05 May 2006

"The Semi-Pelagian Narrower Catechism"

by Dan Phillips

It's Friday. You need a chuckle.

This is not brand-new, but it's awfully and ouchily good. You'll laugh, you'll wince, you'll pass it along. I'm not sure the writer and I are on the exact same side on every particular... but yikes, it's good (H-T Paleoevangelical.)

Here are a few excerpts (but you should read the whole):

1. Q: What is the chief end of each individual Christian?
A: Each individual Christian's chief end is to get saved. This is the first and great commandment.

2. Q: And what is the second great commandment?
A: The second, which is like unto it, is to get as many others saved as he can.

3. Q: What one work is required of thee for thy salvation?
A: It is required of me for my salvation that I make a Decision for Christ, which meaneth to accept Him into my heart to be my personal lord'n'saviour

...6. Q: By what means is a Decision for Christ made?
A: A Decision for Christ is made, not according to His own purpose and grace which was given to me in Christ Jesus before the world began, but according to the exercise of my own Free Will in saying the Sinner's Prayer in my own words.

7. Q: If it be true then that man is responsible for this Decision, how then can God be sovereign?
A: He cannot be. God sovereignly chose not to be sovereign, and is therefore dependent upon me to come to Him for salvation. He standeth outside the door of my heart, forlornly knocking, until such time as I Decide to let Him in.

8. Q: How then can we make such a Decision, seeing that the Scripture saith, we are dead in our trespasses and sins?
A: By this the Scripture meaneth, not that we are dead, but only that we are sick or injured in them.

9. Q: What is the assurance of thy salvation?
A: The assurance of thy salvation is, that I know the date on which I prayed the Sinner's Prayer, and have duly written this date on an official Decision card.

...10. Q: What is thy story? What is thy song?
A: Praising my Savior all the day long.

11. Q: You ask me how I know he lives?
A: He lives within my heart.

12. Q: And what else hast thou got in thine heart?
A: I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.

13. Q: Where??
A: Down in my heart!

14. Q: Where???
A: Down in my heart!!

He shot, he scored.

Dan Phillips's signature


Matthew said...

Oh, this is a rather diabolical slice of satire... it is satire, right? Right?!

Steve Sensenig said...

Questions 12-14 were absolutely hilarious!!! I read the whole thing on the link you gave, and it got kinda tiresome after a while, but the funniest ones were the song quotes. That's why I liked 12-14 so much.

FX Turk said...

The earlier version of this categchism (1991) staes as the answer to #8:

By this the Scripture meaneth, not that we are dead, but tis but a scratch.

There was a lot of legal rancor around that phrasing, so they changed it to what we have today.

(C) 2006, Wikicclesia/Communio Sanctorum, all rights reserved.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Is this teaching aid available on BibleWorks 7?

DJP said...

LOL, Jeremy. WCF is... hm, maybe a user-created add-on?

Jeremy said...

Hi-larious! Thanks - passing it on...

natalie said...

Thanks for the chuckle.

philness said...

"I got the peace that passes understanding, down in my heart, where? down in my heart, where? down in my heart- to stayyyyy. And I'm so happy, so very happy...."

Thanks I'll be singing that all day long now.lol

Aaron said...

"Is this teaching aid available on BibleWorks 7?"

No, but the guys at e-sword.net may put it up in a future module.

a suburban housewife said...

Hi-LAR-ious, but quite sad. And true, depending upon the region of the country where you live.

John H said...

From the full article, I particularly enjoyed this one:

32. Q: What is baptism?
A: Baptism is the act whereby, by the performance of something that seems quite silly in front of everyone, I prove that I really, really mean it.

Very sharp.

Perhaps we can also add:

Q. What hath God said unto Noah?
A. There's going to be a floody-floody.

donsands said...

"ouchily good"

I love that. And I loved this post .
Thanks. It's great humor with a point.

DJP said...

LOL, John.

Leading inevitably to....

Q. What spake the Lord unto Noah?
A. "Get those animals out of the muddy-muddy."

Solameanie said...

Here's my Arminian version of "Blessed Assurance."

Not much assurance, maybe He's mine..
Maybe I'll make it to heaven sometime.
Watching and waiting, wringing my hands..
never quite sure of just where I stand.

This is my story, this is my song..
quaking in terror all the day long..
This is my story, this is my song..
quaking in terror all the day long.

Chris Ross said...

Undeniably humorous, but I can't escape the conviction there will probably be some zealous but unlearned Arminians in heaven who will be 'first', and some coldly orthodox Calvinists who know their Westminster backwards and forwards, who will be 'last' ...

DJP said...

solameanie -- that's too good.

Did you ever see "Arminian Grace"?


(Does anyone know how to do links in these comment boxes?!)

roomdog said...

Deliciously funny! "God sovereignly chooses not to be sovereign." I can hear Paul Helm giving his quick Ha-Ha laugh at that one.

Anonymous said...

Funny, but why is it that Dispensational Premillennianism gets lumped together with all of that other Arminian crud and easy believism?

That sounds really whiny, i know. But darn it (said while stomping my foot) I'm flustered!

Benjamin said...

This is tripe. It is an underhanded attempt by Presbyterians to take a swipe at (stereotypical) Baptists in the guise of a mocking critique of "Semi-Pelagians". Some of the strongest evidence for that lies in questions 29-33 which consider Ecclesiological issues.

Perhaps someday our Presbyterian brothers will grow up, drop the typical jealousy of those belonging to a shrinking denomination and strive for unity within the Body...

I'm an ardent 5-point Calvinist and I greatly admire the zeal with which my Arminian brothers seek to witness and spread the Gospel of our Beloved, Jesus Christ. Presbyterians have a lot to learn in that department.

DJP said...

Jeff -- I hear ya. Like I said, I don't think he and I see eye to eye on everything. Painting all dispies with the same brush is just as fair as lumping all amills with Harold Camping.

DJP said...

Um, Tereo-Kensai, you may have a point but... no-sense-of-humor, much?

Kim said...

I read the rest of the list from the link you gave. Today is baaaad day, but this gave me a chuckle.

Kim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Benjamin said...

To solameanie...

What, precisely, does Arminianism, particularly the type that includes (inconsistently) the notion of "eternal security," have to do with a fear that one is not saved, "quaking in terror, all the day long"?

Do you imagine that Calvinism affords a more secure perch? Perhaps you could have instructed Asahel Nettleton, that great Calvinist preacher and revivalist, who "quaked" in terror all his life long for fear that he had not, after all, persevered.

I encourage anyone to read the account of "Mr. Fearing" in the second book of Pilgrim's Progress and then explain why such a precious soul could not (or would not) have been a good Calvinist. In Bunyan's words:

"“Well, Master Fearing, thou didst fear
Thy God, and wast afraid
Of doing any thing, while here,
That would have thee betrayed.
And didst thou fear the lake and pit?
Would others do so too!
For, as for them that want thy wit,
They do themselves undo.”


Benjamin said...

To djp...

Thanks for asking, brother. I probably don't have much of the sense of humor you're talking about, though my friends and family have known me to laugh often enough. Yet, the Scriptures don't really seem to offer much reason to laugh at disunity and, especially, at sin.

"Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool. . ." (Prov. 10:23 - ESV)

I'm not suggesting anything here of you or anyone else. I leave that to the individual conscience. But I must wonder why it is that each time I fail to find something funny that others revel in, my point is perhaps dismissed on the grounds that it was all in good fun, humorous and all that, and I simply lack a sense of humor.

Perhaps I do. I ask, in all friendliness and brotherly affection... what has that to do with it?

DJP said...

I'm picturing you, in a theater, watching The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and suddenly you leap to your feet and thunder, "Well, that's stupid -- lions don't talk! And besides, fauns are Roman mythology, which is paganism -- which is SIN!!!"

Popcorn flies, seats empty, reformed Baptists trampled in the aisle....

If, as you suggest, this happens a lot, it mightn't necessarily be the hearers.

Daniel said...

DJP said: (Does anyone know how to do links in these comment boxes?!)

I do.

You type in the html for a link:

In order to link to http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2006/02/arminian-grace.html you would type in:

<a href="http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2006/02/arminian-grace.html"> click here </a>

and it would look like this when you post it:

click here

Regards (the other Dan)

Benjamin said...

Well, djp, I never said it "happens a lot." That was your addition to the text... It was a funny image you drew of me at the theatre, however, and it made me smile a bit. Actually, I liked the movie, though I wished they would have been more true to the books and not inserted a good deal of modern nuance (such as deleting Father Christmas' phrase, "Battles are ugy when women fight." Ah, well... What else would I expect of Disney?

I think you have me mixed up with an independent Baptist, so I'll set the record straight. I've studied paganism and my daughters read Lewis and Tolkien, I don't have a problem with alcoholic drinks or dancing, I don't hate Presbyterians, I don't have a problem with creeds or confessions... Oh, well, you get the picture.

I do, however, have a good deal of experience with Presbyterian prejudice and I never find it funny, especially when it comes from that puritan board which boasts quite a bit of vitriol against my "kind."

Brother, why are you so ardently defending all this (even to the point of rudeness)?

DJP said...

OK, Daniel, so where it differs from your usual, garden-variety hperlink is that you put spaces fore-n-aft? Cool; I can do that!


DJP said...

On Narnia, looks like I saw it about the same as you .

It's a humor piece. I'm a self-described Calvidispiebaptogelical, so, as I've said (and said and said), he and I don't see eye to eye on everything.

So I shrug that off, and enjoy the rest. If I had to agree with every part of everything, I'd have one barren, largely self-published library.

Steve said...

excellent way to reveal true differences in how people think as they pproach the Father "through" Christ. Thankfully growth in grace and knowledge takes place in the life of God's children.

Steve said...

DJP - you would be a practicing Arthur Pink. IMO

Benjamin said...

I understand, djp. I just don't enjoy what was rendered in a most uncharitable spirit, as is obvious with the post from the puritan board. I can enjoy a good, humorous piece, even one that is mocking (like Elijah's jab at the priests of Baal)...

And I have never believed that, to be useful or of quality, a piece of writing had to agree with everything I think. Disagreement with me was hardly the issue, especially as I'm an apologist who is used to being disagreed with.

Robert said...


I've seen a similar piece that makes fun of the Presbyterians. I'll try and find it for you.

Benjamin said...

No, thanks, Robert.

I did like this one:

"36. Q: Who is the Holy Spirit?

A: The Holy Spirit is a gentleman Who would never barge in."

Now, that's good...

DJP said...

tereo -- here's maybe a better and briefer answer.

If the shoe don't fit, I don't wear it.

So if that parody is meant to slam me, but the slams are false, I shrug them off.

Now, if he stands there pointing at me and screaming 'Your shoes! Yours! Put them on!", then we might have a situation.

As it is, he can think what he wants, and I can think it was funny.

(Mm. Not much briefer, was it?)

Paul Doutell said...

Tereo-kensai is funnier than the catechism itself.

Gavin Brown said...


who's being rude? no one, it seems to me. if you like, there are plenty of blogs that make no attempt at humor whatsoever.

(see, that was funny)

Anonymous said...

t-k, you need to lighten up and get some looser shorts or something. No one's trying to start a theological war here. It's *humor*, and everyone oughta be able to laugh at themselves occasionally. Even the EC guys are able to do that...a lot of the ECers got a laugh out of this one, and the Presbyterians (of which I am one) can chuckle at this one.

Take a deep breath and relax, dude.

Craig Schwarze said...

An oldy but a goody...

Jeff Wright said...

Hilarious stuff! Thanks for the laugh.

Mike Y said...


Thanks for the laugh. Some of them were painful and brought up bad memories of being a fundy. But overall, I laughed my six off.


donsands said...

I love this . Very funny.

"Where?? Down in my heart!
Where??? Down in my heart!!

And if the devil doesn't like he can sit on a tack! What's up with that?

The whole transcript is something to hold on to. Very clever.
Thanks again for sharing it.

4given said...

Solameanie, You hilariously destroyed that song.

Tereo... learn to laugh and stop the preaching. This was funny.

Biff said...

Ah, well yes, this is a humorous catalog of some of the deficiencies of the Arminian/Wesleyan/Finneyist/Holiness/Keswickian/Purpose Driven theology that has dominated American Evangelicalism since the 1830's. However, it is sad, that those who embrace Finney's model of evangelism are blind to its problems, see the "formula" as the Gospel message. They agree in principle to sola fide, then tie faith to an act. They decry "easy-believism" and then preach it.

We all have friends in that camp. We may laugh at the joke and the improbable theology, but we dare not laugh at those trapped in the system. Correct gently, in love.

Matthew said...


Biff said...

Some may be laughing out of a sense of self-percieved superiority, but I suspect that the vast majority here laugh at this blog because we have been in there! We laugh because we recognise the positions we once held ourselves.

Benjamin said...

Biff, thank you for a meaningful response.

Dr Thomas said...

T-K is right. This is tripe.

When I was a kid I grew up in an African American neighborhood and I remember that the black kids with lighter skin would ostracize the kids with darker skin. This reminds me of that memory. A fundamentalist that is making fun of other fundamentalist traditions. Most of the "jokes" have nothing to do with the Arminian/Calvinist debate but are just cheap shots on rural Baptists.

Good for you Dan, you are so much smarter than those stupid Baptists.

Solameanie said...

Thanks to those who appreciated my humor.

Now, all kidding aside..I am a former Arminian. The doctrines of grace were very hard for me to accept at the beginning as they appeared unjust to my finite human mind. In the end, I couldn't dance around Romans 9. Then all the other pieces began falling into place by God's grace.

I truly believe spiritual pride lies at the root of it all. We just can't stand it that there is nothing we can do to contribute to our salvation. Calvinist (I hate to use that label..I prefer biblical) doctrines are so devastating to human pride.

The long and short of it is that God - and God alone - saves us. We contribute nothing. The changed heart, the changed mind, the changed life..all are products of God's sovereign work in the lives of His children. The moment we begin thinking that we do something to contribute to - or merit - our salvation is basically tantamount to spitting in the Lord's face. What He did on the cross wasn't good enough. It's not phrased in those words, but it might as well be. I think that's why some of on the Calvinist side of the fence get as irritated as we do at times.

I do not save me. He saves me. I do not keep myself saved. He keeps me saved. He gets all the glory for it. Period. That is where the "peace that passes understanding" comes in. What a relief and what a joy salvation in Christ is! Anticipating the counter as the Apostle Paul did..I do not believe one can just "sin it up" and think nothing of it. A truly born again believer would not think or act in such a way. We keep God's commandments because we love Him, and we love Him because He first loved us. I now know that God is perfectly just in all He does. The miracle isn't that He chooses to save some. The miracle is that He chooses to save anybody.

Benjamin said...

The truest Calvinist among us is the humblest man on earth.

IB Dubbya said...