world's standards, we are rich... filthy rich even). Sometimes we use these tools to obfuscate rather than reveal.

I do believe that Calvinism (or perhaps it is better to say the doctrine of grace) is more in line with the scripture than any other dogma, but we must not think that makes our doctrine perfect. None of us will have perfect doctrine -- there will always be room for refinement. We are not yet fully sanctified, but by God's grace, we will continue to grow closer.

Frank Turk said...

For the record, no one enjoys the rage boy images more than I do. They make me laugh every. time.

For the non-weaker brothers, Google "rage boy bikini" in a Google safe search. If that doesn;t make you laugh, you are dead on the inside.

Frank Turk said...

Tom:

I admit that the Catholic version of that search is also very telling. That's outside of the scope of this thread. This topic is diverse enough without also summoning in the "you're an anticatholic" crowd.

Hayden said...

I live in the South and would say that the reason that many people hate Calvinism is because they have been told that it is cultic and will make people into unthinking, unevangelizing robots.

I am in a former SBC church and one of the reasons for pulling out of the SBC is because of this.

Calvanists can be a tough lot but it is not all self inflicted. (Everyone needs to read the article 'A Kinder Gentler Calvinism' by Jame McGuire)

Found here

http://rq.rts.edu/summer00/mcguire.html

Matt said...

Citizen Grim, thanks for that comment. As this post was made somewhat in response to a post I made earlier this week, I took it too personally.

I do not hate Calvinism or, more specifically, the doctrine of grace. I do have serious reservations about the man, John Calvin. I think we are too quick to dismiss his sins as cultural as they are in clear violation of 1 John 3:14-16 and by no means a minor infraction. Quite frankly, I do not see much actual fruit in his life apart from his doctrinal work. This makes me question some of the validity of the latter especially with some of the fruit that has wrought on the world.

I believe that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in the redemptive power of the blood of Jesus Christ alone, and that we could not save ourselves. This faith, if it is real, will result in works of righteousness, the proof of our salvation.

RealityCheck said...

Matt says,

"Calvinists, more than any other group in modern times, display most clearly the attributes of the Pharisees of the New Testament.".

Yeah, whenever I see John Piper, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Sinclair Ferguson, etc. etc., the first thought that comes to my mind is “Pharisees”.

buddyglass says

“2. Many popular proponents of Calvinism are highly combative. (See: Frank Turk)”

Almost as combative as someone who would come over to his blog and give him a hard time.

Matt said...

RealityCheck, let me explain what I meant. The Pharisees in the time of Jesus were very dedicated to their doctrine. They spent a great deal of their time studying the scriptures and debating matters of the law. They were the religious elite of their day, their lives dedicated to their faith.

Does this not sound like Calvinists? Do not necessarily think of Pharisees as bad. Jesus would have been considered a Pharisee in his day. The problem is that they allowed their love of the law to overwhelm the purpose of the law -- to draw them to God. They also forgot that the chief commandments were to love God with their heart, soul, mind and strength and to love their neighbors as themselves. They allowed their devotion to their law (and the pride that it produced) to eclipse their devotion to the person of God.

Mike said...

Matt, not to downplay Calvin's sins (he had them as surely as we do) I would highly encourage you to read John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology. (You can buy it at http://www.ligonier.org/store/john-calvin-a-heart-for-devotion-hardcover/)

It gives a pretty well balanced picture of Calvin's life.

Johnny Dialectic said...

I don't "hate filthy Calvinists." I respect many of them. I love John Piper, by and large. Often I've benefited from MacArthur's teaching. Phil Johnson is awesome on many things. DJP loves the Word. Frank is a curious sort I haven't quite figured out yet, but who makes some good points amid all the hammering.

Which is why I love it here when we make common cause against things like charismania, or the assault on Scripture. What I don't love is when theological disagreement devolves into being called (directly or indirectly) a heretic (or its bastard cousin, semi-Pelagian). That card is played too much. It's especially disconcerting when it's based on ignorance of the theology involved.

So I think Abraham Piper makes a good call for Calvinist voices to check their attitudes. I also think it's a good call for all of us. (2 Tim. 2:25).

Maybe on that point we can agree.

Logan Paschke said...

"Quite frankly, I do not see much actual fruit in his life apart from his doctrinal work."

Yeah that whole preaching/teaching three to four times a week in different languages was probably just a cover-up for his Genevan Mafia connections. That Elitist French Bastard!

And the most influential and important systematic theology in all of history?

Read it backwards, it's an early draft of "Mein Kampf".

/post-script. Mike gave the non-snark version of this comment.

Tad Thompson said...

I have been in the SBC since before birth and since my official conversion to the dark side, after reading Chosen By God in high school and realizing that what I believed had a name, I have experienced first-hand the wrath of the non-calvinists in our denominational camp.

First, let me get one off of my chest. This idea that Calvinists are inherently arrogant jerks is the oldest and most pitiful argument against calvinism I have ever heard. It is the most intellectually bankrupt and the easiest the throw in someones face. Pride and hypocrisy have no theological boundaries, there are jerk wads on all sides of the issue, so lets put this garbage to rest. Ok, now I feel better.

My experience with those that despise the great historic doctrines of the baptist church is not that they have any real theological beef with the marrow of Calvinism. There position is really an atheological position. Calvinism doesn't so much affect their theology as it does their methodology....and in baptist life methodolgy is primary, theology is secondary.

What is really scarring the Arminian pants of of people is the fact that ever since the SBC won the battle for the Bible, its flagship seminary is turning out scads of young pastors who actually do believe the Bible, tend to be calvinistic and evangelistic, and passionate about world missions, while at the same time are critically evaluating the methods that have become sacred in SBC life.

Mike said...

Logan, I often wrestle with the question, "To snark or not to snark?"

Mad Hatter said...

"I was brought up regularly informed that Calvinism was a cult, not unlike Mormonism, but that its adherents weren't as nice, but harder to spot."

I heard the same thing growing up. I believe that many people hear bad things about Calvinists during formative periods, then when they finally meet this dreaded beast, they see what they of course see were told they'd see. It's a basic psychological principle.

All Christians demonstrate pride. Arminians and Arminian-lites often mis-characterize Calvinists as being prideful because we firmly believe what we believe. Oddly enough, they firmly believe what they believe as well. But they don't see their own behavior as prideful. Sometimes this is masked in faux humility, as demonstrated by the "I don't really know what the Bible means, and neither do you!" crowd. But their real source of pride is their open-mindedness.

There's an old blog by John Piper where he writes about some newly minted Calvinists going through a stage of being very combative (I know this was my experience). His opinion was that they are (rightly) angry that they were never taught this, but that their anger needs to be focused into love for their fellow believers and for the doctrines of grace and above all for God, motivating them to gently spread this knowledge.

Calvinism isn't required for salvation. But it sure does make it easier to read the Bible.

Mad Hatter said...

"They spent a great deal of their time studying the scriptures and debating matters of the law. They were the religious elite of their day, their lives dedicated to their faith."

Matt, could you point to any Bible passages where the Pharisees were criticized for studying the scriptures and learning the Bible? I sure can't. Jesus' anger towards them was that they did not understand or follow the law, not that they took the time to study it.

"...ever since the SBC won the battle for the Bible..."

I am an ex-SBC (I was in it from 2-18, now I'm in the PCA), and looking back... I would think that the SBCers would have recognized they had significant theological and methodological problems when they found themselves actually having to decide as a denomination if the Bible was trustworthy. Inconceivable!

Citizen Grim said...

"Jesus would have been considered a Pharisee in his day."

Eh... by casual observers, maybe. Although more likely they would have thought he was an Essene. He certainly would not have identified himself as either. When teaching in Nazareth, they disdained him as a carpenter's son, not a teacher. By the end of his ministry, no one familiar with Jesus would have thought he was a Pharisee.

"They allowed their devotion to their law (and the pride that it produced) to eclipse their devotion to the person of God."

The Pharisees problem was not devotion to the Law over God - this was just a symptom of the greater disease that they thought that their own efforts were their source of righteousness. If we think devotion to God justifies us in His eyes, we are just as sorely misled, and we ought to be cautious about telling God, "If I don't follow your laws perfectly, it's only because I'm so much more devoted to you!"

I don't think that's what you were suggesting, but I'm afraid it's where that line of thinking tends to lead people. Rather than, "Yes, I'm imperfect, but look how much I love you, Lord!" our attitude should be, "Yes, I'm imperfect, please forgive me, Lord, and help me to love you more."

Frank Turk said...

Just so someone says it early in this, um, disussion:

I like it that Calvinists are the ones who are labelled as arrogant, mean, spiteful, hateful, hard-hearted, and so on. The evidence is always that, at some point, some Calvinist told someone that they are going to hell for believing something or not believing something. For example: I have seen a "calvinist" tell someone they will go to hell for believing that God loves all men and makes the free offer of the Gospel to every man.

What gets overlooked, of course, is the anti-calvinists who say all Calvinists believe this ridiculous pap, all Calvinists murdered Servatus, no Calvinists are evangelizing people, and so on.

If the accusation against Calvinists is "they are arrogant, mean, spiteful, hateful, hard-hearted, and so on," then let's figure out why the anti-calvinist can get away with being exactly the same way and somehow not be arrogant, mean, spiteful, hateful, hard-hearted, and so on.

Josh said...

*Foaming At the Mouth White Hot Rage inserted here*

Before I became a Calvinist I hated Calvinism because my God was a loving God who would never intentionally put any one in hell.

I hated Calvinism because those who followed it didn't care about reaching the lost.

I hated Calvinism because it meant that God was unfair in choosing some and not others.

I hated Calvinism because the girl I liked told me that it was not God's sovereign plan for us to be together.

Mike said...

Do you think most of the objections to the doctrines of Grace are really that deep? The reason I ask that is because most of us don't think that deeply about what we believe.

The first time one of my best friends (and SBC youth pastor) hit me with the idea of predestination, it was more like a punch in the gut than an intellectual difficulty.

I think it starts with our rational minds confronting a sovereign God's working according to His idea of justice rather than ours. The idea that He can and does save some and not everyone when He obviously has the power to just flat out seems mean. I mean what kinda person doesn't help a drowning man just because the man chooses to drown himself?

It seems wrong to us on a primal level and so our first reaction is to cling to a theological system that is close to God, but allows us to cling to our logic and reason as well. When I saw that the DoG's were clear in scripture, I found myself telling God that if He were that kind of God, I wasn't sure I wanted to follow Him. Fortunately for me, the Holy Spirit won out and showed me the beauty of God's grace in the midst of His wrath and righteous judgement. It's a hard truth to except, and some of us have to truly fight for our understanding of it.

We should by no means hold back in our fight for pure doctrine, but we should at the same time be gracious to our weaker brothers and sisters who haven't got there yet, (no matter which side you view as weaker) and who fight from their own equally strong convictions. (Romans 14 comes to mind, although there is a difference between disputable things like food and indisputable things like God's sovereignty, the logic of being gentle to weaker brothers and sisters still seems fair to me.)

Jugulum said...

I'd expect the comments to consist of varieties of:
1.) Arrogance.
2.) You make God the author of sin.
3.) You have God saying to people, "I love you, but I'm going to give you what you need in order to repent & be saved."
4.) You have Jesus being a favoritist, only dying for some.
5.) You redefine basic words like "choice", and ask us to accept blatantly contradictory statements.

Trevor said...

I haven't read every comment thusfar (probably 20% unread)...but has anyone actually posted an objection to Calvinism as opposed to almost all the objecting posts speaking of Calvinists?

I'll give some more substantial thoughts later.

Frank, I have a desperate urge to look for rage boy on Google, but alas, that won't happen at work.

Matt said...

Logan,

Where in the Bible is it said that preaching and writing are the fruits of righteousness?

There are many secular preachers who write influential books, but are they of God? We are too look for righteous works that are evidence of sanctification. Servetus was not the only one killed by Calvin, and his regime in Geneva was very oppressive to anyone who did not follow his statutes.

"And the most influential and important systematic theology in all of history?"

And here I thought that was the Bible. My mistake.

Before we are to elevate a man to a prominent position of invaluable influence and importance, should we not first test him to see if he is indeed of the faith? The command in 1 Timothy is that an elder should be "above reproach". Paul then goes on to add:

Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
(1Ti 3:7 ESV)

Can this be said of John Calvin? By the qualifications set forth by Paul, could he even be an elder in your church let alone the most influential theologian of the modern age? To my knowledge, he never repented of his most grievous sins.

Fall back on the Bible and doctrines of grace that are clearly taught in scripture, but we should consider with great care any doctrines taught by Calvin. The most vile and damaging false prophets often appear in beautiful clothing and speak with conviction.

Mad Hatter said...

"When I saw that the DoG's were clear in scripture, I found myself telling God that if He were that kind of God, I wasn't sure I wanted to follow Him. Fortunately for me, the Holy Spirit won out and showed me the beauty of God's grace in the midst of His wrath and righteous judgement."

Exactly what happened to me.. I told a Calvinist friend that I'd rather be an unbeliever than a Calvinist, if I were convinced that's what the Scriptures taught. God broke me of that idea the next day.

olan strickland said...

Matt,

Sadly you are misinterpreting the real error of the Pharisees and see their sin as being "dedicated to their doctrine." They were dedicated to their doctrine - the false doctrine of conditional election. This caused them to believe that because they were Abraham's descendants and seeking to be moral through the Law that they were meeting the conditions to earn God's favor.

Look at how John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ dealt with their two false notions of conditional election as found in the Gospels.

Nowhere in the Bible is dedication to sound doctrine condemned. To the contrary - it is commanded.

Kate said...

I am not as "experienced in life" as many of you, I'm sure, but I did grow up as a pastor/missionary kid in foreign fields and thus feel I have enough experience to say this...

The majority of people that I have ever come in contact with that "hate calvinISM" either

1) Don't really know what it means or are parroting someone else's opinions

2) Understand the logical implications of our doctrine and find it unacceptable (usually due to the fact that it means they have no where NEAR the amount of control that they think they do over life). Calvinism makes God "too big" and them "too small".

As to people who hate CalvinISTS

I find it vey sad that they have had a bad experience with individuals that claim the title. However, as members of the body of Christ (on both "sides" of the aisle) it is our responsibility to love those other members because God has them in their current state of spiritual development for His glory and our good. I hope the responses of both parties could be focused on centering Christ in our lives and less about us as individuals.

PS. Love this blog and enjoy all the perspectives it's readers bring to the table :)

Mad Hatter said...

" Servetus was not the only one killed by Calvin, and his regime in Geneva was very oppressive to anyone who did not follow his statutes. "

A simple look at history will correct you on this point. Calvin was not in charge of Geneva. He wasn't even a citizen of the city when Servetus was executed. He wasn't in charge of the trial, the sentencing, or the execution itself. In fact he argued that Servetus should be beheaded rather than burned, in an attempt to show mercy.

Looking at Calvin in context would help as well. The Catholics had already condemned Servetus to death for heresy (they later burned him in effigy, not to be outdone). If Servetus had set up shop in Geneva without protest by Calvin (who reported him for heresy, yes, but it was against the law to spread such things) then the effect would have been that Protestants were being "easier" on heresy than Catholics.

I don't have a problem with Calvin reporting Servetus. I don't have a problem with Geneva executing him for a crime. Calvin didn't kill Servetus - the Genevan government did.

Mad Hatter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
olan strickland said...

Mad Hatter,

You need to lay off the mercury!

Logan Paschke said...

"Where in the Bible is it said that preaching and writing are the fruits of righteousness?"

I guess Paul, Peter, James, John, Luke, David, Nehemiah, Solomon, and others should have written/taught less.

Duh. Their words are gifts from God.

Just like any Christian's words, spoken or written. No, you ain't recognized in the canon because you ain't perfect, but you still are a Christian and your words are still gifts.

I won't answer the rest of your comment because you are missing the point. You love the idea of holding Calvin up to that standard, but the point is that you'd fail just as well.

Should Calvin be denied mercy for his sins because you think they are too bad?

Finally, your logic?

Calvin was a bad Christian = His doctrines/teachings are bad.

Does this mean we accept David's Psalms as evil because David pretty much ran completely amok headlong into sin?

You show no mercy, thankfully you are not God.

/post-script to snark or not to snark? that is the question.

David Rudd said...

just a thought...

"why i am not a southern baptist"
6,260,000 hits

"why i am not a baptist"
23,500,000 hits

"why i am not a christian"
169,000,000

... some perspective may be in order.

a few more:

"why i hate calvinists"
124,000 hits

"why i hate christians"
8,440,000

"why i hate God"
160,000,000

gymbrall said...

Matt,
I'm going to ask you to post some actual evidence that John Calvin killed anyone, let alone Servetus.

The government of Geneva put Servetus to death, and Calvin was not in charge of the government of Geneva. (I'd also say that if you think it is wrong for a government of to put someone to death for blasphemy, you need to defend that position with Scripture.)

DJP said...

Good luck, Gymbrall. Risky thing, trying to come between someone and his mad, when he really really loves his mad.

Logan Paschke said...

Just as a final thought.

Before I was a Calvinist, I was a "I'd rather not argue about it" guy when it came to all this. I was encouraged by a brother to study the debate and come to a conclusion. I went to wikipedia, wrote down all the scripture used to support Arminianism and all the scripture used to support Calvinism.

I then simply compared the two lists to see if they actually taught what they (calvinists and arminians) said they were teaching.

Scripture teaches the doctrines of grace and calvinism. That is the only reason I need to believe it.

Christians would do well as I did to let the authoritative, inerrant Scriptures be their only presupposition when it comes to doctrine versus doctrine.

off to church.

/post-script: haters gonna hate.

Mike said...

I enjoy my mad with a side of fries and a tall, frosty root beer. (I would have said "Heineken" but there are Baptists present. :p I jest, I jest, I quip I quip.)

Matt said...

"thankfully you are not God."

Amen to that!

I am not saying that I am perfect, and perhaps I am being too harsh on John Calvin. What concerns me the most is that his teachings are elevated to the point that they can almost not be questioned. You yourself were putting his work on par with the Bible.

The thing that also concerns me is that, to my knowledge, he never repented, and too many Calvinists are quick to brush aside the problems or even condone them! Why are we so eager to shed blood? Is not God the judge? I think we have allowed the blood-lust of our nation to seep into the church.

Mad Hatter said...

"What concerns me the most is that his teachings are elevated to the point that they can almost not be questioned. You yourself were putting his work on par with the Bible."

Who does that? I know of NO ONE - not a SINGLE popular Reformed pastor or theologian - that does that. You're setting up a straw man and destroying the poor thing viciously. The few who do that are quite obviously nuts and are not exactly "mainstream" Calvinists.

Oh, and in case you missed the plethora of comments... Calvin didn't kill Servetus! He didn't need to repent of that!

buddyglass said...

@Frank: "which is to essentially give the other side an open mike to air grief."

Are you asking me to produce Arminian-themed blogs that don't censor critical posts by Calvinists? Because that's...most of them. Just like most blogs with a Calvinist bent don't censor critical posts by Arminians.

What I'm a little more confused about is how this relates to what I posted. Without making a value judgment, you are combative. That you allow your critics free reign to engage you in public discussions doesn't change that.

@RealityCheck: "Almost as combative as someone who would come over to his blog and give him a hard time."

We must have different definitions of "combative". If Joe Blogger posts something especially vitriolic (note: I'm not saying the tone of this post by Frank approaches the level of "vitriolic") and I go to that guy's blog and, in a calm and detached way, without mockery, explain why I think his post was in poor taste, does that make me combative?

Johnny Dialectic said...

Who does that? [puts Calvinism on par with the Bible] I know of NO ONE - not a SINGLE popular Reformed pastor or theologian - that does that.

"Calvinism is the Gospel." - Spurgeon

Too often we non-Calvinists see the system dictating what the Bible should say, which amounts to the same thing as elevating the system to biblical authority, ipso facto.

Mike Leake said...

I'm so disappointed. I was looking forward to this discussion because it is such a great idea.

But unfortunately a good deal of the comments are from Calvinists saying why they think there is anti-Calvinism. And even when there have been a couple responses to the actual post Calvinists have been quick to defend. Maybe that's why people don't like us...we don't chill out and just listen for awhile to the other side.

That Crazy Christian said...

I can't believe I'm letting myself get dragged into this mess. . .

I describe myself as a reluctant Calvinist. I describe myself that way because I believe that trying to deny that the Bible teaches the doctrines of Grace is like trying to deny that Orwell writes political fiction. And yet, when I was non-Calvinist, I was treated by Calvinists with such utter contempt that I despised the movement.

I thank God for John MacArthur who, without a single hint of arrogance, faithfully taught the doctrines of grace in an easy to understand way. His teachings on Grace to You were indisputable and clear, and most importantly, free of the vitriol and disgusting attitudes I had found in most Calvinists I knew. I also thank God for Todd Friel and his show Way of the Master/Wretched Radio for loving both Calvinist and non-Calvinist alike. Those guys over there are great models of Christian unity and although they don't know me personally, made me feel welcome and loved as a non-Calvinist.

Of course God, in His infinite wisdom, placed me in a church led by Master's seminary grads who exhibited the same attitudes of MacArthur and Friel and I would be remiss to not mention their influence as well.

But I will NEVER forget the disdain many Calvinists had for me when I simply stated that I wasn't convinced of the doctrine of election or of perseverance of the saints. There was no patience, there was no brotherly love, there was only aggressive vitriol. How dare I believe in something other than what they believe! How dare I question them! I must have an IQ of 4 to believe that perhaps someone might deny God at some point and walk away from Him!

And I found these attitudes EVERYWHERE I went and found Calvinists (until I turned on GtY and Wretched of course). When really, all I needed, was a Bible study and a patient explanation.

Now, you might respond and say that it must have been me they had a bad reaction too. Maybe. I'm certainly not going to claim that I am perfect and act perfect all the time. You might say that I should intellectually embrace a correct doctrine despite the people who believe it. Maybe, but I remind you that humans are built with more than just intellects.

But at the end of the day, it was "Calvinists" that caused me to not embrace the doctrines, not "Calvinism". And that is something I am forever mindful of now that I am a Calvinist. I encourage my Calvinist brothers and sisters to be mindful too.

My reformed brothers, we are full of pride and arrogance as a whole. We are so smug and sneering in our intellectual superiority that we forget that we ought to lay down our lives for those God has placed in our paths. Please brothers, I see this attitude from some on this blog (bloggers included) and I beg you to stop it. You don't honor your Lord by sneering at others or being proud of what you've figured out and others have not.

Please brothers and sisters, think about your attitudes.

David Rudd said...

Mike L. and Crazy Christian,

well said.

i think Frank is pointing out that anti-calvinism people often point to the "hateful" nature of calvinists as a way to dodge the clear teaching of Scripture. he's right. they do.

whether their perception of calvinists is valid or not doesn't really matter; their beef is with God's Word.

HOWEVER,

i think many calvinists need to recognize that much of the critique of "hateful" calvinists comes from WITHIN the camp of those who subscribe to the doctrines of grace... those are the voices that desperately need to be heard, but sadly rarely are.

Mad Hatter said...

""Calvinism is the Gospel." - Spurgeon

Too often we non-Calvinists see the system dictating what the Bible should say, which amounts to the same thing as elevating the system to biblical authority, ipso facto."

Spurgeon didn't think that the writings and teachings of Calvin were of equal value to the Bible, which is what Matt was saying. He feels we have attributed divinity to the Institutes. He felt that the writings of Calvin accurately expounded the Gospel.

olan strickland said...

"Now regarding anthropology, it was the Founder of the Church [Christ] who expounded the doctrine of human depravity. He taught us that men are dead spiritually and cannot activate themselves. They are defiled morally and cannot rehabilitate themselves. They are dominated satanically and cannot not liberate themselves. They are debilitated volitionally and they cannot elevate themselves. They are damned eternally and they cannot not exonerate themselves. They can’t work their way, they can’t worship their way, and they cannot will their way to God; they are dependent upon the interposition of the grace of God in Christ Jesus or they will die in their sins and go to hell." – Rev. David Miller

This is the heart of the matter - the doctrines of grace as taught in the Bible. Calvin is only a scapegoat for the offensiveness of the Gospel of grace. That's not to say that there aren't any calvinists that are unnecessarily offensive.

P.S. Rev. David Miller will be preaching at my church starting tomorrow at 7:00pm central time in Geneva, Alabama. All are invited!

Robert Warren said...

In the interest of Google precision, I point out that quotes matter:

why i am not bertrand russell (no quotes) - About 8,590,000 results

"why i am not bertrand russell" - About 466 results

Frank Turk said...

Someone asked if I think that the objections to the doctrines of grace are really that deep.

I think they run deep in a person's worldview. I don't think they are well formed in most objectors' minds, nor are they actually all that crucial to the way they live their lives spiritually.

When I was a pre-calvinist, I was just glad that I could use the words "God" and "love" and "me" or "you" in a sentence -- but I had a lot of trouble doing so for three reasons:

1. I was an ex-atheist, and as such I had a pretty high view of God. That is to say, as an atheist I couldn't believe in the George Burns god for 10 seconds, and as an ex-atheist I couldn't think of God as anything but immensely-greater than my sin -- and my sin was (and is) elephantine. So I always saw God not just as a theory greater than which none can exist: he was real, and he was fearsomely-great and grand.

2. I mentioned it above, but I always knew my sin ought to mean my death. The magnitiude of my sin was the intellectual limiting factor for me to see what kind of thing God will have done in the world if he saved me -- but if he saved two guys like me, how much sin can he forgive? What if he forgives the sins of a multitude like me, where the multitude is like the grains of sand? So the magnitude of sin seems to me to be something that theology has to talk about in a way which makes sense in the world -- and not just as brow-beating people to feel guilty.

3. The question of who gets saved overwhelmed me. When I read the Gospel of John and prayed to jesus to save me because I cannot save myself, I prayed out of utter desperation. I was literally ready to die. And even as I prayed, I had not hope that I could be forgiven -- or for that matter, reformed or reborn as someone who might really know good from evil. But when I read the Bible and it took root in me, I was changed. Notice I didn't say, "I changed." I was changed -- I was the thing changed, not the one who made the change happen. That God would do this to me and for me when I was bound to be my own rule of morals and ethics blew me away -- because it wasn't that God offered to save me, but that He actually saved me, and His word says He will save any who repent, any who turn to him and away from sin and self.

So with those 3 things in hand, when I was pre-calvinist and someone said to me, "Do you think God makes anyone go to hell?" or "Do you think Jesus didn't die for the whole world?" or some other such nonsense, I was defrensive toward God and didn't want God to be a bad guy because he had done so much for me.

That is: I wanted to defend God from being slandered, but the slanders weren't calvinism. The slanders were simply untruthful slurs that people used to make sure that nobody could say out loud, "God does actually save," and "God does actually judge sin," and "God actually does do real things in the world which matter to each and every person."

Because of you say those things, you're talking about a God you have to obey all the time, and not just a God who makes you feel good.

Tom said...

The reasons I wasn't a Calvinist:

I was told repeatedly by those at my Christian college and at my church that Calvinism was a "damnable doctrine." Calvinists don't evangelize. Calvinists believe only they are going to heaven. Calvinists believe in baptizing babies. etc..

The reasons I became a Calvinist:

I read my Bible. I read Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. I realized that Grudem's arguments were more biblical and made more sense than my pastor's rants.

Now that I am a Calvinist:

When I come across people who are anti-calvinist, it's usually because 1) they don't know their Bible, 2) they misunderstand terminology, or 3) they have been fed a caricature of Calvinism.

That Crazy Christian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
love God... said...

Mike said..."The first time one of my best friends (and SBC youth pastor) hit me with the idea of predestination, it was more like a punch in the gut than an intellectual difficulty."

Interesting you should say that. I had that sort of reaction from someone when I shared with them the scriptures dealing with election and God's sovereignty. They told me it made them sick to their stomach. They also told their Lutheran Pastor about what I shared who in turn told them that I had been brainwashed and to leave the bible study. I actually went and talked to the Pastor about it, I think he told me to read the Book of Concord(?)...he didn't want to dicuss the scriptures.

Matt said...

I'm sorry. I should have left the whole Servetus argument alone as it delves into a realm of conflicting versions of history. The problem with history is that there are always at least two sides, and discerning the truth after the fact can become nearly impossible.

Thank you, Crazy Christian, for your timely reminder. I have exhibited far too much of my own pride on this thread. Please forgive me.

Robert said...

I have a problem with the definition of the problems that the Pharisees had. Let's be very clear here...the Pharisees MADE UP their own oral laws and set up walls around the actual law that God had given to Israel. It wasn't some great time of study and dedication that gave them their lofty position, it was setting up and adhering (somewhat) to a set of conditions that they created in order to justify themselves. Jesus went through all of the problems that they created in the Sermon on the Mount and showed that they had totally missed the point of the law.

Jesus should not be even remotely compared to the Pharisees (and neither should Calvin for that matter).

As for Calvin's fruits, why not look at the far-reaching effect he had in the mission field? Why not look at John Knox? I would say that before trying to tear down a person, you should really look at them and make sure you have a real idea of who the person is and what their fruit is.

buddyglass said...

@MadHatter: "He wasn't in charge of the trial, the sentencing, or the execution itself."

And yet he wrote a theological treatise defending the execution. So, clearly he approved.

"In fact he argued that Servetus should be beheaded rather than burned, in an attempt to show mercy."

Instead of arguing that...you know...maybe he should just be left alone.

"Looking at Calvin in context would help as well. The Catholics had already condemned Servetus to death for heresy..."

And yet even in this context there were those who argued against executing heretics. Calvin just wasn't one of them.

"the effect would have been that Protestants were being "easier" on heresy than Catholics."

Which they most assuredly should have been. Especially given Calvin's persecution at the hands of the Catholics.

Frank Turk said...

I deleted a comment from Mad hatter which was a personal shot at matt.

Let's keep it between the ditches, people.

That Crazy Christian said...

hey everyone, sorry that comment kept getting reposted. It kept telling me it was too large and I needed to cut it down.

I'll clean up the re-posts.

love God... said...

Mike said..."The first time one of my best friends (and SBC youth pastor) hit me with the idea of predestination, it was more like a punch in the gut than an intellectual difficulty."

Interesting you should say that. I had that sort of reaction from someone when I shared with them the scriptures dealing with election and God's sovereignty. (I didn't even know it was controversial...I just thought it was biblical!) They told me it made them sick to their stomach. They couldn't imagine that there was the possibility that God might not "choose" their child. They also told their Lutheran Pastor about what I shared who in turn told them that I had been brainwashed and to leave the bible study. I actually went and talked to the Pastor about it, I think he told me to read the Book of Concord(?)...he didn't want to dicuss the scriptures.

That Crazy Christian said...

Matt,

No problem brother.

Frank Turk said...

buddy: who was the first to argue against the execution of heretics, do you think?

What if the last heretics executed for being a heretic was executed in 1826 by the Roman Catholic Church -- for allegedly teaching Deism?

Cameron said...

I am friends with a large number of non-Calvinists, who hold to Arminian doctrine with the same fervor that I hold to Calvinist doctrine (although I believe to be holding to Biblical doctrine...). Many of them seem to me to oppose Calvinism simply because of of CalvinISTs. They follow the widespread and dangerous way of thinking that dogma equals bad/arrogance. This is silly. We hold tightly to what we do because it's biblical. However, to their credit, there are many Calvinists who are indeed arrogant, and who may indeed put Calvin's teaching on the same level as Scripture (tho I haven't seen that in any posts here). They have good reasons to be put off by those Calvinists, however they should actually examine the actual doctrines rather than the ones doing a crappy job of following them. Duh.
@Matt, your big deal seems to be that Calvin didn't repent. Of what sin/sins, exactly? His killing of Servetus (which HE DIDN'T ACTUALLY DO, and thus wouldn't need to repent of)? His dogma, also not a sin? What are you asking a dead guy to repent of? Also, I'll assume you mean a public repentance, since you of course don't have any idea whether or not Calvin repented of certain sins in the silence of his prayer closet, in which case I ask again: which of Calvin's 'sins' merited a public repentance? If you think you can make that call, then my guess is you should be standing before your church doing some confessin'. I'd join you, cuz I certainly have my sins and idols as well.
Calvinism isn't allying oneself to Calvin's entire life, merely to the doctrines he put forth primarily in the Institutes.

Stuart Wood said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fred Butler said...

Some of the more annoying side issues I hear from people:

They don't like Calvinism because it means you have to embrace Covenant Theology without question.

You have to become an Amillennialist or Postmillennialist for sure, and reject any notion of a restored, national Israel in a future, geo-political kingdom, for sure.

buddyglass said...

@Frank: "who was the first to argue against the execution of heretics, do you think?"

Not sure. I'm assuming its somehow relevant.

"What if the last heretics executed for being a heretic was executed in 1826 by the Roman Catholic Church..."

What if they were? I'm certainly not trying to defend the Catholic church's history in this regard. (That would be pretty ludicrous.) I'm more arguing against the idea that Calvin should be given a free pass because the persecution of heretics was widely (though not universally) accepted during the period in which he lived.

olan strickland said...

The argument for people taking issue with the doctrines of grace according to Matt is our claim to have perfect doctrine while not exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit.

But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, and said, "You who are full of deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord" (Acts 13:9-10)?

Brendt said...

OP: You know: Challies was almost angry. That's saying a lot.

In the words of the great philosopher, Larry the Cable Guy, "I don't care who you are; that's funny, right there."

Not that you haven't proven time and again that you can turn a phrase, Frank, but that's one of the best in quite a while.

I had to look up the meaning of "irenic" when it was used to refer to Challies a few years back. And it may have even been you that used it. ;-)

Tyler Wallick said...

Josh - your last reason had me laughing so hard. That was classic.

"I hated Calvinism because the girl I liked told me that it was not God's sovereign plan for us to be together".

drmack said...

Tom said: ///"The reasons I became a Calvinist: I read my Bible..."///

nuff said.

Brendt said...

That being said, I now read the comment thread and I think you have your answer. Some of the hating on Calvinsts/Calvinism is hateful, but some of the responses to them are ever moreso.

It's no different than those that hate Christianity because of the way that Christians act. "Outsiders" generally don't know, and almost never give a rats glutes, if one who claims a particular belief system is grossly misrepresenting it.

Phil Johnson said...

Matt: "I should have left the whole Servetus argument alone as it delves into a realm of conflicting versions of history."

Actually, the facts regarding Servetus's death are not the least bit obscure in the public records from that time. The "conflicting versions" of the Servetus event stem from people with a theological agenda (like Dave Hunt) who cannot document their claims from the historical record and don't even try.

These "conflicting versions" are further spread abroad through comments such as you have been making here recently--beginning the other day, when you falsely claimed Calvin routinely put "many people . . . fellow brothers and sisters in Christ" to death "simply because they did not submit to his doctrine." I corrected you then, and you have now softened your accusations against Calvin somewhat, but what you really need to do is acknowledge that either 1) you don't really know what you're talking about or 2) you deliberately made false accusations.

As for your claim that you "lean" toward Calvinism, I don't believe that either. Or at least I'd be interested in a cogent explanation of what you mean by that. Your earlier comment ("We tend to go too far on election and eternal security") would actually be a pretty fair eleven-word summary of the original Remonstrants' position. Where (if at all) would you dissent from the historic Arminian point of view?

Frank: Nice use of the "rage-boy" meme.

Matt said...

olan,

What is your point in that passage?

I am not saying that Paul was not filled with the Holy Spirit. In fact, I am not saying what you assert at all. What I am saying is that if our faith is genuine, we should see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Even if you have perfect doctrine (if, indeed, any of us can really have perfect doctrine in this life -- we are sure to be a little off somewhere), it is not the doctrine that saves you. It is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, a faith that is proved genuine by works of righteousness and love for the brothers.

The problem I see is that many Calvinists look to their doctrine for salvation. They do not look at their lives to see if they are truly living by the faith that they profess.

On the flip side, if someone has no fruit, then the Spirit of God is not in them. Can we then trust their discernment when it comes to the Word of God? That was my question with Calvin himself, but as has been demonstrated, it is a very debatable topic.

One of my big concerns regarding eternal security and election (especially combined) is that it can lead people to assume that their saved because they either prayed a prayer or hold intellectually to a given dogma. Since they have made their confession (elected by God) and cannot lose their salvation, they can safely ignore the warning of their unchanged life. They have been given a false assurance of salvation.

As I read the New Testament, I see countless passages that indicate the potential of falling away from the faith and commands that imply a choice to follow and obey. We are told that he who endures to the end can be saved. Now whether this means that one who falls away was never saved or they have lost their salvation is splitting hairs. Either way, one who has professed to be a Christian and has fallen away is in a dangerous position.

You can especially see this in the older or retired Christians who assume that they can just coast the rest of the way. Is this really endurance? Can we trust in the faith of our youth to save us when we no longer live by the will of God? Do you see the danger here?

The following passage should really give us pause:

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
(Heb 6:4-6 ESV)

Some are quick to dismiss this as a hypothetical statement, but I see no such indication in the text. In light of the other scriptures to watch and examine ourselves, I think we need to consider the very real danger of falling away. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Phil 2:12)

We cannot save ourselves -- that is entirely a work of God, but if we reject His spirit and wander away, can we relinquish the gift of our own will? It is an issue not to be dismissed lightly.

Brendt said...

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Exhibit A:

Phil: ... but what you really need to do is acknowledge that either 1) you don't really know what you're talking about or 2) you deliberately made false accusations.

Boiling it down, Matt, you either need to admit that you're ignorant/stupid or that you're a liar.

As for your claim that you "lean" toward Calvinism, I don't believe that either.

Oh never mind, you're a liar. Thus it is written; thus it shall be.

Frank, you have your answer. You can shut down the comment thread now.

MSC said...

I think most people hate Calvinism because it means they won't get that divine pat on the back and the "ata boy!" ringing in their ears for all eternity.

Mark B. Hanson said...

I think the best list of attack points on CalvinISM so far is Jugulum's (bracketed comments mine):

1.) Arrogance. [primarily an argument against CalvinISTS, but one also heard about the doctrines of grace themselves.]

2.) You make God the author of sin.

3.) You have God saying to people, "I love you, but I'm going to give you what you need in order to repent & be saved." [I wonder if Jugulum meant "... but I'm not going to give you..."]

4.) You have Jesus being a favoritist, only dying for some. [This means I can't say to someone, "Jesus died for your sins."]

5.) You redefine basic words like "choice", and ask us to accept blatantly contradictory statements. [I would add, words like "whosoever" and "world"].

As a Calvinist elder in a Wesleyan-Arminian church for 15+ years, I also heard the following:

6.) Calvinism makes us puppets and destroys the notion of loving God. It's not love if we can't help it. [A variant of this is that Calvinism makes God like Allah - all there is is submission.]

7.) Calvinism prevents us from saying, "God loves you" to someone in evangelism. [The first of the " Four Spiritual Laws" becomes "God may love you and have a wonderful plan for your life."]
___

Now I never heard much vitriol in my own church, although I did have to reassure the pastor every couple of years after he heard some. But I did hear stronger expressions sometimes at the district conferences or camp meetings. Often this was related to one young pastor or other who became a Calvinist, and (for awhile) insufferable.

Wayne Dawg said...

Butterfly said,

"How would you non-Calvinists react in a church where the pastor declares that"Calvinism is a lie from Hell!" This pastor's main focus is decisional regeneration, praying the prayer and accepting Jesus into one's heart. How do you speak to a brother about that situation? It could reveal much."

We must go to the same church.

Wait, isn't that the description of 98% of SBC churches?

David said...

Well, as for me, I'll just say how much I appreciated your graphics chosen for this post: I had never seen anti-Calvinists Emir and Ergun Caner and their friends during jihad training before their conversion...

Matt said...

Phil,

If I must choose between your two options, then I would say "I don't know what I am talking about" as I am not trying to make false accusations. The anabaptist perspective is much different than the official story, but to talk about this further is to go into the realm of speculation. Upon reflection, and with 1 Timothy 1 in mind, this is not a place to which we should go. Thus my request for forgiveness.

In regard toward leaning Calvinist, I mean that I am starting from a Calvinist point of view (being raised and trained in that doctrine) but being challenged by certain scriptures that seem to indicate that the truth is not as cut and dried as TULIP. As I said on Monday, God is completely sovereign, but it would appear that in His sovereignty He granted us some measure of free will. I do not know exactly where God has placed this line, but I tend to lean more closely to God's sovereignty that man's free will.

Kenya Bound said...

Concerning Calvinism, I always tell my less than understanding friends that beleiving as the Calvinist do or not (especially predestination), it does not affect their salvation. A heart truely given to God works regardless. To avoid the 'C' word or the 'Reformed' word, I have adopted describing my belief as Biblical, Historic, Orthodox Christianity.
I would recommend Dr Richard Belcher's Journey in God's Sovereignty which can be found at http://store.nicenecouncil.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=334

Johnny Dialectic said...

I don't really care about Calvin's Geneva (except, I wouldn't want to live there). I care about the theology of his followers.

Matt, you are making superb points in the right spirit.

As I said on Monday, God is completely sovereign, but it would appear that in His sovereignty He granted us some measure of free will. I do not know exactly where God has placed this line, but I tend to lean more closely to God's sovereignty that man's free will.

Yes, this was Tozer's position. True sovereignty means God can do exactly that, and the Bible clearly portrays that very plan.

And this is really where many good Calvinists end up, too (breaking free of hyper-Calvinism). It's oft stated as an "antinomy" by such as Packer, etc. I'm fine with that, even if the "causality" aspect of sovereignty is emphasized. But when the freedom aspect is ignored, things have gone off the rails.

Stuart Wood said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
olan strickland said...

Matt,

My point is that it is not your definition of what the fruit of the Spirit is that counts - it's the Bible's definition that does. When men of God destroy false notions of salvation by merit (conditional election) they are hated by those who hold to those false notions and accused by them of not having the fruits of the Spirit.

If the doctrines of unconditional election and the security of the saints is unbiblical then prove it biblically without violating either the immediate context or overall context of Scripture. Your philosophical reason for rejecting those doctrines (that men can believe those doctrines without being saved) does nothing to prove them unbiblical.

Going away from these biblical doctrines for doctrines that are unbiblical and appeal better to your philosophical bent doesn't do good but harm.

That men will turn God's grace into licentiousness is clearly revealed in God's Word. It is called libertinism. But that men will reject God's grace and prefer to somehow merit God's favor is also revealed in God's Word. It's called legalism.

So are you willing to turn to legalism (you'll have to if you believe that you can lose salvation) in order to remedy the error of libertinism? Two wrongs don't make a right!

Stuart Wood said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

Matt,

This is in response to your comment regarding Hebrews 6:4-6.

What do you say to Romans 8:35-39? "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or sword? As it is written, 'For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Paul makes the argument here that NOTHING will cause the elect to fall away (read the whole chapter to get the context that he is speaking of the elect). Yes, we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling...yes, we should be putting off the old man and putting on the new man...and if we don't see the progressive sanctification in our lives then we should be concerned that we're not fitting the biblical model of a regenerate Christian. But if we do see the evidence, we can have assurance...not an assurance we rest upon because we still have ongoing sin in our lives.

Once saved always saved is not a call to sin all the more so that grace may abound (as Paul made clear in his letter to the Romans), but it is to give us assurance. We need the helmet of salvation to protect us from Satan attacking us with doubts and fears. I surely hope that we all arm ourselves with this and the rest of the armor of God so that we are equipped.

I am not writing this as an attack, but out of love for my Christian brothers and sisters. i don't want any of you to be worried that you can fall away, but to be assured that you are saved. And also to encourage us all to work out our salvation with fear and trembling...to have a contrite heart and tremble at God's Word.

Hope that isn't too long-winded or off-topic.

Robert Warren said...

Matt:
Re: Hebrews 6.

1. Always note who is being addressed in the passage.
2. Always watch those pesky little pronouns. and
3. Always, always read verse 9.

Phil Johnson said...

Brendt: "Frank, you have your answer. You can shut down the comment thread now."

Exactly: Calvinism doesn't lend itself to any worldview or culture that loves to pretend all truth is fuzzy and malleable (and thinks any desire for precision is tantamount to hatred). Of course postmodernized minds will find that odious.

Matt said...

"Brendt: "Frank, you have your answer. You can shut down the comment thread now."

Exactly: Calvinism doesn't lend itself to any worldview or culture that loves to pretend all truth is fuzzy and malleable (and that any desire for precision is tantamount to hatred). Of course postmodernize minds will find that odious."

Phil,

I was overlooking Brendt's earlier comment, but now it has been officially endorsed by you. I have made no personal attacks against anyone on this thread, and how I have been attacked twice... three times if I count your last post. I was called both stupid and a liar -- exactly what I have come to expect from those who claim most ardently to be Calvinist.

Are you so utterly blind to your own arrogance and pride? If you understand all things with such precision and accuracy, why then do you need the Holy Spirit at all?

If anything has been proven, it is that my original assertions were correct.

Matt said...

To the Roberts,

I am not talking about a legalism, and yes, we gain confidence as we walk with God. The call is not for legalism but to keep pressing on toward the goal of Christ, to not let up in our pursuit of Him. There is a confidence in our faith, but we should not neglect it lest Satan use that to draw us away from God.

Brendt said...

I'd say that I see the relevance of Phil's statement to mine (since he quoted part of mine, I assume that he sees a tie), but I'd be lying.

But then, he probably already thinks I'm a liar, since I take it one step further than Matt and actually state that I am a Calvinist. So maybe it doesn't matter.

AKA, Exhibit B

Stuart Wood said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Scott Shaffer said...

Matt,

I want to make sure I understand you:

1. Calvin did not evidence the fruit of the Spirit; therefore,

2. The Spirit did not dwell within Calvin; therefore,

3. We shouldn't put much stock in his teachings?

Is that a fair assessment?

Matt said...

Scott,

Yes, that is a fair assessment of that argument. But note that, assuming point 1 is true, this does not necessarily mean everything he wrote or even a majority of it was false. But even if point 1 is false, then we are back where we started testing his doctrines verses scripture. That is why, upon reflection, I realized that it was a moot discussion. We always and ever should fall back on scripture. It merely has the potential of adding extra weight to the concern.

Cameron said...

To Matt and Brendt, regarding Phil's comment:
I don't think at all that he was calling you stupid or a liar. However, being that you, Matt, said some things that are incorrect and yet did not do much to atone for it would, I think, give Phil a reason to respond with his remarks. Phil, you probably could've worded it in a way less aggressive; actually you could have done so easily. Nonetheless, Matt, I think the idea of his statement was warranted, if not worded well. You took Phil's attempt to get clarity as a personal attack, even putting words in his mouth by saying that he called you stupid and a liar. Not so. I'm afraid you demonstrate that which many Calvinists find obnoxious in others; when you were questioned and corrected, you apparently decide to think of it as an attack. For Phil to want biblical and historical accuracy should not be percieved by you as an attack, if you care about truth then you should agree with that desire. Nonetheless if you feel attacked perhaps Phil should offer an apology, as you have graciously done.
Come on, brothers, let's be civil and loving, yet not so serious about ourselves that we get PO'd at being questioned. It's a blog, for Pete's sake, get used to it.

Stuart Wood said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Phil Johnson said...

"I was overlooking Brendt's earlier comment, but now it has been officially endorsed by you. I have made no personal attacks against anyone on this thread, and how I have been attacked twice... three times if I count your last post. I was called both stupid and a liar -- exactly what I have come to expect from those who claim most ardently to be Calvinist."

Actually, Brendt's comment was a backhand slap at me, not you.

Nor did I call you "stupid" or a liar. I pointed out that your claim was factually incorrect, and that (even though you toned it down), you repeated the incorrect accusation (more than once, BTW) after I challenged you on it. You offered no documentation or counter-claim; you simply ignored the facts I had cited.

Since the claims you made are demonstrably wrong (and others besides me have pointed this out) there are only two ways I can see to explain why you have persisted in portraying Calvin as a murderer. The charitable one is that you don't really know the facts and haven't really studied it carefully. The less charitable one is that you were deliberately misrepresenting Calvin.

You more or less acknowledged option #1 in an earlier comment (and I appreciated the tone of that comment from you). But now inexplicably, my questioning your historical expertise on the Servetus incident is portrayed as a "personal attack."

What changed since your previous comment?

Jugulum said...

Mark Hanson,

Yep, thanks for the correction. I meant to say "not going to give you".

Your additions are good. I also left off "Calvinists don't evangelize," or "Even if they do, they're rising above Calvinism itself, which discourages evangelism."

Brendt,
"Boiling it down, Matt, you either need to admit that you're ignorant/stupid or that you're a liar."

*facepalm*

Seriously, I'd be very surprised if you'd say that to Matt in person, if he were a brother in your church. (Phil's comment which you were replying to was more... temperate.)

Matt said...

Guys... it is obvious to me that I need to step away from this thread for a bit to clear my head. I completely misinterpreted Brendt's comment to be an attack on me (and an agreement with your post). I realize now, upon re-reading them, that I completely missed his point, and that he was actually coming to my defense.

Phil and Brendt, I am truly sorry for the misunderstanding.

Jugulum said...

Phil said,
"Actually, Brendt's comment was a backhand slap at me, not you."

*peer*

Oh. Whoops. Right. I misread Brendt's comment, too. My apologies.

Eric said...

Brendt,

For Phil to give Matt an opportunity to admit his own publicly displayed ignorance (meaning in this case not fully informed) of a particular topic is not tantamount to Phil saying that Matt is generally ignorant or stupid. Your purposeful (I chose not believe that your are so dense as to not understand) mischaracterization of Phil's response to Matt is in fact far more uncharitable than anything Phil has said in his response.

Frankly, we're all ignorant of a lot of things, but that does not necessarily make any of us an ignoramus. There is no shame in admitting ignorance of a certain topic, and there is no fault in politely allowing someone to cop to their ignorance of a subject rather than baiting them into further displays of their ignorance of the topic.

Frank Turk said...

wow -- I leave my desk for 45 minutes to get a taco, and the comments double? Ouch.

Mike said...

Frank, tacos are the leading cause of doubling (looks down at waistline) or even tripling. *nods* True story.

Phil Johnson said...

Truth Unites... and Divides: "Has Stuart Wood been banned?"

Yes. Months ago.

Frank Turk said...

Phil --

Did you roll over the images? Roll over them and check the captions. It's like the gift of prophecy or something.

Frank Turk said...

Mike -- tell me about it. proof of total depravity.

Renee said...

Limited Atonement - always an item too big for me to swallow...and it's certainly not because I don't believe in the sovereignty of God. God does what He wants. I have no problem with that. Funny thing about His beautiful self though - He may do what He want, but He is chief lover of anyone who has breath. And when scriptures tell me that God so loved the "world" and that "whoever" believes in Him will be saved, I don't make a science out of it - I just believe it.

Our sinfulness, God's mercy, our repentance, and our faith - all easy concepts for babes in Christ to grasp. I think intellectualizing Him too much separates us from Him. God may have prevenient knowledge that some will reject Him (and He may have created them in spite of this), but God so loved the "world" that He gave His only Son, that "whoever" believes in Him shall not perish...

When I see people who are ugly in spirit, that's when I remind myself that He loves the world and I had better not even deliberate on whether or not they are part of the "elect" and let God be the judge of that.

Stuart Wood said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Phil Johnson said...

Frank Turk: "Did you roll over the images? Roll over them and check the captions. It's like the gift of prophecy or something."

Smartly done.

BTW, here's a footnote on the Servetus incident. I wrote a longer article about Calvin and Servetus once, documenting the fact that there were only three known cases where people were executed for matters of conscience in Calvin's Geneva. It's enlightening in that it shows what ridiculous extremes someone had to go to in order to be put to death for heresy or anarchy in Geneva. If you were a religious dissenter, Geneva a fairly safe place to be, compared to the world's other major cities at the time.

I'll see if I can find that article and post it one of these days.

EntoGuy said...

Well, for perfectly accurate Google empiricism (if such can actually be had), I would suggest that the word "an" in the Arminian statement works to limit the search results, since "an" will appear on a page less often than "a"

So, although it's not grammatically correct, let's see what we get with

why i am not a arminian - 94,900,000 hits

(That result is here: http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&rls=ig&q=why+i+am+not+a+arminian&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai= )

compared with

why i am not a calvinist - 1,940,000

(That result is here: http://www.google.ca/search?rls=ig&hl=en&source=hp&q=why+i+am+not+a+calvinist&aq=f&aqi=g1&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai= )

~95 million to ~2 million. Seems that Arminians may actually get about 47x more grief, if Google has anything to say about it.

RealityCheck said...

@Matt

The problem with what you are saying is that you are suggesting that "anyone" that is dedicated to "their" doctrine is in the same boat. Obviously this doesn’t make sense as it would put the dedicated Calvinist in the same boat as the dedicated Talibanist. The specific doctrine that one believes in matters and matters a lot. Based on this, I think your comparison is way WAY off.

@buddyglass

“We must have different definitions of "combative".”
Yes, and based on, “I go to that guy's blog and, in a calm and detached way, without mockery, explain why I think his post was in poor taste”., we probably have a different definition of “self-delusion” as well.

Cameron said...

@...well, everyone:
Whether or not we agree with Mr. Matt's way of thinking, I think he has shown excellent blog manners and we can learn from it. Even though I disagree with him.
@Renee: As a Calvinist, but more importantly a Christian, I too must obviously agree with those passages. I think you misunderstand these words though. One, I, as a Calvinist, do believe that whoever believes in Christ will have eternal life. However I also believe that, being that no one seeks God Himself and every intention of the thoughts of our hearts is wicked, no one will believe Him except by regenerative work of God. Also, the word 'world' in John 3:16 doesn't necessarily refer to the entire human race, it could just as easily refer to the worlds of Jews and Greeks alike, which would mean that God's gift is for people FROM the entire world, not for everyone in the entire world.

Paul L said...

I once came across a website that was attacking the notion what we have a sinful nature inherited from Adam as a "Calvinist" doctrine. I thought it was strange, considering that Original Sin is not a uniquely Calvinistic doctrine.

Heretics (Pelagians, Open Theists, etc.) find it tempting to attack Calvinism because they know that "Calvinism" has a bad reputation among most evangelicals. Therefore, if they can associate an essential doctrine of the faith (Original Sin, God's Omniscience, etc.) with Calvinism, then they know they are likely to convice more evagnelicals.

Brendt said...

Using the word "stupid" was stupid of me. I apologize for that.

I do, however, have a hard time seeing how the rest of my analysis of Phil's statement to Matt is inaccurate.

I boiled down "you don't really know what you're talking about" to "you're ignorant" (a word that seems to have been ignored -- no pun intended -- in the "he didn't say that" defenses).

Given the fact that Merriam-Webster defines "ignorant" as "lacking knowledge or comprehension of the thing specified", that seemed a very accurate word.

I boiled down "you deliberately made false accusations" to "you're a liar". I don't even have to rely on MW for that one -- my mom will do. Deliberate dissemination of false information -- that's not a lie? Are you cereal? Or just running for office?

DJP said...

Rule 7: Don't feed the trolls

Some blogs have disabled comments altogether. Blogger offers very, very limited administrative controls against abuse. Keeping metas open, as we do at Pyro, depends on commenters acting like adults, to say nothing of acting like Christians.

Most adults (let alone Christians), asked to leave someone else's home, would leave. Being banned from someone's blog is being told to leave. Here, it takes some doing to get banned, but it can be done.

When you see the name of someone who knows he was banned months ago appear on a deleted post again, and again, and again, you learn something about that person.

Cameron said...

@Paul: Right you are, man.
At the same time, Total Depravity is considered to be much less universal.
Yeah, those heretics. ALways messing around with the facts.

Frank Turk said...

I am witnessing the violence inherent in the system as it manifests itself against Matt.

... Black-hearted peasants ...

Frank Turk said...

DJP --

I think he's just lonely.

olan strickland said...

The Bible doesn't deny human responsibility (it establishes the truth that we are all culpable) but it does deny human ability and to the point of total inability not partial.

What amazes me is that those who claim that the Bible teaches "free-will" have forgotten the purpose of the Law - to show man's bondage of the will not his freedom of the will.

The false notion of free-will is a scheme to remove what appears to be injustice with God because He chooses to have mercy on whom He desires apart from any conditions but soley by His grace and good pleasure.

The Arminian explanation of the Gospel doesn't elicit the response of there being injustice with God because it has removed the offense of the Gospel of salvation by grace and is a gospel of salvation by merit.

Eric said...

Cameron,

You said "Whether or not we agree with Mr. Matt's way of thinking, I think he has shown excellent blog manners and we can learn from it. Even though I disagree with him."

Are you reading the same Matt as I am, the one who opened the comments by unequivocally stating that 1)Calvinists claim to have perfect doctrine, 2)Calvinists do not exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit, 3)Calvinists display the attributes of the Pharisees, 4)Calvinists think that their perfect doctrine saves them, 5)Calvinists look down on the rest of the world for their problems, 6)Calvinists completely ignore the fact that they are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked, and 7)Calvinists are arrogant in the midst of their sin.

From that opening salvo, Matt continued on to muddle history, question the salvific status of a deceased Christian, and attempt to clean up the mess by dismissing the whole incident as consisting of competing histories.

Certainly, Matt has been amiable in delivering his insults and unproven accusations.

Tim Bertolet said...

@Frank Turk:

I think you may have discovered the real disdain against Calvinists... John Calvin was French.

Calvinist: "Ah don' wanna talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food-trough wiper! Ah fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!"
Arminian: "Is there someone else up there we can talk to?"
C: No!! Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!"

Jugulum said...

"Your mother was a hamster, and your federal head smelt of eldeberries!"

Brendt said...

As long as we're on this Python kick, it should be noted that the "Captcha" on Challies' site the other day came up with the question, "Do you hate spam?" ;-)

Tim Bertolet said...

I know this has been said before but why is it particularly a Calvinist problem when Calvinist are arrogant or come across that way? Arrogance is a human problem and for all the empirical evidence you can find for arrogant Calvinists (no doubt it is there) you can find the same for Arminian, Roman Catholics, agnostics, atheists, etc.

You can equally find Arminians who are passionate for the truth and believe for what they consider to be Biblical reasons, that Calvinism is wrong.

So when they stand for the truth--they are bold and sticking it to the "man" or resisting group think, yada, yada. When a Calvinist has the decency to say "Your wrong" one is arrogant.

The only thing so discomforting about much of this is how it becomes subjective and a sort of "I feel you are being _____." Have we lost the ability to objective debate something and stand for the truth?

A Calvinist doesn't claim to have sole access to the truth. He does claim that his doctrines are true--or rather that this truth are not "his doctrines" but come from God. Arminians make the same claims--so why do we take personal offense. Someone has misunderstood God's Word, or perhaps both, we can still be gracious to the person and uncompromising to God's Word.

Robert Warren said...

Renee:

If you need some help wrapping your arms around Particular Redemption (Limited Atonement), try reading Hebrews 7 and then ask yourself how Jesus could make a one-time sacrifice for everyone who ever lived and then make intercession for that same group, when many of them are or will be in hell. Is God the Son then at odds with the will of God the Father?

Also note that "whoever" or "whosoever" in John 3:16 is literally "the believing ones." It make no pronouncement on the extent of the atonement.

Cameron said...

@Eric:
I agree that he said some unfounded things as well as some things that could be offensive. I was just trying to say that he was being gracious in his apologies and the way in which he bowed out gracefully. He already took a lot of heat, much of it right, but nonetheless...
For the record though I dislike how he puts words into the mouths of Calvinists so frequently. It certainly does irk me as it does you, fear not. Let's be gracious though, while not compromising truth.

Katie said...

No way can I read all the comments here... but I add my perception to the catagory of 'what I don't like about Calvinists' (at least a great majority of the ones I've met on line and in real life). What I don't like about you all is your arrogance. Now mind you, my favorite teachers are nearly all Calvinists, I read this blog and agree more than not, and have a LOT of Calvinist friends. Rather than tell them I'm zero percent Calvinist, I usually tell them I'm not a 5 pointer, which they then assume means I'm a 4 pointer. wrong. Surprise, I am not Arminian either... I think both isms go beyond the 'clear' interpretable meaning of scripture. So... again, even most of my Calvinist friends are arrogant, meaning they look down their noses at those who aren't. Seem to feel superior, smarter, & enlightened. They talk down to, make fun and snicker at, roll their eyes at the rest of us 'silly' people. The second thing I don't like is that there aren't many Calvinists who will admit that their 'die on this hill' issues (predestination and election as defined by themselves) are not scriptures' die on this hill (deny Christ as God's one and only Son, who is fully God, fully man, and atoned for our sin, rose from the dead and is coming again) issues.

stranger.strange.land said...

Thanks for posting this, Frank.

We've been discussing Calvinists' doctrines on my blog lately, especially how election, in God's eternal decree, squares with verses referring to His "will" or desire that "all men would be saved."

Providentially, this is a perfect follow-up and I've linked to this post on my latest.

I think it interesting to note that in these discussions, the actual articles of the Canons of Dort, with the Scriptural references, are rarely, if ever cited as points of contention by Calvinism's detractors. After all, isn't TULIP just "shorthand" for the doctrines embodied in that document?

Craig

Phil Johnson said...

This is for someone who was curious about The Stuart Wood Story and wanted to discuss it with me by private e-mail. (I can't find that comment now; it may have been deleted by the author.)

I'm not the one who banned Mr. Wood, and I'm not going to discuss the merits of a long-standing ban with anyone but the banned individual himself. Mr. Wood knows precisely what he needs to do in order to get the ban lifted. Every time he behaves the way he has here today, he makes it less likely that such a scenario might occur.

I'm, pretty sure that we have banned fewer than a dozen people in the 5-year lifetime of this blog, and more than half of those were people who purposely goaded us into banning them, perhaps thinking it would make their "arguments" seem stronger iof they could pose as victims of our anti-free-sppech bigotry.

My point is that you have to go pretty far out of your way in order to get permanently banned here.

Usually, if anyone is curious about the reasons for a ban, you can trace the process for yourself through a judicious use of Google's search engine. In this case, here's some help:

The saga of Mr. Wood's ban starts here, peaks here, continues here, and ends here.

That is all about Mr. Wood. Any further references to him in this thread will be deemed off topic.

Brendt said...

Tim,

While I would agree that pride isn't limited to only certain belief systems, it is something to which someone who holds to a more cerebral belief system (like Calvinism) is going to be more susceptible (at least in cultures were cerebral-ness (?) is held in somewhat higher regard).

"... we can still be gracious to the person and uncompromising to God's Word."

True dat! Now if I could just better practice what I believe.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks for the response Phil. I was the one who asked for the backstory about Pr. Wood's banning.

Renee said...

@Frank: I thought the photos were the funnier part of this article.

@Tim Bertolet: dem dere French peeple uh...are dey really dat insulting dere?

@Robert Warren: you could lead me to Bible verses and I could lead you to Bible verses and we could have ourselves one grand Bible study and at the end of it, it would be a mere doctrinal exercise; or we could put to death that carnal and excessive inclinations to intellectualize a point that "doesn't save" or profit anything for the Kingdom of God and instead, expend it by going out and enbodying love and the Good News to those who have yet to be wooed by it.

Serious question: How is Jude 1:23 even possible to accept in your belief system?

Eric said...

Cameron,

I do not dispute that Matt has shown elements of graciousness. I did wonder, though, why he was singled out as having exhibited "excellent blog manners". I hardly view unproven public accusations against a group of Christian brothers and sisters as "excellent blog manners".

DJP said...

Addendum to Phil

The ban was provisional initially, in the hopes of bringing him back on-track. He was afforded every opportunity to get it lifted. Instead, he's violated it, deliberately, countless times since, and rather than dealing with the cause, has merely flung slander and faeigned martyrdom.

The ban is now permanent. It'd take a major shift and a consultation 'twixt us three to get a reprieve.

Eric said...

Brendt,

I'm not sure I understand why you would say that Calvinism is a more "cerebral" belief system than Arminianism, Roman Catholicism, or others. Will you explain further for me?

damewood said...

I'm really loathe to call Arminian brothers names under most circumstances. There are two circumstances that do irk me.

1. When they call "Calvinism" repugnant.
2. When they call the God of "Calvinism" a Cosmic Rapist.

Wow, like really? The judgement is going to suck for you.

I like Matt and feel bad for him. He's getting piled on a bit here but he is trying to William Lane Craig us all with some "middle" ground that really isn't.

Frank Turk said...

Tim Bertolet may have just won a t-shirt for the best explanation of the problem here.

Tim Bertolet said...

@ Renee
That's just how Monty Python makes the French on the guard tower in the movie, which Frank had referenced.

For the record, I have French Huguenot ancestry... Bertolet is a French name,

@ Brendt
Granted some Calvinists tend to be more cerebral, and it is a rigorous system (i.e. well thought out and articulated belief system), it also has a strong tradition of serious piety and godliness in its strongest proponents. (I won't start naming names).

Any belief system, particularly in a culture where cerebral acumen is prized is susceptible to pride. You can find a lot of Calvinists who decried such dry intellectualism, e.g. William Ames "theology is the living of living towards God."

Perhaps in our American context, Calvinism can become something limited to an idea, but if that's the case then we really haven't listened to Scripture or our heritage.

I think Phil hit the nail on the head though when he pointed to a Calvinist's desire to stand uncompromising on the truth--that will always bring the emotive charges. If we do indeed walk in godliness, we will be vindicated of such things (1 Pet. 3:16)

Ex N1hilo said...

Frank wrote:

Because Calvinists are the bad guys -- the scum of the earth, as someone once said.

Indeed, this is what the bible declares and, as Calvinists, we embrace this fact.

Calvinists deserve hell and are (by and large) aware of this fact. Many Arminians acknowledge this as well, but most of the ones I have encountered will deny it vociferously and plead the merit of their case before God, instead of acknowledging their need of God's grace.

Frank Turk said...

I want to examine the "proud calvinist" meme that is emerging here -- in less than 4000 characters.

1. I suspect that any serious Lutheran would get tagged that way -- because he's a serious guy to be that Lutheran. The problem of course is that Lutherans have never been fabulous evangelists. (ducks)(points people at statistics to substatiate claim)

2. I like it that what makes a "calvinist" "proud" is that he/she is also likely "smart". The bookish are the arrogant ones, apparently.

3. What continues to bother me, though is that people will yeah-but the claim that Calvinists aren't the only arrogant ones. personally, I'd compare "Calvinist" arrogance against fundamentalist arrogance every day of the week. I'd compare "Calvinist" arrogance against the accolytes of Dave Hunt six days a week and three services on Sunday. And what about Charismatic arrogance -- the inability to admit that a high percentage (probably north of half) of the spectacular moral failures in high profile "ministers" all come from that camp, and not one so-called "prophecy" from that segment of evangelidom has ever once come true?

The Calvinists are the most arrogant, though? Really?

Ponder it some more. I think you'll find that it's not the arrogance that really bothers you. It's something else.

Mike said...

Nice leg drop Turk!

Robert Warren said...

Renee:

Sorry, Bible passages are all I have as a basis for discussion. It's not inherently carnal. "Mere" is not an adjective I am eager to use with "doctrine".

I can't think of any more profitable use of a keyboard than having "one grand Bible study". Every time I have a disagreement over Bible interpretation with someone, I learn something; if not from the other party, then from additional examination of Scripture.

Apparently, you disagree. If you change your mind, send me your verses and your interpretation (my public e-mail is on my profile).

Re: Jude 23

Not sure I get your point. Jude is about contending with false teachers for the faith once delivered, so I think verse 23 is about delivering others from the snare of false doctrine. Incidentally, I've always wondered what Arminians make of Jude's doxology.

Weeks said...

So many of the problems I see presented as evidence against Calvinism aren't. They're targeted at Calvinists, and to a large extent I have to agree with this. As I've said before, my biggest beef with a lot of the "Reformed" types I meet is a marked lack of grace extended to those of dissimilar walks of life and Christian traditions. Myself included. I have to be very careful that pride doesn't creep into the way I live and present the Gospel. But as others have noted that's a problem across the board, Calvinist or not.

I also practically never see coherent, well thought out, scriptural arguments against Calvinist/Reformed doctrine. When the beef presented actually IS about doctrine instead of its adherents, I find the objections are curiously centered on the objectioner's precious notions of morality or misguided ideas about God's righteousness (which is synonymous with justice, as I recall), rather than any concrete biblical exegesis that contradicts Calvinist doctrine. It seems to me if you're going to argue against Calvinism, you ought to at least try and put in the effort to build a scriptural case, IMHO.

It does amuse me that people supposedly concerned about the character of God would presume to limit Him in any way. I dunno about you, but when I think of my Creator, Job 38 and Isaiah 6 come to mind, and I can understand why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. You want to put THAT God in any kind of box? Good luck and don't stand next to me, 'kay?

Sir Aaron said...

It's a darn good thing I'm a Calvinist and not a water salesman. I'd hate for my Arminian brethren to die of thirst after swearing off water, all because of my arrogance!

Solameanie said...

I honestly can't think of anything more devastating to human arrogance than Calvinism. At least it's that way for me.

As an aside, I think people sometimes mistakenly label Calvinists as arrogant because they are firmly convinced that their position is biblical, and will forcefully (and I might say, often eloquently) defend it when it's under attack. When you couple this convinced forcefulness with what I see as rather inexorable logic within the TULIP, it can come across to opponents as arrogant, even though it's not intended.

I can remember when I first encountered Calvinist doctrines as a young man in my 20s. I reacted viscerally, emotionally and negatively to it because it sounded so harsh and unreasonable. Then I stopped emoting and began thinking. Cocky me, by golly, I was going to refute it, and to do that, I was forced to really read those difficult passages that I would rather have avoided such as Romans 9 and various statements by the Apostle John (quoting Jesus). My views had to change over time as I dealt with Scripture. I am now firmly Reformed in my thinking, with the exception of my premillennial eschatology.

That's my testimony and I'm sticking to it.

Renee said...

@ Robert Warren: Touché Robert. Very true. There's nothing mere about studying the Word. I guess what I'm trying to say, but failed, is that I know your stance on salvation and you probably know mine by now. You are well versed in scriptures and I can research my point and give you passages to substantiate my arguments. But if you think about it - for you and I to make such a big deal on distinctions of that nature - distinctions that...well, as far as I know, have no power to save, is missing the forest for the tree IMHO.

Also, unless I'm reading it wrong, Jude 1:23 speaks of some responsibility for "snatching" others from the fires of hell. Is that just figurative in your opinion?

@ Tim Bertolet: I was just kidding...but it may have sounded serious. Can I have your t-shirt?

mikeb said...

Matt, please reference the Scriptures where Christ chastised the Pharisees for spending "a great deal of their time studying the scriptures and debating matters of the law." You need to spend some time exegeting Matt. 23. The problem wasn't that the Pharisees and scribes studied theology or debated it, it was that they were only clean on the outside, not inside. They appeared to be without sin and burdened others with minor matters, neglecting the weightier matters. "These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone."

Matt, are you saying the Doctrines of Grace are compared to the gnat or the camel? If you say the gnat, you don't understand the Scriptures properly. If you say the camel, then you would be correct and agree that we should be discussing these matters as they are a large part of the Scriptures.

Frank, the big question is not why people hate Calvinism. That one's pretty obvious. The bigger question is why do people deny obvious teachings in the Bible. I've heard Christians say they don't believe in "election." That's like saying "I don't believe what the Bible says." The OT is all about election, and the NT mentions it 27 times!

stratagem said...

Google results:

Why I am not...
a Buddhist 1.3M
a Hindu 8.4M
a Jew 9.6M
a Muslim 20.9M
an Atheist 35.4M
a Christian 72.7M

This clearly shows me that given our fallen nature, those who hold to the most truth will also be the most hated.

donsands said...

"Why is Calvinism the one they know they have to overcome?"

There is such a great history of Calvinists in the kingdom of God. many missionaries were Calvinists: William Carey, Adonijah Judson, Hudson Taylor, George Muller, and so many other heroes of our faith.

Not that I'm trying to "rabbi stack" here. I just saying.

Cameron said...

@Eric:
I simply said that in regard to Matt because of the way in which he apologized for misunderstanding and such, and because he bowed out graciously and apologized when he accepted his wrongs. That is admirable, though his other actions/words may not have been. Perhaps I should've been more specific and such, I apologize for any misunderstanding.

mikeb said...

Google results:

calvinism 1.52M
arminianism 278k

John Calvin 4.3M
Jacob Arminius 757k

Backlinkwatch.com stats:

links to John Calvin's wikipedia page: 3083
links to Jacob Arminius' wikipedia page: 145

Someone have a problem admitting where they stand? Or is there a overt downplay of doctrine in one camp?

Brendt said...

Eric: I'm not sure I understand why you would say that Calvinism is a more "cerebral" belief system ...

Tim said it better than I would (about 3 comments down from your question).

DJP said...

"calvin murdered servetus"

46 hits

Brendt said...

Well, I was sitting around, waiting for a response to my defense of 2 of the 3 words I chose.

But given the crickets, I think I'll get off this ride now.

Frank, I honestly think that the meta has answered your question.

Aaron Snell said...

There's one interesting group of Calvinism critics that hasn't been talked about yet, but has been demonstrated here in the meta by Renee. This is the kind of criticism that says Calvinists are wrong/insufferable because they engage in "carnal and excessive inclinations to intellectualize a point that "doesn't save" or profit anything for the Kingdom of God and instead, expend it by going out and enbodying (sic) love and the Good News to those who have yet to be wooed by it." The kind that calls Bible study a "mere doctrinal exercise" and warns that "intellectualizing Him too much separates us from Him."

Scripture chastises those who refuse to grow up in this manner and wish to remain infants (Hebrews 5:11-6:3, 1 Corinthians 14:20). The whole of Scripture witnesses against it; the New Testament authors sure spent a lot of time "intellectualiz[ing]...point[s] that [don't] save or profit anything for the Kingdom of God."

Not all non-Calvinists fall into this group - thankfully, most don't fall into this anti-intellectual trap - but there are those who disparage any kind of attempt to understand Scripture in any sort of systematic sense. Oddly enough, they themselves can't live consistently with such an approach. Renee demonstrated this with her incredibly ironic last question. After decrying a study of the Scriptures as an ultimately worthless and wasteful use of energy, she then cites a verse as a challenge to the Calvinist system.

We all systematize. We all build a big picture and fill it in. Some just do so less carefully than others.

gymbrall said...

@Renee
I honestly don't want this to sound too arrogant (and yeah, I know that's a bit on the nose considering the nature of this meta, but there you go), but I do think the question of Calvinism vs Arminianism often does come down to a question of saved or not. And let me narrow what I mean by that.

It is far too easy to treat Calvinism vs Arminianism as some sort of unsolvable tension that exists in the gospel. A sort of yin and yang, where both sides love God equally but where neither is correct and each are espousing some fundamental part of God. But scripture does not support this view at all.
But let me be clear before I go any further. I DO NOT mean that anyone who holds to Arminian teaching in whole or in part is unsaved, nor do I mean, that anyone who holds to all "five points" of Calvinism is saved or should be assumed to be saved.
But what I do mean, is that there only is one proper view of God and of His nature and if a man is shown the truth of God and walks away from it, or rejects it, it means something.
The man who sees God as He is and cries out, "That is not my God" is actually declaring something about himself and who he serves, and while I know that you would argue that it is the Calvinist who is wrong, I hope that you will agree with me that it is more serious than a dry discussion about theology.

God bless.
Charles

Aaron Snell said...

It would be interesting to see how much of the kind of Calvinism "hate" based on the perceived arrogance of Calvinists is a creature of the present spirit of the age. When did this criticism of Calvinists become start, or become widespread? I'd be surprised if past centuries displayed the kind of sensitivity toward a firm conviction of the biblical nature of a doctrinal system that ours does. A historical survey on this would be quite informative, I think.

Aaron Snell said...

Sorry Renee - I just read your 1:31 PM comment and maybe not all of my criticism applies to you.

Robert Warren said...

Aaron Snell:

Exactly.

I've actually been told (in the middle of a discussion on Calvinism with a non-calvinist) that some people study the Bible too much. It's part of the same straw-man that implies that studying doctrine and evangelism are mutually exclusive activities.

(I'm not necessarily criticizing Renee here.)

Robert Warren said...

Aaron Snell (2:36PM):

Even though he lived 2 centuries ago, I think it can be traced to Charles Finney.

Renee said...

@Charles: you're far from arrogant, quite reasonable, actually. I agree with you that "The man who sees God as He is and cries out, "That is not my God" is actually declaring something about himself and who he serves" (great statement), but you are wrong in assuming that I would call the Calvinist wrong for his personal views. The "wrongness" I see, if you don't mind the term, is that some people (Calvinists, Arminians, Catholics) wear their doctrinal beliefs like a label subject to immense pride. Meanwhile, there are literally millions of people who have not seen the simple gospel's transformational power lived out in Christian people. I know, I am one of them. Does that make sense?

Mike said...

Renee, gymbral, Robert and Aaron you each get 1000 million points for good conversation!

Mike said...

And Frank gets infinity internets for posting something that has almost 200 comments. I salute you sir.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Goodness, Frank, you really know how to open up a can of spring-loaded worms!

My question to those who call "Calvinists" arrogant, what exactly do you mean by that? Are those who hold to Calvinism (and I agree with Spurgeon, that it is really the Gospel, not Calvin's original ideas) arrogant because of what they believe or because of how they express it?

David said...

I told my Calvinist friends that, while I agreed with most of what they said, I wouldn't call myself a Calvinist until I read the Institutes. I got a few chapters in and saw the devotion to the Lord and His word that Calvin had, and I knuckled under.

The confession of Jesus as Lord hangs everything on His sovereignty. That's what Lord means. He's not just the boss of me, He's the boss of the cosmos, because He made it, and He's in the process of redeeming its rebellious minions to Himself by the blood of His cross.

It's a big cosmos, and if the One who made it and is redeeming it didn't know the end from the beginning, we wouldn't have any reason whatsoever to put hope in Him. But He does, and I do. My place in it may be good, bad, or ugly, but there it is, may God be praised.

Trevor said...

Matt,
(At some point previously...use the ctrl+f) you said:
"Now whether this means that one who falls away was never saved or they have lost their salvation is splitting hairs."

Is it just me or is that kinda the issue that is the exact opposite of splitting hairs???

I think that might be worthy of dialogue...if it is not too off topic.

CR said...

Matt wrote: "As I said on Monday, God is completely sovereign, but it would appear that in His sovereignty He granted us some measure of free will. I do not know exactly where God has placed this line, but I tend to lean more closely to God's sovereignty that man's free will."


This is an oxymoron. God is 100% sovereign in salvation. Man does not have the ability nor the desire to freely choose God. Adam was the only person that could do that, and he chose poorly. Your position really lessens the effects of original sin.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

One of my concerns with Calvinism is that it sometimes seeks answers to questions that the Bible doesn't require us to answer. E.g.: Why do some who have been graced by the Holy Spirit believe and others don't? Regeneration-before-faith becomes the answer, even though it has scriptural problems (http://evangelicalarminians.org/node/49). I'm not convinced that there's a biblical problem in saying "I don't know."

1 Tim 2:6 states that Jesus gave Himself a "ransom for all." There is nothing contextually that limits the "all"; you need to import other theology, philosophy, or logical reasoning to come up with a strictly limited atonement. Why can I not use that very clear passage to interpret the arguably more cumbersome passages that seem to support stricty limited atonement?

I often sense in Calvinism (or rather Calvinist culture) the inability to consider that some Calvinist doctrine is obtained through logical reasoning and philosophy rather than actual Scriptural revelation. In which case people who criticize the fervor in which Calvinists often proselytize Calvinism bring up a valid criticism.

Jugulum said...

CR,

"Your position really lessens the effects of original sin."

Or it keeps the effects of original sin the same, but lessens the effects of God's drawing grace.

Mike said...

Tom, good point, but with regards to the passage in Timothy and the usage of the word all. That passage may be very clear, but it does not stand alone. When we look at a passage that makes a clear statement like that, we must compare it to every other instance in scripture where the same concept is addressed. If the larger testimony of scripture limits the usage of the word all with atonement, then we MUST assume that one passage is also limited in it's intent. Otherwise it could be said that scripture contradicts itself in several places which we know isn't true.

Good doctrine is a lot of work, but i think if we keep studying, hold to our guns and be gracious with one another we'll get there eventually...at least as far as the elect are concerned (heh...see what I did there?)

Warren Lotter said...

Tim,

Why can I not use that very clear passage to interpret the arguably more cumbersome passages that seem to support stricty limited atonement?

Because I think you then begin to import other theology, philosophy, or logical reasoning to come up with X.

But hey that's just me.

Aaron Snell said...

Tom:

One of my concerns with Calvinism is that it sometimes seeks answers to questions that the Bible doesn't require us to answer. E.g.: Why do some who have been graced by the Holy Spirit believe and others don't?

This is actually the wrong question, if I am reading you correctly. Calvinism actually doesn't try to answer this question, because it seems to assumes Arminian presuppositions in the phrase "graced by the Holy Spirit" - as if there was one group of people who were all receiving the same grace, and yet only a few believe. The question that Calvinism actually tries to answer is, "Why do some believe, and others don't?"

Contrary to your claim, then, the Bible actually does give us an answer to this question - and from the lips of Jesus, no less: "'But there are some of you who do not believe.' For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, 'For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.'" (John 6:64-65)

Warren Lotter said...

During a typical discussion with an anti-calvinist aquaintance the usual accusations (arrogance, pride etc.) were trotted out followed by this question: "What will you do when you get to heaven and you find out you are wrong?" My answer? "I'll be in heaven." When I 'rebounded' the question, his answer? "I will really be angry with God and will give him a piece of my mind."

He then promised to pray that the Holy Spirit would save me.

I kid you not...

mikeb said...

Tom, when you say "Why do some who have been graced by the Holy Spirit believe and others don't?" I think you are phrasing the question wrong. Using your terminology, a Calvinist would say that if someone is "grace" by the Holy Spirit, they will eventually believe.

I think what you're really getting at is why does God unconditionally elect some and not others? Eph. 1:5 answers this clearly, saying it is "according to the kind intention of His will." I've never known a Calvinist who tries to take it past that. If they did they would be like the oppenent (Arminian?) in Romans 9:20 who Paul refutes by saying "who are you, O man, who answers back to God?"

Tim Bushong said...

Josh wrote:

"I hated Calvinism because the girl I liked told me that it was not God's sovereign plan for us to be together."

Oh man- very funny! So good... (wipes away tear...)

Rachael Starke said...

Wow. Major food fight in the cafeteria.

This thread is fascinating because it's reminding me that, to my knowledge, I have never known a single (confessing) Arminian in my life. That may be because my Dad is/was a Reformed Baptist pastor and I'm guessing that was probably part of his parenting/pastoring strategy (I kid, sort of.)

This thread makes me want to go out and make friends with some Arminians, just to see if they'll hate me.

solagravitas said...

Up front, I have to admit that I have only read the first dozen or so comments on this meta, and that anything I say might have already been said, but this is more an exercise in getting this off my chest, so here goes.

As a Calvinist, I used to love apologizing for the behavior of Calvinists and who far less humble, gentle, tactful, and Christlike than I. After a while I realized that this was just an act and that I was just doing it to fit in. After all, the more time you spend apologizing for the conduct fouls of your theological brethren the more credibility you get with your theological "opponents," right? Wrong. I later realized that these were feeble attempts at being a theologian whose default setting wasn't pride. In fact, no matter what your actual theology is, your default setting is pride. The natural tendency of any theologian who happens to be human is pride. Every theologian, from the heretic to the most orthodox must fight pride in the same way. No specific theology lends itself more or less to arrogance, combativeness or any other sin which proceeds from our sinful hearts. To focus so much on the behavior of theologians is, according to the proper definition of the term, ad hominem. The character of the theologian has no bearing on his theology, and if a doctrinal issue is at stake, deal with it doctrinally and God will deal with his pride. It is not our jobs as theologians to sanctify other theologians.

I also realized that I had never actually experienced the legendary Calvinist jerk any more than I had experienced jerks from other theologies. There are Calvinists who are jerks, there are Calvinists who are very Christ like and display the fruits of the Spirit, there are Arminians who are arrogant, and there are Arminians who are great examples of Godliness. We need to learn to stop conflating a person's actual sanctification and a person's theology.

I think it was Carl Trueman who wrote to some critics that if he were called prideful by a critic, he would respond by saying "you don't know the half of it. Ask my wife." (or something of that nature).

s.driesner said...

Having read through the thread thus far, it seems that much of the beefs with Calvinists have to do with 1) the surety with which they profess their beliefs is perceived as arrogant/ungracious/pharisee-like/etc.), 2) issues with Calvin himself (i.e. his dealings re: Servetus) rather than the doctrines Calvin espoused, or 3) simply finding the doctrines themselves repugnant (since they make God big and us small, or someone told them Calvinists are cultists and they had no reason or particular knowledge to conclude otherwise).

In my experience, most of those I encounter don't have enough working knowledge of the Bible to even articulate the Biblical basis for what they believe in the first place, let alone say whether they are in fact Calvinist or Arminian in their beliefs with any clarity, or even know what that means, or even understand why it could possible matter.

In some ways, the issue of Calvinist/Arminian is useless, because the real issue as that people just don't know their Bibles. At all. Including most who attend church on Sunday.

Neither do they know their history (especially of the church), nor any particular doctrine or distinctive of the Christian faith in order to adequately discern who is preaching the truth and who is the rank heretic, nor are most of them convinced that it even matters.

I'm a Calvinist because I cannot escape what I see taught clearly in the whole of scripture (not based on cherry picking my favorite verses, but considering all of Genesis through Revelation). My prayer is that God would move people to grab that dusty Bible off the shelf and just READ the thing, asking honest questions, and not rest until they get the soul-satisfying answers they really need.

This makes me think of Hebrews 4:12 (one of the most thrilling verses in the bible, IMHO, because it makes me want to read my Bible that much more).

Frank Turk said...

I'm locking this up at 200 comments, so get your last licks in.

Karen said...

I don't hate Calvinists, but I don't understand the whole "don't tell folks Christ died for them, because you don't really know that for sure" bit. Quite honestly, what in the world can I offer my unsaved friends, if not Christ, and Him crucified?

Mike said...

Parting Shot:

SERVETUS!

I jest, I jest, I quip, I quip
:p

Robert Warren said...

In my experience, most of those I encounter don't have enough working knowledge of the Bible to even articulate the Biblical basis for what they believe in the first place, let alone say whether they are in fact Calvinist or Arminian in their beliefs with any clarity, or even know what that means, or even understand why it could possible matter.

s.driesner:

Bingo.

Listening to some of the "Christian on the street" interviews they sometimes have on the White Horse Inn make that painfully clear.

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