McLean Bible Church’s Apparent Theological Shift

” MRC [used to] believe each sinner possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny depends on whether he chooses to believe Christ for salvation; that faith is man’s response to God; that Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, died for all men and for every man; that God’s grace can be resisted by man in his free will; and that true believers can lose potential heavenly rewards, not salvation.”

Wayback Machine

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=105942&picture=john-316-bible-verse-decoration

John 3:16

Our previous post, McLean Bible Church – Predestined to Be a Southern Baptist Congregation?, generated some interesting discussion. Several of the commenters shared information that seems to back up our contention that this megachurch is undergoing a theological shift.

As I was researching MBC last week, I typed “McLean Bible Church” and “Calvinism” into the search bar and was excited to see the following link pop up. Surely, this would provide some insight into the church’s current position on Calvinism.

But when I clicked on the link, this is what came up (see screen shot below).

There was no information there! While we have no idea what used to be included under this heading, we were given a link to some fantastic information by one of our commenters. (see screen shot below)

http://thewartburgwatch.com/2018/07/20/mclean-bible-church-predestined-to-be-a-southern-baptist-congregation/#comment-378171

I saw Eric’s comment right after church yesterday and immediately clicked on the link provided. It showed information saved in the Wayback Machine; however, I had a hard time reading it on my cell phone. Here is what used to appear on McLean Bible Church’s website.

https://web.archive.org/web/20140703022230/http://www.mcleanbible.org/uploads/mbc_calvinism_position_2012_overview.pdf

https://web.archive.org/web/20140703022230/http://www.mcleanbible.org/uploads/mbc_calvinism_position_2012_overview.pdf

https://web.archive.org/web/20140703022230/http://www.mcleanbible.org/uploads/mbc_calvinism_position_2012_overview.pdf

https://web.archive.org/web/20140703022230/http://www.mcleanbible.org/uploads/mbc_calvinism_position_2012_overview.pdf

https://web.archive.org/web/20140703022230/http://www.mcleanbible.org/uploads/mbc_calvinism_position_2012_overview.pdfWe are not sure when this information first appeared on the church website, but there have been 27 captures of it on the Wayback Machine, with the first one occurring on May 26, 2012.

The final capture was on May 18, 2015, and this is what appeared on McLean Bible Church’s website (see screen shot below).

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 6.25.03 PM

No, we’re not lost. We see exactly what’s going on… Obviously, the page was removed because something was in the works. As we shared in our previous post, it was this same year – 2015 – that MBC began formally working with the Southern Baptist Convention. Here is an excerpt from an International Mission Board (IMB) article published on September 29, 2017:

McLean Bible Church (MBC) was started in the Metro Washington, DC area in 1961 as a non-denominational church. Lon Solomon began serving as MBC’s fourth pastor in 1980. According to the MBC webpage, the church had 200 members when Solomon started as senior pastor. Outreach Magazine reports that the church now has an attendance of a little more than 11,000 people, worshiping in five locations around Metro DC.

Larry Cooper, chairman of the board of elders of MBC, shared the results of the vote with the congregation last night. “Our vote tonight followed several months of prayer, discussion, and seeking the Lord by our elders, by our staff, and by David and his trustees at the International Mission Board (IMB).” Cooper continued, “Together with David and with all of you, we celebrate how the Lord has provided for us as we prepare to step into a new season at McLean Bible Church. Our prayer from the beginning has been that McLean Bible Church emerges as a passionate, unified, and committed congregation. We are seeing evidence of that every time we gather together.”

Send City coordinator Clint Clifton shared that MBC began supporting the North American Mission Board’s Send City effort for Washington, DC in October 2015.

According to McLean Bible Church’s FAQ document on its website, “MBC became a cooperating church with the SBC in 2016 to more effectively engage in church planting across Metro DC.” The church also began giving through the Cooperative Program that same year.

Now that David Platt is at the helm of McLean Bible Church, there is little doubt what lies in store for this congregation. We predict there will be RADICAL changes in the months to come. Platt, who has spoken at every single Together for the Gospel (T4G) Conference since 2010 (and has been a main speaker at each T4G event since 2012), will be following the Calvinista playbook very carefully. No doubt his buddy Mark Dever, whom he worships and adores (see video below), will be helping him implement the 9Marks as quickly as possible.

What will some of those changes be? Stay tuned for our predictions…


Comments

McLean Bible Church’s Apparent Theological Shift — 422 Comments

  1. I once asked Dr. Roger Nicole if God predestined some to be Arminians. With a smile he said, “Oh no, God is not the author of sin.”

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  2. From the post: “Several of the commenters shared information that seems to back up our contention that this megachurch is undergoing a theological shift.”

    More like a theological scam. Word play/mind games regarding salvation and Eternity. (“The Bible never says, ‘Accept Jesus into your heart,'” preaches Platt.) Not in so many words. Follow Jesus, yes.

    To their demise, the religious leaders thusly quibbled with Jesus Himself because their “authority” was threatened by Jesus – The Authority, Son of God. Jesus won. Turns out, those religious leaders’ Eternity was the problem – for themselves in the end.

    “Not everyone who calls me Lord will get into heaven.” Matt. 7:21-23, 1 Jn 2:3, Luke 9:35, Rev 22:14. Only he who does the will of the Father. Woe to them.

    It will be the same for these clowns, these scammers today. As Platt or his cronies preach their word play from the pulpit, maybe they ought to reflect on their own salvation and the Great Shakedown One Day. It will be neither play nor game, but real. For Eternity. Serious stuff. For them. Then their tears will be real. For Eternity.

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  3. Unless Calvinism is heresy, I don’t see this as a big deal. Churches/denominations make subtle theological and doctrinal changes all the time. Personally, I don’t see this as a particularly notable story.
    Every new pastor will bring changes to the church’s doctrinal perspectives.

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  4. This does not surprise me. Having attended MBC two different times and two decades apart, it is my opinion that the MBC/Lon Solomon train ran off the rails long before the David Platt era.

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  5. jyjames:
    More like a theological scam. Word play/mind games regarding salvation and Eternity. (“The Bible never says, ‘Accept Jesus into your heart,’” preaches Platt.) Not in so many words. Follow Jesus, yes.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard a prominent New Cal talk about following anyone besides themselves or each other. They’ve made a theology to excuse their pride and desire to be gods.

    I was just thinking about something I heard on TV this morning about people not growing up and “adulting”. These guys go on and on about how heavy their responsibility is to lead, but all I can see is them doing what they want while they pass off the stuff they don’t want to do to wives and minions while getting paid large sums to do so. All this theology stuff is just a way for them to justify their entitlement to themselves and others.

    I believe that unconditional election, to this particular group, is their strongest weapon to their entitlement. It allows them to declare themselves entitled while deciding who is not or who might be if they fall in line. I don’t think that theology was always intended that way, but I think that’s how they use it now.

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  6. Just to add to this, the statement on Calvinism that has now been removed was added sometime after 2004, when the controversy over this doctrine led at least in part to firing one of the young adult pastors. A few of us actually pointed out to Lon and the other pastors that the original doctrinal statement in regards to salvation (that is what was on the web in 2004) was copied from the planting church, 4th Presbyterian of Bethesda, MD, and was distinctly Calvinist. (I remember specifically it stating that regeneration precedes faith in the ordo salutis).

    Apparently, amid the controversy with Calvinism that Lon and the elders initially rejected, they added that position statement on Calvinism. Originally, the church’s doctrine was, in fact Calvinistic, all the way until at least 2004 when I left.

    I have no idea when the elders removed that statement on Calvinism, but I suspect the elders and Lon were on a similar journey post-2004, and so the theological shift is what led to Platt being invited, and not Platt’s doing after he arrived.

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  7. jyjames,

    On what basis do you call David Platt a scammer doing word play? I get that you disagree with his theology, but what justification do you have to call him a scammer? I think Rick Warren is wrong on a lot of things, but I’d never doubt that his motive is to see people follow Jesus.

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  8. JW,

    JW, can I ask you a question regarding a Calvinist view of justification?

    Do you hold to the belief that in your life’s journey that your personal sanctification has also been predestined?

    That God is sovereign in this as well, and that by default, if you fail to go on to full sanctification, that in fact you (or fill in any of the elect name in the blank), were in fact not truly one of the elect?

    Or is it possible that in the sanctification of a believer that we actually have a free will to to go on to sanctification?

    I can’t get any Calvinist to give their opinion on sanctification, I have my own personal guess as to why this is, but I am curious to know what you hold to.

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  9. Benn,

    Hi Benn, in order to answer that, can you tell me what you mean by “go on to full sanctification”? Do you mean that you have to arrive at perfect sanctification in your personal character in order to be finally saved? Not a trick question, I really want to make sure I understand where you are coming from.

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  10. JW:
    jyjames,

    On what basis do you call David Platt a scammer doing word play? I get that you disagree with his theology, but what justification do you have to call him a scammer? I think Rick Warren is wrong on a lot of things, but I’d never doubt that his motive is to see people follow Jesus.

    IMO, Platt pulled a sensationalized “Christian” scam in Dubai to promote himself.

    https://thouarttheman.org/2013/08/17/630/

    https://thouarttheman.org/2014/01/15/still-no-need-to-blacken-the-face-in-dubai/

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  11. Benn,

    Oh no! Don’t go there. It’s a black hole from which there is nothing but cherry picked verses and redefined terminology when it comes to Grace, Sovereignty, etc. I know. I spent years at ground zero talking to the indoctrinated YRR who insist “scripture” taught them.

    You see, God determined every word both sides say except for a tiny window of compatiblism when God allows you to think you have free will. (Wink)

    It’s about the character and attributes of Yahweh. Ironically, Jesus is not the best model for Calvinist theology.

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  12. JW,

    Let’s start here. In whatever you consider as sanctification (the daily walk of life), is that (how you grow in grace) predestined, irresistible also, not talking about the heavenly ultimate sanctification…..

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  13. Lydia,

    I’m really not trying to have a debate about Calvinism. I know that wouldn’t be fruitful in a setting like this. My goal in posting was to add some context and history to the discussion about Mclean Bible Church from the perspective of someone who was there, and thinks it’s a really good thing for which I’m praising God, and never could have imagined when I left there. I’m not trying to be a Calvinist troll (though there was definitely a day when I would have been!). Ah, thank God for sanctification!

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  14. JW,
    Truthfully though, I don’t see how you can avoid having a theological discussion about it here. After all, you sort of opened up that can when you said you were glad to see the change at MBC.

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  15. Lydia,

    You beat me to it! I was just reviewing Todd’s post about Platt’s “Secret Church” stunt in Dubai.

    Of all the people who could have been there in Dubai when this publicity stunt took place, it was our good friend Todd Wilhelm. I’m not a Calvinist, but I do believe in God’s sovereignty.

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  16. Lydia:
    Benn,

    Oh no! Don’t go there. It’s a black hole from which there is nothing but cherry Picked verses and redefined terminology when it comes to Grace, Sovereignty, etc. I know. I spent years at ground zero talking to the indoctrinated YRR who insist “scripture” taught them.

    You see, God determined every word both sides say except for a tiny window of compatiblism when God allows you to think you have free will. (Wink)

    It’s about the character and attributes of Yahweh. Ironically, Jesus is not the best model for Calvinist theology.

    Ah, yes. Personal sanctification. The place where Platonism, I mean Calvinism, cannot stay true to its first principles.

    There is a deep-seated contradiction at the heart of Platonism, or any Hellenistic “natural theology” for that matter. Whether one follows the general Protestant flavor of natural theology (Neo-Platonic Augustine to the Reformed Scholastics to Princeton to the 21st century Neo-Cals) or the Roman Catholic (Aquinas and his Aristotelianism), the contradiction cannot be removed, no matter how hard we try.

    Hint: that same contradiction has made Western civilization what it is. Ever notice how we become polarized between any two given issues in our culture? Hmmm…..wonder if that goes back to the guts of our theological roots?

    Jim G.

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  17. Jim G.: There is a deep-seated contradiction at the heart of Platonism, or any Hellenistic “natural theology” for that matter. Whether one follows the general Protestant flavor of natural theology (Neo-Platonic Augustine to the Reformed Scholastics to Princeton to the 21st century Neo-Cals) or the Roman Catholic (Aquinas and his Aristotelianism), the contradiction cannot be removed, no matter how hard we try.

    I’m really interested in this. Could you lay out your thoughts on this. I have my issues with natural law, but I have a hard time articulating it

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  18. Benn,

    Compatiblism, IMHO, anyway is a softer version of determinism, after cals have painted themselves into a corner on the author of evil, compatiblism is a magical window that opens up so they don’t have to walk on the author of evil paint that they just put down..

    I’ve read it all “ two parallel lines that meet in eternity.” Calvinism is an illogical contradiction to God’s love

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  19. Benn,

    Thanks for the clarification. Yes, we believe that the Bible teaches that all things are ordained by God, not on the basis of his mere knowledge of our future independent choices, but on his sovereign will. This is not merely the theology of the YRRs, but representative of Augustine, Luther (though not so much Melanchthon — see Luther’s Bondage of the Will), Calvin, and (we believe) the whole of Scripture (a debatable point).

    To Lydia’s point, we do believe that we make real choices with real consequences freely on the basis of our own desires. I am free to choose whatever I desire. But as Edwards so well put, I am free to choose whatever I desire, but not free, apart from grace, to desire what I ought. God doesn’t force me against my own will/desires to do anything I don’t want to do. But apart from his grace at work in me to desire to do what is right and to empower me to desire to choose what is right more than I desire to choose what is evil, I am left to my own sinful devices. I could give you verses to back all that up, but just to show I’m not as predictable as Lydia thinks, I will refrain unless requested. 🙂

    We draw a distinction (which I think is pretty clearly seen in Scripture) that the concept and language of sanctification is used in two different ways in the NT, a positional sanctification through justification by which I am declared perfectly holy by grace through faith, which makes me acceptable to God, and another sense of a progressive sanctification by which my life is conformed over time more and more to the character and image of Christ. The first is a declarative and irreversible act of God rooted in election, the second is by the enabling grace of God, that he who began a good work me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus, Philippians 1:5. (Ok, I guess i am predictable. Sorry/not sorry!). I don’t think that enabling grace is significantly different than Wesley’s concept of prevenient grace, except we believe such grace is itself a power not just assistance to my sinful will.

    And we believe this on the basis of what we see taught in Scripture, so that God and God alone can receive glory for any good in me. If it ultimately is up to me, then I deserve at least some of the credit. And God hates sharing his glory.

    Because I really don’t want to take over this thread into a debate out of respect for Dee and good sense, I’ll be happy to answer any other questions over email but won’t reply to any other theological debate points here…is it permitted to post that here?

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  20. Jim G.,

    The more I studied this the more I came to the conclusion there was a brief window of time in history for the concept of “self Governing’ to be introduced. Not perfectly- but the idea to be presented. There was no greater despiser of Calvinism than John Adams who was raised in it. His letters are a treasure trove of debunking it.

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  21. JW,

    “And we believe this on the basis of what we see taught in Scripture, so that God and God alone can receive glory for any good in me. If it ultimately is up to me, then I deserve at least some of the credit. And God hates sharing his glory.”

    Here we go. Laying the foundation for the accusation that we believe we save ourselves. And that Yahweh is the ultimate narcissist. So Jesus was all about glorifying Himself? Or, was Jesus a subordinate God as Grudem’s Calvinist ESS teaches?

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  22. JW,

    Thanks for your honest, heart felt reply, I’ve asked countless “C”s and very seldom even get an answer, so again thanks. I feel Calvinism is an illogical contradiction, and if we apply an illogical contridiction to any other issue, it sinks. If we accept an illogical contradiction then how much truth is left, in anything ?

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  23. Lydia,

    I really am happy to engage on those questions, but I think I’ve painted myself in a corner saying that if I respond I’m being troll-like, and I really don’t want to redirect the topic away from the thread’s heading. Would you be comfortable discussing over email, or is it okay with Dee/the community to discuss some here. I’m trying to be respectful, especially as a new poster (though I’ve read for some time).

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  24. Benn,

    I guess it doesn’t seem illogical to me. I thought it was until I read Edwards’ explanation of how we can be held morally responsible and make real choices while God is still ultimately sovereign and foreordains all things.

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  25. Eh. I liked their original theological stance. It preserves God’s sovereignty, and Man’s Free will. I also understand that at the end of the day, we are finite creatures trying to describe an infinite being with finite descriptions. The meaning is not and cannot be the same.

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  26. Deb: I’m not a Calvinist, but I do believe in God’s sovereignty.

    Scripture speaks much about the sovereignty of God. Scripture speaks much about the free will of man. They work together in salvation in a way that is beyond human comprehension. To put the mind of God into a neat systematic theological box is to stand in arrogance before Him. We’ve had an outbreak of that in the New Calvinist movement.

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  27. JW,

    Edwards was brilliant all right, but his results were sub-Christian, in my opinion. Occasionalism and continuous creation with lack of created persistence is too high a price to pay for holding up compatibilism. Occasionalism is far more Islamic than Christian. And Islam was the first major world religion to embrace Aristotle (ed.) hook line and sinker.

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  28. JW,

    Being held responsible for a thing (any-thing), and at the same time not being able to respond to the offer does not seem illogical to you…..

    Take soteriology out it… if am responsible, is it logical to assume I am able to respond…?

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  29. JW:
    Lydia,

    I really am happy to engage on those questions, but I think I’ve painted myself in a corner saying that if I respond I’m being troll-like, and I really don’t want to redirect the topic away from the thread’s heading. Would you be comfortable discussing over email, or is it okay with Dee/the community to discuss some here. I’m trying to be respectful, especially as a new poster (though I’ve read for some time).

    Since most Neo-Cal blogs no longer allow commentary, we want to provide a forum for dialogue.

    Dee and I love it when our commenters engage in open dialogue. Please feel free to continue the discussion here, if you like.

    We have observed that most Calvinista blogs no longer allow comments. That’s why we want to encourage respectful dialogue here.

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  30. ishy: I believe that unconditional election, to this particular group, is their strongest weapon to their entitlement.

    In three words: GOD’S. SPESHUL. PETS.

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  31. Why was MBC’s “Understanding of Salvation for ‘Eternal Life’ – An Overview” quietly removed from the church website?

    Heresy to the Word of CALVIN.

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  32. Lydia:
    Jim G.,

    The more I studied this the more I came to the conclusion there was a brief window of time in history for the concept of “self Governing’ to be introduced. Not perfectly- but the idea to be presented. There was no greater despiser of Calvinism than John Adams who was raised in it. His letters are a treasure trove of debunking it.

    The entire turn to modernity was an attempt to throw off the shackles of “religion” of all kinds and be self-governing. It’s just the other side of the same zero-sum game that the totalitarian church (in all its forms) plays. The totalitarian church demands that “God” have all pieces of the pie and man none. (By “pieces of the pie” I mean a seat at the table of ideas, control over minds, wills, and resources, etc.) The more extreme self-governing types want all the pieces of the pie for themselves and give God none. Just look at “secular society” today.

    The real problem here, on both sides, is the zero-sum mentality. The one who blows the zero-sum game to bits is Jesus. He is fully divine and fully human. In him, all the pieces of the pie are shared, not hoarded. His act of willing is a prime example. He has a truly divine will and a truly human will. The divine will does not overpower his human will (though I suppose it theoretically “could”). Instead, he freely wills to bring his sinless and rightly-oriented human will into perfect harmony with the divine will in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus navigates perfectly between the two “zero-sum” extremes of divine domination on the one hand and sinful “I’ll play my way” human rebellion on the other. He is the model, once again.

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  33. Lydia: Benn,
    Oh no! Don’t go there. It’s a black hole from which there is nothing but cherry picked verses and redefined terminology when it comes to Grace, Sovereignty, etc.

    My Dear Wormwood,

    I refer you to my previous epistle on Semantics, specifically the redefinition of the Enemy’s words into their “diabolic meanings”.

    Your Ravenously Affectionate Uncle,
    Screwtape

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  34. Jim G.:
    JW,

    Edwards was brilliant all right, but his results were sub-Christian, in my opinion. Occasionalism and continuous creation with lack of created persistence is too high a price to pay for holding up compatibilism. Occasionalism is far more Islamic than Christian. And Islam was the first major world religion to embrace Islam hook line and sinker.

    Oops…meant to say “embrace Aristotle”

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  35. senecagriggs: Unless Calvinism is heresy, I don’t see this as a big deal.

    I think the big deal here isn’t that the leadership went through a major theological transition. The big deal is that they also transitioned an 11,000 member church into something rather different, and the website reflects that. And the question [for me,anyway] is whether the folks in the pew [who finance all of this] knew anything about it.

    Maybe they should have done a series on “Armenianism vs. Calvinism.” Maybe they did, but I doubt it. Too many people would have left with their money. You would think that naming Platt as the new pastor would have clued people in, but not everyone knows who David Platt is, or his associations with T4G and 9Marx.

    From what I can tell, the process of “reforming” a church seems to involve a lot of manipulation behind the scenes, slowly transferring power from the members to the Elders, teaching classes on the Doctrines of Grace and Grudem’s ST, changing bylaws and updating the website.

    And the big deal is that this is being repeated in churches across the country.

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  36. Jim G.,

    Yes, agree re: Islam and Aristotle. Aquinas and the scholastics followed suit in devastating fashion (the only way Transsubstantiation makes any sense whatsoever!). But I think Calvin (more than Luther) and the English reformers pulled back from those errors quite biblically.

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  37. Ricco: I’m really interested in this. Could you lay out your thoughts on this. I have my issues with natural law, but I have a hard time articulating it

    Sure. The pre-Socratic Greek philosophers knew that their pantheon was a bunch of man-made images that weren’t real. So the best of their philosophers undertook a process of de-constructing the pantheon by way of a “natural theology.” By natural theology, I mean discovering what “God” is like through the use of the mind and nature. The marrow of Greek philosophy was to see the cosmos and beyond in a series of dualistically-opposed polar opposites: eternity/time, mind/matter, permanence/change, simple/compound, etc. The visible cosmos (we can’t say creation, because the Greeks believed matter was eternal) was the world of time, matter, and change.

    The “unknown God” could not be any of those things, so it became the negation of everything observable.It was a-temporal, im-material, un-knowable, un-composed, etc. In short, it was the absolute negation of everything observable. Where everything in the cosmos was composed of matter and form, the “one” was absolutely simple. But, the “one” had to effuse its goodness, so it emanated from itself first mind, and then from the “one” and the mind came the world soul (filioque, anyone?). Then from the mind and the world soul came the cosmos.

    Here lies the contradiction: the “one” is simultaneously the opposite and the origin of all that is. Either the “one” and the world are monistic with the one being the only real principle, or the “one” and the world are dualistic and strive against one another. It is Heraclitus and Parmenides all over again. Anyone coming out of a naturally-conditioned theology must choose a side. Down through time, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Bradwardine, Zwingli, Calvin, and Edwards have been pretty consistent monists, while Arius, Ockham, partly Luther, Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, and Schleiermacher have been pretty consistent dualists.

    That is the 30-second version, anyway.

    Jim G.

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  38. Lest this thread become another debate on the tenets of Calvinism, we should not lose sight of the overriding issues in regard to SBC life. New Calvinists are in the process of taking over a denomination that did not ask them in. Millions of Southern Baptists in thousands of SBC churches are non-Calvinist in belief and practice; it sounds like the good people at MBC also held primarily to a whosoever-will-may-come belief before being subtly/deceptively introduced to reformed theology. While some of the young reformers appear charming, they are aggressive and militant in their agenda to Calvinize the SBC … their stealth and deception to takeover SBC churches has been documented in the blogosphere. YRR pastors have lied their way into pulpits, split churches, and gathered in church buildings/assets for the reformed movement. Before Platt was called to MBC, were the members previously polled to ask what they thought about their church shifting to Calvinist doctrine? Were they asked if they wanted to sign on to this drift in the gospel message? Were they adequately informed what was heading their way? Were they prepared to “step into a new season at McLean Bible Church”? Did anyone ask them if they wanted to go on this ride?

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  39. Max:
    Lest this thread become another debate on the tenets of Calvinism, we should not lose sight of the overriding issues in regard to SBC life.New Calvinists are in the process of taking over a denomination that did not ask them in.Millions of Southern Baptists in thousands of SBC churches are non-Calvinist in belief and practice; it sounds like the good people at MBC also held primarily to a whosoever-will-may-come belief before being subtly/deceptively introduced to reformed theology.While some of the young reformers appear charming, they are aggressive and militant in their agenda to Calvinize the SBC … their stealth and deception to takeover SBC churches has been documented in the blogosphere.YRR pastors have lied their way into pulpits, split churches, and gathered in church buildings/assets for the reformed movement.Before Platt was called to MBC, were the members previously polled to ask what they thought about their church shifting to Calvinist doctrine?Were they asked if they wanted to sign on to this drift in the gospel message?Were they adequately informed what was heading their way?Were they prepared to “step into a new season at McLean Bible Church”?Did anyone ask them if they wanted to go on this ride?

    In the end – this, exactly. The Neo-Cal army (special forces?) marches on.

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  40. Benn: Take soteriology out it… if am responsible, is it logical to assume I am able to respond…?

    Yes it does. And it Paul knew it did. That’s why he wrote Romans 9:19 about this precise thing — “You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”

    Paul/Holy Spirit anticipated that response to the idea that God is sovereign over human choices while hold man responsible for them. How can God hold you responsible for choices he determines? Who can resist his will?

    Paul’s answer was not — “You can resist his will because his will is not binding. It’s ultimately up to you.” His answer was, basically, shut your mouth and be silent before Almighty God, oh you of little understanding. (I think the actual Greek says STFU. lol).

    Seriously, the actual answer, as I’m sure you’ve read, was “20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?”

    He says, the clay (ie you and me) have no right to demand answers about fairness and justice from the Maker. The Maker can make some for eternal glory and others for eternal destruction for his own glory and purposes. And we are to shut our mouths and worship this mysterious God, and praise him that he has not made us vessels for dishonorable use (the next verse says “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction”).

    I know the Arminian attempts to make this passage not about eternal destiny but about historical positioning of Israel. But tell that to Pharoah, who was destroyed as a vessel of wrath. It very much was about God’s eternal purposes for individuals as well as for God’s election of Israel (at the eternal expense of Esau and his descendants, not just historical use).

    So yes, edwards help makes sense of it to me. But the Bible tells me that even if it doesn’t make sense, God is the potter, and I am the clay, and I dare accuse the potter of doing something wrong, when all he is doing is being God.

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  41. Jim G.: The divine will does not overpower his human will (though I suppose it theoretically “could”). Instead, he freely wills to bring his sinless and rightly-oriented human will into perfect harmony with the divine will in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    Yes, Jim, absolutely right. But that is also how Jesus was different from us, not in his being the God-man, but in being sinless. None of us ever were or ever will be this side of eternity. And so something has to overcome the sinful nature, the old man, which remains even as it is being crucified after I am born again. And that something is grace. Which is why the author of Hebrews says regarding our growth in maturity, “And this we will do, if God permits.” (Heb. 6:3)

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  42. GSD [Getting Stuff Done]: I think the big deal here isn’t that the leadership went through a major theological transition. The big deal is that they also transitioned an 11,000 member church into something rather different, and the website reflects that. And the question [for me,anyway] is whether the folks in the pew [who finance all of this] knew anything about it.

    GSD, I just read you comment after posting my similar concern upstream. Church leaders are not leaders if they don’t adequately inform their congregations about the drift in theology and shift in ecclesiology heading their way. The people of God need to be prepared for such things by those who lead them.

    As I reflect on what is going on in SBC life regarding Calvinization of the denomination, I lay much of the blame at the feet of church leaders in 45,000+ SBC churches. The pew may be uninformed or misinformed about the New Calvinist movement, but their leaders are not – they know exactly what is going on. In their role as shepherds of predominantly non-Calvinist members, they should have been having “family talks” about this generational shift in theology that would eventually touch their congregations. I suppose they don’t want to disrupt the unity of their fellowships by alarming news of this sort, nor endanger the giving … but to leave them at the mercy of the stealth and deception of the new reformers is disturbing.

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  43. Max: YRR pastors have lied their way into pulpits, split churches, and gathered in church buildings/assets for the reformed movement.

    Where that has happened, it is wrong and should be repented of. A pastor who trusts God’s sovereignty should not feel he has to manipulate people to get what he believes will most glorify God (and I do believe that in most cases at least that is the primary motivation.

    And this is not to excuse it, but the men whom God uses to accomplish his purposes are fallen. And he uses us in spite of our sin. My big problem would be if such a man refuses to repent when such deception is made known. And there are plenty of examples talked about on this site where that’s sadly been the case (even if not all of them have been fair).

    But to say that David Platt’s hiring was stealth is to assume that the members of the congregation who nearly unanimously approved his hiring are idiots who had never heard or read anything about the man, or that he denied being a Calvinist. he was hired because he is a remarkable preacher who has motivated tens if not hundreds of thousands of young men and women to give up the lie of the American dream, to risk for Jesus, to spend their lives devoted to proclaiming the gospel. Calvinists have been preaching at McLean for years. I see no deception whatsoever in this, unless you can show me where he denied being a Calvinist or deceived the church in some other way.

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  44. Rambler: The Neo-Cal army (special forces?) marches on.

    Can anyone tell me why they are calling this group the Neo-Calvinists? Neo-Calvinism is a distinct branch of Dutch Reformed Calvinism, led by Abraham Kuyper that lends itself towards post-millenialism, and promulgated in the US by Francis Schaeffer and Calvin College (and arguably Tim keller to a lesser extent).

    The Reformed Baptists are decidedly NOT Neo-Calvinists.

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  45. JW: Yes, Jim, absolutely right. But that is also how Jesus was different from us, not in his being the God-man, but in being sinless. None of us ever were or ever will be this side of eternity. And so something has to overcome the sinful nature, the old man, which remains even as it is being crucified after I am born again. And that something is grace. Which is why the author of Hebrews says regarding our growth in maturity, “And this we will do, if God permits.” (Heb. 6:3)

    Human nature, properly defined, is not sinful, nor can it be. Human nature is a creation of God, and is not sinful per se.

    Adam pre-fall was not sinful; Jesus was not sinful; and we in glory will not be sinful. Sinfulness is not something proper to humanity. Our “nature” is not inclined to sin. That was Augustine’s grand mistake.

    Jim G.
    Jim G.

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  46. Max: GSD, I just read you comment after posting my similar concern upstream.

    Max, I steal some of my best material from you!

    Really, your internal perspective on the SBC is invaluable. Stealth and deception… That’s the problem exactly, and I want to better understand how this has played out at MBC.

    One more comment on Calvin. Didn’t Calvin oppose the Anabaptists of the day, because of their opposition to paedobaptism, and their practice of immersing adults? If Calvin walked into one of these Neo-Cal Baptist churches, and saw adults being dunked in the tank, would he be looking for firewood and a box of matches?

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  47. Jim G.: Hint: that same contradiction has made Western civilization what it is. Ever notice how we become polarized between any two given issues in our culture? Hmmm…..wonder if that goes back to the guts of our theological roots?

    Jim G.

    As I have been coming up against this in my own personal growth, I would dearly love to hear more of your perspective on this. Do you have a blog, or could you just share a little more? I certainly found a great inconsistency in Calvinism, as one cannot truly live with the belief that all has been predetermined without becoming hopelessly fatalistic and give in to despair at the meaninglessness of life. Is it to this that you are referring?

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  48. Max: Church leaders are not leaders if they don’t adequately inform their congregations about the drift in theology and shift in ecclesiology heading their way. The people of God need to be prepared for such things by those who lead them.

    That’s a fair comment. I don’t know what was talked about in member meetings, private or corporate. The shift would have been gradual and noticeable. It’s pretty well known that Platt is a Calvinist. His writings and preaching is out there for anyone to read. It’s a congregational church, and the congregation has to approve the elder board and the hiring of pastors. The ecclesiology hasn’t changed (and is very much compatible with the SBC). I don’t think the teaching at the church is changing that much either.

    So I don’t see any of this criticism being all that valid in this situation, even if it is more appropriate in other situations.

    That said, the reality is that all of the SBC seminaries are essentially Calvinist, at least 4 point. Same with Dallas Theological Seminary and Trinity. All of your young seminarians are being taught Calvinism. There aren’t many young Arminian pastors even available to take positions at non-Calvinist churches. I’m not saying this gleefully, even though I do think it’s a good thing, but essential Calvinism has taken over nearly all of the biblically faithful seminaries (ie non-liberal ones). The ones that remain Arminian are almost universally drifting to theological liberalism. Which is precisely what happened in continental Europe and the US until the Princeton split.

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  49. truthseeker00: as one cannot truly live with the belief that all has been predetermined without becoming hopelessly fatalistic and give in to despair at the meaninglessness of life

    I can and have. In fact I find much more comfort knowing that my God who loved me to the cross is in complete control of my life. It motivates me to trust him and cling to him, not despair.

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  50. Benn: Compatiblism, IMHO, anyway is a softer version of determinism, after cals have painted themselves into a corner on the author of evil, compatiblism is a magical window that opens up so they don’t have to walk on the author of evil paint that they just put down..

    Love this! (The comment, not the theology!) It is a great representation of the doublethink and utter lack of logic in the compatabilist position. At least the determinist is honest, and deals with the ugly baggage. The compatibilist, on the other hand, persuades all manner of naive believers that the ‘New, Improved Calvinism’ really just teaches what they already believe!’ Yes, sirree, you can have your cake and eat it too! God determines all things, and people choose their own paths. Don’t think, don’t ask questions, just put your money in the plate.

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  51. GSD [Getting Stuff Done],

    Yep, he would if those churches were in Geneva, because to deny one’s baptism was to deny one’s citizenship, a crime against the state. It was the state, not Calvin, who executed the Anabaptists, though Calvin agreed with the thinking of his day that to sin against God was to commit an offense against the state.

    This was the biggest blind spot IMHO about nearly all the reformers until Luther’s Two Kingdom view held sway and influenced the Puritans and English Separatists (along with secular ideas of liberty heralded and enabled post-reformation).

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  52. JW,

    Got it, wanting to see where is in particular are coming from

    would you classify yourself as 5 point Calvinist?

    Holding to total depravity, and limited atonement?

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  53. There is no “Christianity” only Christianities, each one so different from the others that they are different religions. As different to each other as non Christian religions are different from each other.

    Each one is trying to hook more followers but there are too many fishermen in the pond competing for the same fish.

    I think a lot of fish have moved to deeper water. I know this fish has. A gaudy lure will no longer get me on the hook.

    Putting on my Christian hat. If we look at what Jesus did, he actually became a fish and went into the pond to talk to the fish hanging out at the bottom.

    Maybe that’s sacrilege but the current church model has no al-lure. Lure get it?

    …..yeah I’ll stick to my day job.

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  54. Benn: Got it, wanting to see where is in particular are coming from

    would you classify yourself as 5 point Calvinist?

    Holding to total depravity, and limited atonement?

    I do. I was born into an Arminian SBC church. I used to debate Calvinists on internet message boards into college. I grew up thinking Presbyterians were bad because they were Calvinists and they drank alcohol, and wasn’t sure which was worse. As I read the Scriptures to debunk those loony Calvin worshipers, I came under his spell and asked Calvin into my heart after a Passion event. 🙂 Actually, I didn’t read a lick of Calvin until long after I was a Calvinist.

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  55. JW: Can anyone tell me why they are calling this group the Neo-Calvinists?

    The YRRs refer to themselves as “New Calvinists”. My theory is that since “Neo” and “New” are often used interchangeably, those not in the movement sometimes substitute “Neo” for “New”. I doubt they know anything about Dutch Reformed Calvinism. That’s my best guess.

    The Gospel Coalition tackled your question a while back.

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/whats-the-difference-neo-calvinist-vs-neocalvinist/

    Dee and I coined the term “Calvinista”, and often use it instead of “New Calvinist”.

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  56. Benn:
    JW,

    In hindsight, with the power Calvin had at the time, do you think he could have stopped the death of Michael Servetus?

    Actually, no. not that he would have wanted to, however it is well documented that he pleaded into the night of Servetus’ execution both with Servetus for him to repent, and with the Council to grant Servetus clemency, which in the day meant a quick execution rather than the slower death that he was sentenced to. Calvin wasn’t cruel, but his view of the state was seriously in error at this point — although so was every other nation’s governance. It was a cultural and theological blindness, much like slavery was to other godly men in that dark period of American history.

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  57. JW,

    Sorry (again) I’m in a meeting at the moment, forgot to ask,

    Are you Calvinist in soteriology only, or the whole enchilada, and hold to all reformed theology?..

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  58. JW: That said, the reality is that all of the SBC seminaries are essentially Calvinist, at least 4 point. Same with Dallas Theological Seminary and Trinity. All of your young seminarians are being taught Calvinism.

    Yes, it is true that the New Calvinists are now at the lead in most SBC seminaries, as well as SBC’s home and foreign mission agencies, and its publishing house LifeWay. It’s been a brilliant well-executed strategy! Not too Christlike, but brilliant nonetheless.

    SBC’s church planting program is making room for many of the new reformers fresh out of seminary. Those who are bolder with stealth and deception in their bones venture forth to take over established SBC churches from unsuspecting congregations. Millions of uninformed non-Calvinist SBC members who have financed this rebellion unaware were not asked if this was OK with them.

    Al Mohler launched the New Calvinist movement within SBC when he delivered his 1993 convocation address at Southern Seminary: “We bear the collective responsibility to call this denomination back to itself and its doctrinal inheritance. This is a true reformation.”

    He was, of course, referring to SBC’s pre-Civil War founding by Calvinist slave-holders in the South. They believed sovereign God was on their side during the War until early Confederate victories turned to defeat. After the War, Southern Baptists distanced themselves from the founders’ theology, rejected that “inheritance”, and remained distinctly non-Calvinist for 150+ years until Mohler decided to take the denomination back to its theological roots … again, without asking Southern Baptists if this was OK with them.

    JW, this is my overriding concern about the tactics of the New Calvinists. If the good people at MBC knew this was coming, then I wish them the best. Numerous SBC churches were not provided that privilege. No matter how you spin it, the methods of many young reformers to capture churches for the movement by deception cannot be considered a God-thing.

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  59. Benn: Sorry (again) I’m in a meeting at the moment, forgot to ask,

    Are you Calvinist in soteriology only, or the whole enchilada, and hold to all reformed theology?..

    Excellent question…I say that I’m fully reformed, but reformed is in the eye of the beholder. I do hold to a form of covenantal theology, but one that is more in line with that taught at Westminster Escondido than Westminster Philly, which is more influenced by Luther. I’m credo-baptist which puts me in full heretic category by some of the Truly Reformed, but I call it like I see it in Scripture. I’m more reformed than John piper and SGM, but less reformed than Doug Wilson. 🙂

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  60. JW: I can and have. In fact I find much more comfort knowing that my God who loved me to the cross is in complete control of my life. It motivates me to trust him and cling to him, not despair.

    So, when your son gets drawn into pornography, loses his job and his wife, you will simply shrug your shoulders and rejoice that God put this on his plate? Thanks God, I’s sure this was a great plan, elaborately charted out by God, not a horrible, desructive choice that God greatly desired him not to make. When you see a sweet, precious little boy sexually abused by his own grandfather – and pastor – you simply smile and say, ‘I guess that’s what God wanted; who am I to question it?’ Your heart does not ache with the unthinkable evil, the trauma and pain so many experience because of one man’s evil choices – no sirree, we will rejoice that God thought up such a situation and put all of these people in it to give himself a chance to shine.

    Not I, my friend. You and I might see the same tragic evil in the world, but the difference is that I know that God hates it, and would never, for a second, have determined life on this earth to go the way men chose to take it. (Which is why he promises to redeem us and it!) Oh, he could foresee what men would do with their freedom, but he has urged all, from Cain on, to flee from the evil that stalks them just outside the door – because they had and have a choice, and evil can be avoided.

    For the sake of genuine relationship, God made man in his own image, with the ability to love or not love him, to obey or not obey, to love good or destroy themselves and others by embracing evil. Morality requires true volition, and God endures, for a time, the evil that those who choose to reject him perpetuate. Which is why he seeks to assure us that there is a better day ahead, when his will indeed will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Which kinda, sorta suggests that it is not his will that things look this way now.

    Your theology, if you follow it to its unavoidable conclusion, puts God behind every evil thought, word and deed that comes to pass. He does not simply allow man’s freely chosen evil for a time, but it has all been carefully thought out and irrevocably ordained by God and God alone. Even the few Calvinists who claim they can deal with that horrid thought, do not, in my opinion, truly live as if it is so. Their own words, including Piper, et al., reveal the dissociaton in their minds, which praise God for all of the good and pronounces ‘blame’ on the wicked for ‘choosing’ to do evil (Wink, wink – which God irresistibly foreordained them to do long before they were ever born, but we’ll just pretend like they had some sort of meaningful choice in the matter – wink, wink.)

    One simply cannot reconcile this theology with how anyone genuinely lives, so Calvinists mouth words that no sane human could truly believe. Many simply trust them, pushing aside the thoughts that it all sounds like a bunch of nonsense. I mean, hey, who can question the mighty Westminster Divines and all these much adored celebrity teachers? – Slowly raises hand.

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  61. GSD [Getting Stuff Done]: I steal some of my best material from you!

    Oh, but you made your comment before me this time! You get stuff done, man! 🙂

    It’s well known that every preacher “borrows” a sermon here and there from others. I listen to certain New Calvinist sermon podcasts to see what makes them tick. If I close my eyes, I can hear Piper speaking.

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  62. Max,

    Max, my favorite secular artist ( the boss) has a chorus line in one song…

    “You’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above”

    Our affluence made us lazy, and we have lost a generation to Calvinism because of it, it is our own fault..
    They wanted answers, and we just told them to love Jesus, and they found a home in systematic theology.

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  63. Discussing Calvinistic beliefs is interesting to me but doesn’t fully reflect the way most of their followers live out their beliefs.
    One of the bigger churches in our area is Acts29 affiliated and definitely Calvinist. Yet when I’ve asked various members over the years whether they understand TULIP, the majority have no idea what I’m talking about and say they don’t really care about it.
    So how does their teaching play out?
    Just last month I was getting to know a women who also attends the same church and she was sharing her testimony. She’d gone to Biola and came to a choice, date a party guy from USC or a Christian guy at her college. She said it was “God’s sovereign plan” and His will that she chose the partier, who ended up abandoning her and their two young children. I had to bite my tongue hard to not blurt out my thoughts. Really?? You put the onus of your poor choice on God?!?
    I did mention something about God making good things come from our poor choices, like her beautiful two kids, and let it drop.
    Also, the women seem to get hung up on “godly gender roles” but that’s a subject for another day.

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  64. Max: No matter how you spin it, the methods of many young reformers to capture churches for the movement by deception cannot be considered a God-thing.

    Max, I think I understand your concern and anger (if you’d call it that). There are probably a lot of pastors who should do some soul-searching about their methods, even if they believe their motives were good (and should therefore search what aspects of their motives may not have been so good). I don’t think transparency requires a pastor to say “Hey if you hire me, I’m gonna make you all 5 pointers or you can get out”, but I do think it requires them to be honest about every answer, and not try to wordsmith their way to spinning answers to questions about their beliefs. For example, if you believe in the 5 points and are asked if you are a Calvinist, you shouldn’t say, “Well I would not call myself a Calvinist” simply because you don’t like the term. I have heard calvinists do that and I think its intellectually dishonest even if they aren’t aware that they are trying to deceive people.

    I’m not a pastor, but if I was I would want to be clear about what I believed, especially to the search committee. But in baptist polity I think it’s the search committee’s responsibility to lay out those kinds of concerns to the pastors even more than the candidates themselves, and then let the congregation make its choice.

    At MBC, I guarantee the search committee knew everything Platt believed. It’s all in writing. What the committee and the elders did with that information when they presented the recommendation to the congregation I do not know. But that would lay the blame at them, not Platt himself, IMHO.

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  65. Lydia: And God hates sharing his glory.

    Bull@#&t! God would give up all of his glory in a heartbeat to rescue his foolish, hopeless, beloved creation!

    Oh wait . . . he already did.

    God is ‘love’ not a narcissistic tyrant who can’t stand to share any of the limelight. It’s just the Calvinistas and other charlatans who need all of the ‘glory’. God does not have to deceive, destroy and wreak havoc upon his creation to ‘get glory’ – he created the sun, the moon, billions of stars – and an amazing, complex flesh-covered creature that is so much more than a robot, whom he offers the chance to forsake their self-chosen path of destruction and receive everlasting life.

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  66. JW: The ones that remain Arminian are almost universally drifting to theological liberalism.

    I grant you your belief system but this statement is an attempt to broadbrush Arminians which is unfair and a common tactic of Calvinistas. I am not a Calvinist and I am not a liberal-whatever that means. In fact, the word liberal™ is a rallying cry for the Calvinists to disparage those who disagree with them. I doubt you truly understand the hearts and minds of thoughtful Arminians although I am sure you will disagree with this since, of course, I am not a Calvinist.

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  67. Jim G.,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. I will chew on this.

    2 questions for you:

    1. What do you see as the solution to this problem?

    2. Any books/articles that helped you develop your thinking on this? I have my own personal reasons that natural law theology no longer explains the world to me, but I need more complete context so I can get my mind around it.

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  68. JW: I do think it’s a good thing, but essential Calvinism has taken over nearly all of the biblically faithful seminaries (ie non-liberal ones).

    See, you did it again. The Calvinists are good. The liberals™ are unfaithful and are not good because they are not Calvinists. Are you that sold on the mantra? Sadly, you are so simplistic in your comments that it is not worth the time to convince you otherwise. Just try to be nice.

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  69. JW: I can and have. In fact I find much more comfort knowing that my God who loved me to the cross is in complete control of my life. It motivates me to trust him and cling to him, not despair.

    Well, at least this is something I can agree with you on. I believe God is in complete control in the big picture. I cling to Him and do not despair. And I did when my daughter had a large malignant brain tumor when she was 3. Somehow, you theology and mine, while different, achieve similar results.

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  70. Benn:
    JW, In hindsight, with the power Calvin had at the time, do you think he could have stopped the death of Michael Servetus?

    Uh oh, Benn. Get ready for the defense of the death of Servetus. Poor Calvin – he couldn’t do anything about it!!

    The defense of Calvin is the same defense that the SBC uses today to defend keeping churches in the SBC who have mishandled or covered up pedophiles in the church. Put on a serious and oh so humble and frustrated face and in a whiney voice say “All the churches are autonomous. We can’t do a blasted thing about it” unless they get a woman pastor and there is some bypass mechanism to kick them out.

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  71. JW: Can anyone tell me why they are calling this group the Neo-Calvinists? Neo-Calvinism is a distinct branch of Dutch Reformed Calvinism, led by Abraham Kuyper that lends itself towards post-millenialism, and promulgated in the US by Francis Schaeffer and Calvin College (and arguably Tim keller to a lesser extent).
    The Reformed Baptists are decidedly NOT Neo-Calvinists.

    Yawn- yes I am aware that you know your Calvinist theology. Unfortunately, most people don’t give a fig about historical Neo Calvinism and since these dudebros call themselves New Calvinists, it has devolved into Neo Calvinism. I agree with Deb. I like our term better – Calvinistas!

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  72. JW: I’m not a pastor, but if I was I would want to be clear about what I believed, especially to the search committee. But in baptist polity I think it’s the search committee’s responsibility to lay out those kinds of concerns to the pastors even more than the candidates themselves, and then let the congregation make its choice.

    My contention is that MANY Southern Baptist congregations are not aware of the stealth takeover of their denomination. I’m not excusing them for their ignorance, but it’s a fact that the pastor search committees of these smaller churches are in the dark.

    I am passionate about ‘educating’ my fellow Southern Baptists about this ‘quiet revolution’ and am striving to get the information out there via this forum.

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  73. Lydia: IMO, Platt pulled a sensationalized “Christian” scam in Dubai to promote himself.

    I agree. The volume of actions is much louder than all the reformed-christianese babble they can come up with.

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  74. Speaking of shifts in how the church functions…

    https://www.ucatholic.com/blog/how-the-ancient-catholic-church-dealt-with-priest-sex-offenders/

    Saint Basil the Great, a Doctor of the Church, writing in the 4th-century, described how the early Catholic Church dealt with those guilty of sexual abuse among the clergy.

    “Any cleric or monk who seduces young men or boys, or who is apprehended in kissing or in any shameful situation, shall be publicly flogged and shall lose his clerical tonsure. Thus shorn, he shall be disgraced by spitting in his face, bound in iron chains, wasted by six months of close confinement, and for three days each week put on barley bread given him toward evening. Following this period, he shall spend a further six months living in a small segregated courtyard in custody of a spiritual elder, kept busy with manual labor and prayer, subjected to vigils and prayers, forced to walk at all times in the company of two spiritual brothers, never again allowed to associate with young men.”

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  75. GSD [Getting Stuff Done]: Maybe they should have done a series on “Armenianism vs. Calvinism.” Maybe they did, but I doubt it. Too many people would have left with their money. You would think that naming Platt as the new pastor would have clued people in, but not everyone knows who David Platt is, or his associations with T4G and 9Marx.

    From what I can tell, the process of “reforming” a church seems to involve a lot of manipulation behind the scenes, slowly transferring power from the members to the Elders, teaching classes on the Doctrines of Grace and Grudem’s ST, changing bylaws and updating the website.

    And the big deal is that this is being repeated in churches across the country.

    It goes even beyond that. The church I was part of for over a decade was openly Calvinist, but the meaning of that was cleverly cloaked. Nearly every person who came to the church was not conversant in Calvinism, and somehow, the long-promised ‘class’ on the teachings of Calvinism never materialized – in 12 years.

    Instead, the familiar old terms were used, only given secretive new definitions – and the folks in the pew were none the wiser. They could hear those old familiar phrases, hear their favorite hymns comfortingly quoted, and nod their heads happily, having no idea that Calvinism forbids the very meaning they are assuming the words have. And the pastor is aware of all of this. He knows full well that few, if any, would embrace Calvinism if explained properly.

    This is truly a diabolical, Screwtapish sort of religion, twisting words and using any and all methods to deceive and manipulate the ‘victims’ into a compliant submission to their self-claimed authorities, rather than do the hard work of seeking the truth, as proscribed by scripture. No worries, these mighty men of Gawd have figured it all out for you. You simply sign your membership covenant and promise to never question anything these men of Gawd might say, unless, of course, you wish to provoke the wrath of Khan – and the discipline of your ‘ruling elders’.

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  76. JW: At MBC, I guarantee the search committee knew everything Platt believed. It’s all in writing. What the committee and the elders did with that information when they presented the recommendation to the congregation I do not know. But that would lay the blame at them, not Platt himself, IMHO.

    My point, exactly. As Baptist and Independent churches transition to Elder rule, new people should be told, “You are not a Member, you are a Sponsor. You have no voice, even if we decide to radically alter the theological framework. Show up, sit down, be quiet, and pay up.”

    Although I don’t have enough information to give Platt a pass.

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  77. JW: At MBC, I guarantee the search committee knew everything Platt believed. It’s all in writing. What the committee and the elders did with that information when they presented the recommendation to the congregation I do not know. But that would lay the blame at them, not Platt himself, IMHO.

    I really had a good laugh at this comment. Poor David Platt-wasn’t his fault. Poor Calvin-Servetus wasn’t his fault.

    Let me tell you what I have heard. That there was a behind the scenes group of pastors that encouraged some Calvinists to come to MBC and Lon Solomon was not aware of what was happening.

    Let me also clue you in to the realities of the congregation voting. We have written on this extensively. Congregations, as a whole, are not educated on the intricacies of theology. That is why they are ripe for the Calvinists to come in. Also, most congregations, not belong well educated, vote for whatever their elders present to them. I know you know it and I know that the Calvinistas know that. They use the ignorance of congregations to move in silently.

    No- Calvinists are NOT straightforward when they come into previous Arminian congregations. We have been documenting this for 9 years.

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  78. JW: I think I understand your concern and anger (if you’d call it that).

    Anger is not a good word to describe my emotions with this matter.

    A more appropriate way to look at this is to ask a few questions from a church member’s perspective:

    “How does a church member feel when he has been deceived by church leaders?”
    “How does he feel when he realizes he has been lied to?”
    “Should he continue to have faith in his church, denomination, and its leaders?”
    “What will my children now learn under this new preacher and this different theology?”
    “If they’ve lied to me about this, what else have they lied to me about?”

    When people in positions of leadership and power deceive you in any way, you not only become disaffected with them, but disillusioned with the systems and institutions they represent. When things begin to change in the theology and structure of a church, an individual begins to lose his identity and well-being within it.

    JW: At MBC, I guarantee the search committee knew everything Platt believed. It’s all in writing. What the committee and the elders did with that information when they presented the recommendation to the congregation I do not know.

    For you MBC members listening in, did the search committee adequately inform you in writing about Platt’s theological leaning before your vote to approve him as your pastor? Did you know that his preaching/teaching as a New Calvinist would be different from the non-Calvinist ministry you signed onto as a member? Did the search committee have a “family meeting” to answer all your questions about the “new season” in store for you under his leadership before your vote?

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  79. Max: For you MBC members listening in, did the search committee adequately inform you in writing about Platt’s theological leaning before your vote to approve him as your pastor? Did you know that his preaching/teaching as a New Calvinist would be different from the non-Calvinist ministry you signed onto as a member? Did the search committee have a “family meeting” to answer all your questions about the “new season” in store for you under his leadership before your vote?

    AMEN! Great questions.

    I suspect they sold the congregation on David Platt’s mission-mindedness and ability to motivate others to ‘reach the nations’.

    And more importantly, Platt is putting MBC on the map! Everyone will now know about this mega and want to flock to it!!!

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  80. dee: JW: Can anyone tell me why they are calling this group the Neo-Calvinists? Neo-Calvinism is a distinct branch of Dutch Reformed Calvinism, led by Abraham Kuyper that lends itself towards post-millenialism, and promulgated in the US by Francis Schaeffer and Calvin College (and arguably Tim keller to a lesser extent).
    The Reformed Baptists are decidedly NOT Neo-Calvinists.

    dee: Yawn- yes I am aware that you know your Calvinist theology. Unfortunately, most people don’t give a fig about historical Neo Calvinism and since these dudebros call themselves New Calvinists, it has devolved into Neo Calvinism. I agree with Deb. I like our term better – Calvinistas!

    Something about Calvinist Dude Bros in beards, whitewalls and quiffs, dressed like Neo from the Matrix paraphrasing him with “I know the Doctrines” amuses me.

    Yeah, I know nothing of the Dutch Reformed, and picked up the use from others. Now that I know, I’ll use New Calvinist or Calvinistas instead.

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  81. truthseeker00: So, when your son gets drawn into pornography, loses his job and his wife, you will simply shrug your shoulders and rejoice that God put this on his plate? Thanks God, I’s sure this was a great plan, elaborately charted out by God, not a horrible, desructive choice that God greatly desired him not to make. When you see a sweet, precious little boy sexually abused by his own grandfather – and pastor – you simply smile and say, ‘I guess that’s what God wanted; who am I to question it?’ Your heart does not ache with the unthinkable evil, the trauma and pain so many experience because of one man’s evil choices – no sirree, we will rejoice that God thought up such a situation and put all of these people in it to give himself a chance to shine.

    Not I, my friend. You and I might see the same tragic evil in the world, but the difference is that I know that God hates it, and would never, for a second, have determined life on this earth to go the way men chose to take it.

    Brother (or sister), that’s where the rubber meets the road for sure. I’ve suffered through some of the types of situations you describe, so this isn’t theoretical for me. It has made me question whether I really believe this. But the alternative is much more hopeless to me than to believe that God can ordain what he hates in order to accomplish what he loves.

    If I were to purely allow philosophy and experience to guide my beliefs on the problem of evil, I would likely be a molinist, believing that God can only know counterfactuals and the likelihood of what will happen in the future based on man’s free choices, and not control the future. But because I’m committed to the authority of Scripture, I am convinced this is what the Bible teaches, that God is perfectly good and only does good to his people; and at the same time nothing happens to me or my family that has not passed through his plan for our lives, even when that plan includes grief and horrible pain. And I’m convinced from Scripture that what the enemy intends for evil God intends for good. And I’m convinced from Scripture that the heart of the king is like water in the hands of the Lord. nd I’m convinced from Scripture that before eternity past God chose me to be part of his family, not because of any good I did but because he chose to set his affection upon me and redeem me from the wickedness of my choices by pouring out his wrath on his Son on my behalf. (Genuine tears in my eyes right now as I type).

    But at an emotional and philosophical level, the alternative is not just unbiblical IMO but unthinkable. How can God plan the ends without planning the means? By that I mean, how can God make promises that all things work together for my good if he doesn’t control anything that happens to me, if it’s all left up to man? The non-Calvinist solution may relieve God of responsibility for man’s evil choices like rape, but what of cancer? Does not God control cancer cells? What of natural disaster? Does not God control the winds? If one child dies from a drunk driver (man’s choice), one dies in a flood (God’s control) and another dies of cancer (God’s control), is there really that big of a difference in the heart of a grieving father between the three deaths? Do I take a lick of comfort that God could have stopped two of them and didn’t, but had no control over the third situation because he is a gentleman and would not dare interfere in man’s free will so as to relieve himself of blame?

    I just don’t buy that the solution you propose lets God off the hook in any meaningful way. Why did God make the fruit in the garden desirable? Why did he let the snake in there if it ultimately wasn’t his plan for Adam to fall? He could have made the fruit repulsive. he could have sent the snake to the other side of creation and forbid it to cross his special creation of man.

    But if Adam hadn’t fallen, we would never have worshiped the Son as our Redeemer, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. he would have been robbed of his glory in salvation. And God would not have that. At least that’s how I make biblical sense of it all.

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  82. dee: I really had a good laugh at this comment. Poor David Platt-wasn’t his fault. Poor Calvin-Servetus wasn’t his fault.

    The Party Can Do No Wrong, Comrades.

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  83. dee: Poor David Platt-wasn’t his fault. Poor Calvin-Servetus wasn’t his fault

    Now Dee, you know I didn’t say poor anyone. With Calvin, it is both his fault and a cultural blindness that led to some really bad theology. But yes, knowing the cultural and political setting does help me try to be more understanding with the error. And if Platt was totally honest with the search committee, and answered every question asked of him honestly by the congregation, has published his writings and put all his sermons in the internet, and can affirm the church’s written doctrinal statement, what blame would he have? Must he wear his “Calvin is my homeboy” T-shirt to the congregational vote? Would that have been sufficient transparency?

    I get your concern — I just don’t think reasonable people (like you and me) have to necessarily come down on the same side of that answer. Do you see how someone might have a different perspective without being a deceptive worm?

    That is not to defend every takeover or strategy. You’ve got totally valid criticism of parts if not much of the movement. I just don’t think it’s fair as it relates to Platt and MBC.

    “Let me tell you what I have heard. That there was a behind the scenes group of pastors that encouraged some Calvinists to come to MBC and Lon Solomon was not aware of what was happening.”

    I can tell you beyond question that Lon knew everything. The board of elders was his board. The pastors hired were his associates. Lon’s theology changed from when that document was posted after I left. I know this first hand. Platt is who Lon wanted to build on what he’d labored for at McLean. Your sources might be shocked to know that, but it is completely true and I guarantee Lon would second that statement if asked.

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  84. dee: Put on a serious and oh so humble and frustrated face and in a whiney voice say “All the churches are autonomous. We can’t do a blasted thing about it” unless they get a woman pastor and there is some bypass mechanism to kick them out.

    Autonomous when it is to their Advantage to be Autonomous.
    One Collective in Lockstep when Unity is to their Advantage.
    Just like Calvary Chapel — disperse to defend, concentrate to attack.
    Maintain Plausible Deniability.

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  85. dee: See, you did it again. The Calvinists are good. The liberals™ are unfaithful and are not good because they are not Calvinists. Are you that sold on the mantra?

    Two words: TRUE BELIEVER.

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  86. Deb: Platt is putting MBC on the map! Everyone will now know about this mega and want to flock to it!!!

    MBC was already on the map. it’s the biggest church in the most influential city in the world. The Washington Post once named it the number one place to meet singles in DC. Half the church was paid for by Steve Case, the founder of AOL. Half the Republican Senators and Congressmen are members there, and half of Trump’s cabinet (and Bush’s before him…not so much Obama, lol).

    I don’t live in DC anymore, and I’ve never met David Platt, But as a Calvinist who loves Platt’s passion for the advance of the gospel all around the globe, I could not be more thrilled that God has placed him there.

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  87. JW: Yep, he would if those churches were in Geneva, because to deny one’s baptism was to deny one’s citizenship, a crime against the state. It was the state, not Calvin, who executed the Anabaptists, though Calvin agreed with the thinking of his day that to sin against God was to commit an offense against the state.

    And it was the State, not the Church, who burned all those Heretics in the Spanish Inquisition. The Inquisition simply “relaxed” them into State custody so the Church’s hands would stay clean. “Maintain Plausible Deniability” is an old, old shtick.

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  88. JW: But apart from his grace at work in me to desire to do what is right and to empower me to desire to choose what is right more than I desire to choose what is evil, I am left to my own sinful devices. I could give you verses to back all that up, but just to show I’m not as predictable as Lydia thinks, I will refrain unless requested.

    Like dueling light sabres, but using Scripture verses instead, very much like the Sith versus the Jedi.

    We’ve been down that road on numerous occasions here at TWW and there never is any ‘clear winner’ so to speak, because Scripture (in my opinion) is a purely subjective proposition when it comes to interpretation of the same.

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  89. JW: nd I’m convinced from Scripture that before eternity past God chose me to be part of his family

    What specifically convinces you that you are among the elect? In section 3.2.11 of Calvin’s Institutes he makes it very clear that God grants a false assurance to some of the reprobate. How do you know you are not among those who have been given this non-saving faith? I have never been able to find a Calvinist who can give a convincing argument for what Calvin taught in that section of ICR. In fact, it’s very rare to find a Calvinist who even knows about it. In light of it, how can anyone know for sure that they are not ultimately one of thr reprobate?

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  90. dee: See, you did it again. The Calvinists are good. The liberals™ are unfaithful and are not good because they are not Calvinists. Are you that sold on the mantra? Sadly, you are so simplistic in your comments that it is not worth the time to convince you otherwise. Just try to be nice.

    I am trying to be nice, and I’m intentionally trying not to name call or attack anyone or question anyone’s motives. Please tell me where I’m failing in that. I was using liberal as a descriptor, not an epithet. Perhaps we define it differently. I’m not saying Calvinist=conservative, Arminian=liberal. Charles Stanley is very conservative and clearly Arminian. I’m saying, show me a major seminary that is still decidedly Arminian that hasn’t moved into theological liberalism on issues such as sexuality and the inerrancy of Scripture.

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  91. truthseeker00: This is truly a diabolical, Screwtapish sort of religion, twisting words and using any and all methods to deceive and manipulate the ‘victims’ into a compliant submission to their self-claimed authorities

    This is a religion for Sociopaths.
    And if you’re not one, you’ll become one in due time.
    Becoming one is the only way to survive and advance in The System.

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  92. JW,

    JW, one of the things I find interesting is that Cals can’t for a nanosecond consider that a totally sovereign God can love his creation enough to give them libertine free will, as if that somehow demenishes his sovereignty.

    To me Libertine free will enhances his sovereignty ( to use another boss song tag line) he is comfortable in his own skin…

    He is to me to be so awesome and powerful, that he didn’t have to create human disneyesqe type creatures
    God is responsible for fact of free will, not the acts of free will….

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  93. JW: Benn: Take soteriology out it… if am responsible, is it logical to assume I am able to respond…?

    Yes it does. And it Paul knew it did. That’s why he wrote Romans 9:19 about this precise thing — “You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”

    Paul/Holy Spirit anticipated that response to the idea that God is sovereign over human choices while hold man responsible for them. How can God hold you responsible for choices he determines? Who can resist his will?

    Paul’s answer was not — “You can resist his will because his will is not binding. It’s ultimately up to you.” His answer was, basically, shut your mouth and be silent before Almighty God, oh you of little understanding. (I think the actual Greek says STFU. lol).

    Seriously, the actual answer, as I’m sure you’ve read, was “20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?”

    He says, the clay (ie you and me) have no right to demand answers about fairness and justice from the Maker. The Maker can make some for eternal glory and others for eternal destruction for his own glory and purposes. And we are to shut our mouths and worship this mysterious God, and praise him that he has not made us vessels for dishonorable use (the next verse says “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction”).

    I know the Arminian attempts to make this passage not about eternal destiny but about historical positioning of Israel. But tell that to Pharoah, who was destroyed as a vessel of wrath. It very much was about God’s eternal purposes for individuals as well as for God’s election of Israel (at the eternal expense of Esau and his descendants, not just historical use).

    So yes, edwards help makes sense of it to me. But the Bible tells me that even if it doesn’t make sense, God is the potter, and I am the clay, and I dare accuse the potter of doing something wrong, when all he is doing is being God.

    Except that some of us will completely reject this entire interpretation; which, by the way, is all it is: one possible interpretation.

    What if, instead of shrugging at God’s apparent cruelty and injustice, Paul is asserting that this line of reasoning is faulty? ‘You will say’, says Paul, which here and elsewhere, nearly always leads to him pointing out the error in the assumed reader’s thinking.

    The argument that Calvinism asserts Paul is making is, I would suggest, the argument Paul is, instead, rejecting by exposing its flaws.

    The assumed reader (the Judaists) would assert that God irresistibly ordained all things, thus asking how man could be blamed for doing evil. He thought he had it all wrapped up, showing obvious deference to God’s mighty Sovereign control of the world, and himself, a mere speck of clay, without blame.

    Rather than affirming this argument, I assert that Paul unwinds and discounts it. If one looks at the Potter and Clay metaphor, one finds that the Potter has a particular, and worthy, goal for the clay, which is – wait, what? – resisted!

    If one does a little research into old-fashioned pottery making, one will discover that a potter went far and wide collecting all manner of clay and storing it carefully in underground pits. When he set out to make a particular object, he would carefully select the most appropriate type of clay that should yield most efficiently to the shape and purpose intended.

    But guess what? Sometimes the clay had unseen ‘blemishes’ – perhaps a bit of foreign substance hiding within – which caused the clay to ‘resist’ or be ‘unwilling’ to be molded into the desired shape. Rather than completely reject and waste the clay, the potter would reshape it into something else, perhaps a simple chamber pot or footwashing tub.

    This explanation is a far cry from suggesting that the Potter not only created all clay, but tyrannically shapes it into whatever shape he desires, with the clay having absolutely say or ability to ‘resist’. The art of pottery making suggests the exact opposite, and it is to this (then commonly understood) fact that Paul points.

    Despite the Potter’s undeniable expertise, wisdom and perfect intentions, even the best of clay could only be ‘worked with’ – not forced into any desired shape. Oh, it could have been ‘foced’, but it would eventually show the cracks and lead to uselessness, and the expert potter was too wise to allow that to happen.

    The same is true of each and every human being. We have been given, by God, the ability to ‘resist’ God’s good plan, the ability to refuse to conform to the image he desires, and thus making ourselves worthy only for lesser, undesirable purposes. When God tells us to ‘not eat’, we have the undeniable ability – granted by God alone – to resist his will, disobey his command, and eat anyway, to our very own destruction.

    Thus, Pharaoh, like Israel, despite being arrogant and rebellious, was allowed to achieve and retain a great deal of privilege and position. Rather than dashing them to pieces because of their resistance, God forbore with them, knowing that the cracks would inevitably arise. He used their self-chosen rebelliousness, their resistance to his will, to bring about that very will. A master manipulator can often do the very same thing, but only by abusing the bodies, minds and the power of choice that God has given to his creatures.

    This is so radically different from the interpretation Calvin and his merry band put on Romans 9 that one can hardly believe they are reading the same words.

    What the reader must understand is that words are simply symbols; they can be twisted and shaped to take on nearly endless creative meanings. It is due to this reality that the devil could and can use God’s own words, twisting and distorting their meaning, to serve his deceptive, destructive purposes.

    This is why it is not possible to merely assert ‘Scripture clearly says . . .’ as the fundamentalist so often does. What scripture ‘says’ is one thing; what scripture ‘means’ requires much more careful consideration and prayerful meditation.

    There is debate concerning even the actual words, autographs, translations, etc. of scripture. Yet even if we ‘found’ the original autographs, and could somehow translate them, without error, into modern languages, we would still be left with mere words. The meanings we give to those words are always shaped by worldviews, personal experience, culture, institutions, literary volumes and other media, and so on.

    The search for ‘truth’ and wisdom remains a difficult struggle, and I would not encourage attempting it without the constant support and leading of the Spirit of God, who was given to us for that very purpose. Relying on the interpretation of mere men seems highly dangerous.

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  94. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    In section 3.2.11 of Calvin’s Institutes he makes it very clear that God grants a false assurance to some of the reprobate. How do you know you are not among those who have been given this non-saving faith?

    The fact that one is a Calvinist does not mean that one agrees with everything Calvin taught.

    I don’t think one can justify from Scripture a doctrine of “false assurance” for those who truly examine themselves and what Scripture teaches. A person who has “false assurance” isn’t being honest with himself or herself.

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  95. Ken F (aka Tweed): How do you know you are not among those who have been given this non-saving faith?

    I’ll let Calvin answer, because at the heart of his teaching on election was a response to the abject lack of assurance that Rome offered in its false gospel.

    “Accordingly, those whom God has appointed as his sons are said to have been chosen not in themselves but in his Christ [Eph. 1:4]; for unless he could love them in him, he could not honor them with the inheritance of his Kingdom if they had not previously become partakers on him. But if we have been chosen in him, we shall not find assurance of our election in ourselves; and not even in God the Father, if we conceive him as severed from his Son. Christ, then, is the mirror wherein we must, and without self-deception may, contemplate our own election. For since it is into his body the Father has destined those to be engrafted whom he has willed from eternity to be his own, that he may hold as sons all whom he acknowledges to be among his members, we have a sufficiently clear and firm testimony that we have been inscribed in the book of life[cf. Rev. 21:27] if we are in communion with Christ.”

    His answer and mine is that we have no assurance in ourselves, but only that we trust in Christ, and that as we trust in Christ we need no other ground of assurance. You may ask, but what if I fall away? I only fall away by failing to trust in the saving grace of Jesus. And, perish the thought, should that ever happen, I will not care that I have no saving faith because I have no desire for it.

    The point is that my assurance lies not in myself and what I have done, but in Christ and what he has done.

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  96. truthseeker00: This explanation is a far cry from suggesting that the Potter not only created all clay, but tyrannically shapes it into whatever shape he desires, with the clay having absolutely say or ability to ‘resist’. The art of pottery making suggests the exact opposite, and it is to this (then commonly understood) fact that Paul points.

    I have to give it to you, that’s a new one. I’ve never heard anyone make any such claim, and I thought i’d read all the arguments for it.

    I will leave to the honest reader to see if they can possibly read Romans 9 and come away thinking that makes any sense of the passage or a serious reading of it. It’s creative but completely unbelievable to me. You have to subvert everything Paul is actually saying to make any sense of it all. Remember, he’s quoting the passage where Moses wrote that God hardened Pharoah’s heart.

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  97. Benn: JW, one of the things I find interesting is that Cals can’t for a nanosecond consider that a totally sovereign God can love his creation enough to give them libertine free will, as if that somehow demenishes his sovereignty.

    To me Libertine free will enhances his sovereignty ( to use another boss song tag line) he is comfortable in his own skin…

    He is to me to be so awesome and powerful, that he didn’t have to create human disneyesqe type creatures
    God is responsible for fact of free will, not the acts of free will….

    I not only believed it for a nanosecond, I did for the first 20 years of my life. Until I couldn’t support it with Scripture anymore. I understand you see it very differently in Scripture. I respect that. I don’t consider you any less a brother or any less mature than me. You probably excel in many areas of godliness that I do not. But I am persuaded from my reading of Scripture that you are wrong. I eagerly await the day when we all worship Jesus and see how wrong we all were about so many things, even if we were right about others. And Jesus will get all the glory for it!

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  98. Muff Potter: We’ve been down that road on numerous occasions here at TWW and there never is any ‘clear winner’ so to speak, because Scripture (in my opinion) is a purely subjective proposition when it comes to interpretation of the same.

    I assumed as much and why I wasn’t trying to make this the Calvin vs Arminian thread, but I felt like it was requested…I’m glad to shut up if I’ve worn out my welcome. (I mean that sincerely).

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  99. JW: But at an emotional and philosophical level, the alternative is not just unbiblical IMO but unthinkable. How can God plan the ends without planning the means? By that I mean, how can God make promises that all things work together for my good if he doesn’t control anything that happens to me, if it’s all left up to man? The non-Calvinist solution may relieve God of responsibility for man’s evil choices like rape, but what of cancer? Does not God control cancer cells? What of natural disaster? Does not God control the winds? If one child dies from a drunk driver (man’s choice), one dies in a flood (God’s control) and another dies of cancer (God’s control), is there really that big of a difference in the heart of a grieving father between the three deaths? Do I take a lick of comfort that God could have stopped two of them and didn’t, but had no control over the third situation because he is a gentleman and would not dare interfere in man’s free will so as to relieve himself of blame?

    I happen to believe that the causes of disease, death and destruction will prove all to be of man’s making. We have rejected God’s command to be true stewards of his good creation, and have raped, pillared and abused this good earth, ourselves and one another in pursuit of building our own ‘kingdom’ (Tower of Babel) rather than follow God’s commands on how to live.

    I would not be so foolish as to pretend that I can offer an explanation of how this all happened/happens, but it could include such explanations as men moving into terrains that God never intended them to inhabit, let alone concocting artificial, chemically laden food, materials and an essentially toxic world out of what was initially ‘very good’.

    I would assert that it is the Calvinistic ‘the end justifies the means’ that has justified every sort of oppression and evil that man has ever desired to perpetrate and justify.

    I reject the Calvinistic claim that God invokes evil to bring about good. This is a far cry from asserting that God created men with genuine freedom of choice, knowing that man would inevitably abuse that freedom and create evil, and had a plan for addressing and redeeming whosoever desired and trusted in that which is eternally, utterly good. A plan that would expose evil for what it is, and lead to men of pure hearts to reject evil once and for all and embrace God’ grace and offer of a future life in which evil has been rejected and will never again rear its cruel, destructive head.

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  100. ___

    “Entering A 501c3 Religious Slide Zone, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Religious gospel lies by the 501c3 changling pastoral professionals for the pew people who are only followers themselves, and when you see a frightened pew person who is frightened by the 501c3 pastoral
    professionals who are scorching this church, please don’t tell me, I’m just a solitary person warning of this Calvinist false gospel, and that for some time now…but the face of this church has lost its sense and reason; only the masses blindly following the pew masters now…

    Please remember Apostle Paul’s warning : “Watch!”

    ATB

    Sòpy

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FLES11HG4GA

    ;~)

    – –

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  101. truthseeker00: I happen to believe that the causes of disease, death and destruction will prove all to be of man’s making. We have rejected God’s command to be true stewards of his good creation, and have raped, pillared and abused this good earth, ourselves and one another in pursuit of building our own ‘kingdom’ (Tower of Babel) rather than follow God’s commands on how to live.

    I think to be a consistent Arminian you have to believe this. I just don’t understand how you can defend that from Scripture. Nowhere does the Bible say that anyone but God controls the weather, and does so multiple times in the context of disaster and ruin.

    This is why I became a Calvinist. Because as much as logic and reason and what I thought I knew about God ran contrary to Calvinism, all my objections were left barren by Scripture.

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  102. truthseeker00,

    The search for ‘truth’ and wisdom remains a difficult struggle, and I would not encourage attempting it without the constant support and leading of the Spirit of God, who was given to us for that very purpose. Relying on the interpretation of mere men seems highly dangerous.

    You need to parse this out more. Relying only on your own interpretation is far more dangerous than relying on relying on corporate interpretation.

    What if, instead of shrugging at God’s apparent cruelty and injustice, Paul is asserting that this line of reasoning is faulty? ‘You will say’, says Paul, which here and elsewhere, nearly always leads to him pointing out the error in the assumed reader’s thinking.

    Except that Paul doesn’t “shrug” at God’s cruelty and injustice in the Calvinist view. He takes it as a given that God is just and kind no matter what that might look like to creatures, who do not know enough to make such an accusation against God. It’s exactly what God does at the end of Job.

    The assumed reader (the Judaists) would assert that God irresistibly ordained all things, thus asking how man could be blamed for doing evil. He thought he had it all wrapped up, showing obvious deference to God’s mighty Sovereign control of the world, and himself, a mere speck of clay, without blame.

    Paul isn’t addressing the Judaists, he’s addressing the Romans. And the objection he responds to does not arise if Paul is not taking a “Calvinistic” tack. No one would utter that objection to an Arminian Paul, for example.

    If one does a little research into old-fashioned pottery making, one will discover that a potter went far and wide collecting all manner of clay and storing it carefully in underground pits. When he set out to make a particular object, he would carefully select the most appropriate type of clay that should yield most efficiently to the shape and purpose intended.

    But guess what? Sometimes the clay had unseen ‘blemishes’ – perhaps a bit of foreign substance hiding within – which caused the clay to ‘resist’ or be ‘unwilling’ to be molded into the desired shape. Rather than completely reject and waste the clay, the potter would reshape it into something else, perhaps a simple chamber pot or footwashing tub.

    That’s all well and good, but the obvious difference between God and the pottery maker is that God knows that the clay has faults when he picks it. And Paul doesn’t say that the clay is reshaped into something else useful (like a footwashing tub) but into a vessel that is fit only for destruction.

    The other issue is that whereas a potter might pick from different clays, God’s clay is fundamentally flawed and has only imperfections and therefore, of its own accord will only offer resistance. Paul says that God makes vessels of honor and of destruction from the same lump of clay, the same fallen lump of clay. If all the clay has the same flaws that make it prone to resist the potter, why does some clay continue to resist the potter until death but some doesn’t?

    This explanation is a far cry from suggesting that the Potter not only created all clay, but tyrannically shapes it into whatever shape he desires, with the clay having absolutely say or ability to ‘resist’. The art of pottery making suggests the exact opposite, and it is to this (then commonly understood) fact that Paul points.

    I don’t know of any mainstream Calvinist who says that God tyrannically shapes the clay or that the clay has absolutely no ability to resist. Even mainstream Calvinism says that the elect resist. The point of irresistible grace is that God finally overcomes all resistance, that He never, ever fails to persuade those whom he wants to persuade.

    Despite the Potter’s undeniable expertise, wisdom and perfect intentions, even the best of clay could only be ‘worked with’ – not forced into any desired shape. Oh, it could have been ‘foced’, but it would eventually show the cracks and lead to uselessness, and the expert potter was too wise to allow that to happen.

    I don’t know of any mainstream Calvinist who says that God forces us into a desired shape. He makes us willing to be shaped.

    The same is true of each and every human being. We have been given, by God, the ability to ‘resist’ God’s good plan, the ability to refuse to conform to the image he desires, and thus making ourselves worthy only for lesser, undesirable purposes. When God tells us to ‘not eat’, we have the undeniable ability – granted by God alone – to resist his will, disobey his command, and eat anyway, to our very own destruction.

    But if God already knows what we are going to do anyway, how is that ability “real”? The non-Calvinist needs to address that.

    Thus, Pharaoh, like Israel, despite being arrogant and rebellious, was allowed to achieve and retain a great deal of privilege and position. Rather than dashing them to pieces because of their resistance, God forbore with them, knowing that the cracks would inevitably arise. He used their self-chosen rebelliousness, their resistance to his will, to bring about that very will. A master manipulator can often do the very same thing, but only by abusing the bodies, minds and the power of choice that God has given to his creatures.

    But if God uses Pharaoh’s rebelliousness to bring about His will and Pharaoh is not saved, then clearly it was not His will for Pharaoh to be saved. That or you have to start parsing God’s will into something like His perfect will and His permissive will, which is not altogether different than what Calvinism does with the will of decree and will of precept.

    No Calvinist says that God abuses our minds, bodies, or power of choice. People go to hell because they want to, not because they want to be in heaven but God says no.

    God forebears with people, but eventually he dashes them to pieces. It’s not merely him waiting for the cracks to arise. See Ps. 2. One Psalmist even pronounces blessing upon those who dash the Babylonian infants against the rocks.

    Before Pharaoh hardens his heart himself, God says that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart.

    This is so radically different from the interpretation Calvin and his merry band put on Romans 9 that one can hardly believe they are reading the same words.

    Actually, much of what you say isn’t “radically different.” You just don’t carry the implications of the analogy far enough. All clay is flawed and resistant since Adam. That doesn’t take away our power to choose, but it does limit the options that we want. That’s our fault, not God’s.

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  103. dee: JW: I can and have. In fact I find much more comfort knowing that my God who loved me to the cross is in complete control of my life. It motivates me to trust him and cling to him, not despair.

    Well, at least this is something I can agree with you on. I believe God is in complete control in the big picture. I cling to Him and do not despair. And I did when my daughter had a large malignant brain tumor when she was 3. Somehow, you theology and mine, while different, achieve similar results.

    Dee, I am deeply sorry for your and your child’s suffering. Few of us have not been touched personally by the horrors of cancer. But I would not assert that God ‘did this’, deliberately choosing to afflit your child, my sister, my father or my best friend with cancer. Is it possible that centuries and generations of abuse and toxification of our world and our bodies has led to the horrible crisis of cancer and other diseases we now face?

    I would agree that God loves us, and graciously walks alongside of us so that we can, by his supernatural strength and power, somehow endure the unendurable. But I do not believe that he ordained and wrought the unendurable, as if the end of ‘his glory’ justified him wreaking cruel torture upon his beloved children.

    The common ‘result’ that all believers hope in is God’s final putting down of all that is evil, destructive, painful and sorrow-laden. Personally, were I to believe that he was the author, as well as the vanquisher, of such; that he first orchestrated and brought to pass all evil, then put on his superhero mask and rescued us from that with which he initially afflicted us, I could not trust him as I do.

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  104. drstevej: Speaking of shifts in how the church functions…

    https://www.ucatholic.com/blog/how-the-ancient-catholic-church-dealt-with-priest-sex-offenders/

    Saint Basil the Great, a Doctor of the Church, writing in the 4th-century, described how the early Catholic Church dealt with those guilty of sexual abuse among the clergy.

    “Any cleric or monk who seduces young men or boys, or who is apprehended in kissing or in any shameful situation, shall be publicly flogged and shall lose his clerical tonsure. Thus shorn, he shall be disgraced by spitting in his face, bound in iron chains, wasted by six months of close confinement, and for three days each week put on barley bread given him toward evening. Following this period, he shall spend a further six months living in a small segregated courtyard in custody of a spiritual elder, kept busy with manual labor and prayer, subjected to vigils and prayers, forced to walk at all times in the company of two spiritual brothers, never again allowed to associate with young men.”

    This is one piece of historical christianity I have never seen publicized. Funny that. It is also one of the first historical, orthodox traditions of christianity I could unthinkingly embrace. 😉

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  105. truthseeker00,

    I would assert that it is the Calvinistic ‘the end justifies the means’ that has justified every sort of oppression and evil that man has ever desired to perpetrate and justify.

    Except that Calvinism doesn’t really say that the end justifies the means. It does say that God has certain rights that creatures do not. But that is just standard Christian theism. Surely you would agree that God has the absolute right to strike you dead right now, but that you do not have the absolute right to take your own life.

    I reject the Calvinistic claim that God invokes evil to bring about good.

    But doesn’t God say in the book of Acts that He planned the crucifixion in order to bring about good?

    This is a far cry from asserting that God created men with genuine freedom of choice, knowing that man would inevitably abuse that freedom and create evil, and had a plan for addressing and redeeming whosoever desired and trusted in that which is eternally, utterly good.

    Not really. It does make God more of a passive observer. It does put the ultimate success of God’s plan in the hands of human beings because they have choose to go along with the plan but they are not ordained to do so. It all just happens to work out. What it doesn’t do is absolve God of moral culpability for evil. God sees all this evil and the eternal damnation of people, and he allows it to happen anyway. Why? Ultimately, the only answer is that there is some greater good that results. Welcome to Calvinism. We just say that God isn’t a mere passive observer.

    A plan that would expose evil for what it is, and lead to men of pure hearts to reject evil once and for all and embrace God’ grace and offer of a future life in which evil has been rejected and will never again rear its cruel, destructive head.

    But that is God’s plan in Calvinism as well, or at least it is consonant with it. The question is, Where “do these men of pure hearts” come from.

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  106. dee: Well, at least this is something I can agree with you on. I believe God is in complete control in the big picture. I cling to Him and do not despair. And I did when my daughter had a large malignant brain tumor when she was 3. Somehow, you theology and mine, while different, achieve similar results.

    And that is why I didn’t come here to make Calvinistas of any of you. I don’t question anyone’s love for Christ simply because we disagree on these debatable issues. I think all theology matters, but I can rejoice that you’ve found comfort from God in the face of trial as have I, even as we understand the Scriptures differently on these matters.

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  107. truthseeker00: This is one piece of historical christianity I have never seen publicized. Funny that. It is also one of the first historical, orthodox traditions of christianity I could unthinkingly embrace.

    We found something we can agree upon!!!

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  108. Due to my interest in Calvinism vs. Armenianism I specifically remember listening to one message that Lon Solomon gave where he specifically said that he didn’t believe in predestination and that it was possible for all men to be saved. A shame the church now chose to hire someone that is Calvinistic.

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  109. Steve240: Due to my interest in Calvinism vs. Armenianism I specifically remember listening to one message that Lon Solomon gave where he specifically said that he didn’t believe in predestination and that it was possible for all men to be saved. A shame the church now chose to hire someone that is Calvinistic.

    Obviously I don’t share that feeling about the decision, but it was in fact made with Lon’s full support and knowledge of David Platt’s theology.

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  110. Robert: Not really. It does make God more of a passive observer. It does put the ultimate success of God’s plan in the hands of human beings because they have choose to go along with the plan but they are not ordained to do so. It all just happens to work out. What it doesn’t do is absolve God of moral culpability for evil. God sees all this evil and the eternal damnation of people, and he allows it to happen anyway. Why? Ultimately, the only answer is that there is some greater good that results. Welcome to Calvinism. We just say that God isn’t a mere passive observer.

    ‘Passive observer’? I don’t think anyone is asserting that. And I already pointed out that the ‘greater good’ was his creation of a being with genuine reason and volition, which, by necessity, requires the possibility of that reason and volition being turned to evil purposes.

    I am in no way asserting that God is some passive observer, watching helplessly as his creation spins ever further out of his control. That is a strawman. What I suggested was that there is a better explanation for the existence of evil – which few dare to deny – than that God deliberately, meticulously ordained and devised it. Contrary to Calvinism’s claims, there is indeed a huge distinction between 1) God ‘permitting’ freely chosen evil for a time, assisting those who hate evil in the meantime and having a plan to put a permanent end to it and 2) God perpetrating evil with one hand then punishing his sock puppets on that hand with his other hand. We are not supposed to think this is deceptive, cruel and unjust. I, for one, proclaim loudly that this would be deceptive, cruel and unjust, and I believe that God absolutely agrees. Nor do I believe for a second that it can be said to be true.

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  111. truthseeker00: Passive observer’? I don’t think anyone is asserting that.

    But isn’t that the necessary implication of what you are asserting? You either believe that God is unable to interfere because he is bound to respect man’s independent, free will, or else you believe he is unwilling to do so to keep his hands clean of it.

    If a father watches his two year old son run out into the street and does nothing but issue a written statement to his son warning him not to do that sometime in the past, do you believe he is absolved of culpability somehow by not stopping him?

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  112. Truthseeker, to put it another way, do you believe God COULD stop the pedophile and chooses not to? Or that he is powerless to stop it altogether?

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  113. JW: I’m not saying Calvinist=conservative, Arminian=liberal.

    If you are saying Calvinism = Gospel, would you also say that Arminianism = Gospel? Or how about other expressions of Christian faith – are they delivering the Gospel? You do know that 90+% of Christendom has rejected Calvinism as their essential tenets of faith. Have they lost the Gospel somewhere along the way and Calvinism is the only true Gospel; thus, it is up to the Calvinists to restore the Gospel that the rest of the church has abandoned? The New Calvinists seem to believe this way in their scurry to take over non-Calvinist churches.

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  114. Max: “If they’ve lied to me about this, what else have they lied to me about?”

    When people in positions of leadership and power deceive you in any way, you not only become disaffected with them, but disillusioned with the systems and institutions they represent. When things begin to change in the theology and structure of a church, an individual begins to lose his identity and well-being within it.

    This almost perfectly describes how I felt, when I realized how I had been deceived, manipulated, told half-truths to – however you want to put it. What I knew was that never again would I place unqualified trust in ANY man, ANY institution, or ANYTHING other than God himself. That includes me.

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  115. JW: But yes, knowing the cultural and political setting does help me try to be more understanding with the error.

    ‘Error’? Spare me. Anyone that can call the tyrannical control, abuse, torture and murder that took place under Calvin’s reign – well-documented, with the transcriptions from all of the official business of Calvin’s Geneva still in existence – ‘error’ has their head deliberately, hopelessly in the sand.

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  116. Max: If you are saying Calvinism = Gospel, would you also say that Arminianism = Gospel? Or how about other expressions of Christian faith – are they delivering the Gospel? You do know that 90+% of Christendom has rejected Calvinism as their essential tenets of faith. Have they lost the Gospel somewhere along the way and Calvinism is the only true Gospel; thus, it is up to the Calvinists to restore the Gospel that the rest of the church has abandoned? The New Calvinists seem to believe this way in their scurry to take over non-Calvinist churches.

    I’m not saying that either. Billy Graham loved the gospel. Franklin Graham loves the gospel. They preach it boldly and passionately. And no one’s ever called them a Calvinist.

    Calvinism is an understanding of how one comes to believe the gospel. It’s about the mechanics of conversion, not the message of conversion itself. The message of the gospel is the finish work of Christ for sinners. I do think that there are implications of Arminian theology that suggest something that goes against the gospel message (specifically related to subsitutionary atonement), but the message itself is the same whether preached by David Platt or Franklin Graham (though David Platt may not tell you to say a specific prayer or walk an aisle). Jesus died in place of sinners and was resurrected to reconcile them to God, and all who trust in that work alone can have assurance that they belong to Jesus. That’s essentially the message of the gospel. It’s not Arminian or Calvinist.

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  117. JW: MBC was already on the map. it’s the biggest church in the most influential city in the world. The Washington Post once named it the number one place to meet singles in DC. Half the church was paid for by Steve Case, the founder of AOL. Half the Republican Senators and Congressmen are members there, and half of Trump’s cabinet (and Bush’s before him…not so much Obama, lol).

    This is not only very telling, but deeply disturbing. Sounds pretty much like this is going to be ground zero.

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  118. Headless Unicorn Guy: And it was the State, not the Church, who burned all those Heretics in the Spanish Inquisition. The Inquisition simply “relaxed” them into State custody so the Church’s hands would stay clean. “Maintain Plausible Deniability” is an old, old shtick.

    Which is why it is disturbing to see how ‘aligned’ this ‘church’ is with the powers of the state. So glad God is genuinely in control of this world, without inspiring these evildoers to their evil deeds. He did not irresistibly ordain any evil, and he most definitely is going to punish anyone who does not turn from evil when confronted with the truth.

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  119. truthseeker00: This almost perfectly describes how I felt, when I realized how I had been deceived, manipulated, told half-truths to – however you want to put it.

    TS, I’ll share something with you about my Christian journey. When I was a young man, I started reading the Bible. I read that Noah took 7 pairs of some animals, rather than just one pair of every species – not like I had been taught … I read that there weren’t 3 wise men, but a group of wise men bearing 3 types of gifts – contrary to what I had been taught … I read that Jesus was 2 years old living in a house, rather than a babe lying in the manger when the wise guys showed up – a different story than I had been taught … and other such things. Well, I paused and asked myself “If they’ve lied to me about that, what else have they lied to me about?!” In a weird way, that launched me on a disciplined study of the Word for the last 60+ years. I see so much wrong with New Calvinist belief and practice when compared to the whole of Scripture; their theology is largely based on select passages interpreted by mere men.

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  120. truthseeker00: So glad God is genuinely in control of this world, without inspiring these evildoers to their evil deeds.

    I don’t understand how you can assert this — in what sense do you believe that God is in control of the world if he doesn’t control the weather or disease or evil men?

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  121. Max: I see so much wrong with New Calvinist belief and practice when compared to the whole of Scripture; their theology is largely based on select passages interpreted by mere men.

    max what’s so funny is that I could trade out anecdotes about what I was lied to about, and say how that helped me embrace what you call New Calvinism! 🙂

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  122. JW: Truthseeker, to put it another way, do you believe God COULD stop the pedophile and chooses not to? Or that he is powerless to stop it altogether?

    Once again, a logically faulty argument. Please refer to my previous statement, which explains that it does not require ‘powerlessness’ to permit freely chosen, hated and warned-against evil. Read the bible, for heaven’s sake. Isn’t this exactly what every warning is all about? Men have taken their glorious God-given freedom and amazing God-given abilities and put them to horrific use. God offers all a second chance, to see and repent of their sinful, self-seeking rebellion. Those who do, and choose to trust in good (God) over evil, will be forgiven past sins. Those who continue to serve self and evil will bring upon their own heads the destruction and death forewarned.

    Doesn’t sound much like a description of ‘powerlessness’, now does it? More like the patient withholding of due wrath for a time, as God desires that none perish but that all turn from wickedness and live – just as we have been told.

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  123. truthseeker00,

    However, in your perverse version of events, God dreamed up the evil, irresistible ordained that it would be done, then plans to punish those who simply performed what he put in their scripts. Then all are supposed to grant him a standing ovation and tell him how ‘glorious’ he was to overcome all that evil he dreamed up. Bravo. Not.

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  124. JW,

    Arminians generally uphold substitutionary atonement – the Remonstrants went towards the governmental view but all the Arminians I know adhere to the substitutionary view as did all the early Baptists.

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  125. Grainne:

    dee,

    What comfort is there for someone who is unelect, and has no chance of coming to salvation and hope?

    Exactly! There is no comfort, no hope and absolutely no ‘good news’ for them in any aspect of life. And this is why Calvinism destroys the message of the gospel.

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  126. Grainne:
    JW,

    Arminians generally uphold substitutionary atonement – the Remonstrants went towards the governmental view but all the Arminians I know adhere to the substitutionary view as did all the early Baptists.

    Yes I know they hold to it in statement — I just substitution logically requires the doctrine of limited atonement/definite atonement. If Jesus actually died as my substitute, it means there is no wrath awaiting me. I think you either end up as a Calvinist or a universalist if you work through the necessary implications of substitutionary atonement. That, I think, is why Spurgeon said Arminians are saved because their actual theology is better than their professed theology.

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  127. truthseeker00: Once again, a logically faulty argument.

    You didn’t answer the question though. I’ll try it again, I’m really trying to figure out what you believe. Do you believe that God is able to stop the pedophile? If so, why do you believe that he does not stop him?

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  128. JW: Jesus died in place of sinners and was resurrected to reconcile them to God, and all who trust in that work alone can have assurance that they belong to Jesus. That’s essentially the message of the gospel. It’s not Arminian or Calvinist.

    Naughty naughty! This is exactly the sort of doublespeak Calvinism always resorts to, pretending that they proclaim the same gospel as all others. This is a lie.

    Let us be more honest.

    The true gospel proclaims ‘good news’ which shall be unto all people.
    The Calvinist gospel proclaims ‘good news’ which shall be unto a limited, preselected few people.

    The true gospel proclaims that Jesus died to take away the sin of the world.
    The Calvinist gospel proclaims that Jesus died to take away the sin of a limited, preselected few people.

    The true gospel proclaims that all sin has been nailed to the cross, so that guilty sinners can come freely to God and receive his forgiveness and offer of everlasting life.
    The Calvinist gospel proclaims that the atonement for sin was only for a limited, preselected few people, thus only a limited even have the offer of forgiveness and everlasting life.

    The dirty little secret Calvinists don’t want to admit is that they have completely reworked the gospel message into meaning something that most believers – if honestly presented with – would utterly, instantly reject.

    God so loved ‘some’ of the world. Jesus died for ‘some’ sin. Whosoever will may come, but no one actually can come – until and unless God grants them this ‘will’ which he deliberately withholds from most.

    So many word games. Many in order to pretend like they are preaching the same gospel. Many to persuade wary, potential victims that, even if God is a cruel, tyrannical monster, he owns the ball, so, if we know what’s best, we will play along with his rules. And give him a standing ovation when he demands it.

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  129. Why would a church want to be Calvinistic or non-Calvinistic? Why not just be Christian? Why not welcome all believers who want to follow Jesus together? Why not affirm The Apostles’ Creed instead of limiting a church by means of a narrow doctrinal statement? Should we not welcome and accept everyone Jesus welcomes and accepts?

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  130. Finite Minds explaining the infinite mind of God is like giving a hamster a laptop and expecting him to write a haiku. Ya can’t unscrew the inscrutable.

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  131. drstevej:
    Finite Minds explaining the infinite mind of God is like giving a hamster a laptop and expecting him to write a haiku. Ya can’t unscrew the inscrutable.

    That’s a great analogy — I don’t disagree at all. I’d only add, though, that he revealed some of the mystery (Deut. 29:29), and has given us the Scriptures to understand some things. It’s good for us to try to understand all that he has revealed to us, even as we must always remember his ways are beyond our comprehension.

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  132. truthseeker00: So many word games. Many in order to pretend like they are preaching the same gospel.

    They aren’t word games, friend. Whosoever believes will be saved. Calvinism merely seeks to explain why some come to believe and others don’t. Jesus died to reconcile the world to himself. But I can demonstrate many places in Scripture where “world” cannot possibly mean “every single person who ever lived,” but rather “the world in rebellion against God”.

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  133. JW: You either believe that God is unable to interfere because he is bound to respect man’s independent, free will, or else you believe he is unwilling to do so to keep his hands clean of it.

    The typical Calvinistic false dichotomy.

    God is not ‘unable’ to do anything, except what is contrary to his nature. God cannot lie. God cannot do evil.

    God is not ‘bound to respect man’s independent free will’, nor is he ‘unwilling to do so to keep his hands clean of it’.

    One cannot even begin with a Calvinist who has faulty hermeneutics from start to finish. Who can ‘bind’ God? No one, and who is asserting that mankind, or anything else does? (I am no more Arminian, btw, than I am Calvinist.) If God has sovereignly chosen to create a creature with reason and volition, then it would appear his intention was not to ‘force’ his will upon them. It has nothing to do with being bound by anything but his own intentions.

    Seriously, one feels silly explaining such basic logic, but the Calvinist completely ignores it.

    ‘Keep his hands clean of it’? I suppose the Calvinist, being utterly unable to even conceive of genuine volition and the responsibility for one’s own choices that ensues, can only revert to holding God responsible for ‘that creature he made’. Sounds like Adam’s excuse. 🙂 And while God didn’t deign to verbally respond to such a silly attempt to blame him for Adam’s own choice, his actions demonstrated who was at fault. Adam sins, Adam suffers the consequences. I sin, I suffer the consequences. It is only if I cut out the book of Ezekiel that I can even ponder the possibility that I was born ‘guilty’, before I had even the chance to do right or wrong, due to my father Adam’s sin. (And yes, I am terribly aware of the Calvinist misinterpretation of that concept, as well as the rest of Romans 9. I guess we are to believe that Paul was overriding Ezekiel, so he could defend his Calvinistic belief in bloodline guilt.)

    No, my Calvinist friend, in spite of creating us, God is neither responsible for anyone’s choices nor ingenuously jerking invisible strings and trying to pretend as if they do not exist. Certainly he could have created a people who could and would only do his will, but I must agree with those philosophers who assert that, had he done so, and he is ‘good’ as he claims, there would be no evil in the world.

    Compatibilistic Calvinism (New Calvinism) is a desperate attempt to explain away the problem of evil without soiling God’s reputation, after ancient theologians painted themselves into a corner by claiming that God is personally, deterministically responsible for whatsoever comes to pass in his creation.

    The poor blokes are left defending the indefensible, asserting that ‘God logic’ is different from human logic and pretending that direct contradictions are somehow, inexplicably, consistent in this imperceptible God logic. This has been aptly dealt with endlessly throughout history, and some of the best cases against Calvinism are centuries old. The problem is that too many naive, modern believers don’t know anything about historical Calvinism, apart from what they are being deceptively presented with today.

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  134. JW:
    Truthseeker, to put it another way, do you believe God COULD stop the pedophile and chooses not to? Or that he is powerless to stop it altogether?

    So, it’s either/or? What does that tell the victim? That it was up to God. And God “chose” for them to suffer horrors.

    Sounds like Satan.

    You don’t see other options?

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  135. Max: TS, I’ll share something with you about my Christian journey. When I was a young man, I started reading the Bible. I read that Noah took 7 pairs of some animals, rather than just one pair of every species – not like I had been taught … I read that there weren’t 3 wise men, but a group of wise men bearing 3 types of gifts – contrary to what I had been taught … I read that Jesus was 2 years old living in a house, rather than a babe lying in the manger when the wise guys showed up – a different story than I had been taught … and other such things. Well, I paused and asked myself “If they’ve lied to me about that, what else have they lied to me about?!” In a weird way, that launched me on a disciplined study of the Word for the last 60+ years. I see so much wrong with New Calvinist belief and practice when compared to the whole of Scripture; their theology is largely based on select passages interpreted by mere men.

    Once again, Max, we have walked a very similar road, although my eyes were opened quite a bit later than yours.

    First, I assumed it was just my pastor. Then I broadened it to Calvinism. And lastly, as I study more deeply, I cannot deny that these sort of errors have been (deliberately?) perpetuated throughout all of christendom from the very start. Hence my growing belief that Constantine’s ‘Church’ has been a fake, an enemy to the genuine Body of Christ from the very start.

    In spite of this fact, God in his glorious wisdom and grace, has often used even those who proclaim his ‘good news’ with false motives to spread his genuinely true good news, hence we can acknowledge that he has worked all things together for good – even if many of those things were not, in themselves, good.

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  136. truthseeker00: One cannot even begin with a Calvinist who has faulty hermeneutics from start to finish.

    You did a good job implying that I’m a moron, but you still are dodging the question. let me try asking the question another way, because I don’t see any logical impossibility that I’m asking you to defend.

    What prevents God from intervening in the pedophiles diabolical act against the child? If the answer to that question is nothing, then why, in your view, doesn’t he stop it?

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  137. truthseeker00: In spite of this fact, God in his glorious wisdom and grace, has often used even those who proclaim his ‘good news’ with false motives to spread his genuinely true good news, hence we can acknowledge that he has worked all things together for good – even if many of those things were not, in themselves, good.

    This is precisely what Calvinism teaches.

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  138. drsteve and truthseeker (and anybody else),

    St Basil wasn’t a Roman Catholic; he was simply a Christian. In his day, the term “catholic” meant “whole” (from Greek, primarily “according to the whole” – second definition is “universal”). So in the Creeds, “the holy catholic Church” means something like “the holiness and whole-ness of the Church”. There was no “Roman Catholic Church” until after the time of the Great Schism. The term “Roman” was added to differentiate the western Christians who were under the bishop of Rome from the eastern Christians, who also called themselves “catholic” – in the Greek sense – who were not (and still are not) under one particular bishop. (The Patriarch of Constantinople is NOT the same as the Pope of Rome, no matter what is reported in the news.)

    The vast majority of American Christians don’t know that Eastern Orthodoxy is “out there”. It’s not The Roman Catholic Church, Only In Greek (or Russian). It has its problems, too, but Orthodox know about St Basil. He was probably the most brilliant theologian of his day, and of a couple hundred years on either side – he was certainly one of the most educated. All y’all might read about him some time 🙂

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  139. Lydia: JW:
    Truthseeker, to put it another way, do you believe God COULD stop the pedophile and chooses not to? Or that he is powerless to stop it altogether?

    So, it’s either/or? What does that tell the victim? That it was up to God. And God “chose” for them to suffer horrors.

    Sounds like Satan.

    You don’t see other options?

    No, I really don’t see the other options. What other options do you see?

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  140. JW: Where that has happened, it is wrong and should be repented of. A pastor who trusts God’s sovereignty should not feel he has to manipulate people to get what he believes will most glorify God (and I do believe that in most cases at least that is the primary motivation.

    And this is not to excuse it, but the men whom God uses to accomplish his purposes are fallen. And he uses us in spite of our sin. My big problem would be if such a man refuses to repent when such deception is made known. And there are plenty of examples talked about on this site where that’s sadly been the case (even if not all of them have been fair).

    My question to you is this: If Calvinism is such a great and wonderful form of theology, why is it brought into churches in this manner?!? Shouldn’t we all just be begging for it if it’s so wonderful? I don’t see a big huge push by Arminians to sneak in their theology!

    We had a Calvinista YRR pastor try and bring this stuff into our church by deceiving the pulpit committee and gradually stifling out everything but Dever, Mohler, Grudem, and Piper. If people want to adhere to Calvinism, that’s your business–but don’t try to sneak it into the church.
    We called him out on it and exposed him for the liar that he was! These kind of tactics have no place in the Body of Christ–especially by those who are supposed to be protecting the sheep. It has broken a sacred trust I once had for pastors, probably forever.

    That’s what makes this ‘movement’ so utterly despicable, in my opinion. Many of the SBC seminaries and Mark Dever (Founder of 9-Marks) indoctrinate these young preacher boys on how to ‘reform’ these baptist churches through this kind of deception and trickery. If your theology has to do that in order to get ahead, NO THANKS! I’m not interested!

    Another thing–Jesus NEVER had to steer people’s theology through stealth and deception. He simply told them the truth (because He IS the Truth!)

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  141. JW: But I can demonstrate many places in Scripture where “world” cannot possibly mean “every single person who ever lived,” but rather “the world in rebellion against God”.

    I am not a theologian and usually try to limit my comments to simple things like physics and cosmology and such. In the quoted sentence are not the final two phrases, “every single …” and “the world …”, exactly the same thing?

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  142. truthseeker00: Exactly! There is no comfort, no hope and absolutely no ‘good news’ for them in any aspect of life. And this is why Calvinism destroys the message of the gospel.

    Here’s some Good News for you from some Galilean Carpenter:

    “I am the door; if ANYONE (emphasis added) enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:9-10

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  143. Root 66: My question to you is this: If Calvinism is such a great and wonderful form of theology, why is it brought into churches in this manner?!? Shouldn’t we all just be begging for it if it’s so wonderful? I don’t see a big huge push by Arminians to sneak in their theology!

    You speak as if this is the only manner in which it is brought in. That’s not how it was brought in at McLean, for example.

    I won’t defend when this happened this way.

    But I also have been persecuted as a member of an Arminian church for believing these doctrines. I’ve seen pastors fired. I felt verbally assaulted from the pulpit by Arminian pastors for believing these things. And so I can see where someone caves into fear and isn’t completely honest about what they believe. That doesn’t excuse it, but it does explain it.

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  144. OldJohnJ: In the quoted sentence are not the final two phrases, “every single …” and “the world …”, exactly the same thing?

    That’s an understandable assumption, but it’s not a necessary implication of the word, nor is it one supported by the Scripture itself.

    For example, in John 12:19, the Pharisees say this about Jesus’ rising popularity: “So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

    Obviously not every single person in the world was following Jesus. So from Scripture itself we can see that this word, cosmos, doesn’t necessarily mean every single person.

    Rather, i would suggest, that it means the world in rebellion against John, particularly in john’s usage.

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  145. JW: What prevents God from intervening in the pedophiles diabolical act against the child? If the answer to that question is nothing, then why, in your view, doesn’t he stop it?

    I will be sincerely honest with you, JW. This is not some rhetorical question, but one that is ripped from my aching heart each time I hear of such an incident. Even before it touched my own family.

    If the true answer is that God planned, foreordained and brought this – and all other evil – to pass, for what he deems a ‘greater good’ (his own personal benefit), that I must bow to the concept that this end (his glory) justifies the means, I want nothing to do with this cruel, narcissistic God.

    If the answer is – and this is going to be a very long sentence – instead, that God created us, in love, with the genuine power of reason and volition, and that this genuine power of reason and volition cannot exist without the possibility of evil, and men have chosen to pursue this evil, and that God, with an even greater sadness than my own, allows this evil for a ‘short’ time but will indeed someday deal with it appropriately, then I am willing to trust God with the many aspects of that which seem painful and are too difficult for me to understand, or of which I might – and do – ask, ‘Couldn’t there have been another way?’

    I don’t know if this makes any sense to you, but to me there is a radically major difference between the two scenarios.

    One has God authoring evil, provoking all of the suffering in history, for his own supposed ‘glory’. The other has him patiently, heart-brokenly enduring the evil free choices of the creatures he made with the ability to have such freedom, because freedom cannot exist without the possibility of evil.

    God has designed this plan, not for his own ‘glory’ but out of selfless love for his creation, with the knowledge that when the pure in heart see goodness and evil for what they truly are, they will embrace goodness and reject evil. As a simple analogy, albeit imperfect, it is more akin to a parent allowing a stubborn child to fall off of his bike when he refuses to let the parent help him get his bike legs. The parent knows the child will probably fall, feel some pain, might even scrape up some skin, but, if he has wisdom, he will learn his lesson and seek the loving help offered by his parent. This is far different from a scenario in which the parent deliberately sets up an unavoidable fall, justifying the cruelty by asserting that this will make the child ‘learn his lesson’. Indeed, the deeper lesson he would learn is that this ‘loving’ parent is not to be trusted, as who knows what other ‘lessons’ he has in store for him. The other child, on the other hand, knows that his parent seeks and plans only his good, and that it was only his own stubborn insistence on having his own way that led to his harm.

    The ‘wicked’ which I tend to think are actually a rather small minority of mankind, deliberately and unrepentantly cling to evil, and will someday be destroyed.

    I know that this is the absolute sacred cow of Calvinists, but I do indeed believe that there are two types of people, and that this individual distinction is not ‘built in’ but self made. Although all will succumb to the deception of sin, one type will ‘learn their lesson’ and put their trust in God, whereas the other will stubbornly, unreasonably continue on the self-chosen path of destruction.

    I have walked many miles in both Arminian and Calvinist moccasins, and I at least reasonably well understand their perspectives. I find that I no longer grant that it is ‘either/or’, or that any man-made tradition (religion or denomination) can give me all the answers to the really hard questions. These I must seek, with insight the help of others, but most of all with the guidance of the promised Spirit of Truth, whom Jesus promised would be given to us for this very purpose.

    I would submit that too many – as I once did – have surrendered this more difficult journey for a comfortable, entertaining, no-fault seat in the pew.

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  146. JW: You speak as if this is the only manner in which it is brought in. That’s not how it was brought in at McLean, for example.

    I won’t defend when this happened this way.

    But I also have been persecuted as a member of an Arminian church for believing these doctrines. I’ve seen pastors fired. I felt verbally assaulted from the pulpit by Arminian pastors for believing these things. And so I can see where someone caves into fear and isn’t completely honest about what they believe. That doesn’t excuse it, but it does explain it.

    My point is this: why does it have to be “brought in” at all? I wasn’t missing anything before our former pastor tried to come in and sneak it in the back door!

    What you have said might ‘explain it’, but try ‘explaining it’ to the piles of bodies cast by the wayside who have been crushed by those using this stealth methodology to promulgate their theology. Adhering to Calvinism is one thing, but the methods by which it has been brought into multitudes of churches is utterly repugnant and a stench in the nostrils of God.

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  147. truthseeker00: As I have been coming up against this in my own personal growth, I would dearly love to hear more of your perspective on this. Do you have a blog, or could you just share a little more? I certainly found a great inconsistency in Calvinism, as one cannot truly live with the belief that all has been predetermined without becoming hopelessly fatalistic and give in to despair at the meaninglessness of life. Is it to this that you are referring?

    I don’t blog, at least not yet. I have never disciplined myself enough to do that.

    I am an academic. I have a book in process discussing the intertwining of the christological heresies with various interpretations of the God-world relationship. Suffice it to say that all roads lead back to one’s view of natural theology in general and absolute divine simplicity in particular. That is the turning point in both theological and “secular” history.

    Jim G.

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  148. Ricco:
    Jim G.,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. I will chew on this.

    2 questions for you:

    1. What do you see as the solution to this problem?

    2. Any books/articles that helped you develop your thinking on this?I have my own personal reasons that natural law theology no longer explains the world to me, but I need more complete context so I can get my mind around it.

    You are welcome. Answers:

    1. No, it can’t be fixed. I suppose it could be fixed theoretically, but too many people, starting with the pope, are too entrenched to let that happen.

    2. Read the Bible in light of the Greek church fathers. I would highly recommend Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Cyril of Alexandria, and Maximus the Confessor. They are the orthodox responses to the church’s greatest heresies. Irenaeus is good too. Avoid Origen, Augustine, and any Latin after Augustine.

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  149. I believe there are true believers in the Calvinists ranks. But having been raised a Calvinist going back many years in my family line and being the first to leave…I can’t tell you the amazing differences between the two types of churches. The church of my childhood was boring, everyone thought they were born saved thru baptism. No one felt the NEED to be saved since they were part of a “covenant”. There was virtually no evangelism as it’s all up to God anyway. When I became a true believer I was stunned by my Evangelical church. People talked openly about Jesus. They prayed passionately. They told others about Christ. It was a night and day difference. Folks of MacLean….RUN!!!!

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  150. JW: Obviously I don’t share that feeling about the decision, but it was in fact made with Lon’s full support and knowledge of David Platt’s theology.

    Thanks for the information.

    I do wonder why Lon was OK with this decision to appoint a Calvinist when Lon wasn’t one? Perhaps someone who had the speaking ability/charisma so the attendance wouldn’t drop?

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  151. A couple of thoughts while reading this thread:

    PEOPLE! (Yes, I know I’m shouting!) It’s ArmInian, not ArmEnian! ArmEnians are a people of the Caucasus region; ArmInians hold the theology of Jacob Arminius. Please be careful with your I and E!

    Years ago I came to the conclusion that “the Bible says”/”biblical”/”Scripture supports” all mean one thing: “This is the interpretation that makes the best sense to me.” The Bible, like any other text, must be interpreted – especially since it is regarded as a Holy text. There are places in it where the text is unambiguous: “Do not lie to one another”. There are many more places that are not.

    I was raised Roman Catholic, but as I got into college the Evangelical interpretation of Scripture made better sense to me, and that’s where I was for 30 years. As time went on, my head was spinning with all the competing interpretations, not just Calvinist vs Arminian. Whoever wrote above regarding the dualism in our way of thinking and its derivation from the thought of Aristotle is spot on. I eventually had questions that nothing in Western Christianity could adequately answer from within its interpretive grids. N.T. Wright gave me a much more holistic way of looking at Scripture with his focus on the Judaism(s) of Jesus’ day – which was not concerned with the questions of late medieval western Christianity and the Reformation, which still prompt the continued back-and-forth as has been going on this thread re Calvinism vs Arminianism. In his interpretation I found a place where I could be at peace and at least regroup for a while, and come to a better understanding of what the Good News actually is. As good as Wright is, he is still a Western Christian, and there are a couple of serious holes in the fabric of his work that I could not reconcile.

    I had to go outside of Western Christianity to find what I was looking for – an interpretive grid of scripture that allows for: 1) A God who is Good and Loves Mankind (it wasn’t until I read Willard’s “Divine Conspiracy” that I finally believed, after having been a Christian all my life, that God is good); 2) A God who doesn’t have his hands tied behind his back, helpless in the face of our iniquity until Perfect Blood is spilled; and 3) A Theology (including an anthropology – an understanding of what humanity is) that is centered on Jesus Christ, is a seamless whole and is connected to the earliest Christians.

    I know Dee came from an Eastern Orthodox family. I can’t express how much it saddens me that it seems she was not exposed to the beauty of EO theology, only the surface ethnic traditions (which are not bad in and of themselves, but some Orthodox get hung up on ethnic identity, which in EO theology is actually roundly denounced as sinful – some parishes still haven’t gotten the message. Long story.). Up until now I haven’t completely spelled out that I’m EO, though I have left hints, and I told Dee early on via email that that’s where I am. I know I’m in a very small minority, both here and in the US in general. I know most of y’all don’t agree with a liturgically-centered way of worship and all that goes with it. Please don’t assume you know what I believe; I’m happy to engage in conversation if you have questions.

    I’ve been reading here for a long time, because I believe the Deebs are doing God’s work in bringing abuse in churches to the light, and I believe it’s one of the best sources of information regarding this. My Orthodox jurisdiction, the Orthodox Church in America, has had some instances of abuse, just like everyone else. We’re cleaning things up with awareness and repentance that has resulted in better written policies that are actually being followed, including turning credibly accused clerics over to the civil authorities right away, and defrocking those found guilty, including those engaging in inappropriate relations with adults. Anyone who works with children and youth has to have a police background check, including fingerprinting.

    As I said above, Orthodoxy has its problems, but as I see it the problems aren’t with the theology (which, by the way, affirms the full humanity of women). I continue to be glad I no longer have a dog in the Calvinista/Arminian fight, or any other of the dualist squabbles. Sorry this is so long. Thanks again to the Deebs.

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  152. Abigail: People talked openly about Jesus. They prayed passionately. They told others about Christ. It was a night and day difference. Folks of MacLean….RUN!!!!

    Not long after our Neo-Cal YRR pastor quit (because he was exposed as a liar) one of the preachers doing pulpit supply said something we hadn’t heard the entire time we were being ‘reformed’ by our former pastor: he said, “Jesus loves you”! When I heard that, I realized I hadn’t heard it in over a year and a half. I sat in my seat and wept. It was precious to hear it again!

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  153. Jim G.: Read the Bible in light of the Greek church fathers. I would highly recommend Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Cyril of Alexandria, and Maximus the Confessor. They are the orthodox responses to the church’s greatest heresies. Irenaeus is good too.

    Don’t forget Basil of Caesarea!

    This is the interpretive grid of Scripture of which I spoke. One can also find the same interpretive threads leading back to Justin Martyr (150 AD) and Ignatius of Antioch (c. 100 AD) – less than 100 years after St Paul began to write. Surely, I thought, this next generation of Christians after the death of the first disciples, would have know what those disciples taught.

    These early folks interpreted Scripture (for them that was the OT) through the grid of the meaning of Jesus’ incarnation, death and resurrection – not the other way around. That’s what holds it all together.

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  154. dainca:
    1) A God who is Good and Loves Mankind
    2) A God who doesn’t have his hands tied behind his back, helpless
    3) A Theology centered on Jesus Christ.

    Like. Thanks.

    Without devolving into “the Bible says…” code for whatever one wants it to say…

    I add
    #4. Where is that in the Bible? – and I look for Biblical evidence sans Biblical code. Love the Thompson Chain Reference Bible, NASB.

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  155. JW,

    what the flip is glory?

    someone? anyone?

    since the word is thrown around with such casual ease, and used so concretely as the foundation for rules, please tell me it’s something less nebulous than an inherent goldish glow.

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  156. Jim G.: You are welcome. Answers:

    Thanks! Good stuff!
    1. No, it can’t be fixed. I suppose it could be fixed theoretically, but too many people, starting with the pope, are too entrenched to let that happen.

    2. Read the Bible in light of the Greek church fathers. I would highly recommend Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Cyril of Alexandria, and Maximus the Confessor. They are the orthodox responses to the church’s greatest heresies. Irenaeus is good too. Avoid Origen, Augustine, and any Latin after Augustine.

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  157. Abigail:
    I believe there are true believers in the Calvinists ranks. But having been raised a Calvinist going back many years in my family line and being the first to leave…I can’t tell you the amazing differences between the two types of churches. The church of my childhood was boring, everyone thought they were born saved thru baptism. No one felt the NEED to be saved since they were part of a “covenant”. There was virtually no evangelism as it’s all up to God anyway. When I became a true believer I was stunned by my Evangelical church. People talked openly about Jesus. They prayed passionately. They told others about Christ. It was a night and day difference. Folks of MacLean….RUN!!!!

    This was my experience as well. Most of the New Calvinists treated church like it was their exclusive country club and it had nothing to do with God except during the hour-long sermons.

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  158. dee: “All the churches are autonomous. We can’t do a blasted thing about it” unless they get a woman pastor and there is some bypass mechanism to kick them out.

    You ain’t just a whistlin’ Dixie there dee!
    They’d converge on said church like the Empire to the Hoth system (if they found out there’s a woman in the pulpit).

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  159. Deb: We have observed that most Calvinista blogs no longer allow comments.

    That should tell ya’ a trainload about what they peddle right there.

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  160. ishy,

    “A buzzword to make certain pastor authors sound smart and so awe-inspired by God, but they can’t define it either?”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    just as i thought

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  161. The whole Calvinist/Arminian debate brings a verse to mind…

    “AND, when beetles battle beetles in a puddle paddle battle and the beetle battle puddle is a puddle in a bottle they call it a tweetle beetle bottle puddle paddle battle muddle.”

    It’s a battle that’s been going on for almost 5 centuries, and shows no signs of being resolved. And I would agree with dainca, in my own way… There isn’t a way to resolve the battle as long as we are confined in the bottle of western thought, as long as we are reading ancient Judaic ideas with modern western eyes.

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  162. Root 66: My question to you is this:If Calvinism is such a great and wonderful form of theology, why is it brought into churches in this manner?!?Shouldn’t we all just be begging for it if it’s so wonderful? I don’t see a big huge push by Arminians to sneak in their theology!

    We had a Calvinista YRR pastor try and bring this stuff into our church by deceiving the pulpit committee and gradually stifling out everything but Dever, Mohler, Grudem, and Piper.If people want to adhere to Calvinism, that’s your business–but don’t try to sneak it into the church.
    We called him out on it and exposed him for the liar that he was!These kind of tactics have no place in the Body of Christ–especially by those who are supposed to be protecting the sheep.It has broken a sacred trust I once had for pastors, probably forever.

    That’s what makes this ‘movement’ so utterly despicable, in my opinion.Many of the SBC seminaries and Mark Dever (Founder of 9-Marks) indoctrinate these young preacher boys on how to ‘reform’ these baptist churches through this kind of deception and trickery.If your theology has to do that in order to get ahead, NO THANKS!I’m not interested!

    Another thing–Jesus NEVER had to steer people’s theology through stealth and deception. He simply told them the truth (because He IS the Truth!)

    That is exactly how I feel. Who is teaching them lies and sneakiness? Is it Al Mohler? What a shame that these preachers are so stupid that they believe that sneakiness and dishonesty could be from God…jokes on them I guess. I can only pray that the situation I’m watching right now could be stopped in its tracks by making the person who has done it answer for it…but I have no real faith that will happen. I would say about a 70/30 split right now on people who realize what has happened (30 percent) and people who don’t (70 percent) Need to put a category in there for people who realize and don’t care, I guess. I lost faith in the honesty of preachers nearly 30 years ago…so this hasn’t come as any surprise…I don’t look at preachers in relation to my faith in Jesus…had to stop a long time ago. I don’t trust any of the people in the pews, either. It would have to be proven to me that they are even slightly trustworthy. at this point.

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  163. GSD [Getting Stuff Done]: The whole Calvinist/Arminian debate brings a verse to mind…

    “AND, when beetles battle beetles in a puddle paddle battle and the beetle battle puddle is a puddle in a bottle they call it a tweetle beetle bottle puddle paddle battle muddle.”

    It’s a battle that’s been going on for almost 5 centuries, and shows no signs of being resolved. And I would agree with dainca, in my own way… There isn’t a way to resolve the battle as long as we are confined in the bottle of western thought, as long as we are reading ancient Judaic ideas with modern western eyes.

    I would add that I believe it is the chosen ‘debate’, designed to keep us fighting and perturbed while the carnage continues unabated.

    IMO, Calvinism has repeatedly, convincingly been exposed throughout the centuries as inconsistent, illogical and untenable to any loving, moral person to honestly live by. But like Communism, Islam or whatever our convenient bogeyman of the hour is, it serves its purpose in creating a ‘good guys vs bad guys’ mentality in the church. A house divided . . .

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  164. and it’s even more disturbing when the one who did this stuff has supposedly been the head of a “counseling” program. (that I was in, by the way)…I’m talking “nationally”. Ha. Talk about an insane situation. It’s been a little disturbing and I’m as mad at the counselor as I am at the preacher. They couldn’t tell me to get lost fast enough, believe me when I asked a couple of “why did things happen like this” questions. However, a lot of things I’ve seen in past years have been even more disturbing, and they all came out of “the church”.THAT keeps me awake at night. Makes me wonder if this is an “infiltration” of sorts…being done deliberately somehow…it’s enough to make a person a conspiracy theorist…hmmmm.

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  165. This kind of thing seems to be the calvinista way of doing things. One of the churches I used to attend has gone through this change, and I’m fairly certain it was a takeover. I left after the former senior pastor (who was all about God’s grace and love for all) left very suddenly and a couple of much younger guys just as suddenly took over. Didn’t seem exactly right back then. Fast forward a few years and I learned from a (not very discerning and fairly malleable) guy who still goes there that they went hard line calvinist and lost about half the congregation and elders when they did. They have a new name, a new building and campus, and a new website that talks about salvation being accomplished solely by God’s will and has a section on marriage that’s definitely complementarian.

    I’d definitely look for more changes to come at McLean. And likely not for the better.

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  166. Max: They work together in salvation in a way that is beyond human comprehension.To put the mind of God into a neat systematic theological box is to stand in arrogance before Him.

    Best comment. My issue is when an authoritative person wields the Calvin system, he/she prones to play God (arrogance) by displaying the verbal certainty of explaining other people’s lives through a web of calvinistic theological constructs as if they are seeing directly from God’s perspective.

    Similar to Job’s friends latching onto “Job must sinned” and would not shut up in front of God. At the end of the day, nobody knows what transpires except God and whom God deals with directly.

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  167. Ct: and it’s even more disturbing when the one who did this stuff has supposedly been the head of a “counseling” program. (that I was in, by the way)…I’m talking “nationally”. Ha. Talk about an insane situation. It’s been a little disturbing and I’m as mad at the counselor as I am at the preacher. They couldn’t tell me to get lost fast enough, believe me when I asked a couple of “why did things happen like this” questions. However, a lot of things I’ve seen in past years have been even more disturbing, and they all came out of “the church”.THAT keeps me awake at night. Makes me wonder if this is an “infiltration” of sorts…being done deliberately somehow…it’s enough to make a person a conspiracy theorist…hmmmm.

    Funny thing is, after falling down the Conspiracy Theory rabbit hole some years back, and giving up on it as too filled with disinfo to be productive, I turned to studying the structures of Conspiracy Theory as a modern entity, as well as the methodology used by governments and ‘social science’ directed at controlling peoples’ beliefs and behavior one way or another. Social media memes, anyone?

    It was something of a shock to see many of the same patterns, and even connections to people and events involved in the so-called Church as in much of so-called wild-eyed conspiracy theory, as reported on blogs such as this one. Trauma, such as sexual and authoritarian abuse is a frequent method of mind control, as official sociological research supports. My mind wails, ‘No, I have no desire to go that direction’, but it is what it is, whether I like it or not.

    The best I can do is to remind myself that scripture speaks frequently of the enemy of our souls as the great deceiver, and also foretells of a day when the deceit is so effective that perceiving truth becomes nearly impossible even for the ‘elect’ of God (I define that differently than Calvinists!). Those who recoil – as we have been trained to do – at even the suggestion of ‘conspiracy’ might keep that in mind, as well as the fact that in a successful conspiracy, most parties are convinced of the truth of the narrative they have been given. This is how cults persuade large numbers of people to surrender their ability to think clearly and use good judgment. The success of mass deception does not require a huge number of deliberate conspiracists, as much as a few clever charlatans who utilize a successful program of mind control over the many.

    I can only pray that God show us what it is he wants from us when the greatest crime becomes to speak truth in a world that has exchanged it for lies.

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  168. Jim G.,

    “Human nature, properly defined, is not sinful, nor can it be. Human nature is a creation of God, and is not sinful per se.”

    Exactly.

    I have come to the conclusion the focus of most Western Christianity has been to control people and then excuse responsibility for wrong doing to others because “we can’t help it” as saved perpetual sinners. Then there is blaming God for evil and not human choices. It seems more like dualistic Paganism to me. Perhaps eschewing any Hebrew understanding or scholarship of Yahweh as Christianity spread West is another part of the problem?

    All I know is that I don’t recognize that Jesus. :). I don’t think Jesus offered up a bait and switch telling people He knew were not “chosen” to repent and believe.

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  169. JW: Lydia: Bingo. They never talk about that.

    I did and quoted Calvin above. I know I belong to Jesus because I trust in him today.

    You did not answer the question. You quoted Calvin on how the elect can be sure of their election. But you did not answer how anyone can be certain that they are not among a certain class of reprobate. Here is part of what Calvin wrote about this “evanescent” grace: “yet experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them.”

    If the reprobate cannot tell the difference it means there are reprobates who truly believe they are among the elect. How do you know you are not one of them?

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  170. JW: But I also have been persecuted as a member of an Arminian church for believing these doctrines. I’ve seen pastors fired. I felt verbally assaulted from the pulpit by Arminian pastors for believing these things

    Here we go! Arminians are just as bad as Calvinists. You were persecuted in your church. I have yet to meet a Calvinist who stayed in an Arminian church unless it was to overthrow the pastor.

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  171. John:
    This kind of thing seems to be the calvinista way of doing things. One of the churches I used to attend has gone through this change, andI’m fairly certain it was a takeover. I left after the former senior pastor (who was all about God’s grace and love for all) left very suddenly and a couple of much younger guys just as suddenly took over. Didn’t seem exactly right back then. Fast forward a few years and I learned from a (not very discerning and fairly malleable) guy who still goes there that they went hard line calvinist and lost about half the congregation and elders when they did. They have a new name, a new building and campus, and a new website that talks about salvation being accomplished solely by God’s will and has a section on marriage that’s definitely complementarian.

    I’d definitely look for more changes to come at McLean. And likely not for the better.

    This is so wrong and is one of the main reasons why we keep focusing on the Calvinistas and their devious methods of taking over churches.

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  172. JW: No, I really don’t see the other options. What other options do you see?

    OK, JW. You are playing games here. If you had half a brain you would say that you see the other options but you don’t believe them. I think you have half a brain and I think you are here to Here is what I know to be true. You have signed in for one one purpose only and that is to play some games surrounding MBC. Yes, you are a Calvinist and we know that you know the you are smarter than anyone here. We also know that YOU appeared on this blog in order to misrepresent those who are Arminians. You have attended your conferences. You have the *gotcha* things to say. you have told everyone that they if they are Arminian, they must be *liberal™” a trademark of your condescending pals.

    So, because I don’t see something from you, which is something that I have noticed from a fair number of the dudebros who show up here, that something is love and kindness, you are going into moderation. you are not banned. I merely want to slow you down. I have a new policy that when someone comes onto this blog to make it all about themselves and their obvious superior theology, they get moderated to slow things down.

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  173. dainca: PEOPLE! (Yes, I know I’m shouting!) It’s ArmInian, not ArmEnian! ArmEnians are a people of the Caucasus region; ArmInians hold the theology of Jacob Arminius. Please be careful with your I and E!

    Thanks for this! It’s a pet peeve for me as well.

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  174. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Here is some more from that section in the Institutes:

    “Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption.”

    Yikes. How gracious of God to “give” them a temporary faith even though they were not chosen before they were born. They find out about the bait and switch upon death.

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  175. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Btw, considering Calvin’s theology, I could never understand his insistence on mandatory church attendance or the harsh punishments carried out for daring to disagree with his teaching publicly or making fun of him.

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  176. JW: No, I really don’t see the other options. What other options do you see?

    Evil humans who are barely human. Are you suggesting they have no choice but to do evil?

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  177. Lydia: but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds

    I especially like this part. So the Lord lies to so that he can better convict them. What a theological disaster!

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  178. JW: That, I think, is why Spurgeon said Arminians are saved because their actual theology is better than their professed theology.

    Good theology saves? That makes no sense coming from a Calvinist. If Calvinism is true then salvation is based only on God’s unconditional election – correct theology cannot be a factor (by definition).

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  179. Quote by A W Tozer. God will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination and the Divine sovereighnty. The best way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say “oh Lord thou knowest.” Those things belong to the deep and mysterious Profound of God’s omniscience. Prying into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints.”.

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  180. JW: I think you either end up as a Calvinist or a universalist if you work through the necessary implications of substitutionary atonement.

    If you are talking about penal substitution as described by the New-Calvinists (and I suppose old Calvinists), then you are talking about an atonement theory invented by Calvin and believed by only a small sliver of Christians throughout history. If it is true, it means Christians were wrong for 1500 years. Not impossible, but unlikely. The closest one can get to it in history is Anselm’s moral satisfaction theory, which is what I belive RCs believe. But RCs definitely reject penal substitution. As do all Orthodox, as well as many (perhaps most) protestants. The only way you can support it biblically is by eiseges. You have to go into scriptures with the assumption it is true in order to prove it. NT Wright describes it in a way that makes sense, but not in a way that is consistent with the New-Calvinist understanding of it.

    As for universalism, Gregory of Nyssa was a full on Universalist, and yet he was very Orthodox.

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  181. Ken F (aka Tweed): Where does the Bible say we have a sinful nature?

    When will you people get it that God forgot to include many details in scripture, but sent his servant John Calvin to fill in the holes? Yeah, a lot of people scoffed in his day too, but a short stint in the torture chamber or a glance toward the stacks of green wood usually changed their minds. Servetus is the best known example of the few who dared stand up to the tyrannical Calvin, but there were a number of men, women and even children who suffered or died at the hands of Calvin’s henchmen.

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  182. dainca: The vast majority of American Christians don’t know that Eastern Orthodoxy is “out there”.

    Very true. I discovered Orthodoxy during my investigation into New-Calvinism. The theology and anthropology are very convincing. But I have not yet been able to come to grips with many of the traditions (I am still wrestling). I am very grateful for discovering Orthodox teachings because they so often bring a perspective that I had never considered.

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  183. I too hold to an Orthodox understanding of theology proper, Christology and anthropology. Yet I remain Baptist because I actually believe them to be compatible with the church as the free association of like-minded believers. I reject Origenistic innovations like absolute simplicity and Augustinian ones like filioque and determinism (because both follow from his adaptation of absolute simplicity). I am working to reject the other corollaries of absolute simplicity, but they are not always easy to identify.

    Jim G.

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  184. JW: You may ask, but what if I fall away? I only fall away by failing to trust in the saving grace of Jesus.

    How is this possible if grace is irresistable? If Calvinism is true then one can no more choose to walk away from faith than one can choose to embrace faith. If coming to Jesus can only be by God granting grace, then falling away can only be by God withdrawing grace. Otherwise it is a person’s will that ultimately determines whether or not that person perseveres to the end. But I don’t believe that Calvinists teach that a person’s will is ultimately decisive.

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  185. Abigail: “Prying into them [the study of doctrines] may make theologians, but it will never make saints.” A.W. Tozer

    … sell books and conferences and workshops, build libraries, garner awards, spark division, create denominations, earn Phd’s and titles and chairs, etc. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day frequently harassed our Lord regarding doctrine. They had titles and position (in a temporal sense, don’t know how it plays out for them in Eternity).

    For inspiration, personally I look at the lived theology of Gladys Aylward, the Casper ten Boom family, George Müller, Hudson Taylor, Watchman Nee.

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  186. I have been reading here at TWW for a couple years. This discussion is so timely for me. Our pastor over the last two weeks has preached on Romans 9 and has publicly expressed his belief of predestination/election, etc. I have known for a long time that he believes this, but have been hopeful that others in leadership had not converted. I have been shocked to find that many of our friends now believe in Calvinism, which 10 yrs ago they did not. Many of them teach our Sunday morning classes and went through the pastor’s “Corps” class using Wayne Grudem’s book. Neither my husband, nor I have taken the class and now I’m glad we did not.

    Our church has always been very missions minded and still is up to this point. It will be interesting to see what changes now that the pastor is openly teaching predestination. He does seem to be a more moderate, traditional type of Calvinist, atleast. We don’t know quite what to do other than wait and watch. I feel very betrayed and heartbroken, honestly. When we joined the church 18 yrs ago, free will was very much the belief. Our pastor came in about 14 yrs ago, so this transition has been a slow one I guess.

    We and our kids have great relationships here, so we will be patient and see what happens, while more intentionally teaching our kids what we believe and why.

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  187. As the one who posted the link to MBC’s Calvinism position paper, upon which this post is based, perhaps I should offer a brief clarification in light of the Calvinism-Arminianism debate that has ensued in the comments.

    I did not post the document to to promote or argue against Calvinism itself. In fact, although I have my own position on the Calvinism/Arminianism issue, I hold to it somewhat loosely and don’t really care what others believe on the matter. The concern I have, which I think is the concern of this article, is that MBC has covertly modified their theological views in order for Platt to become pastor (or, perhaps, now that he is pastor).

    In the interest of full transparency, MBC’s leadership should have been up front with the congregation about the theological differences between Platt and MBC’s teaching in the past. MBC has a congregational government and requires members’ approval to call a new pastor. Due to this, withholding pertinent information about a pastoral candidate’s theological views appears to be a way to undermine the congregation’s wishes. By not giving the congregation pertinent information to make an informed decision, the church sneaks a significant theological shift in through the back door. That is the concerning part.

    And, while theological discussion can be healthy, we should probably not hold out hope that the Calvinism-Arminian issue will, after hundreds of years of debate, be finally resolved on this blog. 🙂

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  188. Jim G.,

    Anti-Western bigotry on steroids.

    Jim G.: You are welcome. Answers:

    1. No, it can’t be fixed. I suppose it could be fixed theoretically, but too many people, starting with the pope, are too entrenched to let that happen.

    2. Read the Bible in light of the Greek church fathers. I would highly recommend Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Cyril of Alexandria, and Maximus the Confessor. They are the orthodox responses to the church’s greatest heresies. Irenaeus is good too. Avoid Origen, Augustine, and any Latin after Augustine.

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  189. JW: Yes it does. And it Paul knew it did. That’s why he wrote Romans 9:19 about this precise thing — “You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”

    Paul/Holy Spirit anticipated that response to the idea that God is sovereign over human choices while hold man responsible for them. How can God hold you responsible for choices he determines? Who can resist his will?

    Paul’s answer was not — “You can resist his will because his will is not binding. It’s ultimately up to you.” His answer was, basically, shut your mouth and be silent before Almighty God, oh you of little understanding. (I think the actual Greek says STFU. lol).

    Seriously, the actual answer, as I’m sure you’ve read, was “20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?”

    He says, the clay (ie you and me) have no right to demand answers about fairness and justice from the Maker. The Maker can make some for eternal glory and others for eternal destruction for his own glory and purposes. And we are to shut our mouths and worship this mysterious God, and praise him that he has not made us vessels for dishonorable use (the next verse says “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction”).

    I know the Arminian attempts to make this passage not about eternal destiny but about historical positioning of Israel. But tell that to Pharoah, who was destroyed as a vessel of wrath. It very much was about God’s eternal purposes for individuals as well as for God’s election of Israel (at the eternal expense of Esau and his descendants, not just historical use).

    So yes, edwards help makes sense of it to me. But the Bible tells me that even if it doesn’t make sense, God is the potter, and I am the clay, and I dare accuse the potter of doing something wrong, when all he is doing is being God.

    Romans 9 is Paul’s debate with a Second Temple JEWISH interlocutor. They were certainly not Arminian in their beliefs; that is a grievous anachronism to begin with. If anything, a Second Temple Jew would be more of a “calvinista” because he considered himself as elect.

    It is not until Romans 11 that Paul gives the reason for the Jews hardening: it is because of their own UNBELIEF. Paul even writes, “And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.” The hardening is not a fatalistic, deterministic choice by God, it is a RESPONSE to Jewish unbelief, which was all the more egregious because of their inside track with God, but yet at the same time quite predictable given past failures.

    So the Jewish interlocutor’s objection to hardening in Romans 9, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” presupposes A CONTEXT which actually isn’t given until Romans 11. This discontinuity is quite characteristic of Paul’s style in Romans; the rhetoric and argumentation isn’t always linear and requires careful consideration of the entire work.

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  190. JW: believe that God can ordain what he hates in order to accomplish what he loves.

    Which could mean God ordaining evil to accomplish what he loves?!? (ed.)

    Brings no comfort to me at all.

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  191. senecagriggs: Unless Calvinism is heresy, I don’t see this as a big deal. Churches/denominations make subtle theological and doctrinal changes all the time. Personally, I don’t see this as a particularly notable story.
    Every new pastor will bring changes to the church’s doctrinal perspectives.

    Co-opting property and funds is a big deal and particularly if it is not all done out in the open with the blessing of those who contributed those funds and built those properties.

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  192. Sandy:
    Why would a church want to be Calvinistic or non-Calvinistic?Why not just be Christian?Why not welcome all believers who want to follow Jesus together?Why not affirm The Apostles’ Creed instead of limiting a church by means of a narrow doctrinal statement?Should we not welcome and accept everyone Jesus welcomes and accepts?

    Power, control, being right, etc. . .

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  193. JW: Yes, we believe that the Bible teaches that all things are ordained by God, not on the basis of his mere knowledge of our future independent choices, but on his sovereign will. This is not merely the theology of the YRRs, but representative of Augustine, Luther (though not so much Melanchthon — see Luther’s Bondage of the Will), Calvin, and (we believe) the whole of Scripture (a debatable point).

    I was taught and believed exactly what you describe when i was young. The fruit it bore was toxic. When you are young it is an intellectual exercise and many scriptures seem to support it. When you have lived many years and have looked black evil and heartwrenching grief in the face, it becomes apparent where and how it comes up terribly short. At this point in my life, it’s not enough for me that someone is familiar with the scriptures or knows how to argue. They must have also experienced that place. I find that those who have been there are much less dogmatic.

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  194. Eric Price: In the interest of full transparency, MBC’s leadership should have been up front with the congregation about the theological differences between Platt and MBC’s teaching in the past. MBC has a congregational government and requires members’ approval to call a new pastor. Due to this, withholding pertinent information about a pastoral candidate’s theological views appears to be a way to undermine the congregation’s wishes. By not giving the congregation pertinent information to make an informed decision, the church sneaks a significant theological shift in through the back door. That is the concerning part.

    Exactly! The pastor and elders, alone, are not the Church!

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  195. Tandt: Romans 9 is Paul’s debate with a Second Temple JEWISH interlocutor.They were certainly not Arminian in their beliefs; that is a grievous anachronism to begin with.If anything, a Second Temple Jew would be more of a “calvinista” because he considered himself as elect.

    It is not until Romans 11 that Paul gives the reason for the Jews hardening: it is because of their own UNBELIEF.Paul even writes, “And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.”The hardening is not a fatalistic, deterministic choice by God, it is a RESPONSE to Jewish unbelief, which was all the more egregious because of their inside track with God, but yet at the same time quite predictable given past failures.

    So the Jewish interlocutor’s objection to hardening in Romans 9, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” presupposes A CONTEXT which actually isn’t given until Romans 11. This discontinuity is quite characteristic of Paul’s style in Romans; the rhetoric and argumentation isn’t always linear and requires careful consideration of the entire work.

    Thank you. I wish people understood this and didn’t read scripture as a step-by-step, sequential, how-to rule book!

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  196. ___

    Poster Child: “What’s Wrong With This Picture?”

    hmmm…

    “Granted, it’s somewhat an ad hominem to reject the theology of someone because he drowned unwed pregnant women and turned Geneva into his own personal Spanish Inquisition with him as Pope and King, but such a rotten character doesn’t make me want to learn his theology and follow him. Who wants the god of such a man?”

    Five hundred years of this absolute nonsense is enough, don’t you think?

    ATB

    Sòpy

    ;~)

    – –

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  197. dee: OK, JW. You are playing games here. If you had half a brain you would say that you see the other options but you don’t believe them. I think you have half a brain and I think you are here to Here is what I know to be true. You have signed in for one one purpose only and that is to play some games surrounding MBC. Yes, you are a Calvinist and we know that you know the you are smarter than anyone here. We also know that YOU appeared on this blog in order to misrepresent those who are Arminians. You have attended your conferences. You have the *gotcha* things to say. you have told everyone that they if they are Arminian, they must be *liberal™” a trademark of your condescending pals.

    So, because I don’t see something from you, which is something that I have noticed from a fair number of the dudebros who show up here, that something is love and kindness, you are going into moderation. you are not banned. I merely want to slow you down. I have a new policy that when someone comes onto this blog to make it all about themselves and their obvious superior theology, they get moderated to slow things down.

    To be clear, this was specifically why I said I’d rather talk about any Calvinism questions privately over email, but you (or Deb?) told me to go ahead and post here, so I did. I certainly had no intention to make anything about myself, and I don’t think that attack is fair, but since you are the owner of the site, you have the final word. I didn’t post to make anything about that debate, but to chime in on where I thought you guys were unfairly maligning a godly man who is now the preaching pastor at McLean, and because I had historical information about McLean that I thought would contribute to the discussion. I’ve read over my posts to see if there’s anything I need to apologize for, in not showing love or kindness, and I see nothing that approaches that. But if anyone would please show me where I’ve done that, I would want to repent of that and ask your forgiveness.

    I have a full brain, not just a “half brain” (speaking of being unkind) and my question was genuine. I see no other reasonable possibility than the ones I offered, either that God is unable to interfere, or he is able to interfere but chooses not to for some other reason, and inquired what that reason was. Only Calvinism offers a biblically and philosophically satisfying answer to me, that God hates the evil he ordains without being the direct cause, and does so for the glory of his name and the ultimate good of his people.

    But it’s clear I’m not welcome here by the host of the site, so that will be my last comment. Good day, brothers and sisters.

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  198. Eric Price,

    Platt’s theology and Calvinist associations are no secret. And while we won’t resolve the debate, the discussion by mere peasants in the public arena over the last ten years or so is one reason Calvinist leaders are desperately trying to change the subject. At first it was nothing but, “only we have the true Gospel” from the gurus and their followers. then, over time, as they pretty much took over the SBC, deceptively, and partnered with SGM, Driscoll, James McDonald, Keller, and after much social media debate and pushback that attitude started to change to, It’s wrong to discriminate against Calvinists’. Sigh. It’s been quite diabolically clever but the big gurus have moved on to social justice because Calvinism is not as attractive ergo profitable as it once was.

    The irony is the debate pretty much stayed in the Academy for centuries until the last few decades. So, that has been quite healthy for those who knew something was wrong because it’s not like they announced their true intentions were taking over and Calvinizing the churches. It was all quite deceptive. But it worked for control.

    But I suspect for some of the well known gurus, it was more about recruitment and control than ideological because they are now trying to change the focus from doctrine to social justice and we are to forget the recent past. I guess they see people as completely gullible. Perhaps they are right?

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  199. Jim G.:
    I too hold to an Orthodox understanding of theology proper, Christology and anthropology. Yet I remain Baptist because I actually believe them to be compatible with the church as the free association of like-minded believers. I reject Origenistic innovations like absolute simplicity and Augustinian ones like filioque and determinism (because both follow from his adaptation of absolute simplicity). I am working to reject the other corollaries of absolute simplicity, but they are not always easy to identify.

    Jim G.

    What is absolute simplicity?

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  200. Benn: God is responsible for fact of free will, not the acts of free will….

    I like that . . . is it original? Just wondering who to credit if I ‘borrow’ it.

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  201. Bridget: Exactly! The pastor and elders, alone, are not the Church!

    And this is the most important and dangerous change being made, made under cover of a ‘doctrinal shift’.

    In my limited personal opinion, very few of these pastors actually even fully grasp, let alone live out what they claim to believe. Including Piper. On a fleshly level, adhering to the Presbyterian form of government (elder rule) gives a pastor nearly unlimited control, with the helpful cover of a few, brainwashed yes men. Oh, he will rail over the dangers of the Baptist one man show, but, in reality, it is elder rule that takes the congregation out of the church and replaces them with, for the most part, unaccountable rulers.

    My Calvinist pastor hardly ever spoke of or explained Calvinist theology. But EVERY SINGLE WEEK he pressed the importance of ‘elder rule’ and ‘the safety in the plurality of elders’. If it wasn’t to me, I could hear him using the exact same script to the new guy across the room. This was the same sort of talk I began to hear at the new church we were attending, along with references to Grudem and TGC, and it was obvious that the Calvinist takeover was imminent.

    Elder rule not only grants the pastor nearly unlimited control of the congregation, but also creates little mini-narcissists out of his hand-picked yes men. Nice guys, most of ’em saved under Baptist preaching, are turned into dangerously blind egotists as they are repeatedly told how they need to keep the little woman – who is so easily deceived – in line, er, safe.

    I saw it happen again and again, and the marriages crumble as the woman becomes, in her own husband’s eyes, little more than a tool God gave him to get what he wants. She is turned from a valuable, capable equal worthy to God in her own person, into a ‘helper’ who needs to be shut in and shut up, lest she spill the beans that Superman has no cape.

    I decry the doctrine, which is truly destructive and soul-killing to every individual who I watched adopt it. Not simply because of its inconsistent, logical incoherence (seriously, very few live what they teach, and contradict their stated beliefs constantly in their sermons) but even more because of the faulty thinking it produces, and its fallout.

    As one poster pointed out, it offers people the chance to make God their scapegoat, blaming him for all of the bad choices they have ever made – it was God’s will. It allows people to retain a few of their favorite hidden sins, as we all ‘sin every day in thought, word and deed’, but that’s all ‘covered’. Since God doesn’t see your sin, why worry about it? For men, it also waves the red flag of patriarchy (a.k.a. complementarianism), whetting their appetite for being able to get whatever they want as they turn their wives into the same sort of ‘yes men’ they have become to the pastor. It is very subtle, but abusers nearly always beget abusers. In the end, you have an authoritarian narcissist running the lives of many weak, malleable, broken people, minus the ones who wisely head for the hills.

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  202. Lydia:
    Eric Price,
    I guess they see people as completely gullible. Perhaps they are right?

    In my view, theological considerations aside, a big part of the problem is that likely many of these leaders are narcissists or out and out sociopaths. They don’t care about the people, its all about manipulation and control. That’s my opinion and I’m unanimous in it.

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  203. JW: Only Calvinism offers a biblically and philosophically satisfying answer to me, that God hates the evil he ordains without being the direct cause, and does so for the glory of his name and the ultimate good of his people.

    Can anyone read that and not see how utterly brainwashed these people are into adopting nonsensical, contradictory concepts and holding incompatible beliefs without blushing?

    ‘God hates the evil he ordains’? What does that even mean? . . . ‘without being the direct cause’? This is where they deceive themselves into accepting that as long as God hits you with a stick it is not him doing the hitting, but the stick. Isn’t God clever?

    ‘. . . and does so for the glory of his name and the ultimate good of his people’. C.S. Lewis, among others, warned long ago that the most dangerous psychopaths are those who do all they do ‘for the glory of God’. This is how Calvin could excuse what is inexcusable in any time or culture, despite all the silly defenses made by his worshipers. This was a man who claimed to be the unchallengable voice of God, and he doesn’t get ‘Thou shalt not murder’?

    Every tyrant and despot ever known has justified their oppression and murderous abuses as ‘for the greater good’. It is Calvinism, in its faulty portrayal of a God who performs evil for the greater good, who laid the groundwork for such atrocities, and we still see this at work today, in church and state.

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  204. Lydia: What is absolute simplicity?

    I asked the same question and have spent all the time I intend to spend trying to understand it. Perfectly good philosophers (Plantinga for example) have advanced oppositions to the idea one of which IIRC is that it is too difficult to understand. Craig also has objected to the idea. I read some of this just yesterday, but I have old-lady-brain-syndrome, so you had best take what I say with a grain of salt.

    It means that what we call God on the one hand and what we call the attributes of God on the other hand are inseparable and are actually one and the same thing. If that boggles the brain be comforted that indeed it boggles some (but not all) professionals in philosophical theology.

    IMO stuff like this comes under the heading of job security for some folks. Whatever would happen if people no longer argued abstractions?

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  205. SiteSeer: When you are young it is an intellectual exercise and many scriptures seem to support it. When you have lived many years and have looked black evil and heartwrenching grief in the face, it becomes apparent where and how it comes up terribly short.

    Could not agree more. I don’t talk about “God’s Sovereignty” anymore. Too much evil and tragedy that I’ve seen that I would have to attribute to Him and wonder when I’m going to get smited by him again.

    The funny thing is, with so many of these Christian buzzwords, I don’t think people actually know what they mean. Sure, someone can give you a definition, but that’s not exactly the same thing. Real meaning, it seems to me, is what we live out.

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  206. dee,

    Dee, I couldn’t see your face (obviously) when you said he is the smartest guy in the room, so I hope your tongue was firmly placed in your cheek. He knows his soteriology (Calvinism IS a distortion of the gospel) and most traditional baptist have the deer in the head lights look about them on this topic, because they struggle to view God in these terms. IMHO let him go (although it’s deebs call obviously) it is good practice For concerned traditional baptist/ Christians to see what we/they are up against. They (Cals) are a minority, but a well organized and vocal minority.

    It is just hard for me to understand why normal, lay people are seemingly so blase’ about this, we spend most of our time on temporal things, and so little quality time on eternal things to our on detriment…..

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  207. Is it not dishonest for The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel not to be clear about the fact that they are actually The Reformed Gospel Coalition and Together for the Reformed Gospel? At least the National Association of Evangelicals and the Evangelical Theological Society welcome both Reformed (i.e., Calvinistic) and non-Reformed members. There’s not reason why McClean Bible Church cannot welcome all believers who follow Jesus instead of becoming a Calvinistic church.

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  208. Bill,

    I agree with you. It’s one reason I don’t trust the various forms of love bombing and/or the overly emotional approach so integral to manipulation. Mega church pastors I have known and neocals like Piper comes to mind.

    Years ago, my former church hired a stealth Neo Cal youth pastor whose first immediate event was a teen boys retreat. They came back absolutely “changed”. It was announced there was a huge move of the Holy Spirit. This was not a typical happening in that church and few dared to question it. But it set the youth pastor up as the go to guy for many. He later became pastor. His tenure was a disaster and he left the church in tatters but not before preaching his last sermon where he proclaimed he took on a lost church and was leaving it in the best shape it had ever been in. Shades of complete sociopathy. Declare something that obviously isn’t true to give yourself credit? . And like most churches many were glad to get rid of him so said nothing. Seems no one cares about the pastors salvation. 🙂

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  209. Since leaving everything that labels itself as “evangelical”, which includes a whole lot of crypto-calvinism imo, I am much happier being part of a church where the Word of God is believed, preached, and taught, and Jesus is in His proper position, which is at the center. So much of the former religious life was spent on trying to measure up to a standard that no one measures up to. Every time I have witnessed a discussion on the various Calvinist brands of religion the path of the conversation is predicable. That is a shame, but only highlights what all of us already know, which is that we all sin much and sin daily.

    When the Calvinists came calling to our old bible church, I told them “if you are so wonderful, and your theology is so wonderful, then go plant your own church from scratch and show the world how wonderful you really are. But you don’t have the right to come into a well established bible church and take over.”

    It became apparently early on that the takeover was all about the money. And so a church that was growing was attacked, severely wounded, and has floundered almost to the point of shutting down.

    From where I sit, these takeovers and theological shifts are reminiscent of some of the corporate takeovers I have witnessed. Same strategy, same result. These people act more like corporate raiders (think Gordon Gecko) than men of God. Why more people don’t stand up and throw the bums out I will never know.

    Now, being part of a denomination that has a leadership structure to prevent that has enabled us to relax, connect with Jesus and people, serve our neighbor, hear the forgiveness of sins preached into our “earballs” weekly, and participate without having to measure up to the correct height on the rubber ruler.

    YMMV, but you don’t have to participate in their fun and games. God is not going to strike you dead, no matter what they say. (Yes, we heard this on a regular basis…) There are other alternatives.

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  210. Noevangelical: Since leaving everything that labels itself as “evangelical”, which includes a whole lot of crypto-calvinism imo, I am much happier being part of a church where the Word of God is believed, preached, and taught, and Jesus is in His proper position, which is at the center.

    I would love to know where you landed – haven’t seen many churches that fit that description.

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  211. Ricco: Could not agree more. I don’t talk about “God’s Sovereignty” anymore. Too much evil and tragedy that I’ve seen that I would have to attribute to Him and wonder when I’m going to get smited by him again.

    The funny thing is, with so many of these Christian buzzwords, I don’t think people actually know what they mean. Sure, someone can give you a definition, but that’s not exactly the same thing. Real meaning, it seems to me, is what we live out.

    Some of it is in our cultural subconscious without realizing it. Think of how many people repeat the cliche, “There but for the grace of God, go I” in relation to some horror, handicap, etc, etc. As if God’s withholding grace was the reason for the horror, deformity, etc. They don’t think of what such a thing really means. They also do it with healing although God may not heal another innocent with the same affliction. As if God has favorites when it comes to the totally innocent.

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  212. truthseeker00,

    The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Obviously not a complete bed of roses, but We no longer have to:

    A. Wonder what is going to happen every week
    B. Wonder who is going to takeover
    C. Wonder where Jesus went
    D. Wonder what books the pastor has been reading
    E. Wonder why we never hear about the forgiveness of sins anymore
    G. Wonder what metric our behavior will be judged on this week
    H. Etc…

    When that part of our lives became settled, a whole lot improved and took on color. A lot of the time we felt stuck in a black & white world and we were a darker shade of gray.

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  213. Sandy: There’s not reason why McClean Bible Church cannot welcome all believers who follow Jesus instead of becoming a Calvinistic church.

    Like Sauron, Calvinists Do NOT Share POWER.

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  214. Lydia:
    Lola Lee,

    Watch out for youth group. That is where the biggest damage is done.

    “Give me your children and I will make them mine. You will pass away, but they will remain Mine.”
    — Adolf Hitler, cult leader

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  215. Lydia: it was more about recruitment and control than ideological because they are now trying to change the focus from doctrine to social justice and we are to forget the recent past.

    OCEANIA HAS ALWAYS BEEN AT PEACE WITH EURASIA, COMRADES!
    (And the chocolate ration has been INCREASED from twenty grams to ten!)

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  216. okrapod: I asked the same question and have spent all the time I intend to spend trying to understand it.Perfectly good philosophers (Plantinga for example) have advanced oppositions to the idea one of which IIRC is that it is too difficult to understand.Craig also has objected to the idea.I read some of this just yesterday, but I have old-lady-brain-syndrome, so you had best take what I say with a grain of salt.

    It means that what we call God on the one hand and what we call the attributes of God on the other hand are inseparable and are actually one and the same thing.If that boggles the brain be comforted that indeed it boggles some (but not all) professionals in philosophical theology.

    IMO stuff like this comes under the heading of job security for some folks.Whatever would happen if people no longer argued abstractions?

    You are generally right about absolute simplicity. It is more than an abstraction, though, when the consequences are considered. If God’s being and God’s will are identical, then how is it possible to differentiate between the generation of the Son (which arises out of the being of God) and the creation of the world (which arises out of the will of God)? To preserve the deity of the Son, Origen argued for the eternality of the world. To preserve the creation of the world out of nothing, Arius argued for the Son as a creature. This is what the 4th century crises were all about.

    Jim G.

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  217. Ray: when an authoritative person wields the Calvin system, he/she prones to play God (arrogance) by displaying the verbal certainty of explaining other people’s lives through a web of calvinistic theological constructs as if they are seeing directly from God’s perspective

    New Calvinists are out and about misrepresenting the character of God as revealed in the whole of Scripture. They have constructed a Calvinist God that fits the tenets of reformed theology crafted by the misinterpretation of certain Bible passages. It is not the God of Holy Scripture who sent his Son Jesus as a sacrifice for the sins of the WHOLE world, with salvation available to ALL who believe; He is not willing that ANY should perish. A scarlet thread is woven throughout the entire fabric of Scripture pointing to this truth. An otherwise brilliant person can become confused by the teaching of his idols and allow his intellect to drift into doctrines about grace without ever experiencing a touch of Grace, an encounter with the living Christ. It’s nearly impossible to reach into that confusion with Truth – such is the spell of aberrant faith which is close but not close enough.

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  218. JW: But it’s clear I’m not welcome here by the host of the site, so that will be my last comment.

    Quitting so soon? I was hoping you would answer the questions I sent your way yesterday evening. I don’t think Dee and Deb consider you unwelcome.

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  219. Ken F (aka Tweed): Good theology saves? That makes no sense coming from a Calvinist.

    But Perfectly Parsed, Utterly Correct Theology is how a Calvinist can PROVE to himself that He Is Truly One of The Elect – and more important, that You’re NOT.
    http://i1.wp.com/www.nakedpastor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/the-theologians.jpg
    (Before Good Theology(TM), it was Material Blessings(TM), i.e. Getting Filthy Stinking Rich.)

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  220. Lydia:
    Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Btw, considering Calvin’s theology, I could never understand his insistence on mandatory church attendance or the harsh punishments carried out for daring to disagree with his teaching publicly or making fun of him.

    Getting even with Daddy for forcing him into an unwanted law career?
    “I’LL SHOW YOU!”

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  221. truthseeker00,

    There is an old unwritten rule in preaching and teaching, it goes like this:
    The first time you borrow/steal a thought you have to credit the actual source – e.g. billy graham once said.

    The second time you use the saying, you say – it has been said before…..

    The third time and forever more when you use it, you are now ministerially free to say I have always said…..

    Actually I permanently borrowed it from an apologetics video I saw when I was taking a class from frank turek
    I find the link for you, frank didn’t do the clip he just showed it.

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  222. Lydia:
    Lola Lee,

    Watch out for youth group. That is where the biggest damage is done.

    We are pretty involved, so we should be able to keep an eye on things. I am a bit of a skeptic when it comes to believing and trusting people and my kids have picked up some of that. They are very good at questioning things and thinking for themselves. Sometimes to my consternation. LOL.

    It was annoying though when our pastor used the don’t question God line this past Sunday. I told my husband that I don’t question God, I question the pastors understanding of God.

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  223. Catholic Gate-Crasher:
    Jim G.,

    Anti-Western bigotry on steroids.

    You don’t know me or anything about me. I don’t use performance-enhancing drugs.

    I have theological reasons for my choice that have nothing to do with “east” or “west” per se. Origen started this mess, and he was about as eastern as they come. Hilary and Cassian tried to fix it, and they were “western.”

    I’m a Baptist Protestant, which is “western” I will likely remain one until I die. My problem is with a theological commitment, or rather a series of commitments, made by Roman Catholics and Protestants over a period of a thousand plus years. I understand the commitments and why those commitments were made. For theological reasons, i believe these were bad commitments. The Greek fathers did not make the same commitments.

    Bigotry is an uninformed stance based on ignorance, fear, and superstition. My choice is based o none of those. You may not like my choice as a “Catholic Gate Crasher,” but it is hardly bigoted. Be careful when you point that “bigotry” finger at someone without knowing why they say something, because three fingers are pointing back at you.

    Jim G.

    Jim G.

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  224. dee: So, because I don’t see something from you, which is something that I have noticed from a fair number of the dudebros who show up here, that something is love and kindness, you are going into moderation. you are not banned. I merely want to slow you down. I have a new policy that when someone comes onto this blog to make it all about themselves and their obvious superior theology, they get moderated to slow things down.

    Dee, thank you for continuing to post JW’s comments. His words have given those who read TWW a glimpse inside the mind of a committed New Calvinist. He is a good example of what the new reformation is producing. If he’s not one of their leaders, he would make a good one! When I look beyond his arrogant shell, I actually feel sorry for JW. He has bought into this aberrant theology with lock, stock and barrel.

    In one of JW’s early comments, he noted an initial struggling with reformed theology until he came to accept it as “correct” doctrine. His journey – like so many other New Calvinists – reminds me of the story of Lot. When Abraham and Lot decided to separate because the people and their herds had become so large, Abraham asked Lot to choose what direction he wanted to go. Lot looked upon the green plains where Sodom was located and responded that he would head that way. Scripture later finds Lot camped above Sodom looking down at the city … we then find him at the gates of Sodom … and finally he is living in Sodom … only to be delivered by the hand of God at the last minute. Such is the allure of the greener pastures of New Calvinism – it’s an exciting challenge to the intellect, a vast difference in what the rest of Christendom is focused on, a new and refreshing way of doing church for the generations frustrated with their father’s faith. I get frustrated when I see this happening to young folks, because I know that one day they will realize they have been deceived. So, I may come across fussing about the method and message of the New Calvinists, but I pray for the dudebros every day.

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  225. Here’s just some casual observations from a long-time SBC member (me):

    1. David Platt is President of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
    2. Platt accepts the position of “teaching pastor” (whatever the heck that means!) at McLean Bible Church.
    3. McLean Bible Church is a non-denominational church–not affiliated with the SBC, at least up to this point.
    4. Has anyone called into question why Platt went to a church that’s not in the SBC and why they sought him out? I find that all very peculiar.

    Another observation:
    1. Summit Church IS a Southern Baptist church. (Even though they are too embarrassed to put “Baptist” in their name!)
    2. Many at Summit did not even realize that they were affiliated with the SBC.
    3. The current SBC President is J.D. Greear, who is pastor at Summit Church.
    4. It appears that the pastor at Summit (Greear) was too ashamed to let his congregation know they were Southern Baptist, yet he has no qualms whatsoever to take on the mantle as president of the Convention. This I also find very peculiar.

    So, what we have at the end of the day is this: an IMB president pastoring a non-SBC church; and an SBC president who pastors a church that didn’t even realize they were Southern Baptist. Isn’t that just precious?

    Perhaps I’m a little thick in the head, but if I didn’t know any better, I would be tempted to think that Platt and Greear are hypocrites of the highest magnitude and are merely using the SBC to further their own agendas and feather their own nests, and think very little of the denomination that put them where they are!
    Perhaps someone can convince me otherwise…but if you do, please use small words and lots of pictures, because like I said, I’m a little thick in the head! 🙂

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  226. Lola Lee: We and our kids have great relationships here

    This is a sad thing about the transition of a Non-Calvinist congregation into a New-Calvinist one. Established members of a fellowship are faced with a difficult decision to stay and have their families slowly indoctrinated into a belief system they don’t agree with … or to leave the familiar unto parts unknown. Leaving behind relationships formed with other believers is tough – it truly becomes a “family” of God. But, when new leaders force the family into accepting or rejecting a divergent belief and practice, dysfunction and division result. The New Calvinists are doing a lot of damage to the church as they bring in their “correct” doctrine, often by stealth and deception.

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  227. Lydia: What is absolute simplicity?

    This is a great question. There’s nothing simple in any of this.

    Seems there’s are many versions of Jesus.

    All of these “ologies” – theology, sotierology and so forth mean a lot to the people that hold them dear but have very little practical value that I can see from where I am.

    I love history and have read tons of books on bible scholarship and the early church. People lost their lives over the date of Easter.

    If there is a God, I posit that nobody can tell me what he/she/it really wants and Jesus hasn’t seen fit to tell me either.

    I figure that MBC is looking for the same answers. I figure all churches are and some “ologies” provide easy and simple answers. We all suffer and either God is cool with it or he isn’t. Right now good and innocent people are hurting, not just Christian ones either.

    So I’ve come to the conclusion that all the ologies are basically spinning tires in a pool of mud and splattering everyone to the point nothing is clear.

    And it is in this place that the abuse flourishes. Where it seems ok to accept abusers. Where suffering is ok and even pleasing to God.

    And congregations jump through hoop after hoop hoping to please God so they don’t get incinerated, even to the point of neglecting the suffering of their own children. How many times have parents been talked into “forgiving” the abuser?

    The abnormal is normalized.

    No man or woman can tell me what God wants but I can see with my own eyes the suffering in this world and I see what people want. Food. Shelter. A safe place to work. I don’t need a religious text to spell this out.

    So I’m doing my best to provide this for my family and I give to charity to try and do the same for others.

    I struggled in church for years. What I saw in the building did not connect with what I saw on the street.

    Now I get this is about souls but a starving person needs food. Now. Not a bible.

    I support Christian ministries in my city that help in this manner. What I can’t get is why these groups struggle when the pastor of our local mini mega gets a harley Davidson as a gift.

    The best take away I got from my time as a Christian was “love thy neighbor as myself” and “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me”.

    I just do it without the expectation of any cosmic reward.

    Until Jesus shows up in a golden chariot to tell me different, it’ll just have to do.

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  228. Lydia: Watch out for youth group. That is where the biggest damage is done.

    The New Calvinists are targeting primarily Generation X, Y and Z. Many of their youth pastors are called NextGen Pastors for a reason. They are out and about to convert young folks for a generational shift in doing church across America … New Calvinist style. At their current pace, they will accomplish this mission about the time the last Baby Boomer dies.

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  229. Max,

    This was an issue for us as we wandered in the wilderness. Our son was bounced around, but we explained to him that it was more important for all of us not to be caught up in harmful group than it was to maintain false friendships, and that we didn’t make these decisions to move in haste. We all suffered from the wandering in that regard. But in the end our son was educated on their deceptive ways, so much so that he has totally rejected their system. I think he was more resilient and more perceptive than I gave him credit for. He could see what was going on, even though he did not express it.

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  230. dee: I have a new policy that when someone comes onto this blog to make it all about themselves and their obvious superior theology, they get moderated to slow things down.

    Bah. How on earth do you expect to benefit from my august wisdom when you can’t understand that it IS all about me?

    You’re all rubbish.

    Up Yours,
    Roger Bombast

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  231. Lydia: What is absolute simplicity?

    I don’t yet understand all the history and implications, but from what I do it’s a natural law assertion that God’s essence and actions are the same thing. It was originally a Greek assertion that was brought into Christianity through Origen, Augustine, and later Aquinas.

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  232. Jim G.,

    “If God’s being and God’s will are identical, then how is it possible to differentiate between the generation of the Son (which arises out of the being of God) and the creation of the world (which arises out of the will of God)?”

    Don’t Calvinists deal with this by claiming God has a secret will?

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  233. Lydia,

    Lydia, God’s secret will…..

    The Babylon bee is reporting that an archeologist dig in Jerusalem going on as we speak has just discovered at least two more and a possible third of the hidden, and mysterious and secretive will of God.
    John Piper is so beside himself that he had to book two adjoining seats on Delta, he is on his way as we speak.
    Stay tuned, this is big…

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  234. Max: The New Calvinists are targeting primarily Generation X, Y and Z. Many of their youth pastors are called NextGen Pastors for a reason. They are out and about to convert young folks for a generational shift in doing church across America … New Calvinist style. At their current pace, they will accomplish this mission about the time the last Baby Boomer dies.

    Again, I pose the question, where is the money gonna’ come from? Unless those X, Y, and Z kids are slated to become doctors, lawyers, and other upper-strata professionals, let’s face it, they have no future in tomorrow’s economy as earners with disposable income.

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  235. Lydia: Don’t Calvinists deal with this by claiming God has a secret will?

    Isn’t that Gnosticism?
    The Speshul Sekrit Knowledge (“Occult Gnosis”) known only to a Speshul Illuminated Few?

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  236. ___

    “Stroll in for a brewed coffee, a extremely good big breakfast, and a Calvinist sermon, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Deb, you clearly show that MBC is under new management, for what ever reason. The way back machine web erasure disclosure demonstrates a new gospel and theological direction after fifty seven years. Be assured, the parishioners voted for this. (the move to the SBC, and for the new Calvinist pastor) The congregation apparently did their homework and voted accordingly. Why Lon Solomon embedded MBC deeply within the Calvinist camp, exchanged the gospel expressed for fifty-seven for the gospel of John Calvin and Dort, is anyone’s guess. Sniffing the religious air, maybe he wanted to keep such things as chicks, gays, and charismatics out of MBC’s pulpit and leadership, and thought it his best option moving forward. Was he a closet Calvinist all along? Maybe. A mega multiplex SBC Calvinist 501c3 church appears in the Washington area over night, Poof! Who would have thought? Maybe Lon threw another stone down as well…Bang!

    ;~)

    – –

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  237. Ken F (aka Tweed): Quitting so soon? I was hoping you would answer the questions I sent your way yesterday evening. I don’t think Dee and Deb consider you unwelcome.

    Like all the Defenders of the Faith who ring in from nowhere to Denounce the Bitter Witches of Wartburg, JW has taken his ball and gone home, NYAAAAH!

    And with the cancellation of “Calvin and JW”, we now return to the regularly-scheduled Wartburg Watch.

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  238. Ricco,

    “The funny thing is, with so many of these Christian buzzwords, I don’t think people actually know what they mean. Sure, someone can give you a definition, but that’s not exactly the same thing. Real meaning, it seems to me, is what we live out.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    …through the living of life in all its iterations and passages, i find that the meaning behind these words broadens more and more… it doesn’t stop…. and i can do is admire the immensity of it all.

    kind of like admiring and pondering outer space from my kitchen window and the wondrous feeling it gives me. being a cosmological pinprick doing dishes by candlelight looking at many other cosmological pinpricks so far far away yet very much connected because we can see each other.

    it doesn’t necessarily matter a whole lot the immense size, shape, dimension, location of the celestial body represented by the pinprick i can see from my kitchen window.

    what matters is that i can see it, and because it can see me telescoped down into this tiny spot sculpted out of the landscape, we are connected in this grand spectacle.

    what matters is the most basic, simple thing i can come up with. saying good night to each day recounting the beauty, morality, & peace i was able to give back into it.

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  239. Sandy: Is it not dishonest for The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel not to be clear about the fact that they are actually The Reformed Gospel Coalition and Together for the Reformed Gospel?

    From their perspective they are being perfectly honest because Spurgeon said, Calvinism is the gospel.” But I think it would be more correct to call them The Calvinist Coalition because the Reformed tradition is much more than just Calvinism. I am not Reformed, but I think I am on safe ground to say that much of New-Calvinism is not technically Reformed.

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  240. Wow. Love you all, but this became a smoking crater (mostly thanks to JW).

    Question. I agree with others that there is a Calvinista take-over occurring. That’s a given. Do you think there is like a controlling group leading the charge and targeting areas/churches/entities, or is it organic – the hordes just jump at chances?

    A Nitty Gritty Calvin Committee?

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  241. I’m busy, busy, busy, but I’m trying to catch up on TWW.
    Canning and freezing ….,,, my mom fell and broke her ankle two weeks ago ..,,,,,, hubby decided we were going to put new linoleum in the kitchen and dining area – we have the floors stripped now – big mess.

    But I just want to say, from what I’ve read so far, the Wartburgers are batting 1000!

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  242. Rambler: A Nitty Gritty Calvin Committee?

    A smoke-filled room where a handful of New Calvinist elite secretly meet to plot the takeover of everything Non-Calvinist? Perhaps, but the in-your-face gatherings are bad enough … groups like Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition are openly indoctrinating, promoting, and encouraging the YRR army to move forward into the battle to restore the gospel that the church has lost. Toss into the mix Piper, Mohler, Dever, Mahaney, Duncan, Platt, Chandler, MacArthur, DeYoung, and assorted other New Calvinist icons and you have all the ingredients of a Calvin Committee, the likes of which the world has never seen before. The Calvinist God is pleased with them.

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  243. Muff Potter: Unless those X, Y, and Z kids are slated to become doctors, lawyers, and other upper-strata professionals, let’s face it, they have no future in tomorrow’s economy as earners with disposable income.

    The more intelligent among the YRR church planters are setting up shop in upper-crust suburbia where the young money is.

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  244. Sòpwith: Be assured, the parishioners voted for this. (the move to the SBC, and for the new Calvinist pastor) The congregation apparently did their homework and voted accordingly.

    If that’s the case, then “Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone!” (Hosea 4:17)

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  245. Ricco: I don’t yet understand all the history and implications, but from what I do it’s a natural law assertion that God’s essence and actions are the same thing. It was originally a Greek assertion that was brought into Christianity through Origen, Augustine, and later Aquinas.

    Actually, the “simplest” definition of divine simplicity is that God is not composed of “parts” of any kind. If he is un-composed, then there is no danger of him “dissolving” into simpler components. This definition of simplicity is agreed upon by all Christians everywhere and at all times.

    There is a further addition to this we call “absolute divine simplicity,” which is the belief that God is identical to every true predication concerning him. That is, God equals God’s will equals God’s love equals God’s righteousness, etc. If this “identity thesis” is true, then it becomes nigh unto impossible to differentiate between the generation of the Son and the creation of the world outside of mere assertion.

    Origen’s acceptance of the identity thesis of absolute simplicity led him to conclude that the cosmos was eternal.

    Augustine’s acceptance of the identity thesis of absolute simplicity led him to conclude that the divine persons were relations of the divine essence to itself. The double procession of the Spirit follows. The “filioque” clause in the Western version of the Nicene Creed is the source of the theological split between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

    Christians east and west agree on the basic definition of simplicity of God not composed of simpler “parts.” Roman Catholics and many Protestants add in the “identity thesis” of absolute simplicity, which yields the double procession of the Spirit and many other issues that (in my opinion) need addressed. Calvinism is impossible without absolute simplicity.

    Jim G.

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  246. Max: The more intelligent among the YRR church planters are setting up shop in upper-crust suburbia where the young money is.

    At which point (like a lot of Third World countries), we have a God of The Rich and ONLY The Rich.

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  247. Ken F (aka Tweed): From their perspective they are being perfectly honest because Spurgeon said, Calvinism is the gospel.

    Didn’t that Rabbi from Tarsus have something to say about those “preaching a Gospel other than the Gospel we preached to you”?

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  248. Max: At their current pace, they will accomplish this mission about the time the last Baby Boomer dies.

    Again,
    “I will make them mine. You will pass away, but they will remain Mine.”
    — Adolf Hitler, cult leader

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  249. Lydia: Think of how many people repeat the cliche, “There but for the grace of God, go I” in relation to some horror, handicap, etc, etc. As if God’s withholding grace was the reason for the horror, deformity, etc. They don’t think of what such a thing really means.

    Isn’t that the theme of Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer”?
    https://warprayer.org/

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  250. Max: According to commenter JW, half of the U.S. Congress goes there!

    Again, Access to POWER.

    “There is no Right, there is no Wrong, there is only POWER.”
    — Lord Voldemort

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  251. Lydia: Years ago, my former church hired a stealth Neo Cal youth pastor whose first immediate event was a teen boys retreat. They came back absolutely “changed”.

    Into Calvin’s Pod People.

    “You cross land and sea to make a single convert, and when you do you make him into twice the Child of Hell [Sheol/Hades, i.e. Death] as yourselves!”
    — some Rabbi from Nazareth

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  252. Max: According to commenter JW, half of the U.S. Congress goes there!

    And, don’t forget: MBC is a hotspot for singles on the prowl!

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  253. Max,

    True enough. A smoke filled room is a fantasy, but with the howling hordes, and the conferences, it’s almost a fact. You can almost guarantee the PTB at least say “Let’s bring a little focus on these targets/areas/giving units to our followers at the next conference.”

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  254. Max: The more intelligent among the YRR church planters are setting up shop in upper-crust suburbia where the young money is.

    Yup, making it a PREDESTINED Prosperity Gospel. Seriously.

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  255. Noevangelical,

    If the New Calvinists were honest, they wouldn’t call themselves evangelical. They prefer to take over established churches. They rarely evangelize unreached people.

    I feel like there are a lot of good evangelicals out there, but the loud ones give them a bad name. The media also add to that. Note that I also go to a mainline church.

    I also think that any church and any denomination can allow themselves to go the wrong way. My family was excommunicated from a Luthern church after my grandfather fell ill, because “that family stopped paying their tithe”.

    I believe every person should remain cautious and vigilant against abuse by others who call themselves Christian.

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  256. Jim G.,

    The entire thing sounds like ‘mere assertion’ to me. It is going to have to get a lot more simple than this for it to really catch on outside of religious professionals and those who care to debate them.

    We do not know about the relationships between God and Himself/Themselves any more than we know for sure whether or not there is such a thing a a god. Then also I don’t know what you mean when you say ‘the world’ but IMO it is not the theologians or philosophers who will settle that issue if you mean matter and energy and time and good stuff like that.

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  257. Nancy2(aka Kevlar): And, don’t forget: MBC is a hotspot for singles on the prowl!

    Yeah, I laughed when JW said that! Apparently, he was single when he attended there – that element of MBC ministry seemed to make a big impression on him.

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  258. ishy: My family was excommunicated from a Luthern church after my grandfather fell ill, because “that family stopped paying their tithe”.

    Some corners of Christendom are so mean-spirited! Indeed, some of the meanest people I ever met during my 60+ years as a Southern Baptist were church members. And now we are adding to the SBC mix busloads of arrogant and aggressive young reformers who lie their way into pulpits and proceed to toss our everything non-Calvinist – discipling, shunning and excommunicating old members along the way if they don’t walk the line. What love is this? What God is this?

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  259. Max: whoops meant to say “disciplining” … New Calvinists don’t disciple, they indoctrinate.

    No, they RE-EDUCATE.
    Use Proper Code Words, Comrade.

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  260. okrapod:
    Jim G.,

    The entire thing sounds like ‘mere assertion’ to me.It is going to have to get a lot more simple than this for it to really catch on outside of religious professionals and those who care to debate them.

    We do not know about the relationships between God and Himself/Themselves any more than we know for sure whether or not there is such a thing a a god.Then also I don’t know what you mean when you say ‘the world’ but IMO it is not the theologians or philosophers who will settle that issue if you mean matter and energy and time and good stuff like that.

    It’s not “mere assertion” once we acknowledge the existence of God and Jesus Christ as the full revelation of that God. Once we make the faith claim to those two points, then we have something to work with. If we rely on those two claims to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, we get nowhere, for they can be neither proven nor disproven.

    And theologians and philosophers have a seat at the table to explain the created order. At least they should, even matter and energy. Scientists of all stripes are much more qualified to describe and theorize about how it all works. Theologians are perhaps better qualified, given the faith claims above, of explaining why it is here. The “how” and “what” are definitely questions for science. The “why” is a question for the theologian.

    Jim G.

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  261. Max,

    Rambler:
    Wow.Love you all, but this became a smoking crater (mostly thanks to JW).

    Question.I agree with others that there is a Calvinista take-over occurring.That’s a given.Do you think there is like a controlling group leading the charge and targeting areas/churches/entities, or is it organic – the hordes just jump at chances?

    A Nitty Gritty Calvin Committee?

    yes and I believe Pope Mohler is at the lead of it. I just don’t quite know what the ultimate goal is, and if he is a puppet with someone pulling the strings. Whoever, and whatever, is at the top of the SBC takeover committee, they’ve won the takeover. (i actually have become sick today over this.)

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  262. Headless Unicorn Guy: No, they RE-EDUCATE.
    Use Proper Code Words, Comrade.

    thus, the new hiring at fbcjax of an “education” pastor.. Somebody was wondering just how many “pastors” they need, ….well, if you are going to try to reindoctrinate (s/p?) an entire group of teens on down to preschool from years of preaching, I guess you have to have a “leader”. I wonder, if the current staff doesn’t want to push calvinism on these kids..(and this is a huge youth program we’re talking about), what will the result be for them?

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  263. Rambler:
    Wow.Love you all, but this became a smoking crater (mostly thanks to JW).

    Question.I agree with others that there is a Calvinista take-over occurring.That’s a given.Do you think there is like a controlling group leading the charge and targeting areas/churches/entities, or is it organic – the hordes just jump at chances?

    A Nitty Gritty Calvin Committee?

    Rambler,

    Max covered this very well upstream, but I’d like to toss in an additional perspective. When churches are desperate for growth, they will mimic anything that looks like it is working, no matter where it comes from. So even if they aren’t the hard-line reformed type, they pick up on their lingo since that seems to be the flavor-of-the-day and appear to hop on the bandwagon. I reckon they figure that if they imitate these guys, they can grow a big church too. However, what pastors (and us pew sitters) OUGHT to be doing is imitating Christ, that’s what will truly change the world!

    “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2

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  264. ___

    “Tell The Truth: Who’s Been Foolin’ You?”

    hmmm…

    Deb, the wholesale takeover of SBC Baptist churches and apparatus has been a forgone patterned conclusion for some time now. What are you expecting, a warning flag at this point? Most parishioners don’t even know what Calvin’s theology and Dort is, much less understand the warning flags, if given.

    To be sure John Calvin’s gospel and Dort is a five hundred year old lie.

    It sure has gotten a lot of ‘airplay’…

    The internet is about to change all of this.

    They can obfuscate Jesus’ gospel , but they can’t run.

    Heaven help them.

    ATB

    Sòpy

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_KnrX3eEFSc#fauxfullscreen

    ;~)

    – –

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  265. Steve240: I found this quite interesting coming from the Desiring God group:

    https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-danger-of-theological-pride

    Most Calvinists that I have seen have this pride.

    There is an old gimmick in Christendom of preaching hard against a certain sin to cover it in your life, to deflect the spotlight from you to someone else, to point a finger while four fingers are pointing back at you. Ted Haggard comes to mind, along with others who have fallen from the ministry after preaching against the very iniquity they held in their hearts. The first word that pops into the minds of those who are following the new reformation closely, when asked to describe a New Calvinist icon, is arrogance.

    It’s good to see someone within the Desiring God group provide some chastisement to purveyors of New Calvinism who lord their theology over all others. As the author notes (a female, by the way): “Passionately sharing our convictions with a spirit of love, instead of a spirit of condemnation, might yield greater influence than we can imagine.” However, I would just as soon that the New Calvinists don’t yield any greater influence than they already have!

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  266. Isn’t it fun that, every single time they want to make T4G or 9Marks sound “anointed”, that they throw out stuff like, “I heard the Lord’s call” or “I felt the Holy Spirit lead…”

    Not to diminish the true power of the Holy Spirit leading, or God’s actual call… but a reminder to us all that these phrases are frequently used to make some human being’s corrupted interpretation sound more legitimate.

    Gooey music, same thing. Feel good music, so they couldn’t possibly be doing anything shady or spiritually abusive, right?

    Man, we need to make an “honest trailers” version of their conference promo videos.
    Complete with gooey music.

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  267. Ct: Pope Mohler is at the lead of it. I just don’t quite know what the ultimate goal is

    Mohler clearly stated his goal when he assumed the presidency of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1993. From his convocation address that year:

    “We bear the collective responsibility to call this denomination back to itself and its doctrinal inheritance. This is a true reformation … This people of God must reclaim a theological tradition which understands all of our denominational activity to be founded upon prior doctrinal commitments.”

    His goal was to do whatever he could to take the SBC back to its pre-Civil War Calvinist roots. After the War, Southern Baptists distanced themselves from their slave-holding founders’ theology (Calvinism) … remaining distinctly non-Calvinist for 150+ years until Al Mohler started pulling strings to take them somewhere without asking them. He then proceeded to educate a crop of New Calvinists at SBTS to help accomplish his mission.

    There was a window open for a time after Mohler’s 1993 address for mainline Southern Baptists to send him packing, but that window closed when they did not act. It’s the darnedest thing I’ve ever seen. Millions of SBC members who don’t agree with Mohler’s theology have helped fund his rebellion and the Calvinization of the largest non-Calvinist Protestant denomination in America.

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  268. Jim G.: It’s not “mere assertion” once we acknowledge the existence of God and Jesus Christ as the full revelation of that God. Once we make the faith claim to those two points, then we have something to work with. If we rely on those two claims to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, we get nowhere, for they can be neither proven nor disproven.

    And theologians and philosophers have a seat at the table to explain the created order. At least they should, even matter and energy. Scientists of all stripes are much more qualified to describe and theorize about how it all works. Theologians are perhaps better qualified, given the faith claims above, of explaining why it is here. The “how” and “what” are definitely questions for science. The “why” is a question for the theologian.

    There are speed bumps, for want of a better word, in what you are saying. You say that the discussion is predicated upon a certain ‘faith claim.’ Indeed so. And that would be faith as understood to be a way to deal with things ‘not seen’ and things ‘hoped for’. Therein lies one great ‘if’. If the unseen hoped for is/are in fact truth. Back to faith.

    Then you say that theologians have a role in saying ‘why’ regarding things that are. This requires the assumption that there is a ‘why’ and now we are back to faith, the same faith which was linked to unseen and hoped for things. Hence, another ‘if’.

    I do not have a problem with theologians occupying themselves with this. I do have a problem with divisions within christianity based on some such with so many ifs.

    Back in the day when I was investigating Catholicism and having a problem with the Roman dogmas concerning Mary I read a paper by JP II on the subject thinking that I do better with philosophy than with theology and he was among other things conversant in his own philosophical bent He started with a first level of argument which could not be refuted but which was of necessity based on certain assumptions containing a level of ‘ifs’. Then he used that level on which to build a second level of thinking which also had some ifs, including but not limited to the fact that the first level still had ifs. And so on. Before I got to the end of the article I knew beyond reasonable doubt why I did not accept Roman Marian dogmas; too many ifs. But the protestants of all sorts also have arguments of various kinds with ifs. I try to be an equal opportunity doubter when it comes to ifs.

    Anyhow, whatever it is that you are advocating relative to God, then I hope you succeed if and only if you are correct. But I sure don’t think that Christianity should divide up and have knock downs and drag outs over most of what we fight over. And yes, the letters after my name all have some relationship to science and applied science, so I am biased against conclusions based on too much supposition. It comes with the job.

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  269. Okrapod,

    Of course there are “ifs.” We agree fully on that. The existence of God is neither provable nor disprovable. We don’t argue over the Pythagorean Theorem because it is provable and true for every right triangle.

    Not all ifs are created equal. Not all of them have the same level of plausibility, and some have disastrous consequences if followed to their logical conclusions. That is, some ifs are a better bet than others. I happen to think that the existence of God and Jesus as the full revelation of that God are much safer ifs than their alternatives. And if they are, then creation does have a purpose is a better if than its meaningless alternative.

    I embrace the ifs. but I try to do it as intelligently as I can.

    Jim G.

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  270. Alana: Gooey music, same thing. Feel good music, so they couldn’t possibly be doing anything shady or spiritually abusive, right?

    Now that you mention Gooey music, it fits.
    It’s a lot like the Gooey music Big Pharma uses to hawk their wares on TV commercial spots.
    Anybody else see the parallel, or is it just me?

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  271. ___

    “To Meet A Calvinist Fool In Their Folly?”

    hmmm…

    Those who get in the way of the calvinist fool will get hurt. Let an individual meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a calvinist fool in their folly …

    Calvinism is a comprehensive theological religious system for fools. They think they comprehend the inner workings of God Almighty by reading a few chapters in Calvin’s Institutes, a few books of their favorite authors, and parrot a few well worn out of context scriptures to prove their point. Only the unsuspecting are taken in.

    Rule #1 You can’t argue with a calvinist.
    Rule#2 If you’re stupid enough to argue with a calvinist, you have only yourself to blame.

    Calvinism is an 500 year old well warn religious ‘closed loop matrix’(tm). Those who get trapped in it seldom exact release.

    The moral of this convoluted story: assume nothing, question everything.

    ATB

    Sòpy

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=u31OjOPF-ZI

    ;~)

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  272. Headless Unicorn Guy: Didn’t that Rabbi from Tarsus have something to say about those “preaching a Gospel other than the Gospel we preached to you”?

    And he also wrote this: “I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated!”

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  273. Muff Potter: Now that you mention Gooey music, it fits.
    It’s a lot like the Gooey music Big Pharma uses to hawk their wares on TV commercial spots.
    Anybody else see the parallel, or is it just me?

    Yes, except that drug commercials include disclaimers and statements on potential side effects. What would it look like if churches did the same?

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  274. Sòpwith,

    “Let an individual meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a calvinist fool in their folly …”

    That is a wonderful line! Ah, Sopwith, you don’t disappoint!

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  275. dee: I have a new policy that when someone comes onto this blog to make it all about themselves and their obvious superior theology, they get moderated to slow things down.

    On the other hand, sometimes it’s good to let them rant long enough to expose not only their bad character, but also the flaws in their theology (the TWW commenters are outstanding in exposing the flaws). But this is more suited to posts primarily focused on theology. The new policy is crucial for posts addressing abuse. I often find myself unable to comment on such posts because it feels like walking on holy ground.

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  276. Sòpwith: Let an individual meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a calvinist fool in their folly …

    Reminds me of Proverbs 26:11 “”As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.”

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  277. Alana: they want to make T4G or 9Marks sound “anointed”

    Those groups are more annoying than anointed. Be careful with church leaders when they throw “Thus saith the Lord” at you … such language is too often used to control and manipulate folks. Lord knows we need more anointing in the pulpit, the genuine instead of the counterfeit … but such preachers are rare and endangered species in the American church. If you were to lift the Holy Spirit out of the organized church, most of the stuff would still go on … T4G and 9Marks would still do their thing to indoctrinate young folks with aberrant theology.

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  278. truthseeker00,

    ‘Passive observer’? I don’t think anyone is asserting that.

    You are not saying that, but I think it’s an implication of the non-Calvinist view. Maybe “passive” is too strong a word. But at the end of the day, all God can do in a non-Calvinist system is try very hard to convince people to do what is right.

    And I already pointed out that the ‘greater good’ was his creation of a being with genuine reason and volition, which, by necessity, requires the possibility of that reason and volition being turned to evil purposes.

    1. And my question is where does Scripture say that God does things in order to achieve the existence of “genuine” reason and volition.

    2. In a non-Calvinist scheme, we lack genuine reason and volition in our glorified state, for then we no longer are able to reject God. There is no possibility in heaven of that reason and volition being turned to evil purposes, so if true humanity entails the kind of free will/volition that non-Calvinists say it does, we are no longer truly human after we die, and we aren’t deity either.

    I am in no way asserting that God is some passive observer, watching helplessly as his creation spins ever further out of his control. That is a strawman.

    No, you are not saying that. But apart from divine ordination, how does God guarantee that His plan of salvation is successful?

    What I suggested was that there is a better explanation for the existence of evil – which few dare to deny – than that God deliberately, meticulously ordained and devised it.

    Contrary to Calvinism’s claims, there is indeed a huge distinction between 1) God ‘permitting’ freely chosen evil for a time, assisting those who hate evil in the meantime and having a plan to put a permanent end to it

    1. Calvinism affirms that people who choose evil freely do so.
    2. Apart from divine ordination, why do some hate evil and some don’t? It would seem to imply that some are just naturally better than others or are just naturally not as enslaved to sin as others.
    3. If I give a gun to someone whom I know will certainly use it to murder an innocent person, how is that better than my pulling the trigger myself. In a non-Calvinist view, God gives “free will” to people whom he knows will certainly misuse it. Looks to me like He is an accomplice.

    2) God perpetrating evil with one hand then punishing his sock puppets on that hand with his other hand.

    1. In Calvinism, God does not perpetrate evil. You might think that is an implication, but you need to explain how in such a way that doesn’t open up the non-Calvinist position to the same critique. Because in the non-Calvinist view, God doesn’t perpetrate evil, but he does give the power to do evil to people whom He knows will certainly do so. How does God escape moral blame in that scenario?
    2. In Calvinism, people are not sock puppets.

    We are not supposed to think this is deceptive, cruel and unjust. I, for one, proclaim loudly that this would be deceptive, cruel and unjust, and I believe that God absolutely agrees. Nor do I believe for a second that it can be said to be true.

    1. How is this deceptive? God tells us in many places that there is no one who seeks what is good. There is no person of good will unless he intervenes first.

    2. More broadly speaking, God does actually deceive people in Scripture. Jesus speaks in parables to hide the truth from them. God sends a lying spirit to deceive Ahab (1 Kings 22). I could multiply examples.

    3. Why is it cruel and unjust to punish people who hate God and want nothing to do with Him? You seem to think that there are some people who just naturally want to love God and that God prevents them from doing so. But if Romans 3 is right, there is absolutely no one who wants to love God naturally (except Jesus).

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  279. Max,

    His goal was to do whatever he could to take the SBC back to its pre-Civil War Calvinist roots. After the War, Southern Baptists distanced themselves from their slave-holding founders’ theology (Calvinism) … remaining distinctly non-Calvinist for 150+ years until Al Mohler started pulling strings to take them somewhere without asking them. He then proceeded to educate a crop of New Calvinists at SBTS to help accomplish his mission.

    You might not like Mohler or Calvinism, but Arminians owned slaves as well. And plenty of those who affirmed Jim Crow were Arminians.

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  280. truthseeker00,

    Doesn’t sound much like a description of ‘powerlessness’, now does it? More like the patient withholding of due wrath for a time, as God desires that none perish but that all turn from wickedness and live – just as we have been told.

    But the problem with your interpretation of that statement—and as you have noted, it’s just an interpretation—is that the Bible says that there are some people whom God does not want to live.

    1 Sam. 2:25: The sons of Eli “would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.”

    Matt. 13:10–17 says that Jesus told parables specifically so that some of his hearers would NOT turn from their wickedness and live.

    It’s not that Calvinism doesn’t have more “Arminian” passages that it has to deal with, but how does a non-Calvinist biblically reconcile the idea that God wants all people to be saved with the passages that specifically say that God acts in such a way so as to keep people from being saved?

    But the bigger question is this: How is God not morally culpable for allowing evil—particularly gratuitous evil—that He could certainly stop but chooses not to?

    In fact, many people harden their hearts against God because they have suffered abuse. God wants to save them but He allows something to happen to them that will specifically make it hard or impossible for them to believe in Him? How is that any more coherent than what you find incoherent about Calvinism?

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  281. Robert: You might not like Mohler or Calvinism, but Arminians owned slaves as well.

    Agreed. It is true that racism in the South until the Civil War knew no particular theological affiliation. The thing about the SBC slave-holding founders were that they thought sovereign God was on their side during the Civil War – using their “religion” to defend racial sin – until early Confederate victories turned to defeat. Calvinism disappeared as SBC’s default theology after the War. Unfortunately, it took 150 years for Southern Baptists – both non-Calvinist and Calvinist – to repent of racism during the founding years. They did that in 1995 at their national meeting, passing a “Resolution On Racial Reconciliation On The 150th Anniversary Of The Southern Baptist Convention” to “unwaveringly denounce racism, in all its forms, as deplorable sin.”

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  282. Jim G.,

    Sorry, Jim G., but when you erase the theological witness of half the planet…what is that but bigotry?

    As a venerable African-American hymn put it, “In Christ There Is No East or West.” Amen!!

    I seem to recall that St Paul hard a few things to say on this topic, too. “Neither Jew nor Greek…”

    Then there was St John: “a great throng which no man could number, from *every* nation, tribe, and tongue.”

    Guess he didn’t get the West-Is-Evil memo.

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  283. truthseeker00,

    ‘God hates the evil he ordains’? What does that even mean? . . . ‘without being the direct cause’? This is where they deceive themselves into accepting that as long as God hits you with a stick it is not him doing the hitting, but the stick. Isn’t God clever?

    Perhaps an analogy will help. My youngest child was born with an incredibly rare genetic disease. The only course of treatment is several surgeries on his skull and face in infancy and beyond.

    Now, all things being equal, I do not want anyone cutting into my son. I have other healthy children who need no surgery. But in the case of my son, the greater good of his health is achieved only by the “evil” of cutting into him. He suffers every time he has the surgery (he’s had four surgeries already).

    The analogy isn’t perfect, but I think it starts to get at what Calvinists mean by talking about God ordaining the evil he hates. I hate that my son has to spend time in the hospital, suffer blood loss, be in pain as he recovers, etc., etc. But I tell the doctor to do the surgery because things will be much worse for him otherwise.

    The thing is, we all agree that evil exists for the sake of a greater good. But it seems to me that the non-Calvinist greater good is simply the existence of free will. God thinks it’s better for a murderer to have free will than not to have free will, so he doesn’t intervene to stop the murderer. I’m not sure preserving the murderer’s “free will” (defined a particular way) is that worthy of a goal.

    But if God’s glory is the very end for which we were made, and it is far more beautiful than we can imagine, then ordaining evil so that he can work through it and overcome it in order to more fully display his glory, then that is worth it.

    There are still hard questions that Calvinism must deal with, and at the end of the day Calvinists must say “I don’t know” about a lot of issues. But non-Calvinists have the same essential hard questions to deal with, and the only ultimate answer they can give is “I don’t know.”

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  284. Max,

    The thing about the SBC slave-holding founders were that they thought sovereign God was on their side during the Civil War – using their “religion” to defend racial sin – until early Confederate victories turned to defeat.

    But the Arminians mounted theological defenses of slavery as well.

    I don’t deny that many Calvinists did what you say they did, but you seem to be implying that it is somehow necessary to Calvinism or more likely to come from Calvinism. But that doesn’t explain why non-Calvinists defended the practice as well.

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  285. Robert,

    Agreed. Arminians, Calvinists, and other ists of one flavor or another who defended slavery did so because of dark hearts. When they pulled their religion into it, they had to twist Scripture where they could to justify their sin. I suppose Calvinists declared “Sovereign God is behind it; it is meant to be” while the Arminians claimed “God willed it, so I choose slavery by my own free will.” Southern culture at the time certainly had a lot to do with “slavery rights”, but Christian culture should have superseded that. Lincoln tried to put slavery rights into perspective when he said “You don’t have the right to do wrong.”

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  286. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Good point. But with militant neo-cals, any type of disclaimer would go over about as well as a fart in a NASA space suit.
    Which is why TWW and other online whistle blowers are a good thing.

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  287. Max: It’s the darnedest thing I’ve ever seen. Millions of SBC members who don’t agree with Mohler’s theology have helped fund his rebellion and the Calvinization of the largest non-Calvinist Protestant denomination in America.

    It only worked because it was cloaked under the ‘Conservative Resurgance’ guise. Everyone was fear-mongered into believing that culture was going down the tubes thanks to the ‘liberal’ church, and the only hope was to follow our conservative saviors – right into the arms of Calvin. This serves as a good example, btw, of how such deceptions are played. We see the same game being played by the Trump revolutionaries, and the same sort of folk are falling for it, hook, line and sinker.

    DO NOT use this as a take off on US politics. GBTC

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  288. Benn: The Babylon bee is reporting that an archeologist dig in Jerusalem going on as we speak has just discovered at least two more and a possible third of the hidden, and mysterious and secretive will of God.
    John Piper is so beside himself that he had to book two adjoining seats on Delta, he is on his way as we speak.
    Stay tuned, this is big…

    Thanks for that laugh! The Babylon Bee is pretty good at jabbing at Calvinists.

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  289. Jim G.: Of course there are “ifs.” We agree fully on that. The existence of God is neither provable nor disprovable. We don’t argue over the Pythagorean Theorem because it is provable and true for every right triangle.

    One of the best comments I’ve seen in a long while.
    It’s good to reflect on what a ‘proof’ is and what it is not.

    Geometry and its attendant propositions are only true because of certain axioms that are agreed upon up front. These in turn generate a universal starting point.

    Religion, politics, and philosophy, have no such universal agreement on beginning parameters or a universal starting point.

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  290. I am not gonna name names…but I personally know of an evangelical pastor who became enamored with reformed theology. He accepted a lead pastoral position at a reformed church. Can you guess what happened? Well…he started preaching the WHOLE COUNSEL of God in the scriptures….and people started getting SAVED….and they asked him to LEAVE! True story.

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  291. Root 66: President of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention

    Heard he let go of the missionaries. Did he keep the admin compensation now that he is the Pres of the IMB sans missionaries?

    Nothing to do but collect a salary, so add the Teaching Pastor position for a double dip? How much work is involved in the 2nd position?

    What’s the bottom line in terms of work required and compensation being collected – from the working folks’ wages?

    Tough life there. Wow.

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  292. Root 66: International Mission Board

    If they let go of missionaries (who raise their own support?) because money is tight, did they also let go of administration, too? Or, is everyone at the top still in place?, though there was not enough money for missionaries?

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  293. JW: To be clear, this was specifically why I said I’d rather talk about any Calvinism questions privately over email, but you (or Deb?) told me to go ahead and post here, so I did. I certainly had no intention to make anything about myself, and I don’t think that attack is fair, but since you are the owner of the site, you have the final word. I didn’t post to make anything about that debate, but to chime in on where I thought you guys were unfairly maligning a godly man who is now the preaching pastor at McLean, and because I had historical information about McLean that I thought would contribute to the discussion. I’ve read over my posts to see if there’s anything I need to apologize for, in not showing love or kindness, and I see nothing that approaches that. But if anyone would please show me where I’ve done that, I would want to repent of that and ask your forgiveness.

    I have a full brain, not just a “half brain” (speaking of being unkind) and my question was genuine. I see no other reasonable possibility than the ones I offered, either that God is unable to interfere, or he is able to interfere but chooses not to for some other reason, and inquired what that reason was.Only Calvinism offers a biblically and philosophically satisfying answer to me, that God hates the evil he ordains without being the direct cause, and does so for the glory of his name and the ultimate good of his people.

    But it’s clear I’m not welcome here by the host of the site, so that will be my last comment. Good day, brothers and sisters.

    JW…. come on man. You ran the thread like a sprint. But life’s a marathon.

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  294. JW did make a reference upthread to “faithful” calvinist seminaries as against arminian ones that are “drifting” into liberalism and away from biblical inerrancy. I would like, respectfully, to make an observation on that very specific point.

    This “drifting” motion is relative. When everything is moving, it naturally looks as though [generic] you are standing still and everyone else is moving. (Which, of course, is a major reason why so many peoples believed the earth to be at the centre of the universe for so long.) In fact, I would content that the evangelicals and/or calvinists have themselves also drifted unawares over the last few decades, into ever-greater legalism.

    The original desire, of course, was to protect belief in the authority of the bible against secular academia, which holds that the bible is simply a collection of people’s opinions about God and should therefore be dissected and discussed exactly like any other source. During the 20th century, this view gained a lot of traction in the western church.

    But in the reaction against this, evangelicalism (I use the term rather loosely, for want of a better) became so fearful of downgrading the bible that it ended up inflating the bible until it became, to all intents and purposes, God. Now, a “high view of Scripture” nearly always means a low view of the Holy Spirit, and any attempt to correct this is rejected as being “liberal”.

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  295. Nick Bulbeck: a “high view of Scripture” nearly always means a low view of the Holy Spirit

    Now, there’s a thought worth pondering today, folks!

    If the Holy Spirit is assigned to lead believers unto all Truth, why do church members so easily accept the interpretations of mere men about the Scripture without seeking the help of the Spirit to discern truth from error?

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  296. Abigail: he started preaching the WHOLE COUNSEL of God in the scriptures….and people started getting SAVED….and they asked him to LEAVE!

    When the ex-blind man was brought into appear before the Pharisees for questioning, he kept repeating the simple truth about Jesus healing him “I once was blind, but now I see” … they just couldn’t accept this and threw him out of church! But the story doesn’t end there … Jesus went looking for him!! I have to believe that Jesus went looking for the pastor you refer to and will continue to use him to preach truth.

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  297. Max: If the Holy Spirit is assigned to lead believers unto all Truth, why do church members so easily accept the interpretations of mere men about the Scripture without seeking the help of the Spirit to discern truth from error?

    Because the interpretations of mere men tell them what they want to hear. The Holy Spirit does not always tell people what they want to hear. People are not naturally disposed to want truth at any cost.

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  298. okrapod: The Holy Spirit does not always tell people what they want to hear. People are not naturally disposed to want truth at any cost.

    Now, that’s one to print and hang on the refrigerator, folks!

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  299. Max,

    Max, my view is;

    We have to start with solid biblical exegesis ( what God actually said)
    Then and only then do we proceed with sound hermeneutics ( what does the word say for us today)

    There is the rub, if we determine that our hermeneutics mean today, or in any culture, something that is hard to take we are left with a decision to make…..

    If we acknowledge what the word of God said, and that is not in dispute, I think that really helps us with the difficult task of applying sound exegesis to sound hermeneutics.

    But if we can’t do sound exegesis, then we are at the mercy of mere men and their hermeneutics, regardless of if their hermeneutics is sound or not, what could go wrong, they are a modern day ecclesiastical rock stars, so some folk just wait with baited breath for the next conference, or book, or podcast by the aforementioned rock star…

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  300. Robert: But in the case of my son, the greater good of his health is achieved only by the “evil” of cutting into him. He suffers every time he has the surgery (he’s had four surgeries already).

    Firstly, I’m sorry your son has to deal with this. I’m glad that God’s goodness is on display in doctors and surgeons who can help address his challenges.

    However, I think we need to define “evil.”

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  301. Benn,

    To follow up with high view of scripture vs being lead by the spirit, we’ve gotta do both, if we don’t have a high view of scripture ( exegesis), then we get stuck with mans sometimes wrong ( and sometimes deliberately wrong) human hermeneutics.so with should have a high view of scripture, and it should overlay with what the spirit confirms inwardly to us.

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  302. Robert: The thing is, we all agree that evil exists for the sake of a greater good. But it seems to me that the non-Calvinist greater good is simply the existence of free will. God thinks it’s better for a murderer to have free will than not to have free will, so he doesn’t intervene to stop the murderer. I’m not sure preserving the murderer’s “free will” (defined a particular way) is that worthy of a goal.

    But if God’s glory is the very end for which we were made, and it is far more beautiful than we can imagine, then ordaining evil so that he can work through it and overcome it in order to more fully display his glory, then that is worth it.

    To many people, evil and the suffering it brings are incomprehensible. If God exists, no one has provided an explanation that makes sense to me.
    Why work through it if it’s all destined to happen? Either God can stop it but doesn’t or he can’t stop it and he’s useless.

    Beautiful glory. While God’s preening in front of his mirror while we suffer, I’ll be supporting groups like the Salvation Army and Doctors Without Borders who actually try to alleviate suffering.

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  303. Jack,

    guy behind the curtain. Scratch the above comment please. I have no desire to mix it up with Robert. His faith helps him with his kid’s illness and quite frankly I’m starting to sound a broken record. Everyone has heard my thoughts on this subject ad nausem. Thanks.

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  304. jyjames: If they let go of missionaries (who raise their own support?) because money is tight, did they also let go of administration, too? Or, is everyone at the top still in place?, though there was not enough money for missionaries?

    These are excellent questions, but ones in which I have very little knowledge. There are other commenters here who are much more qualified to address this than me. From how I understand the Cooperative Program, missionaries do not pay their own way, they are paid from the CP. As far as the fat-cat administrators are concerned, I would wager that few if any of them felt the ax when the cutbacks came.

    Frankly though, as Max and ishy I think have pointed out before–the elimination of over 1,000 missionaries had probably more to do with their lack of adherence to reformed theology as much as it was a budgetary concern.

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  305. Root 66,

    Probably so. But and also, harking back to when I was young, and based on what I witnessed in the mid fifties ‘on the field’ not everything has always been moonlight and roses between Richmond and ‘the field’. I heard too many complaints from missionaries on site at the time to buy into any idea that the good old days were something from some movie. Don’t believe every missionary story that you hear, whether from the Board or from the missionaries or from somebody who writes a children’s book about the glories of being a missionary.

    I would bet that there was a combination of stuff when it came to deciding who went and who stayed. And I would think that probably there were some legitimate complaints on both sides of the issues. For example, for those who want to cite names, look at some of the things that Lottie Moon did and note that she got cross wise of the sending board on some issues. This sort of thing happens, of course.

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  306. Benn,

    I have seen faith help people get through suffering but why it happens is and always will be a mystery to me.

    I think we all look for answers and that’s why a church may embrace a different theology.

    I’ll even concede that Robert’s explanation makes sense from a certain point of view and I can understand why some embrace it.

    My own experience with suffering has led me to different conclusions.

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  307. Root 66: the elimination of over 1,000 missionaries

    Since that “right sizing of the missionary force” in 2016, the IMB under Platt’s leadership has appointed new missionaries to replace some of them (now that funding has increased). The “particular” leaning of the new missionaries is not known since there is no check-box on the application form for Calvinist vs. non-Calvinist. However, considering the ongoing Calvinization of the SBC …

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  308. Jack,

    Fair enough, I get it.
    But as most people on this blog advocate against Calvinism ( myself included).
    We are left with no other position than libertine free will, and that we really try to understand how a loving God would allow evil/suffering, when imho he could stop it.
    If he stoped me from texting, when I came out of the coffee shop this morning, so my thoughtless choice to not pay attention didn’t have any consequences, then how free am I ?

    All he ask us to do was believe, he never said we would understand it all, my finite mind can’t comprehend childhood sickness, disease.

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  309. Max: Since that “right sizing of the missionary force” in 2016, the IMB under Platt’s leadership has appointed new missionaries to replace some of them (now that funding has increased).The “particular” leaning of the new missionaries is not known since there is no check-box on the application form for Calvinist vs. non-Calvinist.However, considering the ongoing Calvinization of the SBC …

    If it is happening at the IMB just like the majority of the domestic church plants coming from NAMB, the missionaries are well on their way of being “Calvinized”–especially when their president is clearly against that superstitious “sinner’s prayer!”

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  310. Max,

    That is no doubt correct.

    But also needs change on any particular field and sometimes people who have been somewhere a long time and done things their way a long time tend to get entrenched and can be a hindrance. What I saw was a reluctance to let the nationals make some decisions on their own which the missionaries did not want them to make, and this was problematic with the nationals, or so the missionaries said. What I also saw was that the Board was ‘sending’ the wrong people with the wrong skills when what the missionaries said they needed was something entirely different. Lots of resentment over that issue.

    And what was definitive for me was that under-skilled and under-trained american medical personnel were being sent and once they got there they were doing medical things which they would be prevented from doing back in the states. When I questioned this with one of the board personnel at the time the answer I got was that sure, that is why some of them agree to come here, for the opportunity to do things they could not do at home. Allegedly this issue had been raised by the host country also. Young and naive as I was I almost stroked out at this.

    Now no doubt the doctrine issue was huge in this latest matter. But I seriously doubt if all the other issues were solved and therefore did not play a part once the decision was made to call people home. The YRR people are not just reformed, I am thinking, they are also young. At least in health care that can be significant.

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  311. Root 66: If it is happening at the IMB just like the majority of the domestic church plants coming from NAMB, the missionaries are well on their way of being “Calvinized”–especially when their president is clearly against that superstitious “sinner’s prayer!”

    At the same time that IMB was cutting 1,000+ foreign missionaries – citing a funding shortage, NAMB found $60 million per year to plant 1000+ new churches annually. I realize that IMB and NAMB funds come from different revenue streams, but what should SBC’s overall priority have been? Should they have redirected church planting funds to keeping those missionaries on the field? What was the theological leaning of veteran missionaries who offered “superstitious” prayers? What was the theological leaning of the young church planters who possessed a more “correct” doctrine?

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  312. Benn: All he ask us to do was believe, he never said we would understand it all, my finite mind can’t comprehend childhood sickness, disease.

    And this is what it comes down to.

    But even good can come out of suffering. A doctor suffers through years of deprivation before attaining the height of their career. Everyone lauds the success and some even envy it but there were long nights of toil to get there.

    Everyone wants six pack abs but forget the hours of exercise you suffer through to get there.

    Maybe suffering is like sickle cell disease. The sickle trait provides protection against malaria while capable of causing illness itself.

    We become like kids. Why why why?

    Calvinism provides the answer and it’s authoritarian structure provides certainty. I don’t think there is a takeover. The seeds were planted a long time ago and are now taking root.

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  313. Max,

    Max
    I enjoy reading your comments and believe you have much wisdom. I believe Calvinism is “another gospel” that the Bible informs us not to receive. Do you think of it in this way also. Much to the SBC’s detriment we have embraced those who espouse this doctrine.

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  314. Why does God allow suffering? is an important question. But I’ve never found it to be an informative one (in the sense that sometimes, asking the right question can prompt a whole load of thinking that actually leads somewhere).

    To my mind, whether you believe there is a “God” or not, but assuming you’re willing to at least give ear to the claims of historic christianity, there is a much more informative question. It is this: Why does God himself choose to suffer?

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  315. Jack: We become like kids. Why why why?

    Calvinism provides the answer and it’s authoritarian structure provides certainty. I don’t think there is a takeover.

    New Calvinism is all about who wields the most authority. I view the reformed movement as a sort of ecclesiastical tyranny. True church structure – the one described in the NT – put Christ as authority over His body. In the church where He ruled, leaders had authority ‘with’ other believers, not authority ‘over’ them. In patriarchal authoritarian churches, there is a waning authority of Christ and absence of the priesthood of ‘the’ believer. Indeed, New Calvinists have subordinated Jesus with their doctrine! Whose job is the ministry? Every believer has a part!

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  316. Lydia: GBTC- Then why not delete it? What is truth seeker allowed to insult people but they can’t respond?

    I apologize. I honestly did not mean to be insulting. Should know better by now, but sometimes one forgets that everyone does not think alike – especially on politics. Please pardon my insensitivity.

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  317. Jack,

    To many people, evil and the suffering it brings are incomprehensible. If God exists, no one has provided an explanation that makes sense to me.

    I would say that at some level it is incomprehensible, or at least that God has not revealed an answer that ties up everything in a little neat bow.

    Why work through it if it’s all destined to happen? Either God can stop it but doesn’t or he can’t stop it and he’s useless.

    One answer is that we don’t know what has been predestined and that God doesn’t expect us to live our lives according to what we don’t know. What we do know is that he hates evil and that he can work through us to end it. So we seek to end suffering where we can, knowing that that pleases him and that God may just use us in such a way.

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  318. Jack,

    I believe Calvinism provides an answer, I can’t go there that it is THE answer, they have their box of systems.
    But they have their holes in the box, just like non cals, take the evil/suffering issue some of them know where it has to lead to, and they start deflecting, some to their credit, admit it.

    What do they do with the issue of time, they will not own free will, but what about time?

    God to Abraham, NOW I know that you will …. so don’t lay a hand on the lad
    Joshua, Choose this day who you will serve…
    If we are a victim of totally deprivaty, so dead that we have to be saved first, then faith follows
    Why did Jesus have to talk in parables, to conceal something from a corpse.it goes on and on….
    At the end of the day, a lot on both sides are just talking past the other, instead of looking to come let us reason together……I know I read that somewhere….

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  319. Bridget,

    Firstly, I’m sorry your son has to deal with this. I’m glad that God’s goodness is on display in doctors and surgeons who can help address his challenges.

    Thank you

    However, I think we need to define “evil.”

    True. There’s moral evil, which is inflicted by agents who make choices, and natural evil, which is inflicted by nature that doesn’t make choices.

    The point of the surgery example was simply to show how something that we might ordinarily hate—cutting into someone and moving his innards around—we will accept if it accomplishes a greater good. If we can do this with something like surgery, why can’t we accept that God can do something similar with evil since he is so much wiser than we are? In fact, all Christians accept this to some degree. The only difference is whether God merely “allows” something or “ordains” something. The problem of evil remains in both cases.

    But admittedly, the analogy isn’t perfect.

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  320. Max,

    Southern culture at the time certainly had a lot to do with “slavery rights”, but Christian culture should have superseded that.

    Exactly! It’s a tragedy that it didn’t.

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  321. Nick Bulbeck:
    Why does God allow suffering? is an important question. But I’ve never found it to be an informative one (in the sense that sometimes, asking the right question can prompt a whole load of thinking that actually leads somewhere).

    To my mind, whether you believe there is a “God” or not, but assuming you’re willing to at least give ear to the claims of historic christianity, there is a much more informative question. It is this: Why does God himself choose to suffer?

    I had a marine Corp drill instructor give me his take on it, when one of his newbies tell him that he was in pain
    The drill instructor said , Do you know what pain is, Pain is wickness leaving you body..
    But i must disclose I very seldom get my theology from the marine corps……

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  322. Jack: But if God’s glory is the very end for which we were made, and it is far more beautiful than we can imagine, then ordaining evil so that he can work through it and overcome it in order to more fully display his glory, then that is worth it.

    It is not simply that I disagree, I would like to be on record as asserting that God is not a narcissist! That is, in a nutshell, the problem with Calvinism. It normalized narcissism, by falsely asserting that God’s whole goal in creation is getting himself glory. This is a perversion of truth, and of the gospel declared faithfully by Jesus, God’s only begotten Son. Note he did not declare ‘God so desired glory that he created evil, so that he could show everyone his ‘stuff’.’ Rather, ‘God so loved the world’. I know, we have heard it a thousand times, but Calvinists don’t believe it. They smirk and sneer when the honest believer dares to challenge their false gospel with the true gospel that is a declaration of love and mercy.

    God did not, and would not ‘ordain’ evil (as in, think up and cause irresistibly, through whatever unavoidable means) to make himself look good. Nor need he.

    Look around. Who needs to doubt God’s glory? Did he have to create monsters, and monstrous evil, to prove how ‘glorious’ he is? ‘Oh what a mighty God I am. I created this evil, and now see I can make it disappear.’ Wow. So unimpressed.

    IMO, what is really glorious is that God created man with an amazing, unimaginable ‘godlike’ ability to reason, think and make volitional choices. We are familiar with all sorts of artificial intelligence gizmos, but they all must be programmed to perform as the designer wishes. God did not make mankind as robots, preprogrammed to do just what he wanted when the right keyword was entered. Had he done so, since he is no narcissist, and tells us he hates evil, there would never have been any evil, period.

    The history of the world shows how false Calvinism’s Divine Determinism is. Much as they prefer to blame God for man’s rebellion and wickedness, scripture tells us otherwise. God gave man genuine freedom of choice. That does not mean our freedom is limitless, or that God is constrained from choosing if, when, where and under what circumstances every individual is born. It does mean that our ‘choices’ are real (as well as their consequences) not predetermined by God before we were ever born.

    As we are sadly aware, man used that freedom (as God knew he would) to pursue his own self interest, which is the definition of sin – ‘all about self’. I do not believe that allowing men to choose evil, which is essential to genuine freedom of choice, is the same as dreaming up, ordaining and deliberately bringing to pass evil that would not have been necessary, all so the peons would go, ‘Wow, did you see what God did with those pedophiles and murderers?’ Who, the ones he created and irresistibly ordained to perform unthinkable crimes?

    Instead, when I am done yelling at God for allowing pedophiles to exist (It’s okay, he can take it. And he knows how I feel, so I may as well get it off my chest.) I remind myself that God assures us that this wickedness did not come into existence because God wanted to show off, but was the unavoidable, necessary possibility in order for people to have real freedom of action, that is, a purposeful existence. One can doubt whether that freedom is worth the suffering, but God appears to have determined that it is. We are promised, however, that man’s freely chosen evil will be dealt with by God, properly and justly. Those who reject their second chance, provided through Jesus, will indeed face the consequences of that rejection.

    In the long run, all wickedness will be seen as the horrific evil that it is and, rejected by people who love and desire the goodness that is God. No one, and I mean no one, will be suggesting that maybe God should be the one punished, since he irresistibly ‘ordained’ the evil actions he is now punishing.

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  323. Root 66: the elimination of over 1,000 missionaries had probably more to do with their lack of adherence to reformed theology as much as it was a budgetary concern

    Well, you will not find that in the documents releasing them … no check boxes of that sort since such those grounds for severance would be a big scandal. I do know that they were given a limited amount of time to accept a severance package – after that, there were no guarantees for them. Sort of like a big corporation down-sizing event.

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  324. truthseeker00: Lydia: GBTC- Then why not delete it? What is truth seeker allowed to insult people but they can’t respond?

    I apologize. I honestly did not mean to be insulting. Should know better by now, but sometimes one forgets that everyone does not think alike – especially on politics. Please pardon my insensitivity.

    BTW, don’t know if it helps or not, but it is not that I am for one party and against the other – which is why I have the nasty habit of insulting both. I am apolitical, or perhaps anti-political is more accurate. I do not believe any institution – church, state or other – holds the key to the problem or evil or God’s kingdom arriving. That will be brought in exactly at the right time by the right person – Jesus, the King of kings!

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  325. Christian: I believe Calvinism is “another gospel” that the Bible informs us not to receive. Do you think of it in this way also.

    There are as many flavors of reformed theology as there are Baskin-Robbins ice cream, perhaps more. Extreme “Hyper” Calvinism is another gospel, which is not the Gospel at all. The hyper folks think only Calvinists are Christians and offer a lot of unBiblical mumbo-jumbo to get one to believe that. Some tribes of New Calvinism certainly give you this impression as well. Contrary to their belief, New Calvinists are not the sole-keepers of truth. While you can find a remnant of Gospel truth in their belief and practice, you have to wade through a lot of half-truth and mis-truth to find it. I’ll say this as a former Southern Baptist, New Calvinism is not the whosoever-will-may-come Gospel that has been proclaimed by SBC for the last 150 years – thus, it is another gospel to mainline Southern Baptists.

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  326. Nick Bulbeck: To my mind, whether you believe there is a “God” or not, but assuming you’re willing to at least give ear to the claims of historic christianity, there is a much more informative question. It is this: Why does God himself choose to suffer?

    I by no means want to suggest that I know the mind of God, but I would offer one suggestion as to why anyone would allow, and even choose to undergo suffering. Ol’ blue eyes crooned it best: ‘Ya can’t have one without the ooother.’

    Anyone who has ever been in a relationship, with another adult or as a parent, pretty quickly learns, if they did not realize beforehand, that a good deal of suffering accompanies relationships with less than perfect people – and that’s all of us.

    So, yes, God could have made perfect people; robots, if you will. There would have been no sin, no suffering and no meaningful existence. Like a Stepford wife, one would obediently do, without a thought, what one was programmed to do. But who would call that ‘love’? Love, by definition, requires volition, the ability to not love, or it means nothing.

    God offers us the opportunity to live in loving relationship with him – which will be ‘heaven’ when it actually functions as it ought. This life as we know it is that interlude made necessary when we got cold feet and stood God up at the alter. He has been pursuing us ever since, assuring us that all is forgiven and that the marriage can go forward with no lasting repercussions. But he is not going to kidnap us and drag us to the alter. And he is going to deal with the guy who seduced us and led us away from him. It ain’t gonna be pretty.

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  327. Benn: To follow up with high view of scripture vs being lead by the spirit, we’ve gotta do both

    The Word without the Spirit is not life. A man can exegete with great knowledge and superb articulation … but if he is not anointed to preach, his sermons will not bear life to the listeners. The Word + The Spirit of Truth = Revealed Truth. Everything else is just information.

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  328. Max,

    Max, we may agree more than it appears, but when I hear anyone say they have a too high view of scripture, that gives me pause. John 1:14- the word became flesh and dwelt among us. Am I over simplifying this, If I have a high view of Christ, how can I not have a high view of scripture/ the word?

    I personally think that is one of the traditional Christians problem in trying to discuss Calvinism ( JW’s dive bombing the blog a day or two ago). They ( cal’s) don’t think we can defend our position through the word. Al Mohler says it all the time, the traditional’s cake Icing thin theology, and on and on and on.

    The Apostle Paul justified his whole existence on this earth by saying I came to give my defense ( apologia) of the gospel. I wish we ( non cals) would not back down so much to the cals,we have scripture on our side also.

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  329. Benn: when I hear anyone say they have a too high view of scripture, that gives me pause

    You won’t hear me saying that! The key to what Nick implied when he initiated this thread was that some folks who have a high view of Scripture have a low view of the Holy Spirit. To me, he was saying that some who tout a superior knowledge of the Scripture put more faith in their intellect than the Holy Spirit to teach them.

    I approach my reading of the Scripture knowing that the Holy Bible contains words which were written by holy men as inspired by the Holy Spirit … which gives me a “high” view of Scripture. If I’m going to read those words and apply them to my Christian life, I will let the Holy Spirit lead me not the teachings and traditions of men … Jesus actually warned us not to do that!

    The Church of the Living God would be in much better shape if it flushed all the theologies of men and prayed for the Holy Spirit to lead them into Truth. The early church wasn’t Calvinist, Arminian, or another ist … they were believers who yielded to the Holy Spirit for truth and life … their pastors were in place to facilitate them in seeking God, not to sell them on his particular theology about God, man, sin and salvation. Much of the 21st century church has lost contact with God, with no personal experience in Christ, and no leading of the Holy Spirit … because we have put our trust in mere men.

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  330. Max: some folks who have a high view of Scripture have a low view of the Holy Spirit

    And vice versa. Flying on one wing doesn’t get off the ground. Bottom line.

    (Picture wild tangents of [some] Charismatics/Pentecostals. Flip to the dead beat of certain Fundies/Traditionalists. Noisy fluttering about like chickens in a barnyard. Flightless.)

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