A Calvinist Pastor Was Challenged by Members Who Read the “Bad” Internet. So, Why Aren’t They Reading the Calvinist Blogs?

enhanced dolphin cloud on Jupiter
Enhanced: Dolphin Cloud on Jupiter: NASA

“Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.” ― Criss Jami


9 Marks recently posted Calvinist Pastors and Non-Calvinist Churches: Candidating, Pastoring, and Moving On by David Schrock. Schrock recalls his five years in a church filled with non-Calvinist members. He made a rather naive assumption for a pastor who apparently attended seminary. He assumed that these members were merely non-Calvinists who wouldn’t mind him doing his Calvinist thing. He would soon learn that a number of them would begin to educate themselves and decide that they did not and would not accept the Calvinist doctrine.

He had learned that a previous pastor had been fired for his Calvinist views but that the church rehired him. So, instead of doing some careful research, he assumed that the church had seen the error of its ways and had no further problems with Calvinism. He readily admits his mistake. I’m going to assume that this was a Reformed Southern Baptist Church because he has this to say:

I’d attempted to navigate a positive vision of gospel-centered, missions-minded ministry. This meshed well with the SBC’s 2008 agreement to disagree on the finer points of Calvinism, while majoring on the gospel and the need to reach the lost. [1] Sadly, all such endeavors spiraled downward.

Non-Calvinists versus Anti-Calvinists

He then goes on to describe the difference between the *nice* non-Calvinists and the bad anti-Calvinists with little nuance. This is my interpretation of his view of these differing classes of non-Calvinists.The nice (tone and temperament) non-Calvinists understood the difference was merely doctrinal and were capable of unifying over things like salvation and Scripture. The bad anti-Calvinists apparently exhibited negative temperament and tone.

This difference is about far more than doctrine; it’s about tone, temperament, and a willingness to unify over other shared doctrines like Scripture, salvation, and service.

Grace versus the doctrines of grace

His next statement bothered me. What he appears to be saying is that it is far easier to deal with people who don’t know what today’s Calvinists actually teach. A few years ago, I read a comment by a pastor at a “Don’t tell them you’re a Calvinist if you want to get the job* site. When he was asked directly by a member “Are you are Calvinist?”; he answered, “I believe in grace, don’t you?” He thought he was being all cute and clever because we know that the word *grace* is far different than the* doctrines of grace.* This deceptive pastor patted himself on the back for his answer when, in fact, he was a common liar.

So, it might appear that Schrock wished that the people of his church were just plain stupid when it comes to the doctrines of grace. It was not to be.

If you find yourself in a situation where the tide has turned against Calvinism, then you’re in a much different place than if you’re in a church where the doctrines of grace are relatively unknown

Evil social media is messing with the grand illusion.

I’ve found that virtual voices and social media sources have an exaggerated and typically deleterious impact on the members of our churches

It appears that Schrock was happily teaching the doctrines of grace. Therefore, he was attempting to teach more than salvation and service as he claimed earlier in the post. He was teaching core Calvinism. Some people in his church suspected something didn’t sound right. Instead of blaming their next course of action on his own inability to be perfectly honest with the folks, he blames it all on Google! (I wonder if any of them visited this *deleterious* blog?)

Sadly, as our church considered the merits and demerits of the doctrines of grace, a chief consultant was Google.

Social media is *forcing* pastors to give an account of their doctrine! Gasp!

Can you imagine that? Calvinist pastors are being forced to be honest about their doctrinal slant. Inconceivable!

our heroes of old preached, prayed, loved, and stayed in congregations that were not impacted by the information age. By faithful exposition of the Scriptures, they led their people into a greater understanding of biblical truth without the intrusion of internet hotheads. Today, however, circumstances have changed, and the internet may force Calvinist pastors in non-Calvinist churches to give an account for their doctrine.

Sadly, he attempts to claim that Calvinist pastors are not trying to be subversive. However, his verbiage in the above quote says differently.

External leaders may also contribute to the problem.

Schrock was irritated that people went outside the church to denominational leaders for help. He claims that those folks should have pointed the members back to him to deal with the situation. Schrock dos not appear to understand that his own actions led to confused members seeking outside help.

Schrock admits he didn’t build close relationships within the church.

He also appears to have a weak understanding of the problem. My husband and I attempted to have conversations with the elders in an old church about the seeming shift towards hardline Calvinism in a formerly decidedly non-Calvinist church. We were told to get over it which we did. We let people know what was happening in the church and why were leaving. It was the best move because we found a wonderful Lutheran church which will not switch up their theological foundations when the next greatest *doctrine* makes an appearance on the scene.

The problem is pretty simple. Either the church wants Calvinist doctrine or it does not. Being best buddies with the pastor would not have changed our decision.

Finishing a doctoral degree during this same season, coupled with a personal inclination toward the study and not the front porch, made my relationships too weak to sustain the weight of this theological divide. While many friendships were strong before the onslaught of internet-fed accusations, they simply couldn’t withstand the pressure when arguments came.

Calvinist pastors in non-Calvinist churches, therefore, must foster relationships so that the church is not ripped apart by doctrinal disagreements.

Schrock says that pastors MUST tell the church, prior to their appointment, that they will be teaching Calvinism.

Finally, we can agree.

if you’re a pastoral candidate, trust God for his placement and don’t hide your doctrinal convictions. If the church doesn’t have the theological acumen to ask you about it, bring it up with gentleness and patience. Show them how you will teach these doctrines and how important they are to you.

Let me tell you what happened at Chapel Hill Bible Church, in Chapel Hill, NC when Jay Thomas, the current muy Calvinist senior pastor, came to candidate. There was a time for question and answers from the members. We had to write them on a card and hand them to the *elders.* (Digression: Whenever you see the card routine, you know the session is being controlled.)  I listened carefully to him and asked a simple question: “Are you a Calvinist?” Guess which was the only question that did not get answered?  I knew then that I was dealing with a hyper controlling situation and that the newest elders were in on the game.

In his very first sermon I believe he admiringly mentioned Mark Driscoll and John Piper and I knew we were going to be out of there. He even managed to hire a pastor from CJ Mahaney’s former mother ship, CLC. Good night! It was a nightmare.

Jay Thomas and the elders were not straightforward and they played the game.This was wrong and they should be ashamed of themselves.

However, Shchrock goes back into his *doctrines of grace* is really the best thing and you will need to lean on God when you can’t do it right. You might even have to suffer…

Here are a few relevant statements. I think these utterances point out what may have been his weakness in relating to his previous church.  I think the people were wise to figure out what was going on.

  • That said, if your church is allergic to the doctrines of grace, then you can still teach them to trust God’s Word, rejoice in his grace, glory in Jesus, and obey the Great Commission. In time, this might lead some to embrace the grace of God in election, even if it takes three years or three decade
  • Ultimately, we hold to the doctrines of grace because we believe they’re true to Scripture and best for the health of God’s children. Still, it’s up to God to reveal his truths to his people, and so we must intercede without ceasing for God to work.
  • The church needs to see how a godly pastor endures suffering for the sake of truth—whether they receive your teaching or not. Perhaps your faithfulness under opposition will prepare the way for another pastor.
  • While not all doctrinal systems are equally biblical, we also know that we can’t claim omniscience. Therefore, as pastors convinced of Calvinist doctrine we must be the most humble, patient, and gracious of all men.

Could it be that Calvinists are losing the debate in the blogosphere?

Finally, I really don’t care if someone wishes to subscribe to Calvinism and the doctrines of grace. As a conservative Lutheran, I do not. That is what free will is all about. However, if someone accepts a pastorate in a deceitful manner, they deserve the pain and suffering that will occur. The people should not be blamed for trying to figure out what is going on. The days of playing games are over. Anyone can start a blog or tell the story of their former churches on a blog as I have done in this post. It’s time for everyone to start acting like they believe Scripture when it calls us to be a city on the hill, lights ablazing.

I find it amusing that Calvinists are the ones leading the charge against the big, bad internet. Yet, they too, are using the Internet for their own purposes: The Gospel Coalition, 9 Marks, Acts 29, etc. So, why are they complaining? Could it be that the best arguments are being made by those who are not part of the Calvinista tribe. Maybe its time to ask:

Why are my members seeking out the non-Calvinist blogs? What are we doing wrong?

 


Comments

A Calvinist Pastor Was Challenged by Members Who Read the “Bad” Internet. So, Why Aren’t They Reading the Calvinist Blogs? — 438 Comments

  1. What I don’t see in Schrock’s comments is any sign of humility — any awareness that his understanding of Scripture might be imperfect or that someone else’s understanding might be as good as his. A Calvinist pastor being questioned on his teaching is equal to a godly pastor enduring suffering for the truth. Some people need to get off of their high horse.

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  2. In the wake of Rachel Held Evans untimely death, I saw the phrase used somewhere (can’t remember where right now; maybe another WW reader can cite the source) “the democratization of theology” in reference to Evans – and by extension and in varying degrees of influence – many other bloggers who have used their voices to “do” theology online, ask questions, and expose toxic leaders. When anyone can read discussions about issues online, find out what their leaders are thinking and with whom they’re associated, and connect the dots around shady practices, the proverbial playing field becomes level. (Insert verse about the priesthood of all believers here!) Thanks be to God!

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  3. It is best to keep in mind that, according to Piper’s version of meticulous providence, God’s will is being done perfectly by every single person on the planet and in every single circumstance that comes to pass. All acts that we think of as evil are, in fact, God’s will and purpose being worked out for his Glory. So, when Calvinist pastors hide their true convictions, they are doing so for God’s glory and pleasure.

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  4. There is a bit of irony, probably unintentional, in two sentences from the second to last paragraph in the post: “As a conservative Lutheran, I do not. That is what free will is all about.” Luther was also a conservative Lutheran, but the one book that he wanted to be remembered for (along with his Small Catechism) was The Bondage of the Will. Luther was, I guess, a proto-Calvinist! Anyway, I’m not being at all snarky here-I just thought I’d point out the irony.

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  5. The posting by Mr. Schrock is a fairly good post, albeit I only skimmed and will reread later. It even offers decent advice for a Calvinist leader.

    The problem with the post though, is nothing new. I can’t understand how the Reformed adherents fail to see the inevitable collision course of Reform Theology. This appears to arise from not pondering, or even understand basic tenets of their faith.

    This ignorance begins with a failure to grasp “Calvinism” is not an “ism” at all. It is a court verdict handed down May 19th, 1619. One does not hold a moderate, or four point, three point, or whatever stance. It is what it is, and it is about ten pages of determinations.

    Lutheran, Methodist and what have you, set aside, the Canons did represent the Protestant Faith. It was recognized as such both of the Ecclesia, and civil government. This includes the French Crown as shown by the edict forbidding French subjects to attend. The Crown recognized the Synod as the Protestant opposition, and enemy of French State religion.

    I can see no way for this collision course to avoid a civil war in the afterlife. Reform Theology can not exist side by side with other doctrines in Heaven. It could be renounced, but never reconciled.

    This hypothesis has never been put forward by any Christian I know of.

    My question to Mr. Schrock is have you ever once read your foundational documents? Could you describe the implications of any of the Five Heads of Doctrine? Any? Even one?

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  6. Nathan Priddis: The problem with the post though, is nothing new. I can’t understand how the Reformed adherents fail to see the inevitable collision course of Reform Theology.

    Simple:
    WE ARE THE PREDESTINED ELECT WITH PERFECTLY-PARSED THEOLOGY.
    WE HAVE THE ONE TRUE WAY.
    WE CAN DO NO WRONG!

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  7. Geoff Smith,

    Read the doctrinal theology book: Called to Believe, Teach and Confess. In the first three chapters you will learn the Lutherans do NOT believe in irresistible grace of the preservation of the saints. This book is used at Concordia Colleges and Seminary.

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  8. Michelle Van Loon: When anyone can read discussions about issues online, find out what their leaders are thinking and with whom they’re associated, and connect the dots around shady practices, the proverbial playing field becomes level. (Insert verse about the priesthood of all believers here!) Thanks be to God!

    “If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack
    To sit in the synagogue and pray.
    And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.
    And I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day.
    That would be the sweetest thing of all.

    — “If I Were a Rich Man”, Fiddler on the Roof

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  9. As Dee knows, I am Reformed in my theology, but I don’t care to engage in “evangelizing” others to my way of thinking. I believe all of our systems are mans best attempt at putting God in a neat, tidy box, making it easy for us to comprehend or understand God. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe God can be contained in a box.

    I find a couple of things distressing about the Neo-Calvinist movement. 1) Their lack of love. 2)Their pride and arrogance. 3) Their fear of not being able to control the message, which seems to me to be a fear of letting people think for themselves and arrive at their own conclusions.

    I am increasingly drawn to the Gospels to meditate on the love, truth and life displayed in the life of Jesus Christ.

    Finally, I leave you with a quote from Malcom X:

    “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”

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  10. I don’t need to. I referred to Martin Luther himself. I’m well-aware that Lutherans moved away from Luther himself on this point. That’s why I suggested–without snarkiness, I assure you–that the irony was in joining one sentence about Lutheran beliefs with another one about free will. That’s all. If I had emoticons, I would have tacked on a smiley face to assure everyone that I wasn’t going all dogma on the subject.

    dee:
    Geoff Smith,

    Read the doctrinal theology book: Called to Believe, Teach and Confess. In the first three chapters you will learn the Lutherans do NOT believe in irresistible grace of the preservation of the saints. This book is used at Concordia Colleges and Seminary.

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  11. This an idea brought by someone on TWW not long ago, but I don’t remember who: the last reformation was fueled by the printing press, the next reformation will be fueled by the internet.

    This post really brings that point home. It’s really the same issue, putting formerly privileged information into the hands of the pewpeons. The establishment did not like it then, and does not like it now.

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  12. I spent four and a half years earning a BA in Biblical Studies through Grand Canyon University. I got my diploma in September. During that time, I was presented with a spectrum of theological thought that (I believe) encompassed orthodox (small o) Christian belief and doctrine. I appreciate this broad spectrum of learning as opposed to the indoctrination that people receive in seminaries. It amazes me that people can actually earn advanced degrees without having to grapple with variations in doctrine over the past 2,000 years, and with the idea that perhaps Paul was NOT God’s megaphone, but a first-century man in a first-century culture ministering to first-century people. I have had a great experience in my non-Calvinist SBC church over the past 27 years. It has never occurred to me to leave it, yet I am really bothered by all the controversy that has arisen from these efforts to micro-manage peoples’ lives and homes through rules.

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  13. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    IMO, any religious system that cannot tolerate a spotlight being shined upon it is not a religious system worth holding. I personally rejected Calvinism without the help of the Internet or the big bad bloggers. The light being shined on churches and less than honest pastors is a good thing, not a bad thing. Ask anyone that has experienced one of these takeovers.

    These guys should have expected a push back. That they were unprepared and are whining about it signals to me that their belief system is not very sound. If it was rock solid truth, the push back wouldn’t matter.

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  14. Historically ignorant twittering by a concerned Owen Strachan in the run up to Mother’s Day:

    Strachan: “A conversation recently sparked among Southern Baptists over whether women should instruct the church body. This practice is foreign to Southern Baptist history.”

    Strachan: “women do not preach on Sunday to the church”

    Oops, here is Amy Lee Stockton preaching in 1933 at the church now pastored by Mark Dever. The church has been “Always doctrinally conservative” according to the ‘Our History’ page of its website. Pastor John Compton Ball invited Stockton back to preach there repeatedly in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s!

    https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1933-05-20/ed-1/seq-9/

    “MISS AMY L. STOCKTON At the Metropolitan Baptist Church tomorrow Dr. J. Clyde Turner, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Greensboro, N. C., will preach on “Things That Cannot Be Shaken.” The choir will be assisted by Prof. I. E. Reynolds, director of music of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Tex., and also song leader of the
    Southern Baptist Convention.
    At the evening service. Dr. John Compton Ball, pastor, will be assisted by the well known California evangelists Misses Amy Lee Stockton and Rita Gould. Miss Stockton will deliver the sermon in the evening. Special music will be rendered by the choir under the leadership of Chorister Gilbert A. Clark, with the assistance of Miss Rita Gould, soloist. At the beginning of the service the ordinance of baptism will be administered by the pastor. Dr. Ball.”

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  15. dee: Lutherans do NOT believe in irresistible grace of the preservation of the saints

    Dee,
    I don’t profess to know the history of the Lutheran churches and their theology. However I have read “Bondage of the Will”. Luther took the side we now know as “Calvinism”. It was his opponent Erasmus who took the anti-sovereignty of God position. The Catholic Church is the official church who condemned the sovereignty of God in salvation at the Council of Trent.
    I was told by a church historian that it was Luther’s student Melanchthon that sent the official Lutheran church movement in the direction away from Luther’s understanding of the sovereignty of God in salvation. I don’t know that for sure. I don’t know how to honestly say that Luther was not very sovereignty of God in salvation. Read “The Bondage of the Will”. It is unmistakable.

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  16. Todd Wilhelm: I find a couple of things distressing about the Neo-Calvinist movement. 1) Their lack of love. 2)Their pride and arrogance. 3) Their fear of not being able to control the message, which seems to me to be a fear of letting people think for themselves and arrive at their own conclusions.

    This is very well stated. Thanks Todd!

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  17. “I’d attempted to navigate a positive vision of gospel-centered, missions-minded ministry.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    ‘gospel-centered’… i’m surprised they’re still using that term.

    the general tolerance for so-vague-&-amorphous-as-to-be-meaningless terms is shrinking. (largely because people recognize that they are tools for manipulation).

    i’m surprised David Schrock and his audience don’t seem to realize.

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  18. “Today, however, circumstances have changed, and the internet may force Calvinist pastors in non-Calvinist churches to give an account for their doctrine.”

    Our world had changed, and it’s a good thing that these guys can’t take charge of a church organization as a Stealth Calvinist. They have to be honest… imagine that.

    It’s almost as if the internet were… predestined.

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  19. “This difference is about far more than doctrine; it’s about tone, temperament, and a willingness to unify over other shared doctrines like Scripture, salvation, and service.”

    I’ve seen far more Calvinists breach this principle than anti-Calvinists.

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  20. “. . . you’re in a much different place than if you’re in a church where the doctrines of grace are relatively unknown” pretty much sums up the poor Calvinist’s problem.

    As Ken F pointed out, the availability of information provided by the printing press removed the stranglehold of the once all-powerful institutional Church, and the even broader spread of information made possible by the internet and social media is loosening the last remaining bonds.

    Calvinism’s comeback was plotted before the explosion of social media, in a day when a tight control of institutions like seminaries, churches, radio and television, as well as publishing houses seemed to provide the necessary momentum to takeover unwary, happy-go-lucky Protestantism. They had a good, long run at it, but people are no longer so ignorant and naïve.

    The infiltration and takeover of non-Calvinist churches is the second prong to the historical revisionism that has long painted Calvinism as a falsely maligned movement which really just believes the same gospel all other Christians believe. Only thing is, it’s not true.

    My original experience was in a clearly delineated Calvinist church, yet even there one did not get an honest, straightforward presentation of the history and meanings of the theological system. What the late R.C. Sproul termed ‘the scary stuff’ was deliberately kept in the closet; instead we chanted ‘Doctrines of Grace’, ‘Glory of God’ and ‘safety of elder led congregations’.

    Whenever those who seek to control the information and the narrative find themselves losing their iron grip they start the name-calling; it is crazy conspiracy theorists and internet hotheads who apparently weave magic spells over people and lead them into la la land. In reality, what usually frees people from tyranny and mind control is information, coupled with the realization that others share their doubts and questions.

    Truth does not fear dissent. It does not burn those who print bibles or punish those who ask hard questions. Truth stands firmly, unflinching, however many blows she receives. Even when, bruised and bloodied, she is pushed into the street, she never changes her story. When a brave soul goes to her assistance, picks her up, brushes her off and discovers that she has an elegant, gracious, harmless beauty about her, the questions begin to arise as to why she has been so ill-used. Who has hated her so, and why?

    Calvinism has tried to cast itself as that mistreated Truth, recently rediscovered by those hungry for better understanding. In reality, it has always been a cruel, authoritarian movement, ruling by force and violence, and eventually rejected by those whose wounds become too painful to ignore.

    What a shock, and relief, when people find, often by Google, which is simply a tool for finding information, or via social media that others share their concerns and experiences. The guilt and fear from all the things one has been accused of – gossip, slander, divisiveness, rebellion against God-given authority – fall off like shackles.

    All of the dissimulation, revisionism and doubletalk that accompanies Calvinism – necessary, due to its unpalatable doctrines – cannot hide the necessity of its logical conclusions.

    Yes indeed, meticulous Divine Determinism makes God the author of Evil, despite all assertions by historical Divines to the contrary. Yes indeed, if God chooses who shall – irresistibly – be saved, he also chooses – irresistibly – who shall be condemned. Yes, indeed, if Christ died, irresistibly and only, for the elect, that means atonement was never made for the sin of all other men. All others haven’t the slightest possibility of being forgiven and receiving the promised blessings of God, so the ‘good news’ is not so good.

    When Calvinists are honest and frank about such things, rather than hiding behind straw men and contradictory doubletalk, they will at least have earned the right to a seat at the table. They can put forth their beliefs, and allow all to consider their claims with full information, just as any philosophy or belief system must. We can thoughtfully, sincerely and respectfully listen to those who think far differently from what we believe to be true, as long as all are honest and humbly open to being wrong about things.

    I hope, Dee, that you won’t take personal offense at those who point out, rightly, that Luther adhered to the vast majority of the doctrines of John Calvin. They differed mostly on the meaning and use of the sacraments.

    Perhaps the church that bears his name at some point turned from his recorded beliefs (that’s a study I have not done). However, few were more outspoken in rejecting freedom of the will than Luther, and some of his writings, like those of Calvin, can’t help but give the honest student of history pause. In this age of information, it is difficult to ignore the well-documented words of ‘heroes’ of old, however unfamiliar we once were with them. Does the Lutheran church make clear their differences, if any, with Luther?

    Many have suggested, and rightly so, that few Protestants know the history or true beliefs of their churches. This would account for why so many are easily abused and deceived by false teachers and distorted theology.

    The quoted pastor is unable or unwilling to look honestly at the reasons for the increasing pushback of so-called ‘anti-Calvinists’. Like the much maligned ‘anti-vaxxers’ these are usually not ignorant or gullible people, but those who were led to serious research and heartfelt introspection after real harm was experienced by themselves and/or their loved ones.

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  21. GSD [Getting Stuff Done]: “Today, however, circumstances have changed, and the internet may force Calvinist pastors in non-Calvinist churches to give an account for their doctrine.”

    Our world had changed, and it’s a good thing that these guys can’t take charge of a church organization as a Stealth Calvinist. They have to be honest… imagine that.

    It’s almost as if the internet were… predestined.

    Love it! I don’t know about predestined, but God can and will outsmart the plans of mere men.

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  22. TS00: Calvinism’s comeback was plotted before the explosion of social media, in a day when a tight control of institutions like seminaries, churches, radio and television, as well as publishing houses seemed to provide the necessary momentum to takeover unwary, happy-go-lucky Protestantism.

    And like the Japanese Navy in WW2, their elaborate battle plans depend on the enemy acting and reacting EXACTLY they way the wanted them to act/react.

    The infiltration and takeover of non-Calvinist churches is the second prong to the historical revisionism that has long painted Calvinism as a falsely maligned movement which really just believes the same gospel all other Christians believe.

    Don’t the Mormons claim pretty much the same thing?
    (Despite MAJOR differences in dogma and doctrine…)

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  23. Ken F (aka Tweed): This an idea brought by someone on TWW not long ago, but I don’t remember who: the last reformation was fueled by the printing press, the next reformation will be fueled by the internet.

    I believe there was more than one of us who has voiced the idea concurrently (over the time span of TWW’s existence).

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  24. TS00: Calvinism has tried to cast itself as that mistreated Truth, recently rediscovered by those hungry for better understanding.

    Isn’t that the same claim made in their day by the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Moonies?
    (And more in the mainstream, the Pentecostals, Seventh-Day Adventists, Landmark Baptists, and Calvary Chapels?)

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  25. Geoff Smith,

    What exactly is a ‘proto-Calvinist’? Perhaps you have read Luther’s sermons, which are his best and most important work. But so many people talk about Luther without having gone to the sources. And “The Bondage of the Will” does not comprise Luther, sorry to say.

    Luther was in no way a Calvinist. His emphasis always is on “justification by faith”. His notion of the atonement is universal, not limited as it is for the Calvinists. It is applied when one believes. God truly does “love the whole world”.

    From the editor of the Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry.

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  26. TS00: Many have suggested, and rightly so, that few Protestants know the history or true beliefs of their churches. This would account for why so many are easily abused and deceived by false teachers and distorted theology.

    I have always disagreed that you have to believe or accept what the forefathers did. They were simply some of the first to reevaluate many things in the face of an institution that had a stranglehold on the narrative.

    I also tend to not believe anyone at all who is out there claiming they know everything that is right or the whole story. I think we all still see pretty dimly. I think our hugely different cultures keep us from understanding the original context of the Bible in many places and our biases make us want a specific narrative that meets our personal needs.

    But I will say that I think many New Calvinists get the big picture wrong. And they do so precisely because they are looking at a bunch of details instead of trying to see the big picture. Many of them are also really enamored with celebrities and being powerful or famous. And of the New Cals I’ve known personally, they really wanted to be in a specially elect group where most of humanity would not be allowed and even suffer. It’s sad, but true.

    I don’t find those things true of many classical Calvinists, though I have to admit I don’t see classical Calvinism very true to John Calvin anymore. Not that I think there’s necessarily anything wrong with that except they might want to consider a new name.

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  27. Nathan Priddis: I’m not sure if people understand that what we call “Calvinism” turns 400 in two weeks. (Sunday the 19th)

    It turns 500! And I would expect to see a lot of articles published about it soon.

    I don’t have any problem with Presbyterians and others who have held this tradition for centuries. They have had plenty of time to work the bugs out of the system, to mature in their doctrine.

    The problem comes with the newcomers, particularly baptists, more specifically I think the Southern Baptist Convention in recent decades, with their Conservative Resurgence, their shift to calvinism, and their influence on like-minded churches–whether independent, or in my case, the American Baptist Convention.

    Dee and others here have pointed out the “stealth” tactics of those who are trying to “revitalize” churches into becoming something like a reformed Southern Baptist church. Often, the target church doesn’t know that it may become aligned with the SBC, or with 9Marks, and it is this dishonesty that becomes the problem.

    Also, baptists don’t seem to know what to do with a hard-core doctrine of election; it doesn’t really fit with the “decision for Christ” involved in the whole believer’s baptism tradition. So they add on other goodies like male-only elder leadership, which undermines not only congregational church government but any leadership or preaching by women. They insist that calvinism, or the “doctrines of grace,” or “reformed theology” is not merely a preference, not merely a tradition, not merely a viewpoint on the gospel of Christ, but that calvinism itself IS in fact “the gospel.” It’s a sovereignty-of-God thing, and that settles it.

    And that’s where they go too far. It becomes “another gospel,” as Paul warned the Galatians, which is no gospel at all.

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  28. Todd Wilhelm,

    I was brought up in both Dispensationalism and Calvinism. It was not Neo-Calvinism necessarily, but more reflective of typical early and mid century Fundamentalism.

    I never feared Dispensationlist. They felt somehow less threatening and it may have been a perceived disorganization. Neo-Cals always have a feel of organization and expansion. I definitely fear Kuyper’s vision of a Jesus desiring Spheres of influence, and any resulting Christian society.

    If elements such as these where not presented to me, I probably would have retained a vastly different view of 20th Century Calvinism

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  29. Ted,

    I think I saw one article around the anniversary of the opening of the Synod of Dort.

    But your right, we should be seeing some sort of discussion. I’m shocked we haven’t been bombarded with articles. Maybe some don’t mark the finished declaration as how they date the anniversary.

    But perhaps also modern Christians don’t see themselves as products of centuries of men who went before us in the Faith.

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  30. ishy: many New Calvinists get the big picture wrong. And they do so precisely because they are looking at a bunch of details instead of trying to see the big picture.

    I normally tout the benefits of education, but Christianity should withstand both the simple understanding of a child and the lifelong study of a fine scholar. Ordinary pew folk should know the basics of their tradition, as those basics will safeguard them today and guide future discussions about a need to reform. But heaven help us if we all need to be theologians in order to see that the person in the pulpit is an angry, superstitious, foul-mouthed charlatan.

    The definitions that get twisted are not just the fancy doctrinal ones. The definitions that get twisted are things like love (I am excommunicating and shunning you out of love) and discipline (I have the power to run every detail of your life).

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  31. __

    Blazing Bizarre Doctrine: “Diabolical Deceivers of the 500 year old LIE, Perhaps?

    hmmm…

    False Love in a diabolical religious Maze?

    huh?

    Calvinism is not just a resuscitate 4th century Augustinian Gnostic lie it’s proponents are trying to hide and swindle you with, but fosters the worship of a false god, and perpetuates the ill phenomenon —the promotion of a false gospel. Apostle Paul instructs Jesus’ followers from the holy scriptures to simply drop kick um! They want you to quietly sit in the pews so they can CON spoon-feed you their perpetural lies. Soon you will share the lie, and swear up and down it is true. That is what they are counting on.

    A Five Point Death Punch?

    The Doctrines Of Grace = The five points of Calvinism AKA TULIP.

    Disclaimers abound?

    This stuff is hurting people?

    You bet!

    SKreeeeeeeeeeeetch!

    Something sure as excrement is wrong…

    (From the 501c3 ‘red’, we can build a better church…Jesus style?)

    —> The internet is your friend, use it.

    ATB

    Sòpy

    – Intermission:
    – 501c3 Lunatic Fringe?
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uqUa_G1h3pw
    501c3 Twilight Zone?
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HTTAPCUtbc8
    Bonus: Kenny Wayne Shepherd – “Blue On Black”
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=p8NQUbLQGio

    ;~)§

    -=-

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  32. Hi everyone

    I have been in the car for the last 7 hours and made it to Jacksonville. We get to 30A tomorrow. My husband, Bill, needed a break so I drove for awhile and he read the comments out loud to me. He was so impressed with the level of comments.I loved listening to the comments as I drove. Thank you all. for the insights, many outstanding, your provide for me and others.

    You guys are wonderful!!!! Thank you.

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  33. Ed: Luther was in no way a Calvinist. His emphasis always is on “justification by faith”. His notion of the atonement is universal, not limited as it is for the Calvinists. It is applied when one believes. God truly does “love the whole world”.
    From the editor of the Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry.

    Ed,

    Welcome to TWW. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your comment.Thank you!! I have been frustrated by a number of the New Calvinists who claim that Luther was a Calvinist. I have considered writing a post, discussing what I’ve learned in the last few years as a newly minted Lutheran.

    If you don’t mind, I would like to speak with you and pick your brains for some god resources to use. Have you ever considered writing a post on this subject or do you know someone who has?

    Again, thank you for jumping in.

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  34. Todd Wilhelm: I am increasingly drawn to the Gospels to meditate on the love, truth and life displayed in the life of Jesus Christ.

    Todd,

    You are one of the kindest and most loving people I know. Your love for others, including the most difficult amongst us, is downright challenging to me.

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  35. Geoff Smith: I assure you–that the irony was in joining one sentence about Lutheran beliefs with another one about free will. That’s all. If I had emoticons, I would have tacked on a smiley face to assure everyone that I wasn’t going all dogma on the subject.

    This is what I hate about communicating on the Internet. I liked your comment and thought it was a valid point. No need for emoticons. I got it. Thank you!!!

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  36. dee,

    That means a lot to me. I am so thankful for what you have done and do, and for the many wise, gracious, oftentimes precocious voices here. We will never all agree on all things, but when we respect one another’s journeys and value the unique understanding each brings to the table, it remains a good and encouraging place. May God bless and richly reward all who sincerely seek him, in all of our weakness, ignorance and floundering. Have a wonderful vacation.

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  37. Michelle Van Loon: the proverbial playing field becomes level. (Insert verse about the priesthood of all believers here!) Thanks be to God!

    So true. Isn’t this what the incarnation was all about? To eliminate the restrictions and abuses which had corrupted organized religion and offer all people the opportunity to know God truly and personally, without intermediaries, ceremonies or rituals. Just as a child runs trustingly into his father’s arms, Jesus shows us that we have a loving, gracious, trustworthy Father who desires to shower us with his love.

    Never again can the ‘priesthood’ stand between us and God and dictate the ‘proper’ way to worship . No one can bar the door or withhold the keys, for Jesus himself has shown us the way, the truth and the life. Yes, thanks be to God.

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  38. Ken A: Dee,
    I don’t profess to know the history of the Lutheran churches and their theology. However I have read “Bondage of the Will”. Luther took the side we now know as “Calvinism”. It was his opponent Erasmus who took the anti-sovereignty of God position. The Catholic Church is the official church who condemned the sovereignty of God in salvation at the Council of Trent.
    I was told by a church historian that it was Luther’s student Melanchthon that sent the official Lutheran church movement in the direction away from Luther’s understanding of the sovereignty of God in salvation. I don’t know that for sure. I don’t know how to honestly say that Luther was not very sovereignty of God in salvation. Read “The Bondage of the Will”. It is unmistakable.

    Catholicism has never condemned the sovereignty of God. Rather, it condemned the Calvinists *conception* of the sovereignty of God…which actually turns God’s sovereignty on its ear by insisting that God must be sovereign on Calvinists’ terms.

    This is not only presumptuous. It also removes the whole element of Mystery. It pins God down and dissects Him like a bug in high school biology lab.

    This is a very complex topic… but from what I understand, the early Reformers were influenced by the thought of the late medieval philosopher William of Ockham, who argued that God was so radically free He could not be “bound” by being good. At least, not “good” in any sense we mortals can understand.

    That way madness lies.

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  39. For insight into how the Internet has put “the customer” in control, I recommend the movie *The Naked Brand,* available free online. It’s several years old and slightly dated but still fascinating. It’s from a secular (marketing) perspective, of course, but very relevant to this discussion IMHO.

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  40. One comment WRT the whole history angle: Are people aware that Gutenberg was a lifelong Catholic? And that the first book printed on his famous press was the Catholic Bible? You can see one of these first-edition Gutenberg Catholic Bibles at Widener Library at Harvard.

    Also, there were a number of vernacular translations of the Bible — by Catholics — before Luther came along.

    Just sayin’. 😉

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  41. __

    “To Be For-Warned Is To Be For-Armed, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Take a Lōōk:

    “The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented.”
    by David N. Steele & Curtis C. Thomas

    https://www.amazon.com/Five-Points-Calvinism-Defended-Documented/dp/0875528279/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=The+Five+Points+of+Calvinism%3A+Defined%2C+Defended%2C+and+Documented&qid=1557551813&s=gateway&sr=8-1

    “This is one of the clearest explanations of the five points of Calvin, but most importantly, is an extremely full explanation of the notable false Scriptural support generated for these five points. Calvinism is not just another expression of so-called systematic theology, but a non-biblical theology firmly rooted in a lie of distorted out of context Scripture.”

    – –

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  42. “Yes, the internet can be a digital cesspool. But it can also be a place of meaningful connection in terms of ideas, faith, interests, life. Giving thanks today for a few of the women of intelligence, curiosity, and wit who first showed me how to do this.” @michellevanloon

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  43. Loren Haas: and the internet may force Calvinist pastors in non-Calvinist churches to give an account for their doctrine.

    Calvinists are always misunderstood, agreed. Having served as an elder at a Calvinist church before I knew just how corrosive it could be (though I found out as soon as I started asking hard questions, first being kicked off the elder team and then finally getting the boot from the entire church), I can speak to that from some experience.

    But the main people who don’t understand Calvinists are Calvinists themselves. Probably the least introspective, most self-absorbed yet self-delusional people I’ve ever met. They have no clue of what they are and how they appear and don’t really understand their own theology. This is why they either sound mildly addled (e.g., John Piper) or why they get so downright hostile if you question them or ask them to follow their implications of their beliefs to their conclusions.

    They can recite the words and doctrines (but then again, a talented parrot could be trained for that), but as far as what’s going on upstairs as they recite them, well…the lights are flashing, the gates have swung down, but no train is coming through.

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  44. Why do neo Calvinists try to control the message or argue over outside interference if they believe in predestination? Seems like wasting a lot of energy on something that doesn’t really matter. I find that ironic and inconsistent with their believe system.

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  45. “the internet may force Calvinist pastors in non-Calvinist churches to give an account for their doctrine”

    Or the free exchange of ideas outside of pressure and being isolated, vilified, and mocked for attempting to deal in truth. What a concept.

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  46. It seems that Schrock is arguing in favor of an ignorant congregation. Yet the Bible exhorts all of us to study to show ourselves approved, workman capable of handling the word of God.

    Bemoaning that people turn to Google is a bit like bemoaning that they go to libraries or get concordances. Google is not the publisher, it is merely the giant card catalog to the library of the internet. In every library there are good, worthwhile books and junky books. It’s up to the reader to identify what is worthy of his study and what isn’t. The Bible encourages us to have our senses trained to discern good and evil. One must exercise those senses in order to train. Worthwhile information will be straightforward and honest. One learns to avoid that which is deceptive and manipulative. So, don’t bemoan that people are searching out and finding information. Rejoice that they care enough about spiritual things to spend the time and energy on it. Encourage them.

    I have always been perplexed by the level of certainty people invest in the position they take on spiritual beliefs, and the level of frustration and anger they have towards those who disagree- because, in the end, we are all taking the meager amount of information we’ve been given and making our best surmises. We have faith, we have belief, but we do not have absolute knowledge. We seem to get out of touch with this fact and begin to act as though we *know* what we merely *believe*. Every one of us will find out in the end that we were wrong about things, some may find that they were wrong about many or most things. Jesus having said that many who are first will be last and the last first ought to give us a clue to take ourselves with a grain of salt. I wonder if some of the men we discuss here ever contemplate the possibility that they may be all wrong, and that, if they are, they will have spent lifetimes using deception, manipulation and coercion to pressure others to follow what is wrong. Being mistaken about things we can’t know for sure is more forgivable than mistreating others.

    The one thing that we can make clear judgments on is whether a belief system and its practices are deceptive, abusive, cruel or unkind. On that, we do have knowledge. We live with these things every day and we understand them. Yet somehow we tend to overlook these obvious things we should know, while making a federal case out of things we cannot know.

    But I do give Schrock praise. Making a decision to be forthright about what he believes, to give relationships higher priority, to be humble, patient and gracious, is obviously the best path. I would encourage him to test his theory that Calvinism is healthiest- I don’t think evidence will back that up, at all- and to see the goodness practiced in other faith traditions.

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  47. Dave:
    Why do neo Calvinists try to control the message or argue over outside interference if they believe in predestination? Seems like wasting a lot of energy on something that doesn’t really matter. I find that ironic and inconsistent with their believe system.

    I think a LOT of it has to do with the type of person who is attracted to neo-Calvinism. From my experience, we tended to be prickly theology nerds and/or control freaks. Which means that arguments became a form of evangelism in our minds.

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  48. Dave: Why do neo Calvinists try to control the message or argue over outside interference if they believe in predestination?

    If unconditional election is true, the only thing that really matters is whether or not you have been chosen to be saved. Nothing else matters in this very short life compared to where we will spend eternity. Wich means not even what we believe matters because no action or inaction on the part of any human can change an eternal decree. All their efforts to reach the lost, teach good doctrine, encourage faithfulness, etc., show they really don’t believe in unconditional election after all.

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  49. Ken F (aka Tweed): If unconditional election is true, the only thing that really matters is whether or not you have been chosen to be saved. Nothing else matters in this very short life compared to where we will spend eternity. Wich means not even what we believe matters because no action or inaction on the part of any human can change an eternal decree. All their efforts to reach the lost, teach good doctrine, encourage faithfulness, etc., show they really don’t believe in unconditional election after all.

    Weave into all of that the belief that only those who are chosen will understand the doctrine of predestination and we see how teaching doctrine becomes the all-important agenda. It is the litmus test, the proof that they are indeed chosen. They do not believe in salvation by faith, but in the faith of the saved, and reject the critical distinction. The one offers genuine hope to all, the other offers false hope to the deluded.

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  50. TS00: The one offers genuine hope to all, the other offers false hope to the deluded.

    Throw in “evanescent grace” (as described in Calvin’s Institutes) and not even those who think they are elect can be sure of their election. And even if they could be made sure, it wouldn’t even matter because there is nothing they can do to undo an eternal decree. No amount of sin by the elect can undo it, and no amount of righteousness by the reprobate can undo it. They can talk about why human choices matter, but there is no way to escape the implications of unconditional election.

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  51. An Arminian Pastor’s Soteriology is All Wrong.
    # A Headline You Will Never See on Dee Parsons Blog, The Wartburg Watch

    Signed,
    Mike Medow
    An Unashamed, Unapologetic 5-Point Calvinist

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  52. Law Prof: most self-absorbed yet self-delusional people I’ve ever met. They have no clue of what they are and how they appear

    I had an “epiphany” toward the end of my time at the tiny and dying conservative presby congregation that was my last stop on my way out of institutional church-dom: the group, and especially its leadership, seemed to be “enriched” (with respect to the general population) in people with what appeared to me to be antisocial personality traits.

    In the last year or two of my time affiliated with that group, as I reflected on this observation, the thought occurred to me that there may be correlations between people’s personalities and the kind of theology that they find attractive. One has to be kind of stern-minded and even hard-hearted (toward fellow humans if not toward God — a strange combination in view of Jesus’ “two great commands”) to put up with the toxic combination of monergism and infernalism(* full-disclosure note at end) that characterizes the historic Calvinist vision. People who have a lot of empathy for sufferers will tend to be grieved and repelled by that.

    It seems quite plausible to me that over time, there could be a self-selection process in which different kinds of people voluntarily “sort” themselves into different theological traditions. The basic features of the Calvinist tradition (it seems to me) guarantee that over time it will tend to sort out (drive away into other traditions) people who either don’t like intricate systems or who are highly empathetic (or both). I suspect that this implies that over time, groups in this tradition will find themselves with higher than “normal” proportions of people with autism spectrum and/or low-empathy personality types (narcissism and sociopathy, for example).

    This is not to say that everyone in churches in the Calvinist tradition are like this; it’s a question of distribution of personality types within the population. But different distributions of personality types will affect what it is like to participate in these groups.

    * full-disclosure: I continue to be monergist in my thinking, partly on biblical grounds and partly philosophical (creatio ex nihilo); my way out of the toxic brew of “monergism + infernalism” has been to question infernalism.

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  53. Grace vs. grace. The bottom-line for me in the SBC dilemma is that the New Calvinists preach and teach doctrines ‘about’ grace, rather than focusing on a direct experience ‘of’ Grace, a personal encounter with the living Christ. There is a vast difference in “believers” who sit under these divergent theologies. One group believes that the essence of Christianity rests in rigid doctrines of faith; the other believes that the Main Thing is the main thing. One group talks about grace-this and grace-that; the other places their trust in Grace alone. One group hangs their hat on the law; the other has experienced life. If you don’t know the difference, you have allowed the teachings and traditions of men to blind you from Truth.

    The 2008 report of the “Unity” Committee chaired by Frank Page – previous President of SBC’s Executive Committee who resigned due to moral failure – was a call for Southern Baptists to agree to disagree, get along to go along, and make room under the big SBC tent for diverse theologies. Within this once-great evangelistic denomination, SBC executives surrendered to Al Mohler and his New Calvinist movement by essentially declaring that soteriology was a non-essential to be fussing and fighting over. IMO, God’s plan of salvation and how the Gospel is delivered to the lost should be a faith priority – it was for the Apostles who proclaimed the centrality of Jesus and Him crucified for every tribe, tongue and nation. They weren’t motivated to harvest the elect, but to bring anyone and everyone to Christ who put their faith in Him. They didn’t emphasize adherence to religious doctrines, but a relationship with Christ.

    How can two distinctly different views of the Gospel co-exist in a single denomination?! Hyper New Calvinists would say to me “Max, you just don’t really ‘understand’ our theology” … I would respond that they don’t really ‘know’ my Savior. One of the greatest mission fields in America will be among the confused and disillusioned when the New Calvinist movement blows over; may they realize that there’s more to Grace than doctrines about it.

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  54. Ed,

    Also, the Lutheran Publishing Library provides all of their resources, including books, at no charge!!!! I also understand that Concordia seminaries do not charge tuition to their students. Y’all are awesome!!

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  55. Max: How can two distinctly different views of the Gospel co-exist in a single denomination?!

    My prediction is that there will eventually be a split. It is inevitable. This post alone shows the blindness of the movement. He claimed he was only teaching on Jesus, salvation, etc. Except his very words proved he wasn’t. He couldn’t help himself but it was all Google’s fault.

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  56. Max you nailed it. Having left Calvinism I can see it now from the other side. It’s all about a “paper Jesus”…one of words and doctrine on a page of a heavy theology book. Not a real relationship with a Person who saves from sin. There’s no joy or assurance in Calvinism …and typically little burden for others.

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  57. dee: My prediction is that there will eventually be a split.

    Yes. Unfortunately, in the meantime, the New Calvinists are plundering the SBC – they now control most of the entities (leading seminaries, mission agencies, publishing house and a growing number of churches via plant or takeover). Millions of non-Calvinist Southern Baptists will soon wake up to the fact that the “Conservative Resurgence” was really a “Calvinist Resurgence” in disguise. But for many SBC members, they don’t care about things like theology as long as you don’t mess with their monthly fellowship dinner. After coming to grips that the denomination will not experience genuine revival because they are satisfied to live without it, I joined the Done ranks last year after nearly 70 years in SBC life, so I’ve already split.

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  58. Ed,

    My use of “proto-,” which can mean “beginning : giving rise to,” which I indicated in a previous reply. But even tongue-in-cheek, it pretty much fits. I have read extensively in Luther. He was the one who singled out Bondage of the Will as his most important work (along with his Small Catechism). He was a full-blown predestinarian, which fit neatly with his justification by faith doctrine, just as it did with Calvin’s justification by faith doctrine. Luther was more than that doctrine, however, as his 50 + works suggest. It is debatable whether Calvin held to a limited atonement doctrine. That doctrine was solidified at Dort. As the saying goes, you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your facts.

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  59. Abigail: It’s all about a “paper Jesus”

    If you want to see a New Calvinist squirm, share your personal relationship with Christ. They just don’t get it. The Calvinist God is a distant god – he controls you externally with jots and tittles of law, not internally by the Holy Spirit. New Calvinists are religious, but spiritually destitute.

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  60. ” … if someone accepts a pastorate in a deceitful manner, they deserve the pain and suffering that will occur.” (Dee)

    Deceit is not a spiritual gift. Stealth and deception are not fruit of the Holy Spirit. Deceit is a form of lying – God hates lies and liars. Any “pastor” who practices deception will not be blessed by God – he’s on his own and outside the provision and protection of the Father. It is not OK to do a little lying for the good of a religious movement, no matter how you spin it.

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  61. __

    WIDE AWAKE: “Defending Against The Proverbial Calvinesta Monster, Perhaps?”

    Mike Medow,

    Yo!

    We know that the Dort five points of Arminian Theology is rhetorical excrement as well.

    Nice try.

    (go fish)

    Next you’ll be peddling your bogus calvinesta ESV bible, huh?

    hahahahaha

    March, March, March…

    SKreeeeeeech!

    ♪♩♪♩hum, hum, hum…“There’s a calvinist monster on the loose in many of our our 501c3 churches,
    It has our souls in a proverbial noose…
    And it sits there waiting to consume us in our ignorance…”

    Fast forward.

    ♪♩♪♩hum, hum, hum…“American churches where are you now?
    Dont you care about your sons and daughters?
    Defending them against this perverse religious monster on the loose, stealthy devouring the religious landscape…“

    (sadface)

    We know the truth,

    …and it has made us free!

    (grin)

    “I like to dream…” [1]

    ATB

    Sòpy

    Intermission:
    [1] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eGkGNCUQtWY

    ;~)§

    -=-

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  62. Geoff Smith:
    Ed,

    My use of “proto-,” which can mean “beginning : giving rise to,” which I indicated in a previous reply. But even tongue-in-cheek, it pretty much fits. I have read extensively in Luther. He was the one who singled out Bondage of the Will as his most important work (along with his Small Catechism). He was a full-blown predestinarian, which fit neatly with his justification by faith doctrine, just as it did with Calvin’s justification by faith doctrine. Luther was more than that doctrine, however, as his 50 + works suggest. It is debatable whether Calvin held to a limited atonement doctrine. That doctrine was solidified at Dort. As the saying goes, you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your facts.

    Geoff Smith is spot-on in his comments about Luther and Calvin. There is no way to read Luther himself and construe him as a supporter of free will. Both Luther and Calvin have drunk deeply at the spring of St. Augustine (and Paul) and fully embrace his strong commitment to divine sovereignty (and hence, the bondage of the will).

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  63. Geoff Smith,

    I agree. There is more to it than is commonly acknowledged in these internet days. I recommend Ru hard Muller’s book ‘Calvin and the Reformed Tradition: On the Work of. Christ and the Order of salvation’ from which this is a quote-
    “Simply stated, neither Calvin, nor Beza, nor the Canons of Dort, nor any of the orthodox Reformed thinkers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries mention limited atonement—and insofar as they did not mention it, they hardly could have taught the doctrine. (Atonement, after all, is an English term, and nearly all of this older theology was written in Latin.) To make the point a bit less bluntly and with more attention to the historical materials, the question debated in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries concerned the meaning of those biblical passages in which Christ is said to have paid a ransom for all or God is said to will the salvation of all or of the whole world, given the large number of biblical passages that indicate a limitation of salvation to some, namely, to the elect or believers. This is an old question, belonging to the patristic and medieval church as well as to the early modern Reformed and, since the time of Peter Lombard, had been discussed in terms of the sufficiency and efficiency of Christ’s satisfaction in relation to the universality of the preaching of redemption. The question at issue between Calvin and the later Reformed does not entail any debate over the value or merit of Christ’s death: virtually all were agreed that it was sufficient to pay the price for the sins of the whole world. Neither was the question at issue whether all human beings would actually be saved: all (including Arminius) agreed that this was not to be the case.”

    As for Mr Schrock’s article, it leaves a lot to be desired. I find it hard to believe that his first congregation didn’t know he “was a Calvinist” because he constantly blogged about it before and after his appointment and some of his congregation thanked him for his teaching. It also looks like he was headhunted. (It’s all recorded in his blog).My opinion is that he may have had a rather low view of the work of a pastor. It’s not about delivering sermons – some of which may be the work of others (again, he recommends doing in his blog because you don’t have the time to prepare your own work -but don’t plagiarise) it’s about feeding the flock and this is done by word (preaching) and example (personal holiness and humility). In other words, you practice what you preach and you share in the experiences of the members. You don’t hide in the vestry, you engage with your congregation. How else will he know how to feed them and encourage them?

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  64. Lowlandseer: it’s about feeding the flock and this is done by word (preaching) and example (personal holiness and humility)

    Surely also “individual counsel”; “private ministry of the Word” to individuals issue surely a useful complement to “public ministry of the Word” to groups.

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  65. “Why Aren’t They Reading the Calvinist Blogs?”

    Social media, in large part, spawned the New Calvinist movement. The internet helped reformed icons (e.g., Piper) to rise from obscurity … Mohler to launch his rebellion … Driscoll to spew his toxin … etc. The new reformers retweeted Piper Points, Mohler Moments, Driscoll Drivel, and other aberrations across cyberspace to feed a group-think mob which has disrupted the American church. The same tool which birthed the New Calvinist movement will eventually kill it. “Truth is unkillable” (Balthasar Hubmaier) … thank you TWW for doing your part to counter half-truth, mis-truth, and lies in the blogosphere.

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  66. Thank you for this. We got a new pastor about 6 years ago who has been slowly dripping his Calvinist poison into the sermons. But instead of just getting angry or bewildered, I got educated. And I now strongly disagree with him and have lots of Bible to back me up, whereas before I had just hoped that Calvinism wasn’t right. But it’s sad because no one else, except one other couple, seems to care about the stuff he’s teaching. They don’t even notice it, because he makes it sound so good and God-honoring. Nor do they notice the manipulative techniques he uses to keep people in line (such as “Humble people don’t have trouble accepting predestination” and “it’s what the Bible clearly says, so who are we to disagree with God!?!” I wrote about that at https://anticalvinistrant.blogspot.com/2019/05/predestination-manipulation.html.) And instead of just keeping all this to myself, I began to write about it online (at https://mycrazyfaith.blogspot.com and https://anticalvinistrant.blogspot.com) to help others work their way through this messy issue. I had hoped that I could share this with people at my church so that maybe more of us could push back against it, but I think my husband and I will be one of the very few that ends up leaving our church over this, while the others sit back and accept it. Thank you for taking the time to sound the alarm about it too. Blessings to you!

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  67. Dave Dunbar,

    You need to listen to the Lutherans.and understand their thoughts on the matter. I am a conservative Lutheran, rather newly minted, and have been reading rather heavily omni the matter. I a, not a Calvinist and that is not from want of trying,

    Please read the comment by the Editor of The Lutheran Library. heck, they even give out free books. I have been reading many Calvinists who appear to wish that Luther was *one of them.* He wasn’t. And today’s Lutheran books of theology indicate the differences.

    I will write. post on this one day. Just like one must listen to Calvinists to explain their position, I would suggest Calvinists listen to Lutherans and not reject them outright. You guys are experts of Calvinism, not Lutheranism.

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  68. Dave Dunbar: fully embrace his strong commitment to divine sovereignty

    One other thought that I would like to develop after vacation. I believe that God is sovereign. Arminianism and sovereignty are not exclusive. It is the way calvinist define it that causes issues. We humans like either or paradigms because it makes us comfortable we are doin it right. I believe in divine paradoxes.Sovereignty and free will are n to mutually exclusive.

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  69. The internet was not around when I rejected the Calvinism of my youth, which looked exactly like the neo-Calvinism of today. I had a good head start at rejecting it because I was also sent to a non-Calvinist Baptist school my whole life. Had a Calvinist school been in the area back then, I would have gone there. Naturally compliant personalities who were raised completely in Calvinism and had all good experiences have never questioned their religion. But I was born to question and experienced plenty of misguided leadership in my life that nurtured the questioning of doctrinal leaders. Using concordances, lexicons, and several translations, I diligently studied predestination and grace for myself after realizing that fantastic scholars from different doctrinal stances come to various conclusions. How arrogant for any of us to demand that our interpretation is absolutely the correct and only one. But I must go with my convictions for myself.
    The internet is merely the printing press of our time. We have no excuse to not use it as a tool for education and freedom from religious tyranny of any kind. It is a cult that preaches against listening to other interpretations by the spiritually educated. It is a cult that says you cannot read the Bible on your own without the interpreter that God supposedly sent to your church. Oh, how scared I was when my daughter tried to “enlighten” her SGM boyfriend and family about the dangers in their church. She thought that they simply had not read the internet because they were unaware of what was being reported online about their church because they played dumb when she asked. Poor kid, she actually printed out all the info she found of the testimonies of abused kids and other problems. This was before the 2011 SGM shake-up. Her boyfriend’s family became angry and she realized then how brainwashed this seemingly independent and normal upper middle class family had been into believing that they could not read them for fear of dishonoring Christ and that that was why they were so ignorant to what was happening in their own church, or pretending to be ignorant as they were very involved. I was scared because already her boyfriend had told her to stop talking to me and she asked me to stop blogging because it was hurting her boyfriend. I know that the 9-MRX crowd would have completely backed them up in their shunning of me. I had heard too many stories from family members not being allowed to see their kids or grandkids because of non-Calvinist, non complementarian beliefs.

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  70. Max: If you want to see a New Calvinist squirm, share your personal relationship with Christ.They just don’t get it.The Calvinist God is a distant god – he controls you externally with jots and tittles of law, not internally by the Holy Spirit.New Calvinists are religious, but spiritually destitute.

    Exactly, Max. Some people who subscribe to the doctrines of grace really do know Jesus, but usually those are the ones who get marginalized by their churches. Most I’ve encountered had a spoken faith, lots of memorization, lots of quotes from the Bible and books, but were far more excited about talking of long-dead church fathers or neocalvinist celebs than Jesus. You’d hear all about Paul Washer, John Piper, John Calvin, John MacArthur, all the Johns. You’d hear about “the mission”, “the vision”, you’d hear buzz words like “winsome” and “season”. But not much Jesus. And you definitely did not experience much love.

    God will ultimately decide, because He knows all, but the fruits of neocalvinism lead me to think a meaningful percentage don’t know Jesus, don’t care about Him, and tend to hate and seek to destroy anyone who, without pretense or guile, just honestly loves Jesus and wants to share His love with others. I think they hate those people because they know somewhere deep down inside that they have a peace they don’t understand, and they despise it. Just an opinion, but one that came through years of close observation and very hard-learned lessons.

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  71. Law Prof: you definitely did not experience much love

    Love is not the first word that pops up when describing the character of a New Calvinist. Arrogance is.

    Law Prof: I think they hate those people because they know somewhere deep down inside that they have a peace they don’t understand, and they despise it.

    That certainly appears to be the case with the young reformers I’ve had conversations with. When I talk about my relationship with Jesus, they look at me like raccoons caught in the glare of auto headlights. I feel sorry for the bunch … to be caught up in the group-think of New Calvinism and miss living in Christ.

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  72. Dave Dunbar: Geoff Smith is spot-on in his comments about Luther and Calvin. There is no way to read Luther himself and construe him as a supporter of free will. Both Luther and Calvin have drunk deeply at the spring of St. Augustine (and Paul) and fully embrace his strong commitment to divine sovereignty (and hence, the bondage of the will).

    Luther, like every single other human being, was not directly channeling God when he wrote. He learned, he pursued truth, he questioned, he thought, and he developed his own understandings, no doubt in progress from the day he believed until the day he died. As we all do. We can learn from Christian leaders but they can also lead us to put our faith in man when ultimately it is only the words of Christ that stand. “I am of Paul” “I am of Apollos” “I am of Calvin” “I am of Luther” it’s all the same. Neither Calvin nor Luther is the author and perfecter of our faith.

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  73. heather: But it’s sad because no one else, except one other couple, seems to care about the stuff he’s teaching. They don’t even notice it, because he makes it sound so good and God-honoring.

    Many churchgoers don’t really care that much about what is taught and don’t even really listen or take it to heart anyway. People have many motivations for attending church. I remember when trying to speak to people in my church, finding out that many were not even listening to the sermons (I guess they spent the time daydreaming?) and also getting the reply, “What difference does it make what the Bible says?”

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  74. Patti: How arrogant for any of us to demand that our interpretation is absolutely the correct and only one.

    Scripture speaks much about the sovereignty of God. Scripture speaks much about man’s free will. 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 our Creator.

    dee: Sovereignty and free will are not mutually exclusive.

    Exactly. But it takes a non-Calvinist to see that. My experience has been that those who do not hold to Calvinistic belief are more open to other faith expressions. Calvinism = Gospel to a hyper-Calvinist; there’s no room for debate.

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  75. dee: One other thought that I would like to develop after vacation. I believe that God is sovereign. Arminianism and sovereignty are not exclusive. It is the way calvinist define it that causes issues. We humans like either or paradigms because it makes us comfortable we are doin it right. I believe in divine paradoxes.Sovereignty and free will are n to mutually exclusive.

    I agree, Dee.

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  76. Max: “Why Aren’t They Reading the Calvinist Blogs?”

    Here’s a thought (or a fact, at least in my case):
    Maybe some of us are reading Calvinist blogs, which only strengthen out rejection of Calvinism, Neo-Calvinism especially.

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  77. While your comment is true, it is not relevant to this thread in the discussion. The issue is not Martin Luther said it, I believe it, and that settles it. The issue was an historical one: What did Luther believe about X, Y, Z? What beliefs did Luther and Calvin have in common? Luther and Calvin may have both been out of their minds (for the record, I don’t believe that they were), but that wouldn’t change the historical question–and its answer.

    SiteSeer: Luther, like every single other human being, was not directly channeling God when he wrote. He learned, he pursued truth, he questioned, he thought, and he developed his own understandings, no doubt in progress from the day he believed until the day he died. As we all do. We can learn from Christian leaders but they can also lead us to put our faith in man when ultimately it is only the words of Christ that stand. “I am of Paul” “I am of Apollos” “I am of Calvin” “I am of Luther” it’s all the same. Neither Calvin nor Luther is the author and perfecter of our faith.

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  78. Mike Medow: An Arminian Pastor’s Soteriology is All Wrong.
    # A Headline You Will Never See on Dee Parsons Blog, The Wartburg Watch

    An Armenian Pastor Tries to Take Over and Convert a NeoCalvinist Church, is Run Out of the Church on a Rail

    # Another Headline You Will Never See on Dee Parsons Blog, The Wartburg Watch

    Seriously, has anyone ever seen this happen? I’ve never seen it.

    By the way, all the talk of Luther and Calvin reminded me of a discussion on a theology blog. “If Calvin came back today, would he be a Calvinist?” It was a long discussion, with evidence for and against, and it convinced me that I have better things to do with my time than read endless discussions on theology blogs. But I suppose one could also ask whether Luther in the present day would actually be a Lutheran.

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  79. Yesterday I was listening on Sermonaudio.com in a Q&A session with Voddie Baucham and when asked if babies go to heaven, he replied that he wasn’t sure because, if I understood Voddie correctly , scripture isn’t clear on that. Is this true and is it part of Calvinist doctrine? Thank you

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  80. When I visualize tension within the Body of Christ in the afterlife, the Five Heads of Doctrine play a central role. This conflict has been underway for a majority of the Protestant Era. And I see no possibility of the conflict ending on it’s own.

    The debate is not based on empirical evidence from either side. Both sides can produce proof text and a valid point of view.

    Dort was a virdict, meaning the only way to rescind, is through appeal. When I consider what is says, I conclude this is the most invincible argument created by mankind. But, also crazy in that the Synod never visualized a need for a defence. It’s not a conceivable reality, and understandably so.

    The Divines who crafted the Doctrine would have trained their minds as we Christians often do. We deal with reality by transforming it into abstract theological models. I don’t think they visualized an actual state of resurrection and a need to defend their viewpoint.

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  81. Samuel Conner: I had an “epiphany” toward the end of my time at the tiny and dying conservative presby congregation that was my last stop on my way out of institutional church-dom:the group, and especially its leadership, seemed to be “enriched” (with respect to the general population) in people with what appeared to me to be antisocial personality traits.

    In the last year or two of my time affiliated with that group, as I reflected on this observation, the thought occurred to me that there may be correlations between people’s personalities and the kind of theology that they find attractive. One has to be kind of stern-minded and even hard-hearted (toward fellow humans if not toward God — a strange combination in view of Jesus’ “two great commands”) to put up with the toxic combination of monergism and infernalism(* full-disclosure note at end) that characterizes the historic Calvinist vision. People who have a lot of empathy for sufferers will tend to be grieved and repelled by that.

    It seems quite plausible to me that over time, there could be a self-selection process in which different kinds of people voluntarily “sort” themselves into different theological traditions. The basic features of the Calvinist tradition (it seems to me) guarantee that over time it will tend to sort out (drive away into other traditions) people who either don’t like intricate systems or who are highly empathetic (or both). I suspect that this implies that over time, groups in this tradition will find themselves with higher than “normal” proportions of people with autism spectrum and/or low-empathy personality types (narcissism and sociopathy, for example).

    This is not to say that everyone in churches in the Calvinist tradition are like this; it’s a question of distribution of personality types within the population. But different distributions of personality types will affect what it is like to participate in these groups.

    * full-disclosure: I continue to be monergist in my thinking, partly on biblical grounds and partly philosophical (creatio ex nihilo); my way out of the toxic brew of “monergism + infernalism” has been to question infernalism.

    Agreed about the personality types. Have you looked into the research on this very issue by Dr. Ball and Dr. Puls?

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  82. We’ve been delightfully blessed by the new Calvinists letting us know we did not understand grace, and by all the ccm selling book selling cgm folks letting us know if our hearts were right we could worship no matter the style or music.

    So blessed that we have made the decision to return to our liturgical church, just a different synod more in line with our beliefs.

    Oh the joys of confession and forgiveness, of the liturgy, of real Communion, of clear preaching of the gospel. Took some hunting to find what we did not think existed here but we found it.

    Evangelicalism may have started as a wonderful tool to win the lost to Christ, but the moneychangers have taken over.

    The Church, however is alive and well outside the evangelical tempest in a teapot:)

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  83. Chuck,

    Chuck. I have no ideas regarding this teacher as I do not follow them.

    However, your answer is yes. This is part of the Doctrine. (see below- First Head – Article #17)

    Children ARE covered by their parents Elect status. Children not of Elect parents are NOT covered.

    – “CHILDREN OF BELIEVERS WHO DIE IN INFANCY
    We must judge concerning the will of God from His Word, which declares that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they are included with their parents. Therefore, God-fearing parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in their infancy (Gen. 17:7; Acts 2:39; 1 Cor. 7:14).”

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  84. Chuck:
    Yesterday I was listening on Sermonaudio.com in a Q&A session with Voddie Baucham and when asked if babies go to heaven, he replied that he wasn’t sure because, if I understood Voddie correctly , scripture isn’t clear on that. Is this true and is it part of Calvinist doctrine? Thank you

    Vosddie Baucham calls infants “vipers in diapers.” So does Todd Friel (and without giving credit to Baucham): https://mobile.twitter.com/toddfriel/status/952034660720181249

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  85. so at the church I used to sometimes attend (burned out on church a long time ago) they switched pastors last year from one who wouldn’t openly preach calvinism to one who is from Mohlers great seminary. There were calvinists on staff up to that point (so I understand) but it wasn’t preached from the pulpit. Also, the acbc counseling thing was a big thing in this church…and that is calvinist counseling (that is NOT made clear to counselees). Now, it has been taken over by the Mohler guy. At Easter, there was a “new” passion play…focusing on women who came to the WELL..(that was the name of the “passion” play…not the Cross, but the Well…and the focus was on the women, not Jesus. Deliberately. He was in the background of the stage, dying on the cross back there, rising from the dead back there, as everyone stood around back there. The WELL was at the front of the stage and the storyline surrounded those “relationships” at the well. And the relationship the “modern” women at the well and the “biblical” women at the well had with Jesus. It was just fascinating to see the Calvinist view of the passion play, with the downplay of Jesus this year from before. Just “fascinating”. Church has been all but destroyed for me, not that it wasn’t previously, while everyone goes on their merry way rewriting the whole Christian experience from a calvinist perspective. THe new pastor says calvinism is not understood so he doesn’t have to say if he is a calvinist or not. This was, at one time, one of the major churches in the Southern Baptist convention. Oh, and I was told to leave the church when I asked what happened to the old pastor, told I couldn’t stay and worship there if I thought that the new pastor would be capable of taking over a church in an untoward manner. Everything I said about the situation I Later found out to be completely true. Which I knew when I said it. I’ve lived thru these kinds of things with my own family in southern baptist churches, on staff. It came as no great shock. But I was in counseling to learn how to overcome those experiences so I could attend church again, and ha…i got told to leave. It was great. What nice experiences the calvinists bring with them, designed to bring people closer to Jesus ????????? He just spent about 10 sunday nights preaching a sermon series called “Am I really saved?” the “calvinists” had heard that people just might not be really saved there…hadn’t been saved under former preachers. Those experiences where you go to the altar…they aren’t enough anymore. You know, when you give your life to JESUS? Really a strange view for people who call themselves “Christians” when JESUS isn’t sufficient for salvation. So twisted. You wonder why people read non calvinist blogs? this might provide some answers…and if you can’t go with their program, the best thing to do IS leave…doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to say why you left. They want to sneak it in and everybody keep their mouths shut till the “mission is complete”.

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  86. Chuck: Yesterday I was listening on Sermonaudio.com in a Q&A session with Voddie Baucham and when asked if babies go to heaven, he replied that he wasn’t sure because, if I understood Voddie correctly , scripture isn’t clear on that. Is this true and is it part of Calvinist doctrine? Thank you

    So Mr. Baucham wasn’t sure huh?

    Scripture not clear on babies going to heaven or hell?

    Well, tell ya’ what, I’m sure in my own human conscience, and where my moral compass points:

    There is no holy god or holy book that will ever make it right to hurt a baby.

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  87. Mike Medow: An Unashamed, Unapologetic 5-Point Calvinist

    Mike, are you ashamed and apologetic for the behavior of New Calvinists who are running roughshod over the America church – deceptively forcing a belief system on non-Calvinists who aren’t asking for it? The concern by most who comment on TWW are not with classical Calvinists, who I have found over a 70 year church experience to be civil in their discourse and respectful of other expressions of faith. The concern lies with New Calvinists – mostly young reformers – who believe they have come into the world for such a time as this to restore the gospel that the rest of the church has lost, and who are not beyond stealth and deception to plant their ideology in every church they can. It is that group which TWW informs and warns the Body of Christ about.

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  88. Ed,

    So Luther didn’t believe what he wrote in Bondage of the Will?
    Thanking Erasmus “For though what you think and write about ‘free-will’ is wrong, I owe you no small debt of thanks for making me far surer of my own view; as I have been since I saw the case of ‘free-will’ argued with all the resources that your brilliant gifts afford you-and to such little purpose that it is now in a worse state than before. That in itself is clear proof that ‘free-will’ is an utter fallacy.”

    The entire book lays out Luther’s case. I can not understand how anyone could say that Luther didn’t believe in God’s sovereignty in salvation. He lays out the case in the book that he did not think men had ‘free-will’.

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  89. Muff Potter: There is no holy god or holy book that will ever make it right to hurt a baby.

    Agree wholeheartedly. If God would damn a baby, who, as yet, has done nothing evil, then he is no God but rather is Satan. And those who carry this view tend to do terrible things to infants and children.

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  90. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    I do not mean to offend. I was raise Roman Catholic. After the Lord saved me I fell in love with God’s Word. With this new found love for His word I discussed it with many of my friends and relatively who were Roman Catholic. I was told that I had to have the Church interpret the Bible for me. I was told that the Church condemned things that I found in the Bilble about salvation by faith alone as Paul teaches in the 3rd chapter of Romans. That I could not believe the words of Jesus when he said “No one comes to me unless the Father draws him”. And much more that I could not reconcile with what I was taught in the Roman Catholic Church. It grieves me that there were so many things that I could not reconcile. I don’t know how others deal with it. I could not. I stand on the Word of God as the only sure revelation for faith and practice. I wish you blessings.

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  91. Ken A:
    Ed,

    So Luther didn’t believe what he wrote in Bondage of the Will?
    Thanking Erasmus “For though what you think and write about ‘free-will’ is wrong, I owe you no small debt of thanks for making me far surer of my own view;as I have been since I saw the case of ‘free-will’ argued with all the resources that your brilliant gifts afford you-and to such little purpose that it is now in a worse state than before. That in itself is clear proof that ‘free-will’ is an utter fallacy.”

    The entire book lays out Luther’s case. I can not understand how anyone could say that Luther didn’t believe in God’s sovereignty in salvation. He lays out the case in the book that he did not think men had ‘free-will’.

    A couple of years ago I read this book on the argument over free will between Luther and Erasmus: https://www.amazon.com/Erasmus-Luther-Discourse-Free-Milestones-Thought/dp/B002G9MQ7S. Luther strongly denied freewill – there is no way to sugarcoat this. Whatever followers of Luther want to say about what he taught, his teaching on free will is unequivocal.

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  92. Ken F (aka Tweed): Vosddie Baucham calls infants “vipers in diapers.” So does Todd Friel (and without giving credit to Baucham): https://mobile.twitter.com/toddfriel/status/952034660720181249

    Please be very careful about anyone who espouses this view, the “child training” techniques they teach go against everything research has discovered about how infants develop conscience, empathy, and the ability to love. None of these people have any training in child development whatsoever, yet they write books and speak, telling other people what to do to their children. Their beliefs about infants and children are fabricated out of a very twisted view of scripture. Run from them! It can take a lifetime to try to overcome the effects of their teachings on your children.

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  93. Law Prof: the research on this very issue by Dr. Ball and Dr. Puls?

    I’ve heard about their work assessing personality types among pastors in Canada. I guess this is timely — I was forming similar hypotheses a few years ago. I think that the “vocation” of “honored speaker to large adoring groups” is occupationally hazardous by itself. And if there is a on top of that natural attraction of certain personality types to certain kinds of theological system, … well, there needs to be better “vetting” of candidates for church “office.” Anyone can master theological system well enough to instruct others, but people who don’t want to spend time with other people in servant capacities should not be considered for any kind of diakonia that requires a significant degree of interaction with people.

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  94. Max,

    Max, you good man. I agree that “Sovereignty and free will are not mutually exclusive.” Men must excersize their will to receive salvation. No one gets into the kingdom without willingly accepting the gospel. I don’t know any Calvinist who would say otherwise. Maybe they are out there, but I have never heard of any. So there is that.

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  95. cynthia:
    so at the church I used to sometimes attend (burned out on church a long time ago) they switched pastors last year from one who wouldn’t openly preach calvinism to one who is from Mohlers great seminary.There were calvinists on staff up to that point (so I understand) but it wasn’t preached from the pulpit.Also, the acbc counseling thing was a big thing in this church…and that is calvinist counseling (that is NOT made clear to counselees).

    This is all straight from the New Calvinist playbook. You’ll find a bunch of posts on here about churches that have had the exact same things happen.

    My former church was “taken over” by someone who lied about their beliefs. Everyone on staff was eventually fired and all New Calvinists put in, then the covenant, and now their website and Facebook page is covered with “prove your commitment to the church by…” (never missing service, tithing more than 10 %, posting on their FB page every week… it goes on and on…

    Many of us have had similar experiences with them and that’s why we ended up here…

    And they think we “don’t really understand…” Right?

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  96. Ken A: No one gets into the kingdom without willingly accepting the gospel. I don’t know any Calvinist who would say otherwise. Maybe they are out there, but I have never heard of any.

    “I am thankful that I’m incapable
    Of doing any good on my own

    ‘Cause we’re all stillborn
    And dead in our transgressions
    We’re shackled up
    To the sin we hold so dear
    So what part can I play
    In the work of redemption
    I can’t refuse, I cannot add a thing

    ‘Cause I am just like Lazarus and
    I can hear your voice
    I stand and rub my eyes
    And walk to you
    Because I have no choice
    I am thankful that I’m incapable
    Of doing any good on my own

    I’m so thankful that I’m incapable
    Of doing any good on my own”

    –Caedmon’s Call, “Thankful”

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  97. dee:
    Dave Dunbar,

    You need to listen to the Lutherans.and understand their thoughts on the matter. I am a conservative Lutheran, rather newly minted, and have been reading rather heavily omni the matter. I a, not a Calvinist and that is not from want of trying,

    Please read the comment by the Editor of The Lutheran Library. heck, they even give out free books. I have been reading many Calvinists who appear to wish that Luther was *one of them.*He wasn’t. And today’s Lutheran books of theology indicate the differences.

    I will write. post on this one day. Just like one must listen to Calvinists to explain their position, I would suggest Calvinists listen to Lutherans and not reject them outright. You guys are experts of Calvinism, not Lutheranism.

    Dee,

    You misunderstand my point (and Geoff Smith’s). I have listened to the Lutherans and the Calvinists–valuable points in each. I am not arguing one against the other. The point I am trying to make is that reading Luther and Calvin turns up a number of things that are surprising. On the specific point of divine sovereignty Luther does frame it out as basically antithetical to free will. That’s why he called his book “The Bondage of the Will” not the freedom of the will. You may be correct that “sovereignty and free will are not mutually exclusive.” The only point I am making is that you won’t get any help from Luther on that one.

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  98. SiteSeer: If God would damn a baby, who, as yet, has done nothing evil, then he is no God but rather is Satan.

    Fortunately there is Acts 2:38-39, “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’”

    (Yeah, I know, I’m cherry picking and I don’t know beans about soteriology.)

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  99. Max: One group hangs their hat on the law; the other has experienced life. If you don’t know the difference, you have allowed the teachings and traditions of men to blind you from Truth.

    Thank you. I can’t express how much I needed that idea today. Here are some words for Good Shepherd Sunday (John 10:27-30):

    My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.’

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  100. ishy:
    Hello Ishy! Great to hear from you.
    Augustine “grant what thou commandest and command what thou will.”
    Paul “He works in you both to will and do his good pleasure”
    Pelagius was appalled by Augustine. However, it was Pelagius who was condemned as teaching heresy not Augustine.

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  101. Regarding the Baucham comment regarding infants: some years ago I had a co-worker who had been trying to have children for years, and suffered multiple miscarriages. Her neo-calvinist pastor presented a teaching that essentially declared that infants, including those that die in the womb, go to hell because of innate depravity. She, of course, was quite distraught. I thought, even if one believes that (I do not), why in the world would you get up in front of a large congregation and declare that, knowing that many women would have suffered miscarriages in the normal course of life. Why would you do that? The lack of sensitivity and the arrogance that would lead someone to do that is beyond me.

    On a positive note, this dear woman now has four children! Amazing grace!

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  102. dee,

    As I repeatedly say on this blog, the longer I live the more I realize my personal, as well as mankind’s limited ability to comprehend, let alone explain, the physical world. By definition, things that are supernatural are even harder. These clowns that get up and make such proclamations ( in this case the eternal state of souls that die in the womb) have an arrogance, and IMHO, stupidity, that is beyond comprehension..

    I again was just have a conversation about electrons with my son, such a basic/fundamental part of the Universe, and how they are both waves ( probability distribution function) and a physical particle, and it just makes my brain hurt…

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  103. Loren Haas: Calvinists are always misunderstood.
    Always.

    Yes.
    Even if you quote the work of a Calvinist author at a Calvinist that a previous self identifying Calvinist told you to read, the second one will say that the Calvinist author has Calvinist wrong.

    From what I gather, Calvinists do not know what Calvinism is, as they cannot agree with each other about the subject, yet, many of them have the nerve to suggest that others reject it only because they don’t understand it.

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  104. Mike Medow,

    Are Arminian pastors known for lying what they believe when they go to interview for pastoral positions?
    Do they go into Calvinist churches lying about being Arminian?

    And… in my experience, many Calvinists are incredibly arrogant. They love to argue with other people and assume others are not “truly saved” if they are not Calvinist. I don’t see that level of hubris among Arminians.

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  105. Max: Mike Medow: An Unashamed, Unapologetic 5-Point Calvinist

    Oh, tough guy, huh? You just walk right up to all those people God never intended to save and cavalierly tell ’em to ‘Go to hell’, is that right? Cause if God says it, why should you be ashamed to do the same?

    Of course, God appears to be sorta ashamed of Calvinism’s gospel, as rather than laying it out plainly, he kinda hems and haws around. He asserts that he loves all men and desires that all – each and every one – believe in him, turn from wickedness and obtain eternal life.

    If only they would just believe, they too could be saved. Wink, wink, hardy har, that one’s always good for a laugh, cause we all know only God could make ’em believe and he just plain didn’t want to. ROTFL! He really ought not say such things when in reality he predestined so many to eternal hellfire when he could just as easily have saved them. Sorta makes him look disingenuous. Some might even say a cruel, mocking tyrant.

    Ah, but not you. Irresistibly condemning people before they were ever born or could have done anything good or bad is perfectly chill with you, isn’t that right? So what if, contrary to Ezekiel, God holds the sons of Adam accountable for the sins of their father? He who owns the ball makes the rules, folks. So what if some of those eternally condemned people are your own children, parents, friends and neighbors, isn’t that right tough guy?

    You just unashamedly, unapologetically look them in the eye and say, ‘Sorry, Charlie, you just didn’t make the cut. Don’t feel bad, it was nothing you did. That’s just how God is.’ (Of course, most Calvinists get around the discomfort of fearing for their own children by posing a very unbiblical covenant system that puts them right back into the ‘chosen by blood’ fiasco that got Israel in so much trouble.)

    So, maybe it’s just your wife, or your little sister you have to shrug off and say, ‘Oh well, who am I to question God? Chin up, burn baby burn.’ But hey, you are such a solid, faithful, unapologetic Calvinist, (How can you help it, it was your predetermined destiny?) that it won’t bother you a bit, will it, knowing they never had a snowball’s chance in hell? As long as you’re in, who cares about anyone else, eh? To God be the glory, and all that.

    I tell ya what, if I was a Calvinist, I would at least have the grace to be terribly ashamed and very apologetic. See, the God of scripture commands me to love others as much as myself; so I really ought to care about their eternal destiny as much as my own. But I always was a bleeding heart wimp.

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  106. Mike Medow:
    An Arminian Pastor’s Soteriology is All Wrong.
    # A Headline You Will Never See on Dee Parsons Blog, The Wartburg Watch

    Signed,
    Mike Medow
    An Unashamed, Unapologetic 5-Point Calvinist

    Maybe if neocalviniats start bringing something to the table better than weak, shoot the messenger snark to the table (like your post) perhaps those headlines will cease. Again, bring a better game, try maybe to not confirm everyone’s stereotypes about neocalviniats being emotional infants with your posts, and then things will change and people will have a better perception of unapologetic 5-point Calvinists.

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  107. Cousin of Eutychus: I thought, even if one believes that (I do not), why in the world would you get up in front of a large congregation and declare that, knowing that many women would have suffered miscarriages in the normal course of life. Why would you do that?

    Why?
    Because they have no common human decency, and they’ve been stripped of their humanity by a brutal and monstrous religion.

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  108. Ken A:

    Augustine was not condemned — he is one of the Church’s greatest saints — but several of his ideas were rejected at the Council of Orange.

    Before a dogma is formally defined, even the greatest saints and theologians can be wrong about it without incurring the guilt of heresy. Newman made this point, and it’s an important one IMHO.

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  109. Max,

    “The 2008 report of the “Unity” Committee chaired by Frank Page – previous President of SBC’s Executive Committee who resigned due to moral failure – was a call for Southern Baptists to agree to disagree, get along to go along, and make room under the big SBC tent for diverse theologies.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    …except if you’re a woman. right? tolerance for diverse theologies… except don’t touch the male sacred cow.

    what a JOKE.

    can i laugh, cry, and spit nails all at the same time?

    (if i’m wrong in my assumption, i’ll put the nails back in the box)

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  110. Mike Medow:
    An Arminian Pastor’s Soteriology is All Wrong.
    # A Headline You Will Never See on Dee Parsons Blog, The Wartburg Watch

    Signed,
    Mike Medow
    An Unashamed, Unapologetic 5-Point Calvinist

    Other headlines you’re unlikely to see on Wartburg:

    The earth is flat - I've discovered the ice wall in Antarctica
    Cars run on water - what the Smurfs won't tell you
    Did a megachurch pastor use a dark-side Force-choke to control his congregation?

    Nick Bulbeck
    An unashamed, unapologetic 3-point Wartburger

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  111. Quick trial comment to check out the new formatting:

    Bold
    Italic
    Monotype
    Driskle

    As far as I know, that’s all WordPress supports.

    GBTC – feel free to delete this one, at your leisure!

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  112. Ken A:
    Max,

    Max, you good man. I agree that “Sovereignty and free will are not mutually exclusive.” Men must excersize their will to receive salvation. No one gets into the kingdom without willingly accepting the gospel. I don’t know any Calvinist who would say otherwise. Maybe they are out there, but I have never heard of any. So there is that.

    But I’ve also never heard a Calvinist say that an unregenerated person can freely choose God, because in their unregenerated state the only want to reject him. Likewise, a regenerated person cannot reject God. Every Calvinisic explanation of free will I’ve heard has convinced me that Calvinistic free will is nothing more than an illusion.

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  113. Law Prof: Maybe if neocalvinists start bringing something to the table better than weak, shoot the messenger snark to the table (like your post) perhaps those headlines will cease.

    Bah. If I got one of your messengers I’d shoot him too. Albeit with a water-pistol, because I’m firmly opposed to aggression.

    You’re all rubbish.

    Up Yours,
    Roger Bombast

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  114. So, Schrock came to this church in 2009. After his agenda is exposed and resisted, he’s now looking back and says, well, there was “the SBC’s 2008 agreement to disagree” on Calvinism, so why the fuss…

    Problem? the Calvinism Advisory Panel report (not “agreement”) Schrock is misusing against those who resisted his covert Calvinizing was issued in 2013, not 2008!

    Doesn’t 9Marks have an editor who fact checks their articles for such falsehoods and mischaracterizations?

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  115. dee: I will write. post on this one day.

    I don’t recall seeing anything written on what appears to me a strong theme among Calvinists that their God is actually finite/limited. In the case of free will, they write as if free will somehow diminishes God’s sovereignty. But if his sovereignty is unlimited, there ia no finite amount of human free will that can put a dent in it.

    This article pretty much captures this Calvinist way of thinking: https://www.tms.edu/blog/necessity-divine-sovereignty/

    If God did not display all of His attributes, His glory would be subsequently diminished.

    The only way God’s glory could be diminished is if his attributes are limited, because something that is infinite/unlimited cannot be diminished. By definition, something that is infinite/unlimited can never be made less (or more) by any finite subtraction (or addition).

    I don’t know if I stated this clearly enough, but I think this concept is at the core of much of the debate.

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  116. Calvinism, as a theological religious science system, has been debated for over 500 years. You can do it (argue) until your face is blue. It will never change a thing. A true theology master will simply be somewhere else. The Calvinist religion even condemns some of their own babies to eternal hell, think about it. The stupid things people believe? Look it up. Worshiping a god that SOVEREIGNLY condemns to Eternal Death before conception, how lunatic stupid is that? Only a madman or a moron would believe that. RUN!

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  117. Dave Dunbar: The point I am trying to make is that reading Luther and Calvin turns up a number of things that are surprising.

    Firstly, I must concede that I’m quoting this sentence completely independent of context..! I’m taking no position here for or against Luther, Calvin, or any group named or styled after either of them here. But it’s a truism that reading most people turns up things that are surprising.

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  118. dee:
    Dave Dunbar,

    You need to listen to the Lutherans.and understand their thoughts on the matter. I am a conservative Lutheran, rather newly minted, and have been reading rather heavily omni the matter. I a, not a Calvinist and that is not from want of trying,

    Please read the comment by the Editor of The Lutheran Library. heck, they even give out free books. I have been reading many Calvinists who appear to wish that Luther was *one of them.*He wasn’t. And today’s Lutheran books of theology indicate the differences.

    I will write. post on this one day. Just like one must listen to Calvinists to explain their position, I would suggest Calvinists listen to Lutherans and not reject them outright. You guys are experts of Calvinism, not Lutheranism.

    ***

    I devoutly endeavor engagement with Jesus’ ‘voice’ as found in the pages of the holy scriptures. Is that ok?

    hmmm…

    “My sheep hear My voice…”

    ATB

    Sòpy

    ;~)§

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  119. ishy,

    Exactly….. a prominent teacher in my fundy HS proudly proclaimed he was a 3.5 point Calvanist…. this was in 1976….
    but the Neo-calvin crowd would just through him into the Arminian crowd, even though he would aggressively disagree

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  120. Patti: … already [my daughter’s] boyfriend had told her to stop talking to me and she asked me to stop blogging because it was hurting her boyfriend.

    Please tell us your daughter is free from that relationship now…

    🙁

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  121. IMO, Luther, Calvin, et al., at this stage are a wax nose. I wish I had a nickel for every time I hear one or the other used in support of some modernist interpretation of Christianity.

    Btw, Lutheranism does not worship Luther. It points to Christ. That is the point of Christianity. The other stuff is just theatre.

    As an aside, maybe people aren’t reading Calvinist blogs because they don’t find Christ crucified for them there. It’s always for “the other guy”.

    From a 95 point ex-Calvinist, predestined to reject it.

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  122. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    If there is a Biblical basis for saying what you say, is there a problem? See John 3 “Truly, truly I say to you unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
    Ephesians 2:1 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…”
    There is much more where the Bible seems to lay it out. Should I apologize because I try to be faithful to understand it and embrace what it plainly says. Sorry, I will not.

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  123. Ken A: There is much more where the Bible seems to lay it out. Should I apologize because I try to be faithful to understand it and embrace what it plainly says. Sorry, I will not.

    I am bewildered by the things you are saying. You claimed that all Calvinists believe in a willing acceptance of the gospel, then respond like you are talking about something else.

    Both Ken F and I were pointing out that the doctrine of total depravity means a lot of Calvinists do not believe in any sort of willing acceptance of the gospel. The doctrine states that humans will always reject God unless God regenerates them.

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  124. Ken A: Should I apologize because I try to be faithful to understand it and embrace what it plainly says. Sorry, I will not.

    No, you should not apologize for what you believe. My only point was I’ve never heard a Calvinistic argument for free will that was not a word-salad denial of free will. It boils down not to what is in the Bible, but how we interpret what is in it.

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  125. ishy,

    Perhaps it isn’t me who wants it in a neat little box that I can totally understand? I will not negate God’s sovereignty or God’s command for men and women to repent and believe the Gospel. Both are in scripture. Both are true therefore. God doesn’t tell me to understand Him totally. But to believe and trust Him and love Him with all my being. I want to do that, however I perfectly. I don’t understand how I can trust someone who I think can’t say what He means and means what He says. Should I get my scissors out and cut out the parts I don’t understand or don’t like? I think it is not honoring to God to pretend that the verses aren’t there. You are responsible for you and I am responsible for me. Blessings!

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  126. @KenA — you say Scripture compelled you to become Calvinist. The same Bible compels me and many others to reject Calvinism. In my experience (and I know a fair number of Calvinists), Calvinist cherry-pick passages that they think support their views while ignoring and/or twisting verses that clearly challenge their views. Plus, as KenF says, it’s all a matter of interpretation. We all refract Scripture through our interpretive lenses, even when we think we are not doing so.

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  127. Ken F (aka Tweed): If God did not display all of His attributes, His glory would be subsequently diminished.

    It is simply a straw man, held up to take the heat off of the normal response to being told you are merely a puppet.

    Ah, unfortunate, but necessary, in Calvi-land, where God can only be glorified in a fatalistic world in which all things go exactly according to his meticulously controlled plan. So, he threw in a little evil to spice things up a bit, a little conflict and tension, if you will, so as to make the story more gripping. But it is all fiction. All’s good in Calvi-land, where every line of the story is composed by the glorious author. One can quickly see why narcissism and control issues afflict the Calvi-crowd. They are terrified of freedom.

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  128. Jerome: Problem? the Calvinism Advisory Panel report (not “agreement”) Schrock is misusing against those who resisted his covert Calvinizing was issued in 2013, not 2008!

    Why quibble about details? After all, we are sent from god to redeem his elect with Calvinism. Rather than the light of the world stuff, which sounds nice, but doesn’t produce solid results, we will not allow dissent.

    See, freedom doesn’t work, because some will always reject the truth. We use clever misinformation, infiltration and mind control and, one by one, pick off naive, unsuspecting churches, which will then be run like little Geneva’s. This is the heritage of Calvin.

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  129. Ken A: There is much more where the Bible seems to lay it out. Should I apologize because I try to be faithful to understand it and embrace what it plainly says. Sorry, I will not.

    Here is where Calvinism runs afoul. The bible only ‘seems’ to say what they say it says. It can quite readily be – and long has been – interpreted otherwise. I don’t need to spell it all out, it is the very basis of the distinctions between Calvies and non-Calvies.

    What Calvies are ‘faithful to’, ‘understand’ and ’embrace’ is one interpretation of words. There are others, which do not present a hideous picture of a controlling tyrant who deliberately destroys many without a chance of escape. Funny how so many don’t wish to explore, let alone ‘be faithful to’, ‘understand’ and ’embrace’ the alternative interpretation to Calvinism’s Total Depravity read on scripture. An interpretation that is so much more logical and does away with the thousands of contradictions created by Calvi-read. (i.e., ‘If you do well, cannot you be approved . . . Oh yeah, you can’t.’ ‘Turn from wickedness and live. Oh yeah, you can’t.’ ‘Believe and you will be saved. Oh yeah, you can’t.’ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. Oh yeah, you can’t.’ I could go on endlessly. That Calvi-God is such a kidder.)

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  130. Ken F (aka Tweed): It boils down not to what is in the Bible, but how we interpret what is in it.

    Exactly, Amen and I would use bold, but apparently I already am! It is not ‘what the bible plainly says’ it is simply ‘how I interpret what the bible says’, not to mention that we are interpreting in a different language, century and situation than scripture was originally written in.

    Add in cultural bias, centuries of brainwashing and personal incentives, and you have yourself a recipe for believing almost whatever you wish. All you have to do is redefine a few words and impose a few ‘necessary’ filters.

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  131. Jeffrey Chalmers: I again was just have a conversation about electrons with my son, such a basic/fundamental part of the Universe, and how they are both waves ( probability distribution function) and a physical particle, and it just makes my brain hurt…

    Can you imagine how it feels to me?

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  132. Catholic Gate-Crasher: We all refract Scripture through our interpretive lenses, even when we think we are not doing so.

    This succinctly describes the thing that has frustrate me throughout all my attempts to find a local Jesus (and, thence, join a local church). Why, oh why, oh why, am I the ONLY human being ever to have read the Bible without prejudice? The true mystery of godliness is this: since I can so clearly see it, why can’t everyone else? Why does every other professing christian fail to see the crystal-clear truths that are so obvious to me?

    There is only one possible explanation. You are all either followers of stan, or else have been duped into following stan. Nothing else makes sense. Though at one level, it seems a shame that I alone will represent the entire human race in heaven.

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  133. TS00: So, maybe it’s just your wife, or your little sister you have to shrug off and say, ‘Oh well, who am I to question God? Chin up, burn baby burn.’ But hey, you are such a solid, faithful, unapologetic Calvinist, (How can you help it, it was your predetermined destiny?) that it won’t bother you a bit, will it, knowing they never had a snowball’s chance in hell? As long as you’re in,

    Interestingly, Jesus never chose to go down this road. Many Calvinists come up with interesting explanations to make them feel better. Babies born to Calvinists are elect is one of them. Yet all of them write posts on how to bring your kids to Christ. However, there is not one darn thing they can do to assure the salvation of their loved ones according to theology. They are either out or in and it was decided In eternity past.

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  134. Ken A: I don’t understand how I can trust someone who I think can’t say what He means and means what He says. Should I get my scissors out and cut out the parts I don’t understand or don’t like? I think it is not honoring to God to pretend that the verses aren’t there.

    I would gladly take you on on this one, because I have done it. (Okay, I started. I gave up because my euphemistic scissors wore out.) Calvinism requires the excision (by redefinition) of thousands upon thousands of verses, whereas its rejection requires a closer look at only a few dozen.

    When I woke up and exited Calvi-land, I began reading the bible and keeping a list of all of the verses that contradicted Calvinism in some way. I soon had to give up, as I found myself essentially handwriting the entire bible. It increasingly became clear almost every passage in scripture depicts free men voluntarily either obeying or disobeying God, and God’s appeal to them to turn from their rebellion and live.

    Calvinists must superimpose a filter upon each and every verse that essentially requires the reader to say, ‘Okay, it doesn’t really mean that, it really means . . .’

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  135. ishy: The doctrine states that humans will always reject God unless God regenerates them.

    The question to ask is does scripture says this?

    Jesus offered a gift. Some walked away from the gift. Some accepted the gift.

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  136. TS00,

    One of the most glorious and freeing things about departing Calvinism was a restoration of the bible to what it once was to me. I could once again just read the thing, without having to constantly make mental adjustments to conform with some man-made system.

    It was actually so much more. You would not believe me, (I can hardly believe it myself, because I am fairly reserved) but I found myself weeping and laughing and, for the first time in my life, uninhibitedly praising God out loud that first morning I opened my bible as an ex-Calvinist.

    What joy to find once again a gracious God who loved all men! What wonder to know that I could look upon all those evil feminists and homosexuals and I don’t know what all as people God loves and desires to redeem to himself, just like ol’ sinner numero uno (me). I felt like a child in a candy store, as I raced to my former favorite verses; sure enough, there they were, once again revealing the loving, merciful, good God of my youth. I cannot overstate my joy, and it only continues to increase as I toss off the shackles of former misconceptions and let God once again reveal himself to me.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all who bear the title, and have born the great privilege of raising and nurturing the future!

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  137. Nick Bulbeck: There is only one possible explanation. You are all either followers of stan, or else have been duped into following stan. Nothing else makes sense. Though at one level, it seems a shame that I alone will represent the entire human race in heaven.

    You’re deluded. It is I. (Says every close-minded dogmatist who thinks he ‘knows’ the truth.)

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  138. Nick Bulbeck: Please tell us your daughter is free from that relationship now…

    Yes, thank you Nick Bulbick. This was years ago and I commented about it often when SGM was the topic here. It was the SGM stuff that eventually split them apart. So they have gone on with other lives. This was a very serious relationship though that will forever haunt my daughter. And the poor young man practically worshipped CJ, as he was conditioned to do so, in my opinion.

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  139. dee: Do you mean specifically that I won’t get help from Luther in that particular work or in all of his works?

    I have read most of Luther’s major reformation treatises and a number of his sermons and commentaries. He is pretty consistent on his doctrinal views, and as another commentor pointed out, Luther thought the Bondage of the Will was his best work. I don’t agree with him but that is not the point. He thought it was good, and he never backs away from the position he takes there.

    You can of course find many, many passages in Luther about the nature and importance of faith in Christ. To me this is Luther at his best. But these statements do not mean that he has given up his position on God’s absolute sovereignty, or that he really embraces the idea of free will. Later Lutheranism under the influence of Luther’s friend Melancthon, would back away from Luther on this point.

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  140. Roger Bombast: Bah. If I got one of your messengers I’d shoot him too. Albeit with a water-pistol, because I’m firmly opposed to aggression.

    You’re all rubbish.

    Up Yours,
    Roger Bombast

    I like you better than most, Bombast. At least you don’t mince words! : )

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  141. TS00: in Calvi-land, where God can only be glorified in a fatalistic world in which all things go exactly according to his meticulously controlled plan.

    My DH attended a funeral for a young mother who left behind a husband and several tiny children. The minister went on and on about her death being part of God’s perfect plan. Maybe he thought he was offering hope and celebrating her life. In fact, he was cruelly shoving everyone’s grief and sadness off a cliff, silencing all non-celebratory voices.

    He should have consoled them, comforted them, shown some love, maybe even admitted that we don’t know why bad things happen. Jesus wept. We should too.

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  142. TS00: Ah, unfortunate, but necessary, in Calvi-land, where God can only be glorified in a fatalistic world in which all things go exactly according to his meticulously controlled plan.

    Like a CEO who meticulously micromanages every decision at every level, compared to one who delegates and empowers employees. Which is the more glorious CEO?

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  143. I get accused all the time of reading the one sided “gossip” of TWW. After all, I can’t have an impact on the changing the situation so why spend my time in reading that “trash”. My response is we need to educate everyone so one can be aware of their own church goings on. Alas, the ones who chastise me don’t know what is really going on in their own church.

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  144. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But it seems to have been overlooked that Calvinism is a product of the National Synod of the Netherlands, with additional Protestant jurisdictions represented.

    My assertion is no claim of Calvinism was valid in any United States territory.

    I do not believe the Devines possessed authority to declare any later American to be depraved, heretical, or bound by any Head of Doctrine.

    Even if a claim could be established regarding English Crown Colonies, such claim ended effective May 12th, 1784. All attempts to preach Calvinism after the affective date of the Treaty of Paris, are a waste of time.

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  145. Bridget: The question to ask is does scripture says this?

    Jesus offered a gift. Some walked away from the gift. Some accepted the gift.

    Oh, indeed. I just have trouble with Ken A speaking for all Calvinists. I don’t think he does. I know some Calvinists that have said flat out that there is no such thing as free will in salvation because humans will always choose evil.

    He implied I was confused about my beliefs, but it doesn’t really matter what he believes or I believe when you claim “all” of one group believes something.

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  146. Abigail:
    An excellent site for those wanting to learn about or leave Calvinism is Soteriology 101 by Dr. Leighton Flowers. Quite helpful from an ex-calvinist with a humble heart.

    Thanks!! I look forward to exploring that site. It looks fascinating.

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  147. heather:
    Diane,

    Thank you, Diane!I really appreciate your comment.My husband is the only one I know who reads my stuff, so I never know what others think of it.

    You are so welcome! Sincerely love your clear, cogent explanations. 🙂

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  148. Ken F (aka Tweed): Like a CEO who meticulously micromanages every decision at every level, compared to one who delegates and empowers employees. Which is the more glorious CEO?

    And which makes the most of the gifts and creativity of the employees, bringing out the best of each for the benefit of all? Which makes the individual a valuable, contributing team member who knows that his contributions actually make a difference?

    Seriously, who would want to live the useless, predetermined life Calvinism posits? Your life is scripted, your ‘love’ is involuntary and nothing you think, say or do really matters – what will be, will be, and it has nothing to do with you.

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  149. Dave Dunbar: he has given up his position on God’s absolute sovereignty, or that he really embraces the idea of free will. Later Lutheranism under the influence of Luther’s friend Melancthon, would back away from Luther on this point.

    I believe that God is absolutely sovereign and free will figures into this. Why is it the Calvinists who believe in election claim that this is the only outcome of a belief in sovereignty?

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  150. dee: Why is it the Calvinists who believe in election claim that this is the only outcome of a belief in sovereignty?

    They live in a black and white only type of world.
    On or off
    0 or 1

    The type of world that only works if you are a robot. A world that does not work for all the shades of gray of the real world. The world the humanity lives in.

    I suspect this is related somewhat to the issue of certain personality types being attracted to certain doctrines discussed above.

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  151. After reading “Thinking Fast and Slow” many times, it dawn on me that theological systems like TULIP enables people to exercising “System 1 thinking” to explain away EVERYTHING because it is quick and easy, and feels authoritative to build circular argument out of TULIP – babies goes to he’ll because the logic of TULIP demands it be so even though the Bible do not explicitly say so. Control freaks love these type of close loop systems because they do not need to deal with people and complexity of life, and scriptures that do not fit into their neat tidy verbal packages.

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  152. ishy,

    It appears to me that there are those here that are very close to the views of Pelagius. Even Norman Geisler who is about as anti-Calvinist as one can get even writing a book “Chosen but Free” will not embrace the position of “free will” that some seem to advocate here. Pelagius view was condemned in the Fourth century as heresy. The traditional Armenian view would not embrace Pelagius. Different people mean different things when proclaiming “free will”. The view of some here seems to me to be very close to that of Pelagius. Traditionally that view was condemned as heresy. Perhaps there are those who could care less what happened in the fourth century. I think it is of value. I ask you to please be careful of your view. This has all been debated many times in church history. Maybe I misunderstand it. But I don’t think so. I am not saying that anyone here is a heretic. Just pointing out what appears to me.

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  153. Of course, if one wants to reconcile a strong vision of God’s absolute sovereignty over individual outcomes with absolute individual freedom to make choices at each point on an individual’s “world line”, there is always Molinism.

    Some “heavy hitters” within present-day US Evangelicalism favor this view.

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  154. ishy,

    I never said that I was “speaking for all Calvinists”. I hope you are not implying that I did or do. That would not be very smart on my part. There is no more uniformity among Calvinist than there is among those who advocate against it. My views about these subjects are not the same as when I first embraced them. I am happy to defend my views but I do not want to have to defend someone else’s views. When I said I was not aware of Calvinist who would say that you can be saved without exercising your will I am not advocating this as a tenant of Calvinism. I just think that the opposing side likes to state that somehow Calvinist believe that people can be saved without actually wanting to. I think this is a misrepresentation of what most Calvinist would actually believe and teach.

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  155. I would suggest this overview of Pelagius to those who are concerned about his supposed ‘heresy’:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1345082/posts

    It states:
    “In fact, since on most of his points of disagreement with Augustine, Pelagius upholds the Patristic Tradition of the Church, and since in his practical spiritual advice he is entirely harmonious with Church teaching, this much-maligned British monk would appear to be no more heretical than many venerable Fathers.
    When that is considered along with his indisputable holiness of life – attested to not only by the depth of his spiritual writings but by Augustine himself! – can we help but to wonder if we have long-neglected a great saint of the Church?”

    It has long been noted that most of his writings have been unavailable, as they were condemned and restricted long ago. Most of the serious charges against him, as in a belief that one does not require the grace of God, are considered to be mostly a reflection of what he was chiefly arguing against, i.e., Total Depravity. His unforgivable sin was to reject the concept of Calvinistic (Augustinian) Original Sin, in which man is born a sinner, before anything he has ever done makes him guilty of sin. This is a concept that much of non-Calvinistic Protestantism rejects today, and I believe to be the cornerstone of the errors of Calvinism.

    Pelagius acknowledges the unlikelihood that any man ever has or ever will achieve a perfectly sinless life, but saw it as a scriptural and worthy pursuit, enabled by the grace and power of the rebirth (indwelling Holy Spirit). I posit that much of his ‘heresy’ was semantic, as he sought to uphold the beauty and goodness with which God created mankind, as apposed to the ‘worm theology’ of Calvinism which then and now often leads to moral laxity.

    The condemnation of Pelagius is now seen by many scholars as mostly political, as was much of the torture and murder of righteous men and women as ‘heretics’ in earlier times. It is naive to ignore the impact of political motivations on the historical church, and many refuse to place ultimate credence in any man or group of men’s opinion on what is or is not ‘heretical’.

    Only in my former Calvinist church have I heard the word ‘heresy’ thrown around as it was so maliciously hundreds of years ago, as they believed themselves the sole judge and upholders of biblical truth.

    I suspect that they, along with the rest of us, will someday discover just how faulty many aspects of our beliefs truly are. We can perhaps leave such things to the wisdom and grace of the only true judge, who alone has the right and power to condemn.

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  156. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    A great site which has been helpful to many seeking to escape the errors of Calvinism, as many letters (found on the FB page) attest to. He doesn’t really post anything that cannot be found in books written hundreds of years ago by wise and godly men, but as most are out of print and hard to come by, it is helpful to have a modern voice propounding the old arguments against Calvinism.

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  157. Ken A: I just think that the opposing side likes to state that somehow Calvinist believe that people can be saved without actually wanting to. I think this is a misrepresentation of what most Calvinist would actually believe and teach.

    Something of a straw man. All agree that man must desire to be saved, but only Calvinism asserts that the desire must be ‘given’ to man from God, and is involuntarily done so. Calvinism’s god does not ask men whether or not they would like to be freed from sin and death – he simply chooses some and irresistibly regenerates them. Voila, they now ‘desire’ salvation.

    Any free choice posited in this work is illusory. Under Calvinism, no man can resist this ‘work of grace’, no man can resist this involuntarily implanted desire, and any participation of the individual is illusory – they have no other option.

    Which of Calvinism’s chosen ‘elect’ can choose to resist becoming a child of God? Calvinism simply seeks to mask the controlling determinism of their concept of salvation under this act of ‘grace’, which is regeneration by force, however much they deny it. Man is made willing, quite involuntarily, which is a semantic sleight, and far different from actually making a free choice.

    As has been argued for centuries, a free choice must be totally voluntary, uncoerced or uncaused by outside forces. The chooser must have genuine ability to freely choose yay or nay. This does not exist under the Calvinist scheme. The chosen MUST choose yay, and the reprobated MUST choose nay, however much their so-called ‘desires’ are manipulated. Whether there is a visible wire or it’s bluetooth, God is still pushing all of the buttons.

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  158. cynthia,

    Cynthia, I am sorry for your experience. It’s not the way church is supposed to be. We are in the process of leaving our church – that we’ve been at for almost 20 years – because of a new Calvinist pastor. You mentioned the lack of altar calls and about Calvinists supposedly trying to “draw you closer to Jesus.” These exact things have been on my mind lately (and I wrote a tiny bit about them). My Calvinist pastor is really big into missions, into going to other countries to spread the Gospel (his Gospel, that is). And I could never figure out why this is so, especially since Calvinists believe we don’t have an effect on anything anyway. But I was looking through some old church posts from him when I found the answer.

    He wrote about his view of missions – and his whole goal in missions is to “make God famous among all people because that’s God’s goal.” There was no talk about sharing the love of God with the people, or drawing them to God and to Jesus, or helping the hurting people or helping them find forgiveness and healing and eternal life. It was all “making God famous,” as if being famous is God’s only goal. That’s when I realized that Calvinists do not care about “drawing us to Jesus,” as in drawing us into a relationship with Jesus. They don’t care about the relationship we have with God or that God has with us, which is why they don’t focus on His love or that He cares about us or that we matter to Him. That would be “too glorifying” to humans. And Calvinists are all about God’s glory (their idea of God’s glory!) – about God getting as much glory and fame as He can, no matter the cost, even if it means saying that God causes sin and predestines people to hell. If they say that “it’s for God’s glory,” then they are okay with it. It’s insane!

    Anyway, I realized that their motives for missions and evangelizing are very different than the Gospel’s. God is a relational Being who is about love and wanting a relationship with us and wanting to heal us and care for us and draw us near to Him (and yes, about His glory, too), but Calvinists don’t care about that. They don’t see Him as a relational Being, but only as Supreme Ruler. And it makes me sad to think about what kind of “mission” people like my pastor are carrying out, about how much the people they are speaking to are missing out on because they aren’t getting a proper view of God and faith and God’s love and God’s grace and Jesus’s sacrifice, etc.

    My pastor also wrote about how he doesn’t believe in altar calls, in case the people who come forward end up believing they are saved simply because they walked the aisle. He says he believes we are to call people to repent, that it should be what we do instead of altar calls. But then he won’t even give them the chance to express their desire to repent by going forward publicly in something like an altar call. I don’t get it.

    Actually, I do get it. It’s not that he doesn’t believe in altar calls because he’s afraid they will think walking the aisle made them saved; it’s because Calvinists don’t think we can make a choice. They think we can’t “accept Jesus” because that’s “working our way into heaven.” They think salvation has to be all God’s doing or else He’s not a “sovereign” God – that He has to cause us to repent and believe, that we don’t get a choice. But doing altar calls is asking people to make a choice about Jesus – something they vehemently deny we can do. My pastor’s not afraid people might wrongly trust in their “going forward” experience. He’s afraid they might actually think they have a choice about it.

    (Besides, isn’t it the pastor’s job to help those who came forward in altar calls to understand what they are doing, what faith is, what being a Christian means, what does and does not save you. However, I shudder to think of what a Calvinist would say about this. Maybe it’s best he doesn’t do altar calls after all.)

    Once again I am sorry about your experience. But be thankful that you got out of there. I am currently staying home from our church, watching good sermons online instead. And while it’s a little lonely and makes me sad, at least I feel like I can breathe. The regular Calvinist-beatings we got at my church for so long had begun to suffocate my soul. There was (and is) no talk on God’s love or Him caring about us or helping us through life. There was no encouragement for the hard times, no hope. It was all “God is God, He can do whatever He wants, He only cares about His glory, He causes all things – even child abuse – for His purposes and glory, and He can do that because He’s God, and if you don’t agree then you are unhumble and you are disagreeing with the Bible.” I’d rather be home alone watching sermons than listening to that garbage week after week. God bless you for the trials and heartache you went through.

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  159. TS00,

    In my view your explanation is an over simplification of the traditional view of Calvinism. I don’t think that the traditional view would be so bold as to state that they know for sure that “The chosen MUST choose yay, and the reprobate MUST choose nay, …” I don’t think scripture is this clear cut. What you describe is certainly not my view. Jesus states in John 6:37 “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” God is sovereign and anyone who will come will be accepted. I affirm both. How that works? I don’t know. But there it is in the teaching of Jesus. I accept it. Yes there are hyper-Calvinist that would perhaps state it as you are stating it. But I don’t think that is the traditional view. It is not my view or my understanding of the traditional Calvinist view.
    As to “free choice”. I would have to know what you mean. Humans are human and they are bound by there humanity. There is one being who is absolutely free in His choices. Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever please him.” To believe there is a God must limit in some sense the “free” choices of men and women. But yes, that is the issue. Can men and women choose what is against their nature? Are any of their choices not influenced by anything else?
    The historical orthodox view on both sides of the issue as I understand it is that God is sovereign absolutely over all of His creation and men and women must repent and believe the gospel to be saved. I don’t think this position is in dispute in the historical view on either side. You may have young Calvinist who do not understand the historical perspective that will say something else. But that is not the view of most of the Calvinist who hammered out the doctrines as I understand it. I am not a seminary professor or a scholar. Perhaps there are ways I have explained it here that are not accurate. I am willing to be taught if wrong. But this is my understanding. Blessing to you.

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  160. heather,
    “He wrote about his view of missions – and his whole goal in missions is to “make God famous among all people because that’s God’s goal.”

    One has to wonder then if the actions of the “church”, (whatever particular brand you want to subscribe to) have not reached the tipping point to where God cannot “be famous” but has now become “infamous” among the people of the world.

    IIRC, the Jews of Paul’s day were chastised that the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentile world because of them. I think the same could be said about many of the brands today. And whenever that happens the consequences are not good for the blasphemers.

    What an odd view of missions. As I remember it, Jesus gave his disciples instructions to make more disciples by baptizing and teaching. I don’t remember the “make me famous” verse at all.

    To a lot of indigenous people, our God is anything but famous.

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  161. Why is it whenever Calvinisms appear there is an argument? So much debate about technicalities and systems. So much turmoil and pain where it is introduced. So much deception. So much confusion. Meanwhile troubled consciences are trampled upon and innocent people are abused. Is this really what a loving God intended?

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  162. heather,

    So with you, Heather. My Calvinist experience was the same. And after over a decade of watching empathic people leave for want of any love or hopefulness, hurting people stumble ever deeper into trouble and finally realizing that my children had never even heard an appeal to become a child of God, I was through.

    A good friend, who once attended some of our services for the sake of friendship, later said that she sadly witnessed most people leaving that church in worse shape than they came in. That is a tragic, tragic thing. I don’t care what your doctrine is; if you are not helping people to find the love, grace, healing and hope of God, you are good for nothing.

    Like you, I am done with church, at least for now. But if I had to choose one, I would take a progressive church that is a little ‘loose’ on social issues over a legalistic, fundamental church that controls and manipulates people, and gives them no encouragement to make life in a sin-adulterated world a little more bearable.

    I have only read a little, but I like what I saw on your website.

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  163. TS00,

    On an added note. In my own experience I was suffering the consequences of my sin and that had a very strong influence on my being more receptive of the offer of Christ in salvation. Was that God’s sovereignty? I would say yes. Did I want to be free from having to live in the consequences of my bad choices? Yes I did. That is not all that happened, but it did influence me greatly. Who gets the glory for that. I would say God.

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  164. Noevangelical: To a lot of indigenous people, our God is anything but famous.

    When my high school youth group trained us to proselytize, I became perfectly obnoxious in the name of Jesus. Kindness, respect, manners, and common sense all went out the window: I had to keep people out of Hell!

    It is a mercy that I did not go to other countries and give indigenous people toxic ideas about Jesus. They would be better off showing up at the Pearly Gates and saying they never heard of him. That is not a rigorous scholarly opinion. However, we were supposed to be sure everyone heard the name of Jesus, so they could make a choice.

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  165. Noevangelical: IIRC, the Jews of Paul’s day were chastised that the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentile world because of them.

    Or take the teaching of the prophet Ezekiel, opposing those who were teaching proto-Calvinism.

    God was furious that his name was being blasphemed, and forbid the people to cite a faulty proverb that suggested he was partial, cruel and unjust.

    The very proverb God forbids in Ezekiel 18 is exactly the proverb of Total Depravity and Inability, all men declared sinners and judged guilty due to the sin of Adam.

    God states multiple times that no man is held guilty of the sin of his father, and, while many cling to it, there also seems to be a rejection of fire insurance. If a man turns from sin, he will be declared righteous. If a man turns from what is good and just, he will be declared unrighteous. We will be judged by the overall direction of life shown in our thoughts, speech and behavior, and the heart it reveals.

    No, I do not believe God’s standard for weak flesh is sinless perfection, nor do I think for a moment that we can ‘earn’ our salvation by good works. But God approves those who trust him, who have a desire to please him and become re-formed (little ‘r’) in the image of his Son. Only God can judge what is sin worthy of death, but he will do so justly.

    This does not, contrary to Determinists, deny the Sovereignty of God or that salvation is by faith. Faith in God’s goodness and forgiveness, most fully demonstrated through Jesus’ life and death, is what leads us to repentance and life. Yet, note this repentance was demanded by God even before the incarnation, pointing to the fact that the promise Jesus came to demonstrate is the same promise believed by Adam, Abraham, David, John the Baptist and other forerunners of Jesus. People could, and did, turn from sin and seek righteousness even before the once-for-all atonement was accomplished.

    I sincerely doubt that God is going to go over our doctrinal positions with a fine tooth comb to see if we were in possession of the full ‘truth’. No one is going to be tossed into eternal hellfire (if such a thing exists) because they did not understand all of the ramifications of the atonement. Instead, God judges as righteous those who believe in him and his good, faithful promises of forgiveness and life and so re-order their lives.

    I care not if men judge me a heretic for not buying their particular interpretations of scripture. God knows my heart, and he knows better than anyone how ignorant and wrong I am about many things. My assurance is in his goodness and grace, and I rejoice that I will stand before a perfect, good and just judge.

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  166. TS00: watching empathic people leave for want of any love or hopefulness

    People tend to (re)appear at church during crises or at milestones. My incredibly devout relatives called their mother’s church when she died, planning to schedule her funeral there. Not only had the church forgotten this 50-year member, who had been in skilled nursing care in her final years, but they were indifferent to the family. So this dear lady was buried out of the local funeral home, with pastoral support from folks she never knew.

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  167. Ken A: Who gets the glory for that. I would say God.

    I would say God gets the glory for all that is good, just, beautiful and righteous. When we are finally transformed into the image of Christ, made possible by our willingness and God’s power, he will receive all of the glory. What ‘glory’ do I deserve for admitting that I am nothing without God, cannot escape the weakness of my flesh and can never become what he made me to be without his grace, mercy, guidance and power totally transforming me into a new, glorified being?

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  168. Ken A,

    Ken.

    On Pelagius.
    1. There are no extensive records of what he said.
    2. I don’t know that Church Counsels, such as Carthage in 418, are binding on an American citizen in 2019.

    On Calvinism.
    My assertion again, is that Calvinism, as determined in 1619, is not binding in the United States. Any potential claim regarding the US ended in 1784, with the Treaty of Paris. The English Crown no longer has claim as Head of the Church in the United States.

    The Synod of Dort was a Dutch legal entity.

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  169. Friend,

    Oh my goodness, that breaks my heart. I am so sorry.

    I came to totally reject all that my Calvinist pastor stood for, but I will give him credit for ministering to my unchurched father in his final days, acknowledging that his heart was right, even if he had ‘issues’. He also performed his simple graveside funeral.

    It breaks my heart that any so-called pastor could be so callous.

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  170. Nathan Priddis: My assertion again, is that Calvinism, as determined in 1619, is not binding in the United States. Any potential claim regarding the US ended in 1784, with the Treaty of Paris. The English Crown no longer has claim as Head of the Church in the United States.

    I would go even further. No state, or institution, has legal authority to dictate what an individual believes about God. Ever. Period.

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  171. Does anyone know if all of today’s Calvinism still confesses the whole of all three documents – The Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort, and the Belgic Confession, as they called those three the interpretation of scripture? They still linked to them on my childhood church’s website last I looked. Back in my day growing up I don’t think you could get more Calvinist than the Christian Reformed Church, once part of the Dutch Reformed Church. The Presbyterian church was considered close enough in doctrine however that if there wasn’t a Christian Reformed Church around when out of town, we were “allowed” to attend one of those instead. But the parents that sent some of us to the non-Calvinist Baptist school were derided as sending us to a heathen school because we were given alter calls which meant letting us think we had a choice, thus a work. The public school was considered a safer alternative. Anyway, it was an oath we had to recite as a young girl in Calvinettes (alternative to Girl Scouts) that those three confessions were the true interpretation of scripture. But I learned to really dislike God during my 8th grade Heidelberg Catechism indoctrination, because I then understood where all the arrogance was coming from.

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  172. Nathan Priddis,

    I have never argued for church counsels to be binding. They are instructive however. Being an American I think that all should be able to worship and believe as they see fit. However to pretend that Christianity started at my birth or since my conversion and that I can not learn anything from the past church counsels and controversies seems to me to be very short sited. For instance, I think the church as a whole benefits greatly from the early counsels who debated and issued rulings on the Trinity and and deity of Christ. Perhaps you disagree?

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  173. heather: That’s when I realized that Calvinists do not care about “drawing us to Jesus,” as in drawing us into a relationship with Jesus. They don’t care about the relationship we have with God or that God has with us, which is why they don’t focus on His love or that He cares about us or that we matter to Him.

    I remember I was probably in Jr. High when my Christian Reformed Church first decided to reach out into the community. It nearly split the church because the hard core predestinationers thought that would contaminate the church if they community started coming. Even though the others also believed in predestination, most of them would say they only needed to reach out because that is what God commands to do, to preach to the whole world. And even today that is what I here Calvinists say, that preaching is simply the vehicle that God uses to gather his already elected. So really you are right, they don’t care. Why get to know people, just to have to grieve unimaginably over their eternal suffering?

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  174. Nathan Priddis,

    “My assertion again, is that Calvinism, as determined in 1619, is not binding in the United States. Any potential claim regarding the US ended in 1784, with the Treaty of Paris. The English Crown no longer has claim as Head of the Church in the United States. The Synod of Dort was a Dutch legal entity.”

    No offense, but that doesn’t seem to stop the “Calvinistas” from binding the unsuspecting church goer when they take over a church here in the USA.

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  175. Ken A:
    Nathan Priddis,

    I have never argued for church counsels to be binding. They are instructive however. Being an American I think that all should be able to worship and believe as they see fit. However to pretend that Christianity started at my birth or since my conversion and that I can not learn anything from the past church counsels and controversies seems to me to be very short sited. For instance, I think the church as a whole benefits greatly from the early counsels who debated and issued rulings on the Trinity and and deity of Christ. Perhaps you disagree?

    Did I miss something? Did someone say here that we should disregard the counsels as a whole? I for one think the problem is not so much that a bunch of Christian men got around and decided what they think is the best interpretation of the Bible. The problem is when they lord over other people’s lives by their interpretations. Another problem is when people trust the counsels just because they are historical, in spite of a different yet equally valid argument that the Holy Spirit has shown them. They ignore the checks and balances, lazily throwing up their hands with the excuse that they cannot understand God. And why are we supposed to think that the historical writers of the confessions understood God any more perfectly than we can today? So perfectly that a whole denomination would so arrogantly claim that they are the only true interpretation, therefore we need no better understanding than what they already wrote.

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  176. There seems to confusion in the Church on many subjects. I don’t know that I really need to back up my statement with more then cursory references to history.
    For instance, we have more then one Cannon of Scripture.

    I think a reasonable position is some will place more importance on Counsels and Creeds then others. Precedent appears to have been set…..”..Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind..”.

    This position would imply every servant will answer to his Lord.

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  177. heather,

    “They don’t see Him as a Relational being but only as Supreme Ruler.”

    Gosh, that sounds a lot like the Muslim concept of God. On one occasion, Catholic theology Prof Scott Hahn (a convert from Calvinism) was chatting with a Muslim scholar. When Hahn mentioned that all Abrahamic religions agree that God is Father, the Muslim scholar pounded the table angrily and said, “God is not Father! He is Master!”

    Yikes!!

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  178. t500–Calvinists are emphatically not the only ones who believe man cannot accept God on their own, but have to be given that grace or ability by God. Wesleyans refer to that as prevenient grace, which they hold is given to every.single.person.

    But they do not believe the human being has the ability, without God’s aid or grace, to repent and turn to God.

    Yesterday at church here it was Good Shepherd Sunday. Oh, the peace and joy the message brought, giving us such a picture of our loving Savior. Such caring and empathy for humans with all our foibles, pains, and sufferings. Thanks be to God!

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  179. TS00:
    TS00,

    One of the most glorious and freeing things about departing Calvinism was a restoration of the bible to what it once was to me. I could once again just read the thing, without having to constantly make mental adjustments to conform with some man-made system.

    It was actually so much more. You would not believe me, (I can hardly believe it myself, because I am fairly reserved) but I found myself weeping and laughing and, for the first time in my life, uninhibitedly praising God out loud that first morning I opened my bible as an ex-Calvinist.

    What joy to find once again a gracious God who loved all men! What wonder to know that I could look upon all those evil feminists and homosexuals and I don’t know what all as people God loves and desires to redeem to himself, just like ol’ sinner numero uno (me). I felt like a child in a candy store, as I raced to my former favorite verses; sure enough, there they were, once again revealing the loving, merciful, good God of my youth. I cannot overstate my joy, and it only continues to increase as I toss off the shackles of former misconceptions and let God once again reveal himself to me.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all who bear the title, and have born the great privilege of raising and nurturing the future!

    What a beautiful testimony!!

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  180. Ken A: I think this is a misrepresentation of what most Calvinist would actually believe and teach.

    I am beginning to think there is no such thing as Calvinism because Calvinists uniformly reject any argument against Calvinism as a “misrepresentation of Calvinism.” It appears that there is no true representation of Calvinism, just one misinterpretation after another. And not even people who call themselves Calvinists agree on how to correctly represent it.

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  181. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    I hope I don’t offend you. But it strikes me as somewhat funny that you are looking for uniformity among all Calvinist. John Calvin along with all the reformers and their followers established a movement of churches because there was a religious institution that demanded conformity from all exclusively. These people were rebelling against this church and mostly argued for the freedom of the conscience of each believer. Yes there are exception and men and church movements that went to far to make their followers and others outside of their church conform. But in the far extent the movement argued for the conscience of the individual believer.
    We in America have taken this liberty to probably a fault. However I would not have it any other way. Each should decide for themselves.

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  182. I would like to point out what should be obvious, but maybe isn’t as obvious as I thought: What you have written in this paragraph is … doctrine; it might even be called a system of doctrine. I am not arguing for Calvinism or against Arminianism, I’m merely saying that every Christian church, be in Roman Catholic, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, Reformed, or Lutheran, has a system of doctrine–often put down on paper and binding on at least the church officers. The many critics of Calvinism in this comment section often refer to man made systems imposed on the text, as if the non-Calvinists just read and absorb the Bible as if God were speaking to them personally, and they hear him purely, without any bias. This simply isn’t true. The reason that Dee can say that Lutherans don’t believe this or that is because Lutherans believe this or that–and they wrote it down (try, as a non-Missouri Synod Lutheran, to take communion in a Missouri Synod church). That’s how it should be. The decision at Dort was a response to another, rival doctrinal system as proposed by Arminius’s followers. To be sure, the Reformed churches tend to go into much more detail in their stated beliefs than their Protestant brethren, but it is a matter of degree, not system of doctrine versus no system of doctrine. And for the record, I tend to oppose what I find in the so-called neo-Calvinist movement, so I’m not writing in defense of it.

    TS00: Geoff

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  183. heather:
    cynthia,

    He wrote about his view of missions – and his whole goal in missions is to “make God famous among all people because that’s God’s goal.”There was no talk about sharing the love of God with the people, or drawing them to God and to Jesus, or helping the hurting people or helping them find forgiveness and healing and eternal life.It was all “making God famous,” as if being famous is God’s only goal.

    That’s just the latest catchphrase. “Making God (or Jesus) famous.” It’s an annoying, stupid catchphrase, like “winsome” or the overuse of the word “season”. Just a matter of insecure people in a groupthink, cult-like mindset looking to others for their cues as to what to think and say.

    heather:
    cynthia, I am currently staying home from our church, watching good sermons online instead.And while it’s a little lonely and makes me sad, at least I feel like I can breathe.The regular Calvinist-beatings we got at my church for so long had begun to suffocate my soul. There was (and is) no talk on God’s love or Him caring about us or helping us through life.

    I genuinely think the reason for this is because many in that camp do not know anything of God’s love. God is love, that’s in the Bible, and if you don’t have it, you don’t have God. There’s the dividing line. Has little to do with memorizing doctrines and quotes from church fathers and celebs and even scriptures (though there’s certainly something good in that last one). It’s about love. One can’t well speak of what they do not know. And many in neocalvinism, when they hear people speak of it, and they see people exhibit it, they either try to redefine it in their own terms, or, if that fails, they attempt to destroy the one speaking of Christ’s love.

    By the way, the suffocation is a good way of putting it. That’s what it felt like at our church where I was an elder before I fully understood what was going on with these young men and their neocalvinism. We felt very much like a set of strong hands were around our throats and we were slowly being suffocated.

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  184. Ken F (aka Tweed): I am beginning to think there is no such thing as Calvinism because Calvinists uniformly reject any argument against Calvinism as a “misrepresentation of Calvinism.”

    This is where Nickism comes in. Nickism is perfect, but at the same time, demands too much humility to claim infallibility. (To claim that saying “Nickism is perfect” is the same thing as claiming it is infallible is a misrepresentation of Nickism.)

    Not only that, but all Nickists are indeed in unity. Any apparent differences between us are in fact not real differences at all; rather, the appearance of disunity stems from a basic misunderstanding of Nickism.

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  185. Geoffrey Smith: The reason that Dee can say that Lutherans don’t believe this or that is because Lutherans believe this or that–and they wrote it down (try, as a non-Missouri Synod Lutheran, to take communion in a Missouri Synod church). That’s how it should be.

    I suggest that you look a bit more carefully as to how churches in the Missouri Synod look at communion. It is not as monolithic as you might think. Certain churches post in the bulletins their beliefs at what communion represents to a Lutheran and ask those present to respect and understand that view when presented with communion. There is no one standing by the communion table with a shotgun. Not all such churches require one to meet with the pastors prior to communion.

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  186. John Calvin along with all the reformers and their followers established a movement of churches because there was a religious institution that demanded conformity from all exclusively.

    Yes, the Late Medieval/Renaissance Church was so monolithic and conformist. That’s why you had Franciscans sparring with Dominicans, Augustinians bickering with Thomists, university theology faculties constantly wrangling with each other, Christian Humanists like John Colet and Erasmus vilifying the late-medieval scholastics (and vice versa)…so much conformism, LOL! Oy, I don’t mean to sound snooty about this, but, if you’re really interested in this stuff, *please* take a free MOOC online course on late medieval / Renaissance intellectual history via a reputable secular institution. The late Middle Ages and early Renaissance were periods of immense intellectual diversity and creative fertility, both in the Church and in society.

    These people were rebelling against this church and mostly argued for the freedom of the conscience of each believer.

    Yep, if there’s anything I associate with “the freedom of the conscience of each believer,” it’s Calvin’s Geneva. 😉 Seriously…please see what Dr. David Anders wrote about Calvin vs. Bolsec in the article I linked to above. Very illuminating.

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  187. dee,

    You may be exactly right. We attended a MS church for quite some time. We went through their membership class, but I didn’t want to be an actual member because I was ordained in another denomination. No communion! I’ve spoken with many people who have had similar experiences. I’m a Lutheran fan–but for a few points of difference, I could easily be a Lutheran minister instead of a Presbyterian one.

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  188. Catholic Gate-Crasher: heather,
    “They don’t see Him as a Relational being but only as Supreme Ruler.”
    Gosh, that sounds a lot like the Muslim concept of God.

    I’ve heard it said that “Calvin Islamized the Reformation”.

    My own take on it is that both Calvinism and Islam (especially the X-Treme versions we have today) show the logical consequence of Extreme Predestination. And all this is largely fallout from that doctrine.

    Chesterton once wrote that Christianity is a dynamic balance of opposing doctrines, “any one of which in isolation could lay waste to the world”. And both Calvinism and Islam went out-of-balance in favor of God’s Omnipotence, God’s Will, and Predestination. (Islam more so, but today’s Calvinists are catching up fast.)

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  189. heather,

    Heather…I’m not going to church anywhere either, because my relative has chosen to stay in this church (she had far stronger ties to it) and I don’t have a car to get anywhere else. This will probably be a forever situation for me since i’m older and there isn’t any real hope of my ever having a car again. This was the end of a LONG series of mess in the church for me (and for my family…parents, child, me etc.) They continue to do “invitations” at this church, while saying over and over again that the invitations offered by the other pastors in this church may not have resulted in “real” salvation. There are CLEARLY caveats to salvation at this time…and a pretty constant talk of things that must take place to “prove” your “real” salvation. It’s concerning to me that JESUS has taken some form of a second place now in all the talk of salvation, including in the passion play. You are completely right about them acting as if the terrible things that happen to us are somehow “caused”by a sovereign God. That leads to such a strange thinking. I found that out in the ACBC counseling. I can’t accept that form of God that they are trying to put across as I don’t believe it’s the God of the Bible. I grew up in church, I’ve been saved and then “reprayed” after a terrible incident I had in 1991. I can’t say i’ve ever in my whole life heard this version of salvation…I guess I didn’t stay informed. I do not believe in calvinism. So there is literally no place for me at FBC Jax anymore…there I named the church. And that ends that. I’m so sorry for your situation as well…it’s splitting the southern baptist convention in two now, no doubt. And other denominations as well. It’s just too basic of a belief for me to sit under that kind of preaching. And then I know how they did what they did to take that church over, and I personally can’t deal with it cause it’s too close to what happened with my own parents at one time. I don’t know why the current pastor was ever brought here to take this church over in the first place. This is the church with the “lighthouse”…i’m heartbroken for this place. THere is no point in going to a place with a basic fundamental disagreement having to do with the way you actually become a Christian….

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  190. Geoff Smith,

    The Internet Monk, long a favorite of mine, has written quite a bit on Lutherans since he became ECLA pastor. He has mentioned that the LCMS has made some strides in their viewpoints on certain issues and he wasn’t talking about the obvious dividing issues.

    It was the LCM S hierarchy which defended me when that awful letter was sent, telling them (as well as Duk-(curiously enough), that I should be excommunicated for my posts on Tom Chantry and Iain Campbell. I am convinced that had I stayed in my Calvinista church-Chapel Hill Bible Church, I would have been put under *discipline.*

    They got it while many of the Calvinista brigade on Twitter went after my jugular. Thankfully, I was proven 100% correct in my analysis of both men. Those Reformed dudebros attacked me, quite viciously on twitter and other places on social media. I asked them what they would do if I was proven correct. They were silent and have been silent in the face of Chantry’s felony molestation and abuse convictions and Campbell’s presbytery convictions (post mortem) of profound sexual deviant behavior.

    My pastors are not my boss and instead pray for me, allowing me the freedom of my conscience. I am blessed to have found this in a denomination that everyone had told me was super strict with lots of rules. God has given me an unexpected gift which has brought me incredible peace.

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  191. Patti: I remember I was probably in Jr. High when my Christian Reformed Church first decided to reach out into the community. It nearly split the church because the hard core predestinationers thought that would contaminate the church if they community started coming. Even though the others also believed in predestination, most of them would say they only needed to reach out because that is what God commands to do, to preach to the whole world. And even today that is what I here Calvinists say, that preaching is simply the vehicle that God uses to gather his already elected. So really you are right, they don’t care. Why get to know people, just to have to grieve unimaginably over their eternal suffering?

    that’s the feeling I get as well

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  192. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    Gee all this freedom of conscience that was advocated in the Roman Catholic Church before Luther. I wonder why they went after Luther? They did excommunicate him didn’t they? Probably would have killed him, you know, burn him at the stake like they did John Huss. I have no doubt there was some selectivity in who and when the punishment was meted out. After all they were humans and it is almost impossible for humans not to devolve in to crony-ism.

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  193. Ken F (aka Tweed): I am beginning to think there is no such thing as Calvinism because Calvinists uniformly reject any argument against Calvinism as a “misrepresentation of Calvinism.” It appears that there is no true representation of Calvinism, just one misinterpretation after another. And not even people who call themselves Calvinists agree on how to correctly represent it.

    You are so right. But I suspect that it is simply a tool of deflection when they get backed into a corner. ‘That’s not what Calvinism teaches!’ they all insist, then go back to teaching it when the crisis is past. Perhaps with a new euphemism or two.

    ‘God doesn’t author evil, he simply brings it to pass’ as if there is one whit of difference in the two statements. Or ‘God doesn’t damn helpless sinners who he could save, he merely chooses some and passes over others.’ Same thing folks, and as more folks catch on, it gets harder for them to get away with their semantic games.

    My apologies to the many who call themselves Calvinist, but are not in on the way it works, which I happen to believe is the great majority. It is the teachers I hold responsible, as they know, or should know, what their theology actually stands for.

    It is difficult to not feel deeply betrayed once one realizes all the word games and redefinition employed to keep one befuddled. Sure, there were plenty of red flags, but I always assumed it was ‘just me’, or that I didn’t understand what was said. Usually one has to dig in and study it on their own to really get the truth. Or go to those nasty anti-Calvinist blogs for a second opinion.

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  194. Ken A,

    Ken A, instead of lobbing snark spitballs, why don’t you actually read some recent scholarship on the period in question? I have a freelance deadline right now, but I will be happy to get back to you later with book recommendations. 😀

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  195. Ken F (aka Tweed): The only way God’s glory could be diminished is if his attributes are limited, because something that is infinite/unlimited cannot be diminished. By definition, something that is infinite/unlimited can never be made less (or more) by any finite subtraction (or addition).

    In mathematics when you start talking about infinite values you get some interesting and non-intuitive results. For example, which set is greater, the set of integers, or the set of even integers? Since the set of integers contains all of the even integers plus all the odd integers, you’d think it is larger. In truth, they are the same size, because you can always match up an element from the first set with an element from the second set, and vice versa.

    In theology, I would think contemplating the infinite God should inspire us to be more humble, rather than thinking we can use that to solve for man’s free will or depravity, as if we know anything at all about it.

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  196. Catholic Gate-Crasher: Yep, if there’s anything I associate with “the freedom of the conscience of each believer,” it’s Calvin’s Geneva.

    I’m glad someone else said it first. Anyone who can equate Calvin with freedom of conscience has been too long under the influence of historical revisionism and needs to do a little serious research.

    It is true that the people have always longed, and given their lives for, the right to freedom of conscience. But despite early declarations, the Magisterial Reformers quickly demonstrated that they were no more interested in allowing freedom of conscience than the church they left, supposedly to seek it. They were just as quick to squelch dissent by the most unthinkable methods. But one finds more honesty in addressing such crimes of the past within the Catholic Church than within Calvinism, who still push very whitewashed pictures of John Calvin and the gang.

    It is the desire for religious freedom that has led group after group to splinter off, in attempts to create a place in which they could worship as conscience/Holy Spirit dictates. It is still not fully allowed in most institutional religious settings, where, as Geoffrey pointed out, nearly all dictate and defend their particular set of doctrines.

    I guess I’m just a heretic, but the first thing I insist upon is the right to believe or disbelieve in the orthodox view of the trinity. There are, and always have been various opinions, and I am astounded that one can almost not find a church that does not declare one viewpoint as the only correct one. Whether or not I adopt the orthodox viewpoint, I demand the right to follow my own conscience on things not clearly spelled out in scripture. (I continue to question, not reject the orthodox view. It is too loaded of an issue, with centuries of baggage, to believe I can consider it with an open mind. But I like to study various opinions.)

    That’s why I will probably never be a part of an organized church again. The Universalists are pretty much the only ones who genuinely respect the freedom of conscience, which does indeed make for a pretty broad spectrum of views.

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  197. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    It is way too late for me. I believe in salvation by Faith alone. By doing so I have been condemned by the Counsel of Trent. They have declared me to be anathema. Along with many other things I believe that they declared anathema. I am not worried however none the less, this is the decree.

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  198. Poor Catholic Gate-Crasher. You know I am equal opportunity anti-Institutionalism. I have inadvertently offended you too often, which you are gracious enough to overlook. I truly demand the freedom of conscience God created us with, and I don’t see where the Protestants have any more leg to stand on than the Catholics.

    Should the burnings be restored, I’m toast. ‘Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise’, if Luther will allow me to quote his most glorious statement.

    But Calvinists do love to hold up the Roman Church as a bogey man to deflect from their own crimes of heretic hunting.

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  199. TS00: I am astounded that one can almost not find a church that does not declare one viewpoint as the only correct one. Whether or not I adopt the orthodox viewpoint, I demand the right to follow my own conscience on things not clearly spelled out in scripture. (I continue to question, not reject the orthodox view. It is too loaded of an issue, with centuries of baggage, to believe I can consider it with an open mind. But I like to study various opinions.)

    That’s why I will probably never be a part of an organized church again. The Universalists are pretty much the only ones who genuinely respect the freedom of conscience, which does indeed make for a pretty broad spectrum of views.

    Absolutely. And without full freedom to believe according to ones’ own conscience, belief itself is meaningless.

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  200. TS00: I guess I’m just a heretic, but the first thing I insist upon is the right to believe or disbelieve in the orthodox view of the trinity.

    Well, I’m definitely a heretic. The first thing I insist on is the right to declare that if indeed Jesus of Nazareth is God, then he is my God. Come to think of it… that’s probably the only thing I insist on. Told you I’m a heretic.

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  201. Bridget: Make that ? a !

    I think you have just put your finger on the difference between the only two types of Christians: the ones who see a Bible full of questions, and the ones who see a Bible full of commands.

    You win the internet today! 😉

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  202. Ken A: I hope I don’t offend you. But it strikes me as somewhat funny that you are looking for uniformity among all Calvinist.

    I am not at all offended. I don’t expect to find uniformity among Calvinists. But I do think it’s reasonable to expect them to be able to somewhat consistently defend the few keys points. The only thing about Calvinists I have found uniform is them resorting to a phrase along the lines of “that is a misrepresentation of Calvinism” or “you don’t understand Calvinism” when they get pushed on the logical implications of their system. If that is the best answer they have, it means Calvinism cannot be properly understood by anyone, nor is anyone able to properly represent it. That’s why I am now starting to think there is no such thing as Calvinism.

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  203. SiteSeer:
    Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    The pot calls the kettle black.

    6 of one, half a dozen of the other.

    Who is calling anyone anything?

    Is snark the substitute for thought now?

    I was serious. History is messy. But ignorance of history is just…ignorance.

    The early 16th century was a brutal period. On all sides. In every country. And among members of all confessions.

    But all too often we are treated to the utterly a-historical myth of Oppressive Monolithic Rome versus those Freedom-Loving Reformers. This is utter tosh.

    During the early Reformation period, there was brutality on *all* sides. But Protestant mythology denies this. It assigns all the brutality to *one* side. Which is historically, demonstrably, false.

    That’s my point. And it’s also the point of recent scholarship seeking to set the record straight.

    The actual historical record is far messier and more complex than Protestant mythologists have claimed. And the Reformers (including both Luther and Calvin) were far from being the proto-Enlightenment liberators they are portrayed as being in Protestant hagiography.

    For the record, you may want to Google some of the lovely tortures imposed on “Recusant” Catholics by “Good” Queen Bess and Lord Cecil. Bloody Mary was an amateur compared with Elizabeth. And Foxe’s Booke of Martyres couldn’t compare.

    But that doesn’t fit the dominant narrative or feed “No Popery” bigotry, so few people hear of it.

    All I am saying is… examine the historical record. Not necessarily via Catholic sources. I am recommending *secular* scholarly sources.

    How can you possibly object to that? Why would you be afraid of learning the facts — from secular scholars, no less?

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  204. TS00:
    Poor Catholic Gate-Crasher. You know I am equal opportunity anti-Institutionalism. I have inadvertently offended you too often, which you are gracious enough to overlook. I truly demand the freedom of conscience God created us with, and I don’t see where the Protestants have any more leg to stand on than the Catholics.

    Should the burnings be restored, I’m toast. ‘Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise’, if Luther will allow me to quote his most glorious statement.

    But Calvinists do love to hold up the Roman Church as a bogey man to deflect from their own crimes of heretic hunting.

    Lol!! Love you, man.

    “He who is not against us is for us.”

    I am always willing and eager to extend the right hand of fellowship to anyone who doesn’t write me off as a hellbound statue-worshiping heathen.

    Speaking of which…I was once in a Catholic ladies’ Bible study, 20-some years ago. We were chatting about all the misconceptions about us Papists down here in the Bible Belt. The conversation turned to the common anti-Catholic charge of statue-worshiping. One of the ladies was the mom of a rambunctious toddler. She said, “If I could keep a statue in my house without it getting knocked over and broken into a thousand pieces, I probably *would* worship it.”

    LOL! And there you have it.

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  205. As a child, I was raised in the Arminian faith – Quaker/Friends denomination. As a teen, my family moved to the Calvinist faith – Independent Baptist denomination. It was quite the mind warp as you can imagine.
    As an adult, I attended a Lutheran Missouri Synod church for several years – yet another large doctrinal leap for me.
    I have also explored Seventh Day Adventist, Messianic Jews, and Christian Missionary Alliance. Lately I have been studying Torah deeply.
    I don’t consider myself to follow any particular doctrine/theology. What I have noticed is that there can be wide differences that vary from church to church in how they choose to live out or put into practice their doctrine.
    For example, at the LCMS church I was a part of, they practiced open communion, believe babies go to hell if not baptized prior to death, no longer wear robes during service, do not believe in free will at salvation and openly praise the works of Pastors Perry Noble and John Piper from the pulpit (among others). I no longer attend that church although I in no way believe it to be reflective of the denomination at large. Rather, it is a reflection of either the pastor or the congregation. I have chosen to move on.
    Similarly, the Baptist church my parents are part of are less “calvinist” and more “independent” than perhaps others I have attended. It, too, is not without its flaws; however, as someone else mentioned (perhaps in another post) church should be more about community and those we come together to live life with rather and less about the weekly authoritative message.
    Just my 2 cents.

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  206. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    Many years ago I was engaged to a Catholic, much to the shock of my evangelical family. The almost mother-in-law was as sweet, compassionate and sincere in her love for God as any woman I knew. I also have a formerly Catholic sister-in-law, and the love and generosity of her family would put most to shame. I simply never bought into the ‘all Catholics are . . .’ or ‘all Protestants are . . .’ line.

    I happen to think that, like the churches of Revelation, no church or individual has a corner on the truth. I do not draw the divide between Catholic and Protestant, anymore than I embrace the supposed divide between Democrat and Republican. There are sincere and insincere people on every bandwagon, and no perfect ones anywhere; God will judge our hearts and our lives, not our name tags.

    I cringe to think of people writing off whole groups based on national, cultural and/or historical differences. Protestants and Catholics alike have some ugly skeletons in our religious closets, but they are not of our choosing. I am glad you are here, CGC.

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  207. ___

    “Give up hope all ye who enters this profound Calvinistic religious nightmare, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Calvinism is an 4th century Augustinian Gnostic misrepresentation of the New Testament Scriptures. Calvinism stealthy changes its language, it’s meaning of words, the context of things, damages the holiness of God, deranged His justice, and desecrates His mercy. The Bible is used to justify and prooftext a sadistic insanity-bound manmade faux theological system (a lie), Calvinism. When you see, hear or experience it’s change agents ciphering it’s contents, RUN!

    Q. Abandon the diligent watchman on the wall?

    “…Consider also that our Lord’s patience brings salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom God gave him. He writes this way in all his letters, speaking in them about such matters. Some parts of his letters are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, beloved, since you already know these things, be on your ‘guard’ so that you will not be ‘carried away’ by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure standing… “ -Apostle Peter

    You have been mercifully warned,

    Religious discretion is advantageously expeditiously advised…

    HO!

    “From the beginning of my Reformation I have asked God to send me neither dreams, nor visions, nor angels, but to give me the right understanding of His Word, the Holy Scriptures; for as long as I have God’s Word, I know that I am walking in His way and that I shall not fall into any error or delusion.” -Martin Luther

    ATB

    IHS

    Sòpy

    Intermission:
    Maywood – “Mighty Fortress” (cover)
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EXp5HdY7U7w

    ;~)§

    – –

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  208. Patti -you can get waaay more calvinistic than the Christian reformed Church. They are MILD compared to the Netherlands Reformed Church and the Protestant Reformed Church. Both of them are Calvin on steroids. I know of people in both.

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  209. TS00: I would say God gets the glory for all that is good, just, beautiful and righteous.

    I respectfully doubt that God demands that he be credited with all the glory when his humans do glorious things.

    As a father and a grandfather, I have no desire to bask in the goodness and the hard won accolades of my kids and grand kids, they are their own glories and rightly so.

    And if I, a mere human has no desire to claim credit for the successes of my kids and grand kids, how much less than for the Almighty, when he did after all, crown his humans with glory and honor?

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  210. Whoever recommended Soteriology 101: Thank you! Was it you, TS00? I can’t remember. It’s very good.

    I just read an article there critiquing a TGC post — by a Calvinist mom — which had apparently tried to ‘splain how Calvinist moms can pray (Calvinistically), knowing that some or all of their children may have been arbitrarily chosen for retrobation by the Sovereign Calvinist God (all for his own glory, of course).

    (OK, sorry for tortured syntax: The Soteriology 101 article was highly *critical* of the TCG Mom Post. I agreed totally with this critique. But the critique quoted extensively from the TGC Mom Post…and that’s mostly what I’m reacting to. The quotes. The Calvie Mom Argument. Bleccccggh.)

    Having clarified that (I hope), I gotta say….

    My stomach is churning. I’m sorry, but this is simply a dreadful religion.

    I have Calvinist mom friends who are dear, delightful people. Yet they believe this stuff. How? How can any mom believe this stuff without going crazy? How can anyone worship such a dreadful god?

    I don’t get it. I have to admit I’m with Sopwith here. Double predestination really does turn God into a sadistic monster. It’s no good saying, “Well, His ways are not our ways, so we can’t understand.” Yes, He is way above us, but He gave us reason for a reason! We are created in His image, which means we must have *some* way to relate to His ways, no matter how imperfectly. His idea of “Good” must not be so utterly foreign, so absolutely unlike ours, that his sadistically sovereign “goodness” would be considered a capital crime if it were put into practice by men!

    If the Calvinist god’s ways are so much more cruel than ours that we recoil in horror, then he (the Calvinist God) is no God but a devil. I know this has been said many times. I am completely unoriginal here. I know that.

    But those quotes from the Calvinist Mom Post have shaken me. I don’t think I could even be a Christian if I had to settle for such a horrible “god.”

    Thankfully I do not!

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  211. Muff Potter: I respectfully doubt that God demands that he be credited with all the glory when his humans do glorious things.

    As a father and a grandfather, I have no desire to bask in the goodness and the hard won accolades of my kids and grand kids, they are their own glories and rightly so.

    And if I, a mere human has no desire to claim credit for the successes of my kids and grand kids, how much less than for the Almighty, when he did after all, crown his humans with glory and honor?

    This.

    Think of any movie with a hero and a villain- who is concerned getting glory? Hero or viilain? We know what is right instinctively.

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  212. Nathan Priddis:
    Ken A,

    On Pelagius.
    1. There are no extensive records of what he said.

    So somehow I should believe that we really can’t know what Pelagius’ position was? Why do theologians on both sides of the debate do everything to run from his position and make sure that it is known that they condemn his teaching on the free will of man? It sounds like the above is in fact that “straw man” argument.

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  213. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    I thought the issue was that I stated that the Protestant Reformation was in large part a reaction to the Roman Catholic Church demanding conformity. Then you tried to tell me how tolerant it actually was with the freedom of debate going on. That did not conform to the facts. I pointed out some facts that argued against it. I will not defend the bloodshed on either side. Yes it was brutal.

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  214. Ken A:
    Ken F (aka Tweed),

    I will defend my beliefs. I will not defend your misunderstanding of my beliefs. Why should I defend anyone’s mistatement of my beliefs? That would be silly, wouldn’t it?

    If unconditional election is true, then the only thing that really matters is whether or not we made it onto the list of the saved in eternity past. What we believe or don’t believe is completely irrelevent. For if our beliefs are ultimately decisive, the divine decree would be irrelevent. One could argue that God will give the saved the required beliefs, but that means there is nothing we can do to acquire the right beliefs on our own, which means it does not matter what any of us choose to believe because our choices dont ultimately matter. It all boils down to who is on the list.

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  215. Catholic Gate-Crasher:
    Ken A,

    Ken A, instead of lobbing snark spitballs, why don’t you actually read some recent scholarship on the period in question? I have a freelance deadline right now, but I will be happy to get back to you later with book recommendations.

    This is very real to me. I was raised Roman Catholic. Through a series of events the Lord saved me. I read my Bible and found some very wonderful truths there that blessed me as I learned about what salvation meant. Who God was and what He did for me. This caused a lot of disagreement with my Catholic family and friends. I ended up in front of the local Parish priest. I saw the hatred in his eyes. I saw the anger and vitriol that he spewed at me. I was and am very thankful that I live in a land where I could go to a local Protestant church in my town without fear of him and some magisterium coming after me and meting out some punishment for me disagreeing with them. I thank God that men over the last 500 years paid the price that I could live in a land that has religious freedom. Bless the men and women who stood up for what they believe and would not conform. I have benefited greatly from their sacrifice. They are none of them perfect and have done some despicable things that I denounce. But I am grateful that they stood up and wouldn’t give up.
    Blessing to you!

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  216. Geoff Smith,

    I think we always ought keep in mind that Luther, like CS Lewis, underwent a theological paradigm shift in his lifetime and was likely in the course of evolving when he died. This starkly contrasts with the entrenched beliefs of Calvinists, who rigidly double-down on some of the most ungodly doctrines ever created.

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  217. Ken F (aka Tweed): I will defend my beliefs. I will not defend your misunderstanding of my beliefs. Why should I defend anyone’s mistatement of my beliefs? That would be silly, wouldn’t it?

    Now I get why they always say ‘That is a misrepresentation of Calvinism’. They think that gives them a valid excuse for not engaging in logical defense of their theology. Because there is no logical defense, one must constantly engage in positing logical fallacies in hopes that they pass for genuine logic. Sot101 just posted an article on this very topic, https://soteriology101.com/2019/05/13/kevin-deyoung-the-reformed-church-is-the-one-true-church/

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  218. Ken F (aka Tweed): I will defend my beliefs. I will not defend your misunderstanding of my beliefs. Why should I defend anyone’s mistatement of my beliefs? That would be silly, wouldn’t it?

    It is not required to defend someone’s misunderstanding of your beliefs. The task is to explain why their characterization is a misunderstanding, and present your true beliefs so that they are better understood. This is how clear, logical discussion takes place.

    Simply chanting, ‘That’s not what Calvinism teaches’ or ‘That’s not what I believe’ does not accomplish this, but is the most common Calvinist response.

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  219. TS00,

    Next comes the ‘God is not limited to human logic’ claim. Because they simply cannot escape the logical conclusions of their theology, and no one in their right mind would embrace them, if fully understood. Thus the deflection, the doublespeak, the straw men and the many logical fallacies employed to dodge the important issues.

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  220. Janet:
    Geoff Smith,

    I think we always ought keep in mind that Luther, like CS Lewis, underwent a theological paradigm shift in his lifetime and was likely in the course of evolving when he died. This starkly contrasts with the entrenched beliefs of Calvinists, who rigidly double-down on some of the most ungodly doctrines ever created.

    Sorry, but his theological paradigm shift occurred in his early work–the work that brought about the Reformation. At the end of his life, Luther said, “You can burn all of my books except for two, The Bondage of the Will and the Small Catechism” (I took this sentence from a web site so that I didn’t have to search my notes). Luther’s most notable paradigm shift came about when he went from being friendly to the Jewish communities around him to a virulent anti-Semite, whose book *On The Jews and Their Lies* wound up sounding like Nazi propaganda.

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  221. I wonder if what the defensive Calvinists are now facing is the blowback from the increasing number of former Calvinists. It is much easier, as Shrock reveals, to push Calvinism on the naive and unwary. It is much more difficult to deceive those who have been through the machine, have explored the issues and are conversant in both the doctrine and its dissent.

    That does not bode well for Calvinists, as the hopelessness of the logical conclusions of Calvinism leads most thinking people eventually to anti-Calvinism. Logical fallacies only work on those who are mind controlled or not proficient in logical thinking. I do not say this to be unkind; I experienced personally how clever manipulation can deceive a fairly logical, thoughful person, at least for a time. As have many others.

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  222. On a slight tangent, I was thinking of a Kirsty MacColl song while I was out running at lunchtime.

    Thank you for the daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaays, those endless days, those sacred days you gave me.

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  223. TS00,

    This is a blog for heaven sake. I think you take yourself way to seriously. You are free to say what you want. I am free to say what I want. I don’t have to take you seriously or you me.
    I have no idea what the real beliefs are of people who challenge me here. For all I know it may be a big joke from most of the people who put comments up here. There is quite a bit of misrepresentation from many sides. I take this for what it is in most cases. A free for all in these comments. The blog is very helpful.

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  224. Charis: For example, at the LCMS church I was a part of, they practiced open communion, believe babies go to hell if not baptized prior to death

    Even amongst the heathen, they recoil at the thought of babies cast into hell for not being baptized.

    How much more horrific is it to learn that there are good Lutheran folk who believe such a monstrous thing?

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  225. Muff Potter,

    We can learn a lot from the heathen. If it can’t pass the smell test with them, how dare we claim it is ok with God? Ah, let me guess, because his ways are higher than our ways, we cannot expect to understand the goodness, the beauty, the justice of God casting innocent beings who have never done anything worse than fill their diapers into eternal punishment? Spare me such high ways.

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  226. Ken A: So somehow I should believe that we really can’t know what Pelagius’ position was? Why do theologians on both sides of the debate do everything to run from his position and make sure that it is known that they condemn his teaching on the free will of man? It sounds like the above is in fact that “straw man” argument.

    I looked up Pelagianism on Wikipedia, and what I saw did not resemble anything spoken of in this thread. Nobody here has suggested that man is capable of earning righteousness with God through their own efforts. So why even bring him up?

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  227. TS00: I wonder if what the defensive Calvinists are now facing is the blowback from the increasing number of former Calvinists.

    This could be true. One of the best descriptions of this that I have found is here: https://www.perichoresis.org/why-i-left-calvinism/. Baxter Kruger claims to have read and studied everything Calvin wrote, so he certainly cannot be dismissed as someone who does not understand Calvinism. Perhaps the only people who truly understand it are the ones who have left it.

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  228. Benn: Do all roads lead to heaven?

    This could be the wrong question. It assumes that we must be on a road to find God. But maybe it’s more about God finding us on whatever road we may be on, like when Paul was on the road to Damascus.

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  229. I’ve been thinking about the Total Depravity pillar of Calvinism, and the more I think about it the harder I find it to stomach. In my experience most people at least want to be good and do the right thing, and that’s something that crosses cultural and religious lines. Yes, we are flawed, and sure our righteousness is as filthy rags compared to the glory of God, but that doesn’t make us totally depraved.

    To believe in the total depravity of man is to give up hope in being better than we are. I wonder if that is the reason some Calvinists don’t seem to be as horrified by child molestation as they should be.

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  230. Ken F (aka Tweed): This could be the wrong question. It assumes that we must be on a road to find God. But maybe it’s more about God finding us on whatever road we may be on, like when Paul was on the road to Damascus.

    Good comment Ken
    ,

    But are some of the comments on this post saying that at the end of the day just let your conscience be your guide.
    Which imho anyway is begging the question, if I believe what I hold dear, and my conscience is at ease does that in and of it self put me in good standing with God?

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  231. Ken A,

    Greetings and blessings to you, too, Ken A!

    I am truly sorry that priest treated you so badly. His fury and uncharity were neither Christlike nor Catholic.

    I have known some Mean Priests in my day, so I do not doubt your account for one moment. But I don’t think this priest is either typical or representative.

    In my lengthy experience, contemporary US Catholic priests are far likelier to be a bit squishy in these scenarios. When Calvinist pastor/theologian Dr. Scott Hahn was thinking of converting, he went to a Catholic priest who essentially told him, “Don’t bother; we don’t do that conversion stuff anymore.” (Fortunately Hahn swam the Tiber anyway. :))

    And this gets to my next point. You keep trying to portray the late medieval Catholic Church as an oppressive monolith imposing conformity in every conceivable area, no matter how trivial or picayune. It wasn’t. But still less does this caricature describe *today’s* Catholic Church. Good grief, Ken A, we are a freaking mess! If you think the contemporary Catholic Church is a conformist monolith, then all I can say is you must not be paying attention. Frankly, I wish we *were* a little stricter with dissenters like Nuns on the Bus and Fr. James Martin, SJ. But we’re not. And we haven’t been for a while now. The current situation is fairly chaotic…and orthodox Catholics everywhere are fervently praying that it will settle down soon. But right now, “conformist” is about the last term I’d use to describe it. 😉

    Meanwhile, speaking of “conformist”: *We* are not the ones demanding that church members sign “membership covenants.” (Our only membership covenant is baptism.) We are not the ones shunning, vilifying, and publicly excommunicating pew-peons who dare to question the slightest decision of self-appointed “apostles” and authoritarian elders.

    That would be your gang. 😉

    Gotta get back to writing a blog post about the Bodie Island Lighthouse. Much more pleasant than theological wrangling, I must confess. God bless!

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  232. Robert M: I’ve been thinking about the Total Depravity pillar of Calvinism, and the more I think about it the harder I find it to stomach.

    To a New Calvinist, total depravity really means total inability. They have no will of their own – God has to do everything for the poor things. The bad-boys among them are unable to resist temptation, so they become total depraved after awhile (e.g., Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, etc.). It’s a nonsensical doctrine.

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  233. Max: The bad-boys among them are unable to resist temptation, so they become total depraved after awhile (e.g., Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, etc.).

    To be fair, they become the other sort of depraved.

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  234. Robert M:
    I’ve been thinking about the Total Depravity pillar of Calvinism, and the more I think about it the harder I find it to stomach.In my experience most people at least want to be good and do the right thing, and that’s something that crosses cultural and religious lines.Yes, we are flawed, and sure our righteousness is as filthy rags compared to the glory of God, but that doesn’t make us totally depraved.

    To believe in the total depravity of man is to give up hope in being better than we are.I wonder if that is the reason some Calvinists don’t seem to be as horrified by child molestation as they should be.

    The problem with this theory is it levels all sin, it fails to distinguish between those who have seared consciences, as described in Romans 1 and elsewhere, and those who do not delight in pure evil. There is no distinction between John the Baptist and the ones who called for his head, no distinction the disciples, Judas Iscariot must be seen in the same light as John, closest friend of Jesus. As near as I can discern, a literal interpretation of this tenet must be to make no distinction between the type of child molester who delights in their sin, enjoys destroying children, and the poor child whom they’ve molested. They are both equal monsters of iniquity and there is no rational reason to distinguish between them. I understand there must be nuances within neocalvinism and certainly not everyone would subscribe to this, but I simply cannot see any distinction between anyone if one takes total depravity literally.

    Of course we all sin and fall short, that’s a given. Jesus was the only One without sin. But that does not mean that we all delight in evil and hate God and anything good. We all fall short, but we are not all equal monsters of iniquity.

    When one considers the behavior of people like C.J. Mahaney and Matt Chandler, the actions of numerous reformed churches to convince children that they are no better than their abusers and that they must forgive them as the church leaders define forgiveness or they will be held in lower regard than the one who harmed them, it does make perfect sense. Beliefs have consequences, and these actions are perfect manifestations of those beliefs.

    It also occurs that those who advocate most vigorously in favor of total depravity seem to be the ones most intent on proving up the point.

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  235. Ken A,
    I do not believe any of his writings exist. If he was on trial today, he could claim hearsay.

    I am not responsible for theologians, nor do I place authority in their postions.

    Pelagianism does not pertain to me.

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  236. TS00: We can learn a lot from the heathen.

    Indeed we can.
    Erasmus had this to say:

    “Sacred Scripture is of course the basic authority for everything; yet I sometimes
    run across ancient sayings or pagan writings — even the poets — so purely and reverently and admirably expressed that I can’t help believing their author’s hearts were moved by some divine power. And perhaps the spirit of Christ is more widespread than we understand, and the company of the saints includes many not in our calendar.”

    From: “The Godly Feast” written in 1522.

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  237. Muff Potter: And perhaps the spirit of Christ is more widespread than we understand, and the company of the saints includes many not in our calendar.

    Quite extraordinary. I must admit I know almost nothing about Erasmus beyond his name. But apparently he, like me, was a heretic and a blasphemer. I really should read some of his stuff.

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  238. Muff Potter:

    “Sacred Scripture is of course the basic authority for everything; yet I sometimes
    run across ancient sayings or pagan writings — even the poets — so purely and reverently and admirably expressed that I can’t help believing their author’s hearts were moved by some divine power. And perhaps the spirit of Christ is more widespread than we understand, and the company of the saints includes many not in our calendar.”

    From: “The Godly Feast” written in 1522.

    Beautiful. I too am now motivated to search out his writings.

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  239. I do not read many blogs. Actually, I don’t read any blogs regularly. I do read Wartburg Watch from time to time though. I can only handle so much of it because the people and the events that are reported on it (or exposed on it) become too discouraging after awhile. In case anyone misunderstands that last sentence, I’ll be clear: TWW does excellent work. But their excellent work reporting the truth wears me down after awhile. I take a break, regroup, then come back. I do find MANY of the comments on this blog discouraging, though, because they are so nasty. They are often pure ad hominem–shot gun blasts at “Calvinism,” for instance, when the targets are some leaders in the modern neo-Cal movement (which I do not like very much either). Personally, I prefer Reformed to Calvinism, though the latter is inevitably found in the former, because it is a richer, more well-rounded presentation of the Genevan-Dutch-British tradition in Protestantism. But so many comments in this section reveal a number of people (not all!) who do not appear to have even a rudimentary grasp of just the so-called five points, let alone the Reformed faith as a whole. And if people are angry that Calvinists are disgracing the faith, then they should be equally angry at the Arminians (not Armenians), Pentecostals, non-Calvinistic Baptists, Charismatics, Roman Catholics, and Episcopalians who’ve done the same. None of the worst among the televangelists (remember the 80’s) were anything near Calvinistic–and the damage that they did and do to American Christianity is incalculable. I don’t contribute to the comments section to defend Calvinism, but I have to say, many (not all) of the attacks on it in the comments are cruel and ignorant. That’s bigotry, not Christianity.

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  240. Geoff Smith: I do find MANY of the comments on this blog discouraging, though, because they are so nasty. They are often pure ad hominem–shot gun blasts at “Calvinism,” for instance, when the targets are some leaders in the modern neo-Cal movement (which I do not like very much either)

    A number of years ago, a commenter urged that I let comments thru, even ones that I found harsh. if you look thru the history of this blog, I’ve allowed people to call me all sorts of names (found in the definitive list, What the world is saying about TWW). I have allowed atheists and others to insult Christians. I’ve also allowed people to push right back.

    I think it would be helpful for you to respond to those with whom you disagree in whatever manner you choose. But you must also acknowledge that a number of Calvinists or Reformed folks have not done a good job conveying their beliefs in a kind and measured manner.

    As for me, I am Lutheran and not Reformed/Calvinist. I feature a Reformed Baptist pastor on our Church. One of my BFFs is Todd Wilhelm who is also Reformed.

    I want a place to hear what those who have been hurt by Calvinist or Reformed or Reformed-ish teachings have a place to express their opinions and their feelings. For those, like yourself, who take umbrage, I suggest taking a step back and asking yourself the question”Why are they so upset?’ Maybe there is something for all of us to learn….

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  241. Geoff Smith: I have to say, many (not all) of the attacks on it in the comments are cruel and ignorant.

    I’d be careful with the *ignorant* word unless you have walked a mile in their moccasins. And, if you think they are cruel, maybe ask yourself what happened to them in their walk in a Calvinist church?

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  242. Geoff Smith: They are often pure ad hominem–shot gun blasts at “Calvinism,”

    One can only direct ad hominem blasts to people, by definition, and not to doctrines. Still, I am interested to know what you mean by this since I did not see anything that seemed over the line. I have been called much worse by Calvinists as I extricated myself from it. If wrote anything you consider an unfair attack, can you let me know what it was so I can either apologize or clarify? Thanks.

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  243. Nick Bulbeck: Quite extraordinary. I must admit I know almost nothing about Erasmus beyond his name. But apparently he, like me, was a heretic and a blasphemer. I really should read some of his stuff.

    Well, he died in full communion with Rome, so I’m not sure about “heretic and blasphemer,” except from the Reformed perspective.

    I wrote my senior thesis on Erasmus. It stank. I really should have written about a late medieval female mystic (my first choice). Always go with your first choice!

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  244. Samuel Conner,

    I cannot object strongly enough to your comment about autism as a feature that would tend to select for antisocial traits and a lack of empathy. In fact, an apology in your behalf is in order as far as I am concerned.

    While early descriptions of people on the autism spectrum included these traits, it has become very clear in current autism research that this impression was wrong.

    Many autistic people experience high levels of empathy and suffer for it because they cannot shut out the emotions of others and because they find it difficult to respond in a way that is acceptable to non-autistic people.

    Newer research has shown that the problem is that while autistic people have no trouble showing their empathy to other autistic people and non-autistic people have no problem empathizing with other non autistic people, both sides have trouble relating to and showing empathy across the group lines. In other words, there is a difference here, not a hierarchy. And please keep in mind that autistic people spend most of their waking hours trying to conform to the majority group while the majority group as exemplified in your comment just thinks their way is the only way and looks down on autistic people.

    This is not the first time that a comment on this blog has attempted to paint autistic people as less than. I don’t know if you were the commenter at that time, but regardless, please stop making assumptions about people based on poorly informed prejudices.

    If you would like to learn more I recommend ASAN’s website and there are any number of blogs online written by autistic people that can enlighten you.

    Autism certainly can make it difficult to live like “normal” people do, but it is a complex set of challenges and gifts, not some cookie cutter deficit description. And for some of us, we wouldn’t want to be “normal” if we could. I for one am not impressed with “normal” levels of empathy like yours.

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  245. TS00: Simply chanting, ‘That’s not what Calvinism teaches’ or ‘That’s not what I believe’ does not accomplish this, but is the most common Calvinist response.

    This. This is where the discussion goes with most Calvinists. It’s quite odd, and sad.

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  246. I have the book “What Love Is This?” by Dave Hunt. Very eye-opening. John Calvin precided over/ordered/approved the deaths of over 30 people who challenged him or who disobeyed his rules for the city of Geneva. He was called “the Protestant Pope.”. There’s quite a trail of blood behind this “Godly” man. Hunt has lots of references as to where he got this information. Personally I would not respect such a man as Calvin . And I was bred burped and raised on his system of theology.

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  247. RW: I cannot object strongly enough to your comment about autism as a feature that would tend to select for antisocial traits and a lack of empathy. In fact, an apology in your behalf is in order as far as I am concerned.

    That’s not what I wrote. I distinguished two groups — the antisocial group, narcissists and sociopaths, seem to me likely to be less repelled by the implications of Reformed System than other personality types, and so will tend to be more common in churches that adhere to Reformed system. The possible appeal to another group — people with autism spectrum personality types — is that Reformed system is intricate. I happen myself to be fascinated by intricate systems and I don’t see that as a negative personal assessment.

    I see that I have offended you and I ask for your pardon.

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  248. RW: And please keep in mind that autistic people spend most of their waking hours trying to conform to the majority group while the majority group as exemplified in your comment just thinks their way is the only way and looks down on autistic people.

    To begin with, I think you totally miss interpreted Sammuels comment. But I’ll let him sort that out.

    In regards to the quote above, we could replace autistic people with any other group (i.e., Africa American, LGBTQ, women, foster children, etc.) and get a similar result . . . looked down on by a majority. It’s something for all of us to think about.

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  249. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    You seem like a sweet spirit and I appreciate your gracious comment.
    One of the things that drew me to this blog was how Dee and Deb stood up for the downtrodden. Their post early on about not signing covenants spoke to me because my wife and I had already been through a authoritarian church. When they brought out the covenant and required members to sign, we knew it was time to leave. There was no way. Yes the church in America all brands seems to be in a mess. It is heartbreaking.
    We are obviously going to have to agree to disagree. Blessings in Christ.

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  250. dee,

    I have been on the receiving end of plenty of abuse in Calvinistic churches, so I may not have identical experiences as these sufferers have (and I mean that sincerely), I have had my own–from congregations and from government. My point was: bad experiences in Calvinistic churches is not a good reason for mocking Calvinism as an historic expression of Protestant Christianity. And many of the comments suggest to me that the mocking is not based on a clear knowledge of the tradition itself. Second, why single out Calvinism? The record of abuse in all the other traditions, Protestant and otherwise, is just as terrible. The stories that come out of charismatic/Pentecostal churches are hair raising–especially when the leadership claims special revelation or even anointing from God. Besides, where in the NT does it teach that we are to respond to cruelty with cruelty, even if their Calvinistic churches were cruel?

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  251. Geoff Smith,

    Pain is expressed in many forms.Those who have singled out Calvinism are those who have been hurt by Calvinism. In fact could it be that the reason there are so many comments expressing anger at Calvinists is due to the number of people who are hurt badly by it as opposed to the other traditions? I don’t know. I do know this. I have spent most of my life traversing the great evangelical wilderness and the worst pain I experienced was in the one church which was Reformed Baptist. Yes, Ed Young Jr’s church was a trip with lots of bizarre stories but it was not painful.

    Could it be the recent explosion of Reformed churches has led to more reports of bad incidents? Darned if I know.

    Todd, who is Reformed, does not have the same view as you do regarding this. My guess is that he disdains the current crop of Calvinistas as opposed to your daddy’s Presbyterians.

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  252. Geoff Smith: And many of the comments suggest to me that the mocking is not based on a clear knowledge of the tradition itself.

    I don’t know if you had a chance to read my reply to you that I posted this afternoon (it spent some time in customs). I would like to know what you mean by mocking and whether you consider any of my comments to fall under that category. If so, which ones? The challenge I find with Calvinists (in my own experience) is they seem unable to defend Calvinism without resorting to the “you don’t understand Calvinism” or the “you misrepresent Calvinism” arguments. This is why I think it might be impossible to accurately represent Calvinism. Apparently no one understands it, not even Calvinists.

    Second, why single out Calvinism?

    It was singled out in this thread because it was a post about Calvinist leaders. It does not come up in every thread.

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  253. dee: Calvinistas as opposed to your daddy’s Presbyterians

    Two totally different animals. During my 70+ year church experience, I found classical Calvinists to be civil in their discourse and respectful of other expressions of faith. The New Calvinists, on the other hand, are arrogant, aggressive and militant – intent on restoring the one true gospel (Calvinism) to Christendom … and they have no problem exercising stealth and deception to do so! In fact in my long journey, I can’t think of one church in my neck of the woods “taken over” by classical Calvinists, while there are many horror stories of young reformers running roughshod over the people of God.

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  254. Geoff Smith,

    There is no singling out of NeoCalvinism. C.Peter Wagner’s description of “Apostle” is a latter day addition to the twelve Apostles. If you read Wagner’s description of airpower, that is a metaphysical force field projected around the planet.

    The thing is Geoff, the blog is called Wartburgh Watch. Not Azuza Street Spy, or Kansas City Profit Peekers. It’s sort of a Neo-Calvinism place.

    Now, you do realize some view Neo-Cal as a frightening future dystopia? And, a system that is expansionist? And if able to establish itself, is by nature nationalistic?
    You understand that Apartheid was synthesized from Kuyper’s Neo-Calvinism? And, is why it was called the Nationalist Party? And that Seven Spheres is proto-fascisim?

    All I have mentioned here are concepts dated from 1890’s to 1948. That’s to say nothing of Rushdooney’s 70’s Reconstructionism. There is a culture progression in this movement. This is not going to end well.

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  255. Geoff Smith: where in the NT does it teach that we are to respond to cruelty with cruelty, even if their Calvinistic churches were cruel?

    I have been called many things, but I do not believe that anyone who has ever known me would add ‘cruelty’ to my long list of failings. I am serious-minded, reflective, frank and passionate about truth and justice. I have always been a defender of the weak and vulnerable. I faced down my first bully in kindergarten, and she tormented me, and all who were beneath her social station, throughout my entire school years.

    After my traumatic experience with Calvinism, I have found myself desirous of warning and protecting others from going through the same painful, life-shattering process. I would not judge my former church or pastor as ‘cruel’, but disingenuous and concerned more about doctrine than people.

    I have looked at Calvinism from all three sides:
    1) never Calvinist
    2) full on Calvinist
    3) former Calvinist

    In all three stages I researched and pondered, as is my customary habit. I spent two full years researching Calvinism before ever stepping foot in a Reformed church. I continued to read and reflect during my 12+ years on the inside, but most of that was pro-Calvinist propaganda. It was only when I could no longer ignore the questions and red flags that I eventually turned to non-Calvinists for their insight. After a year or so out, and feeling very alone, I discovered a whole new category – former Calvinists, or some would term them anti-Calvinists. The more I looked, the more I discovered I was part of a large and growing crowd, many who had amazingly similar experiences to my own.

    More than blogs I prefer to read academic research and old books. There are some amazing books, some written over a hundred years ago, pointing out the logical and practical shortcomings of Calvinism. I’m not sure I have ever come across any ‘new’ arguments that were not brought forth by godly, well-studied ministers years ago. Funnily enough, Calvinists back then said the same as they say today: ‘We are seriously misunderstood’ or ‘We are maliciously misrepresented’.

    Then, as now, detractors were not disclaiming so much what Calvinists said they believed, but the inevitable logical conclusions to their officially-stated doctrines. The fact that most of the arguments I read were ones that the Spirit had first led me to on my own, assured me that I was not wildly off track in my thinking.

    I do say often, and perhaps you would view this as cruel, that most lay Calvinists do not fully comprehend their theology. I do not mean this as an insult. I believe that most Calvinist teachers deliberately seek to fence off or hide what R.C. Sproul termed ‘the scary stuff’, in order to not scare people off. My pastor openly admitted that there were things he dare not say, or all would leave. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent, thoughtful individual, yet it took me years to get past the brainwashing and be able to think past the script I had so often heard.

    I have many relatives and friends who consider themselves Reformed, yet nearly all discount various doctrinal beliefs which are fundamental and essential to Reformed theology. One of my sweet daughters, and her friends who grew up along side her, call themselves Reformed, but do not believe that God chooses only some to be saved. They do not realize that one cannot be Reformed and reject Calvinistic predestination.

    I was in that same boat for years, but was assured by my Calvinist pastor that I could have it both ways. I could hold two contrary beliefs ‘in tension’ and just leave the ‘mystery’ in God’s hands. Many people get that same advice, and essentially turn off their minds; I did the same until God started working on me. Perhaps not always spelling that out can make me sound condemning.

    God had actually been working one me for some time, but I held him off as long as I could. All of my apples were in the Reformed basket. My marriage, family, church, ministry and social network were all affiliated with this system, and we had long ago discovered that our rural location offered no viable alternatives. I had poured a dozen years of my life into this church, in which we were one of the three founding families – and the last to go. To turn from it would require me to give up nearly everything and everyone that mattered to me. I gave God a pretty good fight, but he wouldn’t let me alone.

    I won’t go on and on, but my point is, I am not ignorant of the beliefs or practices of Calvinism. I hesitate to call myself an expert on anything (except maybe coffee, which I also gave up after 40 years as a connoisseur), but, on top of my personal experience with Calvinism, I would hazard that I have read and studied more than the average bear.

    I am a researcher by nature; friends come to me for advice on everything from health to humidifiers. Not because I’m so ‘smart’, but because when I dig into something, I give no quarter in my hunt for the best information from as many sources as possible. How many people research and experiment for years until they can craft a divine cup of coffee for the fewest pennies? I don’t want to say I’m driven . . . but I admit I’m a recovering OCD perfectionist.

    My great desire now is to pass on what I have learned, to turn what I suffered into something that can help others. I long to warn the unwary that what most Calvinists say and believe is not necessarily what the doctrines of Calvinism demand. Many sincerely believe themselves to be 1, 2, 3 or 4-point Calvinists, which is, strictly speaking, impossible. All of the planks are necessary for the system to hang together.

    As dissenters have said from its very beginning, there are huge holes in Calvinism’s logic and scriptural consistency that are papered over with euphemism and contradictory claims. When all else fails, the ever-handy appeal to ‘mystery’ is used to silence remaining questions. Many, warned against ‘questioning God’ or ‘rebelling against their God-given authorities’, hesitate to pursue the questions and doubts that inevitably come to mind as they grapple with Calvin’s ‘horrible decree’.

    My intention is not to insult or slam people, but to warn them and encourage them to think and study the issues seriously; to allow the Holy Spirit to lead them in their contemplation. I have experienced how easily the mind can be shut down with effective programming, and it often takes a shock or traumatic experience to restart it.

    No only on TWW, but in other settings I have made acquaintance with many who have shared similar journeys to my own. I truly had no idea it was so widespread. Many were deeply wounded, and some have given up their faith altogether. These are the tragedies that I deeply desire to help people avoid. It is for this sake that I speak boldly and openly about what I have learned and experienced. I sincerely hope that I never resort to cruelty.

    I apologize for the length. I realize, as someone charged, that I take things very seriously

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  256. Catholic Gate-Crasher: Well, he [Erasmus] died in full communion with Rome, so I’m not sure about “heretic and blasphemer,” except from the Reformed perspective.

    I meant from this perspective: that he entertained the possibility that a person could be Saved without having made a formal and approved profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Personal Saviour through Saving Faith in his substitutionary death on the cross for their sins. He further entertained the possibility that they could experience God’s Grace through Jesus Christ outwith the ordained expository teaching of the Biblical Word of God through the scriptures through Jesus Christ. I was (and am) being a little ironic here.

    I suppose there’s a danger in irony. It is generally rooted in fact – like myths and legends – but a lot of people will say of the above caricature, That’s not what I believe. That being said, it does represent something I’ve heard a lot here in UK small-e evangelical culture.

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  257. Nathan Priddis,

    Exactly. That reconstructionism is alive and well in some corners of Reformed thinking. It was the goal of my former Calvinist pastor, who was an avid (if secret) Dominionist/Reconstructionist. We’re talking a new Theocracy. Geneva 2.0. God’s kingdom on earth, or so they believe.

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  258. TS00,

    This is very instructive and I thank you for taking the time to let all here know where you are coming from. Many times in reading what is written in these comments the thought crosses my mind that what is being alleged is that the men are corrupt because of the doctrines they believe. I can never go all the way to that conclusion. Is that what you are saying? That is, it because of Calvinism’s belief that the men are corrupt and the atrocities that they preform are the direct outcome of what they believe? On the surface that appear to be faulty logic to me. From the doctrines of Christianity, the Bible and most of the major denominations and their founders whether Calvinist or not, we find the acceptance of the innate sinfulness of all men. If men are innately sinful than embracing a particular set of doctrines will not negate that fact. Though as a younger man I thought that perhaps it would, however unconsciously that may have been for me. We have the example of disciples of the Apostle Paul who strayed. Surely they were some of the best taught people that have ever existed in Christendom? Yet we see that many abused there position and in fact many abandoned the faith. Would we say it was because of the doctrine they embraced and who they followed? When people get hurt by overly authoritarian people it hurts. I know that first hand. It causes some soul searching and rightfully so. For me I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Election, predestination, foreknowledge are all inescapable words and concepts taught in the Bible. Unfortunately most critics, at least that I have heard or read ignore or treat very lightly when it comes to these biblical concepts. I always think to myself, “God put these things in the Bible for a reason. If you are going to tell me it doesn’t mean what I say it means please explain to me in a logical way what it means. Please don’t just tell me it doesn’t mean what it say and leave it at that.” I may not be as logical as you or as most. But as someone has said, I can’t make my heart believe what my head can’t understand.

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  259. Abigail: I have the book “What Love Is This?” by Dave Hunt.

    A great book! “What Love Is This?” is a very scholarly work by Dave Hunt. I highly recommend it. Subtitle of the book is “Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God.” Had he lived longer, Hunt would have taken on the aberrations and abuses of New Calvinism.

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  260. Ken A,

    Are men corrupted by bad doctrine, or do insincere men embrace bad doctrine? I could not say, but I definitely see how faulty doctrine leads to faulty thinking at the very least, and a loss of faith at the worst.

    It really is not the case that all who reject the Calvinistic definitions of predestination, election, sovereignty, etc. are ignorant, inferior or rebellious. Countless brilliant, godly men through the ages have carefully studied Calvinism – some embraced it for a time – and found its definitions and interpretations faulty.

    IMO, the most important thing to realize is that when we say ‘this is what the bible teaches’ we are merely embracing one particular interpretation. We must be aware of this in order to not be close-minded and dogmatic. If there was no process of interpretation involved, all believers would think exactly alike.

    In reality, people have always interpreted scripture variously, and we should not be afraid of that. (My Calvie pastor insisted that his interpretation was the only ‘right’ one, and to question it was rebelling against our ‘God-given authority’. When you hear any such thing, run quickly!)

    We must hold our interpretations loosely, if we are to allow the Spirit of God to continuously lead us into better understanding. I do not imagine for a second that I understand all things, or ever will in this life. But I’m eager to learn and grow, to judge foreign ideas on their merits, rather than reject them unexamined. This is nearly impossible when one buys the package deal and obediently applies as instructed.

    I would encourage you to spend some time reading or listening to podcasts from Soteriology101.com. A great resource for those earnestly grappling with Calvinist concepts, from a theologian/teacher who is a former Calvinist. Flowers is intelligent, thoughtful and gracious in his treatment of people and ideas.

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  261. Ken A: For me I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Election, predestination, foreknowledge are all inescapable words and concepts taught in the Bible.

    This is, more or less (along with philosophical considerations of creatio ex nihilo ) why my thinking has remained (tentatively — given that my thinking has changed in other ways, it would be presumptuous of me to imagine that my present views are radically more sound than my prior ones; I hope that they are, of course) basically monergist.

    The “dirty bath-water” that it seemed to me necessary to discard was the conventional Reformed (and also Arminian, and also Latin tradition CC; the three groups cheerfully agree at this point) conception of post-mortem punishments. These are absent (or controvertible) in Romans and other Pauline letters, virtually absent in the entire OT, and Jesus’ “ gehenna ” sayings are quite plausibly understandable as targeted at under-the-sun consequences of the coming war with Rome (Greek gehenna being a transliteration of Hebrew gei hinnom , which is “hinnom valley”, the place below the walls of jerusalem into which, in both the 6th century BC and AD 70 sieges of Jerusalem, the bodies of those who had died in the siege were tossed, to decompose unburied.)

    There is an illuminating chapter in Brad Jerzak’s “Her Gates Will Never Be Shut” that explores two gehenna traditions that influenced the thinking of the early church, an “under the sun” tradition that is rooted in the OT major prophets, and a “post-mortem” tradition that appears to be most strongly attested in the extracanonical book 1 Enoch (and that has echoes in the Greek religion of the time). The Enochian tradition prevailed in the Western churches. The Eastern churches never adopted a dogmatic stance on the subject.

    Of course, my present stance may be mistaken. I look forward to future opportunities to see things more clearly.

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  262. TS00,
    “We must hold our interpretations loosely, if we are to allow the Spirit of God to continuously lead us into better understanding.”
    Please understand I do not mean in anyway to be insulting. I don’t find this answer satisfying. I will have to hold out that it just may be me.
    It appears in your answer that I am going to have to trust that somehow the Spirit has lead you into truth on this. However much you maybe a very strong Christian, that is impossible for me to tell from here. There are those here, in the comment section of this blog, who mock at the Calvinist answer of “mystery”. It appears to me that all are going to have to insert some mystery some where. It is impossible to expect, I would say, that men are going to be able to understand fully the ways of and/or the mind of God. He is infinite, we are finite. He has revealed what He wants us to know about Him in creation and the Bible. again not to be insulting but it appears to me that your “mystery” is in “holding our interpretation loosely”. Words mean things. Election, predestination, foreknowledge are words that have meaning. I think that is on purpose. In my own experience, as I get older the sovereignty of God is more and more sweet. As I see more and more of the corruption of this world and my own frailty and consequences of aging, the more sweet the sovereignty of God in all things seems to me. Do I understand it fully? No. But as a frail human being I need to know that God is in control and it is sweet to me.

    On another point you make, “Are men corrupted by bad doctrine, or do insincere men embrace bad doctrine?” I think that I will have to acknowledge that there are men with a certain personality type that may be drawn to Calvinism that left unchecked end up becoming to overly authoritarian, harsh, dictatorial men that we see in the neo-cal movement. It seems an inescapable conclusion at this point.

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  263. Nick Bulbeck: I meant from this perspective: that he entertained the possibility that a person could be Saved without having made a formal and approved profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Personal Saviour through Saving Faith in his substitutionary death on the cross for their sins. He further entertained the possibility that they could experience God’s Grace through Jesus Christ outwith the ordained expository teaching of the Biblical Word of God through the scriptures through Jesus Christ. I was (and am) being a little ironic here.

    I suppose there’s a danger in irony. It is generally rooted in fact – like myths and legends – but a lot of people will say of the above caricature, That’s not what I believe. That being said, it does represent something I’ve heard a lot here in UK small-e evangelical culture.

    LOL! I appreciate the wit and irony. 😉

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  264. michelle: “Schrock says that pastors MUST tell the church, prior to their appointment, that they will be teaching Calvinism.”

    How about just preach the Gospel?

    Calvinism = Gospel to these guys. They have been “spirit-washed” into thinking this way.

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  265. Ken A: “We must hold our interpretations loosely, if we are to allow the Spirit of God to continuously lead us into better understanding.”
    Please understand I do not mean in anyway to be insulting. I don’t find this answer satisfying.

    What do you make of the fact that there are thousands of Christian denominations all claiming to be the one with the correct interpretation? They cannot all be right (but they could all be wrong). It the bible is as clear as many claim it is, there should be no disagreement. But there is. Given all this disagreement, who is authorized to decide which interpretations are correct? What do you find to be a satisfying answer to the question of why thousands of denominations disagree on what the bible says?

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  266. Ken A: There are those here, in the comment section of this blog, who mock at the Calvinist answer of “mystery”. It appears to me that all are going to have to insert some mystery some where. It is impossible to expect, I would say, that men are going to be able to understand fully the ways of and/or the mind of God.

    This is a very importanr point. I don’t mock Calvinists for appealing to mystery. But I do question how and when they appeal to it. If theology is like going on a trail hike, historical Christianity has tended to appeal to history fairly early in the hike. But Calvinists, in their pursuit of “doctrinal precision,” hike MANY miles into the forest before finally appealing to mystery. And along the way they cause quite a lot of damage. So yes, embracing mystery is important. But its embrace needs to be timely.

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  267. Ken F (aka Tweed): Calvinists, in their pursuit of “doctrinal precision,” hike MANY miles into the forest before finally appealing to mystery.

    And, in the process, cause confusion in what the “Gospel” really is. If gospel-truth is easy enough for a child to understand, we don’t need the intellect of men hammering it to pieces. That is a mystery to me!

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  268. Max: Calvinism = Gospel to these guys. They have been “spirit-washed” into thinking this way.

    Hmmm….sad state of affairs. This text comes to mind for some reason:

    “What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

    Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”

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  269. TS00,

    “I have been called many things …” About this whole letter of yours, I just want to say “Very well-written!” And I agree that most Calvinists probably don’t even understand fully what Calvinism is. Calvinist teachers make them believe it’s all about “God’s sovereignty.” And so I think many well-meaning Christians go, “Oh, of course I believe in God’s sovereignty, so I guess I am a Calvinist.” (And they think we who don’t believe in Calvinism are not upholding God’s sovereignty, when in reality we are simply rebelling against Calvinism’s misrepresentation of God’s sovereignty.) But the average “Calvinist” doesn’t explore it much more than that. Because they don’t think they have to. (And I think that if they did, most wouldn’t be Calvinists anymore.) But also, it’s because the leaders make them feel like it’s dishonoring to God to question it, that “humble Christians” accept it “because God said it.” This is what makes me most sad about it, that people are sucked into it without even realizing what it really is. They trust the Calvinist pastors, as these pastors share only the good stuff – the things we can agree on – while hiding the bad stuff. And no one realizes anything is wrong until it’s too late. Once again, beautifully written letter.

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  270. Ken F (aka Tweed): What do you make of the fact that there are thousands of Christian denominations all claiming to be the one with the correct interpretation? They cannot all be right (but they could all be wrong). It the bible is as clear as many claim it is, there should be no disagreement. But there is. Given all this disagreement, who is authorized to decide which interpretations are correct? What do you find to be a satisfying answer to the question of why thousands of denominations disagree on what the bible says?

    And, what’s amazing to me, we tend to ignore the parts that *are* clear! Like these-
    https://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/bible-study/all-the-one-anothers.php

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  271. The SBC was created by Calvinists for Calvinists. It is only natural that proverbial descendants, inheritors of this effort would redeem lost ground, albeit with a noticeable sharp visible lack of profound integrity.

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  272. Sòpwith: The SBC was created by Calvinists for Calvinists. It is only natural that proverbial descendants, inheritors of this effort would redeem lost ground, albeit with a noticeable sharp visible lack of profound integrity.

    It is true that the SBC was founded by slave-holding Calvinists in the South prior to the Civil War. They felt that sovereign God was on their side in the War until early Confederate victories turned to defeat. After the War, Southern Baptists began to distance themselves from the founders’ theology and remained distinctly non-Calvinist in belief and practice for 150 years … until Al Mohler and his band of young reformers launched a campaign to take the SBC back to its theological roots, without asking the millions of non-Calvinist members if they wanted to go there.

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  273. tt

    Geoff Smith:
    I do not read many blogs. Actually, I don’t read any blogs regularly. I do read Wartburg Watch from time to time though. I can only handle so much of it because the people and the events that are reported on it (or exposed on it) become too discouraging after awhile. In case anyone misunderstands that last sentence, I’ll be clear: TWW does excellent work. But their excellent work reporting the truth wears me down after awhile. I take a break, regroup, then come back. I do find MANY of the comments on this blog discouraging, though, because they are so nasty. They are often pure ad hominem–shot gun blasts at “Calvinism,” for instance, when the targets are some leaders in the modern neo-Cal movement (which I do not like very much either). Personally, I prefer Reformed to Calvinism, though the latter is inevitably found in the former, because it is a richer, more well-rounded presentation of the Genevan-Dutch-British tradition in Protestantism. But so many comments in this section reveal a number of people (not all!) who do not appear to have even a rudimentary grasp of just the so-called five points, let alone the Reformed faith as a whole. And if people are angry that Calvinists are disgracing the faith, then they should be equally angry at the Arminians (not Armenians), Pentecostals, non-Calvinistic Baptists, Charismatics, Roman Catholics, and Episcopalians who’ve done the same. None of the worst among the televangelists (remember the 80’s) were anything near Calvinistic–and the damage that they did and do to American Christianity is incalculable. I don’t contribute to the comments section to defend Calvinism, but I have to say, many (not all) of the attacks on it in the comments are cruel and ignorant. That’s bigotry, not Christianity.

    I was an elder at a neocalvinist church. Were you?

    I watched a pastor who gave one hour and forty-five minute sermons to the glory of neocalvinism slowly through steady abuse destroy a church. I watched that same pastor then turn to mysticism and the New Age.

    I watched the teenage son of a senior church leader in the neocal turn to atheism because of all the hypocrisy.

    I watched decent older Christian women who had wisdom and who loved the Church and who prophesied (just like the New Testament said) in an attempt to prevent the destruction marginalized, ignored, and laughed off as fools because they had no Y chromosome.

    I watched my teenage children attacked and slandered–and who now can’t stand going to church because of the neocalvinist abuse.

    I watched my family kicked out because I, as an elder, asked hard questions.

    Geoff, I am not ignorant. I know exactly what I’;m talking about. How dare you, oh ignorant one, call me and others ignorant!

    Geoff, you’re a fool, and you’ll one day answer to God for it. I want an apology–if you’re man enough to give it, which, as a neocalvinst, I sincerely doubt you have the spine to give.

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  274. heather K: (And they think we who don’t believe in Calvinism are not upholding God’s sovereignty, when in reality we are simply rebelling against Calvinism’s misrepresentation of God’s sovereignty.)

    Good observation. I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that God, as a sovereign being, is the one who gets to define his sovereignty.

    If God wants synergistic rather than monergistic salvation, isn’t that entirely up to him? Calvinism seems to make the assumption that God’s sovereignty is limited, so that by him giving some away he will end up having less. Hence, the need for monergism. If on the other hand, his sovereignty is unlimited, he can generously give it away without ever diminishing his own. If God’s sovereignty is truly unlimited, there is nothing us finite humans can do to diminish it in any way. Which means we can truly have free will and free choices without his sovereignty being compromised.

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  275. Ken A,
    Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    Hello,

    It is important for the city on the seven hills to reign in the protestant whelps. The extensive Jesuit prevarication of scripture has gone a long way towards the performance of that devoted diligence. Their silent secret service lies presently under-comended.

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  276. Max: It is true that the SBC was founded by slave-holding Calvinists in the South prior to the Civil War.They felt that sovereign God was on their side in the War until early Confederate victories turned to defeat.After the War, Southern Baptists began to distance themselves from the founders’ theology and remained distinctly non-Calvinist in belief and practice for 150 years … until Al Mohler and his band of young reformers launched a campaign to take the SBC back to its theological roots, without asking the millions of non-Calvinist members if they wanted to go there.

    ***

    Max,

    hay,

    Now it’s ALL about promoting proverbial perverse commercially inclined Calvinesta pulp paperback writers, huh?

    (grin)

    ;~)§


    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qCdHW9tULHM

    – –

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  277. ___

    Smashed Proverbial Pulpits: “Drop-N-Play Titillating Calvinesta Assumptions Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Thanks to the playcious modern day socks puppet Calvinestas, and their ‘repentant’ perpetrated Mahaney circus ‘event’, everyone is NOW finding out that their man-made fabricated doctrinal sovereignty icon, and the faux 501c3 religious pap that follows, is part and parcel of an elaborate intricate five hundred year old voluminous cheeseboard fraud.

    (grin)

    figures. 🙂

    ♪♩♪♩hum, hum, hum…“Fixing a hole where the rain gets in ta stop my mind from wondering, where it will go…”

    ATB

    Sòpy

    Intermission:
    The Outs – “Fixing A Hole…” (a Beatles cover)
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tA8WqTCBq30

    ;~)§

    – –

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  278. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    This is a good point, and expresses something that I’m still trying to find a way to articulate. Ultimately, “theology” in general (not just calvinism) is a flawed activity. Studying theology really involves studying the works of other theologians, and would more accurately be called theologianology. It’s a lengthy series of thought-experiments around the concept of “god” based on certain a priori assumptions about what god “should” be like. But there’s no real data to test it.

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  279. Nick Bulbeck: expresses something that I’m still trying to find a way to articulate. Ultimately, “theology” in general (not just calvinism) is a flawed activity.

    Maybe the problem is trying to grasp infinity. The “rules” of math completely break down when trying to use infinity as a number. For example ∞/∞ does not equal 1, it equals any number you can imagine. And ∞ +/- x = ∞ for any finite value of x. So I think it would be natural for our rules of logic to break down when trying to describe an unlimited being. Trying to describe God using theology results in the same kind of absurdities as trying to apply normal math rules to infinity.

    Note: I tried to copy the infinity symbol (∞) into my comment. If it did not work then I will need your help to figure out how to do it.

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  280. Ken F (aka Tweed): Trying to describe God using theology results in the same kind of absurdities as trying to apply normal math rules to infinity.

    They don’t tell you that in seminary! Thus, a person considering the ministry should just pray for the Holy Spirit to lead them to Truth; if God wants them to preach, He will make a way. Pewsitters would do well to do the same thing – to “study the scriptures every day to see if what they are being told is true.” Theology is highly overrated; when men provide the interpretation, rather than the Holy Spirit, they can get it wrong.

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  281. Law Prof,

    Thank you for your comment. I think Geoff needs to understand the incalculable harm done to you and your family in such a church.Hde needs ears to hear so he can prevent such actions in his current church. What’s the current term? He needs to get *woke.*

    He also needs to understand that I cover abuse in ALL denominations.Ive written about Benny Hinn for example and went after Tony Jones, a progressive leader for treating his wife shabbily.

    At this juncture, the Calvinists are in the news and opening a gazillion churches. My guess is that is the reason we see more reports currently.

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  282. Nick Bulbeck: But there’s no real data to test it.

    Allow me to slightly amend this: “no new [canonical] data”. On the other hand, there is plenty of old data in the form of the numerous anomalies or apparent inconsistencies between our systems and the biblical text on which they are said to be founded. This existing data does not fit into the systems very well and so in a sense is always there waiting to be accounted for by a superior reading of the meaning of the biblical narrative.

    One of the ways that Theology (as a discipline) as generally practiced does not (appear to me to) come up to the standards of good practice of the natural sciences is that the discrepancant data are allowed to peacefully co-exist with the systems in a kind of long-term equilibrium. In better practice, I would expect the discrepancies to destabilize the systems and lead to better ones (assuming that there is the possibility of a coherent account for all of the data; an assumption that is widely shared both in Theology and in the natural sciences).

    The reality of these anomalies is IMO fascinating and should hold our attention. As we generally don’t like the experience of doubt or cognitive dissonance, our preference is generally to look away from them or explain or assume or special plead them away, but I think that our love for “what is actually true” (and the assumption that a better understanding of God is both to be desired and to found in that direction) ought to drive us to intently contemplate the meaning of these seeming (and perhaps very real and very important) discrepancies.

    On a personal note, this has led me to wonder whether it might be that part of the problems of Theology lie not just in the areas in which the different traditions disagree with each other, but actually also in some of the areas in which they agree . That’s a somewhat scary thought since it raises the possibility that long-held and very dear conceptions might be brought into question. I console myself with the thought that Jesus remains dazzlingly beautiful, and He remains the Lord whom the Father raised from the dead.

    I’ll conclude with a text that contains truths that are precious to all strands of the tapestry of church traditions and that also presents a mysterious datum that does not sit well with the conventional understandings of the meaning of Jesus’ mission: Romans 5:6-8

    For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    The precious truths are plain to see. But there is something that does not fit — the “while we were still weak, at the right time”. On conventional theories, the human race would always need the rescue the Jesus provided and is not capable at any time in history of preventing God from acting as He pleases to effect a rescue. The idea that the period around AD30 was an especially “right” time (because “we were still weak”) for Jesus to accomplish what He accomplished does not fit into any of the systems of which I am aware. Do any of the great councils or confessions or catechisms incorporate the historical circumstances of AD30 Israel into the heart of their systems? I don’t think they do; it’s not what they are concerned with.

    I suspect that improved paradigms of New Testament interpretation that do a better job of accounting for data like this will have transformative consequences for the churches (and of course will provoke vigorous pushback). I look forward in hope of some day seeing more clearly.

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  283. Ken F (aka Tweed): If God wants synergistic rather than monergistic salvation, isn’t that entirely up to him? Calvinism seems to make the assumption that God’s sovereignty is limited, so that by him giving some away he will end up having less.

    The Zero Sum Game:
    Since there is only so much to go around, the only way to get more for Me is to take it away from You.

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  284. Samuel Conner: The precious truths are plain to see. But there is something that does not fit — the “while we were still weak, at the right time”.

    I’m curious as to why “the period around AD30 was an especially right time”.

    “If you’d come today you’d have reached the whole nation —
    Israel 4 BC had no mass communication…”
    — Jesus Christ Superstar (title song)

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  285. Law Prof: Geoff, you’re a fool, and you’ll one day answer to God for it. I want an apology–if you’re man enough to give it, which, as a neocalvinst, I sincerely doubt you have the spine to give.

    Don’t waste your bandwidth, Law Prof.
    Geoff’s one of the Predestined Elect, God’s Speshul Pets since before the Foundation of the World.

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  286. Law Prof: Geoff, you’re a fool, and you’ll one day answer to God for it.

    I like the way George MacDonald captures this: “Good souls many will one day be horrified at the things they now believe of God.”

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  287. Geoff Smith: the comments are cruel and ignorant

    Geoff, I hope you never go through the hell these commenters have been through in church. The emotional, spiritual, and physical abuse they have suffered at the hand of church leaders has caused them to inform and warn the Body of Christ. Their comments should not be viewed as cruel; those who have benefited from their warnings have found them to be compassionate and helpful. Their comments are not ignorant; they are educated from the experiences they endured. Yep, I hope you never find yourself speaking with compassion and experience on the other side of hell on earth at the hand of someone who called himself a pastor.

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  288. dee: TS00

    Samuel Conner: One of the ways that Theology (as a discipline) as generally practiced does not (appear to me to) come up to the standards of good practice of the natural sciences is that the discrepancant data are allowed to peacefully co-exist with the systems in a kind of long-term equilibrium. In better practice, I would expect the discrepancies to destabilize the systems and lead to better ones (assuming that there is the possibility of a coherent account for all of the data; an assumption that is widely shared both in Theology and in the natural sciences).

    This is, IMO, what Institutionalized Religion is all about. Truth, as found in scripture, would indeed destabilize their faulty institutions and, most likely, topple them altogether. Perhaps that is what we are in the midst of.

    So, of course, no holds have been barred as the various Institutional Religions have struggled for power and control over the masses. Whether the claim is apostolic lines, divine anointing, elder authority, creedal orthodoxy, inerrancy, whatever, the goal is to silence dissent and ward off independent thinking.

    The truth has been there all along, buried though she has been, and the truth, once we are determined to find her, will set us free.

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  289. TS00,

    P.S., I don’t think Truth looks like doctrine. I believe there was One who once told us what, and who, Truth looks like. He was gentle, gracious, loving, merciful, good and just and so desired to bring hope to the nations that he was willing to suffer and die.

    You just can’t replace that with 5 points. Or anything.

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  290. Headless Unicorn Guy: I’m curious as to why “the period around AD30 was an especially right time”.

    “If you’d come today you’d have reached the whole nation —
    Israel 4 BC had no mass communication…”
    — Jesus Christ Superstar (title song)

    Yes, that’s precisely the question: why did Paul reckon that the actual historical circumstances of Jesus’ ministry and death were “the right time” and also that “we were still weak” at the time that Jesus died for the ungodly?

    An hypothesis that looks plausible to me (I’m sure it will appear very strange to most and perhaps alarming to some) is to take Jesus’ saying about “being sent to the lost sheep of Israel” as indicative of His thinking about “what He was accomplishing”. This is along the lines of a recent trend in New Testament scholarship to try to read these documents in the context of the realities of 1st century Jewish religious thought and the specific historical circumstances in which Israel found itself. I find Tom Wright’s interpretation of Jesus’ prophetic praxis to be persuasive, that Jesus was acting in many ways in the classic mode of Israel’s prior great prophets, calling the nation to repentance in order to avert national catastrophe.

    It’s kind of funny to encounter (as one does in a lot of popular level apocalyptic christian literature) present-day interpretations of Jesus’ “signs of the times” saying that appeal to present-day events as fulfillments of Jesus’ warnings; Jesus’ sayings meant something to His 1st century hearers — He was, after all, sent to the lost sheep of Israel — and that is probably the more important thing to understand as one is trying to figure out what these narratives mean (the first step in the process of discerning what present application might be). The “signs of the times” portended war with Rome. Israel had been rebelling against pagan occupation for centuries (back to the time of the Maccabees) and would for another century after Jesus (until “in the land” nationalism was substantially eradicated in the aftermath of the suppression of the Bar Kochba rebellion).

    The last significant rebellion had happened around the time of Jesus’ birth; it was suppressed and there was, more or less, peace in Judea for a few decades.

    It appears that by AD30, there was once again real risk of a rebellion (there’s even someone in prison for insurrection at the time Jesus is tried). Jn 11:48-50 suggests that the priestly class in Jerusalem was concerned that if Jesus’ following grew too large, the Romans would intervene, with consequences that could entail not only the loss the privileged place that the priestly class then occupied, but the “taking away” or “perishing” of the entire nation (perhaps through deportation out of the land, as had happened after the OT overthrow of Northern and Southern kingdoms and as did eventually happen again after the AD 132-5 war).

    Caiaphas reckoned that it would be better for Jesus to be killed than for the entire nation to perish in a war with Rome. John seems to agree — he says that in saying this, Caiaphas spoke prophetically.

    Looked at this way, the arc of Jesus’ public ministry kind of looks like an intentional courting of death at the hands of the Romans and as Israel’s king in order to “knock the wind out of the sails” of the “war party” within Israel. (Psalm 102 looks like a Messianic psalm on this interpretation). On this hypothesis, this is why Jesus had to avoid arrest and execution until after a significant number of people in Israel thought that He might be the Messiah, and this is why Jesus had to die at the hands of the Romans and by the means that the Romans used to punish insurrectionists, and why Jesus’ death in this way had to be at Jerusalem and at Passover (for maximum “audience effect”, in modern terms)

    And this is why Pilate insisted that the notice over Jesus head read “King of the Jews”. Pilate may have been grieved at his part in the death of an innocent person, or annoyed that he was manipulated into that part (“if you let this man go you are no friend of Caesar’s”), but he was pragmatic enough to use the situation to help pacify the turbulent province under his authority.

    “Just the right time”? On this hypothesis, AD 10 looks “too early” for the death, at the hands of the Romans, of Israel’s Messiah to accomplish much for the welfare of Israel; the last outbreak of nationalist fervor was suppressed too recently. AD50 may be “too late” to prevent a war, even if the leader is killed. AD30 may have been just the right time to tamp down militant messianism in Israel. In the actual event, there was peace, more or less, in Israel for another 36 years after the Romans killed Israel’s son-of-David Messiah in AD30. That was enough time for the ancient faith of Abraham to spread out into the Gentile world and become strong enough to survive when the war against the descendants of Abraham finally came.

    “while we were still weak”? This seems pretty clear on this hypothesis — the would-be militants (among whom Paul would surely have counted himself, zealous pharisee that he had been) were not yet strong enough to launch a war of liberation against Rome without widespread public support. Some in Israel surely hoped that Jesus was the Davidic warrior king they had been waiting for (Lk 24:21).

    This is, I concede, a very strange interpretation, but it helps to answer other puzzles that the conventional theories/theologies do not. For example, why did Jesus not reveal Himself to all Israel after the Resurrection? Caiaphas’ concern regarding the raising of Lazarus, that this would lead to a mass following of Jesus and Roman intervention is intensified if the man, Jesus, the Romans have killed because He was Israel’s King Himself comes back from the dead. I suspect that this is also why Jesus did not remain among the Apostles (supposing that He could have done that while staying hidden from the rest of Israel). They were still in “restore the Kingdom and kick out the Romans” mode — Acts 1:8

    Jesus pretty clearly did not want a war with Rome; He warned against it in His public ministry and, arguably, died to (at least in part; this does not preclude larger purposes in the Cross) prevent or delay it. Imagine how much more difficult the Gentile mission would have been if the crucified Lord Paul preached had been killed as the leader of a failed military rebellion.

    This is a very different “spin” on Romans 5; it suggests that in Paul’s mind the “us” and “the ungodly” in view is actually “rebellious Israel” (this does not preclude larger theological implications or applications), and it may be related to the odd text in Romans 15:8 that I suspect is actually a summary of Paul’s entire argument in Romans (again, an odd view in the light of historic readings).

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  291. Samuel Conner: Allow me to slightly amend this: “no new [canonical] data”.

    On the one hand, that isn’t quite what I meant by data, but at the same time, I accept that correction. There’s no more scribsher to be had. But that’s part of the problem, to my mind.

    As a quick interlude, let me add that I don’t believe in the sufficiency of scribsher in any meaningful interpretation of that group of english-language words (though, like Calvinism, TheSufficiencyOfScribsher “doesn’t mean that” for ALL values of “that”). Thus, I’m free to think a lot of blasphemous thoughts – about, for instance, the possibility of God being greater than the Bible.

    But I stray. Any hypothesis about what the god of the Bible is like cannot be tested. [Generic] you can’t ask Him about anything because He only speaks through scribsher, making scribsher itself untestable. I can’t see what evidence confirms my interpretation of scribsher because a) a wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign (although Jesus, who said that, had in fact performed abundant signs already) and b) the incarnation of scribsher was itself the final sign to end all signs. God cannot give any more because scribsher has already made its Presence known on earth and no longer needs any “god” to prop it up.

    On the other hand…

    Suppose just for a moment that God actually existed, in the everyday real sense of the word.

    (I know, I know… he doesn’t. God is just the sum of our interpretations of the bible. But humour me for a minute.)

    Suppose, in other words, that Jesus actually rose from the dead in the same way that any very stable genius would want to rise from the dead, and that he actually lives – now, in real time – to speak on our behalf before a God who is as physically real (however transcendent) as a carpenter from Nazareth was in 1st-century Judea. That would mean he could speak, instruct, lead, guide, rule, and overall we could test our assumptions about him by seeing whether they matched what he actually did.

    In that case, if our theories about him were wrong, we could actually learn from God himself. That would be amazing.

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  292. Law Prof,

    Thank you, Law Prof, for your comment. And especially for being willing to ask questions and express doubt, as an elder. That takes a lot of guts. I think most of the elders at our church are Calvinists (good, well-meaning people who are sincere Christians, but who probably don’t realize what Calvinism actually teaches) and have all fallen sway under a strong, domineering Calvinist pastor who is dogmatic about his views. My husband and I wrote a long letter to the church about our concerns (https://anticalvinistrant.blogspot.com/2019/04/letter-to-our-elders-regarding.html), hoping that maybe one of them would start to question the Calvinism or at least try to reign in the pastor a bit, realizing that they are alienating people who don’t agree with him. But it appears that none of them have done so, since he is only getting more vocal about it. I wish one of our elders would have had your discernment and courage in que