You Know You Might Be a Fundamentalist, a Calvinist or an Evangelical If…

“We’ve gotten beyond the Galatian brand of legalism today. We haven’t resurrected circumcision as a requirement for salvation, and we’re clear that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ apart from the keeping of the law. Instead, we have developed another brand of legalism, a brand that is concerned, not with salvation, but with how we live the Christian life. I call this “evangelical legalism”… Jerry Bridges




John Piper recently wrote an article entitled: 20 Reasons I Don’t Take Potshots at Fundamentalists. Link.   I disagree (surprise, surprise!) with many of his suppositions which I find rather strange for a recognized Biblical scholar. Why?  Many people in our society have no understanding what constitutes true Christian faith. It is far too easy for unbelievers to think they must dress like a dork and accept Jesus in order to be considered a Christian. Betcha think that I am exaggerating.


Three years ago, I spent two weeks touring Alaska by ship and bus with about 40 people. I became friendly with two couples from Holland. One day, while observing whales bubble net feeding (my explanation and an awesome You Tube video can be found at the end of this post),  I said something to them to the effect that God sure knew what He was doing when creating this incredible and beautiful diversity.

They started talking to each other in their native tongue and one of the women turned to me and asked if I was a Christian. When I said I was, she said that she was confused because I wasn’t wearing a long skirt and heavy stockings! I said that faith in Christ did not mean adhering to a dress code. She told me that, in Holland, the Christians all dress that way and that is how they are identified. She said she thought I wore nice clothes (Mark Driscoll-eat your heart out) and so, in her understanding, I could not be a Christian. Well, I spent the rest of the trip unraveling the Gospel from legalism while dressed, as always, in impeccable style.

And that defines the problem. One of our regular commenters, Arce, made a very important point in the following comment:

“Legalism always tries to add something to what is required to be a Christian. Sometimes we call it “Jesus +”, as in:

  • Jesus + YEC
 Jesus + tithing
Jesus + certain language (e.g., “inerrancy”. BTW, that is inerrancy in the “original autographs” whatever that means)

  • Jesus + voting Republican (changed in the South from pre 1960, when it was Democrat!!!)
  • Jesus + “don’t drink, smoke or chew, or befriend those who do”

  • Jesus + “no mixed bathing” meaning swimming with a person or persons of the other gender
Jesus + pro life

  • Jesus + KJV only
  • Jesus alone is enough: ” . . . whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life!”



The following 8 points are those from Piper’s list. I have added my comments with each point.


“1. They are humble and respectful and courteous and even funny (the ones I've met).”

Online Dictionary Reference Link

“Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary

Humility definition: "a prominent Christian grace (Rom. 12:3; 15:17, 18; 1 Cor. 3:5-7; 2 Cor. 3:5; Phil. 4:11-13). It is a state of mind well pleasing to God (1 Pet. 3:4); it preserves the soul in tranquillity (Ps. 69:32, 33), and makes us patient under trials (Job 1:22). Christ has set us an example of humility (Phil. 2:6-8). We should be led thereto by a remembrance of our sins (Lam. 3:39), and by the thought that it is the way to honour (Prov. 16:18), and that the greatest promises are made to the humble (Ps. 147:6; Isa. 57:15; 66:2; 1 Pet. 5:5). It is a "great paradox in Christianity that it makes humility the avenue to glory."

Humility does not mean calling those who disagree with you names. Respect means treating President Obama with dignity and not calling him “the devil” even if you disagree with him. Courteous does not mean accusing other Christians, like Billy Graham, of compromise with Satan worshipers. (See yesterday's videos). I do not see humility, respect and courteous as words that define this group.


2. “They believe in truth.”
What is truth? Once again, according to the Online Dictionary

  • “the true or actual state of a matter
  • conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
  • a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like”


For many in this movement, Jesus drank grape juice and wore pants and women must always wear dresses because this is what the Bible says. Folks, truth is far too important to trivialized it in this way and John Piper should know it.

3.”They know that the Bible calls for some kind of separation from the world.”

If a man, in one of these churches, went to feasts and sent time eating and imbibing with prostitutes, nonreligious people, and partiers, he would be thrown out. Except this would mean that they would throw out Jesus. So, what’s the deal with separation? Jesus didn’t practice it and neither did the disciples.  Jesus didn't separate Himself from the Samaritan woman and Piper knows this as well.


4.”They tend to raise law-abiding, chaste children, in spite of the fact that Barna says evangelical kids in general don't have any better track record than non-Christians.”

Baloney!  Piper should know better. He quotes no studies about “fundamentalist” kids. My guess is that this group of people loses as many kids to secularism as do the evangelicals.


5. “They resist trendiness.”

Well, this is a new one. If you like wedge shoes this season, you are trendy and this is bad?  What's a woman to do? She keeps herself up, Driscoll style, and then gets accused of being trendy which is now a sin.  You guys can't make up your minds. So, if women wear pants, teens wear Rainbow sandals, and we all like Whole Foods (awesome cranberry tuna salad), we are guilty of the sin of trendiness?” Is this is in the Bible of the Calvinistas?  So, why does this crowd  like Mark Driscoll? Talk about trendy! Gotta love the Mickey Mouse shirt.


6. “They are not breathless about being accepted in the scholarly guild.”

Mr Piper, I am not sure what planet you live on but, the last time I checked, no one I know was breathlessly awaiting an acceptance in the scholarly guild. Most people were breathlessly waiting to find out how much it would cost to fill up their tank. Just who is Piper hanging around with and what guild is he referring to?!!!  Can I join? Let me know. I breathlessly await.  Great Scott!


7. “My dad was one.”

Since when has truth been defined as something that is “all in the family?” My grandmother used to think that all that stuff we left on the moon was causing the bad weather.


8. “Everybody to my left thinks I am one. And there are a lot of people to my left.”

Now this final reason is the reason why Piper is wrong in his approach. The world is confused about what constitutes the faith. I have been called liberal, loose, conservative and a fundamentalist. I am none of these labels and I will fight to help people understand what true faith is in Jesus Christ sans labels. So should Piper.

So what defines a fundamentalist, evangelical and Calvinist?


I want to thank Karlton, our resident atheist, who got me going on this humorous definition of what constitutes an Evangelical, Calvinist and Fundamentalist. Over 20% of the examples are his. I added some of my own.  So, with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, we present the following.


You might be an evangelical if…

  • You believe that hell is going to be populated by Catholics (except for Mel Gibson), the Clintons, Mormons (with a special dispensation for Glen Beck), the staff of New York Times (all of them), Rosie O’Donnell, all of the people from the Mid Atlantic and Northeast coast and West coast (with a special hot spot for Hollywood), Brian McLaren, Rob Bell and all Liberals.
  • You think Kirk Cameron should get the academy award for best actor in Fire Proof.
  • You think homoousios is a congressional bill for same-sex marriage.
  • You submitted to your wife on your vacation destination and feel guilty about it.
  • You don’t really have any idea what “Evangelical” means and you really don’t like to witness anyway.
  • You think the Great Commission is what you get if you join Amway.
  • Your church has a band that performs Christian contemporary songs which have seven words, repeated 11 times. (7-11 music)
  • You have no doubt that the best non-biblical book ever published is Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”
  • Your favorite Bible is the NIV Study Bible because you can quote from the footnotes and everyone thinks you are smart.
  • Your pastor preaches three point sermons and each point starts with the same letter and people get mad if the pastor runs over-time.
  • You think “expositional” is someone who doesn’t take a position on anything.
  • You’re not sure what TULIP stands for, but you know you’re against it because Holland is a liberal country.
  • Beth Moore studies can be substituted for Bible study.
  • You think Ellen DeGeneres is really funny but you would never tell your Bible study group.
  • You were really excited when the supermarket started carrying beer and wine because you were too embarrassed to go to the ABC liquor store because someone from church might see you. This way you can hide the six pack under the baby diapers.
  • If your pastor mentions the Puritans, you think of the Salem Witch Trials and think they were all nuts.
  • You hope that a couple of the Duggar kids will run away and join Greenpeace.
  • You pretend you net tithe but the tithe is unbiblical anyway.



You might be a Calvinist (neo)  if…

  • When your daughter was born you and your wife had the biggest argument of your marriage and for some reason she just wouldn’t go for the name “Augustina”.
  • If someone were to write a book entitled, “The Axis of Evil: Pelagius, Arminius, and Finney”, you would spare no expense in order to obtain an advance copy.
  • You think that Christians who do not know the meaning of homoousios are red necks.
  • Your ESV Bible has the autographs of John Piper, CJ Mahaney and Al Mohler and you are trying to white out the name of Francis Chan since he gave up megachurch stardom for some stupid mission.
  • You think David Platt is an ascetic and that sounds like something that Jesuits would do and they aren’t Calvinists.
  • You had five children and became exhausted. So you secretly started birth control and hope you can fly under the radar.
  • Anyone who does not adhere to all five points of Calvinism is most likely unsaved and will not be allowed to attend the Gospel Coalition meetings
  • Beth Moore is not a Calvinist so why are we talking?
  • Your favorite Bible is the ESV and you are not sure how people found the truth without it.
  • If you are part of the Mark Driscoll camp, you drink single malt scotch and tweet about it. If you are part of Al Mohler’s camp, you believe it is demon hootch but you hold your tongue because Driscoll is successful in getting people with tattoos to come to church.
  • Your pastor preaches 5-point sermons, in honor of TULIP, with 5 subtexts, along with frequent references to the Puritans who were really, really fun people. You don’t attend the last service of the morning because the pastor always runs 30 minutes overtime because there isn’t another service.
  • Who is Ellen DeGeneres?
  • Who are the Duggars?
  • You can state what Calvin said about the tithe.



You might be a fundamentalist if:

  • You have all the episodes of 17, 18,19 and Counting: The Duggar Family recorded on your super-secret TIVO.
  • You pray Michelle will conceive triplets before menopause.
  • You think Billy Graham is a Satan worshiping compromiser.
  • You support a bill for Congress to force schools to teach in King James English.
  • You think cargo culottes are a statement of rebellion.
  • When your teen daughter cut her hair to ear length, you forced her to get hair extensions.
  • You only read the King James Bible but don’t understand what it is saying half the time.
  • Your 50 inch flat screen LCD is on wheels and there is a closet with enough space to fit it in case the pastor pays an unexpected call.
  • You would fire, immediately, any pastor who said the word homoousios.
  • You believe that the Pope will be the AntiChrist and all Catholics, including Mel Gibson, will go to hell.
  • You have memorized all the verses of The Old Rugged Cross and all of the Bill Gaither music.
  • The pastor stops on time because they usually have to repeat verses of The Old Rugged Cross until someone comes forward at the altar call. If no one comes forward after the 15th run through, Sister Bertha is primed to come forward to “rededicate” her life for the 10th time.
  • You gross tithe because the pastor knows your salary.
  • Alcohol is demon hootch. It has been totally proven that Jesus drank grape juice and the Discovery Channel knows it and is sitting on the evidence and that is why you never watch TV.
  • Beth Moore is a spawn of Satan.
  • Ellen DeGeneres should be executed.
  • Puritans? Huh?



PS: Bubble net fishing occurs when a group of whales circle around a school of fish and herd them together while under water. The lead whale makes a trumpet sound when the time is right and all the whales open their mouths and swim upwards at high speed and jump into the air with mouths full of fish. The boat had microphones under the water and we both heard the trumpet sound under water and saw the incredible sight of 7 whales leaping into the air.




Lydia's Corner: Joshua 21:1-22:20 Luke 20:1-26 Psalm 89:1-13 Proverbs 13:15-16



You Know You Might Be a Fundamentalist, a Calvinist or an Evangelical If… — 87 Comments

  1. Dee,

    Since YECers don’t believe any death occurred before the fall, I guess these ginormous whales feasted on seaweed, not fish.

    Sorry to get off topic, but that was my first thought while watching this incredible video.

  2. I gotta admit, I usually like Piper’s sermons, but his open acceptance of Fundamentalism stunned me. All I could conclude was that he was calling some other group Fundamentalists. Christian Fundamentalists are the biggest class of moral relativists that I have ever seen. They are always shifting around their so-called moral absolutes. They lie all the time, slander, resort to name calling, engage in racist practice, encourage rabble rousing when displeased, and their very structure is disobedient to Scripture. Fundamentalism houses heresies, crimes, swindling, and abuse. I really did wonder who in the world Piper was describing: NOT Jack Hyles, Jerry Falwell, Curtis Hudson, or anybody with the initials B.J or the last name of Horton.

  3. If they truly are uniformly humble, respectful, courteous and funny they’ve got more going for them than Piper has going for him! Thinking, specifically here, of his “Farewell Rob Bell” tweet. Let me know how that was humble or respectful or courteous or funny if you can manage it. 😛

    And what is with Piper and numbered lists? 20 this and 50 that and 50 something else… Personally I think it makes it easier for him to set up straw men so he can *eye roll* shoot them down – or at least try. The man has got some fine stuff but when he’s off, he’s REALLY off.

  4. Can someone please address the strange phenomena of “men” being called to “lead” everything in some churches EXCEPT children’s ministry? WHY aren’t MEN teaching children? And I’ll even go further as to ask why more “men” aren’t teachers in women’s ministries?

    Would being involved in such endeavors be considered a waste of a seminary education and degree?!


  5. Stan,

    I remember going out to lunch with Dee to celebrate a 10,000 web count. Thanks for noticing.

    I’m still not sure what we’re counting, but the number does keep jumping, and we’re glad that somebody out there is reading what two ordinary middle-aged wives and mothers have to say about topics concerning the Christian faith.

  6. Wow, condemning three more children to live in that household. That would make some wonder about God’s wisdom and mercy, and whether it reaches to whether fertilization takes place for some couples at the cost of exposing children to THAT.

  7. “You had five children and became exhausted. So you secretly started birth control and hope you can fly under the radar.”

    I don’t think from my extensive experience with Calvinists of all stripes from the PCUSA and CRC to the RPCNA in person and reading on line that this can be considered a very good generalization. In my experience in Calvinist churches I’ve only met two families that were adamantly opposed to any form of birth control and both of those were more influenced by their homeschooling connections than anything. There were only a handful beyond that opposed to even hormonal forms of birth control.

  8. Watcher

    I am talking about the newCalvinists and if you don’t think big families are encouraged and birth control discouraged, then you haven’t been reading their blogs.

  9. Arce

    Have you watched the frank adoration that follow the Duggars when they arrive at any venue? People get really, really excited when a new pregnancy occurs. This is a good example of red neck theology at its best. Watch, i will get blasted about this. the Duggars, Beth Moore and neoCalvinists are the untouchables out there.

    Deep down inside, I am hoping that one or two of them will challenge “the system” just like one of Fred Phelps kids bolted from the house at the age of 18. He had his bags packed and stood in the garage until th clock struck 12 and took off. Unfortunately, he also took off from the faith because faith was tied to hatred in his household.

  10. These are really good.

    Thought I would join the fun and come up with a list for Moderate Baptists.

    You might be a Moderate Baptist if:

    • You think “Being Baptist” is a cool and catchy term.
    • You believe that Christian groups should not have doctrinal statements because everyone in the group should be free to believe what they want, but you believe that members of those groups MUST have the same belief about First Amendment jurisprudence.
    • You think an interfaith worship service is very honoring to God, but that the Gospel Coalition or Together for the Gospel cannot be.
    • You still believe that Jimmy Carter was the greatest President ever.
    • You hold out hope that Billy Graham will one day affirm the CBF.
    • You eschew Fundamentalist ways, but will fight to the death against public arenas selling beer, the adoption of a lottery or the construction of a horse racing track.
    • You think “Evangelical” is a Yankee word.
    • You see the pro-life position on abortion as the “Catholic” position.
    • You swear undying loyalty to SBC missionaries on the field, but only until you no longer control the FMB Board of Trustees.
    • “Dialogue” means anything but making clear statements about an issue.
    • You believe the Bible and the Koran are different books with a common word.
    • You have never met and cannot name an educated conservative.
    • You really believe that the SBC was on the cusp of reaching the entire world and all the galaxies for Jesus until Adrian Rogers came along.
    • You believe Paul Pressler is trying to take over the United States.
    • You think that Bill Moyers is a great Baptist Christian.
    • You think women pastors are great, but not at your church.
    • You believe that representatives of the Playboy Foundation and Jesse Jackson are really good speakers for SBC denominational events on sexuality and race, respectively.
    • You think that trying to pass laws about abortion, home school, traditional marriage are unchristian because Jesus did not talk about these things and it is forcing religious views on others. But you believe that Jesus gave clear teaching about tax policy and economic theories, and you believe it is important to force these views on society and demonize those who disagree as “not like Jesus.”
    • You now claim that you are not a Moderate.

  11. Anonymous
    How about:
    -You continue to boycott Cafe Du Monde in memory of the meeting that outlined the CR.

  12. “ourselves” !?!?!?!?

    I apologize. I missed this morning’s breaking news that you had become a Calvinist and a Fundamentalist.

    I apologize (for real this time). I agree with you that can and should laugh at ourselves. But, I have also learned through personal experience that sarcasm, while initially appearing humours, does little except to build animosity. Take, for example, my statement above. While making a point, the tone works to completely closes off discourse. Unfortunately, our society has moved away from civil discourse. (sorry for being such a downer – please return to your levity)

  13. Citation Squirrel

    I actually believe in the “us” part of it. We are all Christians, at least in my book. Now there are some out there who would question the salvation of those who do not believe in 5 points of Calvinism, those who imbibe alcohol, or those who do subscribe to the 5 points. I don’t.

  14. Str Germain

    Thanks for the website. I will spend more time reading it. I like the one post that I read.

  15. Ten months after his father’s death, John Piper wrote a post marking his dad’s 89th birthday. It’s interesting to read what John Piper had to say about his own upbringing.

    “My father was a card-carrying fundamentalist, with a twist. He was irrepressibly happy in the grace of God. I suspect there are a lot of fundamentalists out there like that. For all I know, I may be one. So here is a taste of what I grew up with, which may be why abstaining from dancing, smoking, drinking, movie-going, and card-playing never felt like big sacrifice.”

  16. Dee:

    That’s good.

    I can identify with so many of the ones above. My experiences growing up in churches included exposure to mainline Pres, Episcopal, Methodist, Southern Methodist, Southern Baptist, Independent Baptist. There is so much truth in all of this.

  17. You’re a strict 5 point Calvinist if you tell a child that was sexually abused “everything that happened is God’s will, so live with it”.

  18. “My father was a card-carrying fundamentalist, with a twist. He was irrepressibly happy in the grace of God. I suspect there are a lot of fundamentalists out there like that. For all I know, I may be one. So here is a taste of what I grew up with, which may be why abstaining from dancing, smoking, drinking, movie-going, and card-playing never felt like big sacrifice.”

    I think maybe we are missing the point here. Sounds like this man was a wonderful man that rested in the Grace of God, but chose not to do some things. What is wrong with that?

    I don’t smoke – yuck
    I don’t drink – don’t care for the taste
    I don’t dance – I’m really bad at it
    I don’t play cards – at least not very often.

    The point is not what we do or don’t do, but what is our attitude toward others? Are we judgemental with those that do? Do we question the salvation of those that live life differently? Just because Piper’s father lived his life a certain way, doesn’t mean he was a hypocritical, judgemental person. In fact Piper seems to say the opposite with his post. Which means that although he might have been a fundamentalist, he doesn’t seem to fit the mold of those that are being “exposed” on this post.

    I could use that same list for my grandfather, but he was a wonderful man who led many to faith in Christ and was a great influence in my life spiritually.

    It is not fair to throw everyone in the same “pot” just because they believe similar things.

  19. strawberryred,

    For clarification, this quotation was authored by John Piper, not his father. Interestingly, you didn’t list movie-going, so I’m assuming you enjoy that activity.

  20. Piper’s preaching almost ended my daughter’s faith, because she said she could not serve the kind of god Piper described at a college retreat (at Glorietta!!!). Luckily we knew a theologian that attended her church and told her to go talk to him.

    Keep in mind that Calvinists believe that God is sovereign over everything, EXCEPT his own sovereignty, which, of course, is moderated by his love for us.

  21. “Keep in mind that Calvinists believe that God is sovereign over everything, EXCEPT his own sovereignty, which, of course, is moderated by his love for us.”

    As a Calvinist since the age of 9 (before that I was inclined to follow my private school teachers over my pastors and elders, but Sunday school changed my mind), this statement doesn’t make sense to me. I started out reading it as saying that God doesn’t choose to limit his own foreordination of everything, but then I veered towards reading it as if the human analogue would be that my will governs everything except my will. Arce, can you clarify?

  22. As a parent, I restrained my sovereignty over my children so that they would learn to make good decisions, develop a moral sense, and develop a more mature approach to life. I let them make decisions and helped them to understand how the consequences related to their decisions. Before he was 4, my son basically said to me that he would rather be spanked, like other boys, than to have to explain his options and the consequences of them. Both children are extremely competent decision makers as young adults, as well as ethically and morally sophisticated in their decision processes. My children have also chosen to love their parents.

    I believe that God withholds his sovereignty over us to allow us to make choices and to chose to love and serve him. Calvinists do not believe that is possible, that everything is predetermined. I believe what God foreordained was the means of our salvation, not everything that happens. I cannot serve a Calvinist god, but I believe that God is more loving and forgiving and allows for choice.

  23. strawberryred,

    I think Piper’s perspective on his dad might influence how he presently perceives the faith. I don’t know. I took a class called The Psychology of History. We studied Hitler and Stalin, among others. We particularly focused on how their parental upbringing influenced their decisions later on.

    My dad was not a believer until his death bed. However he was very accepting of others, had a great sense of humor, and loved all kinds of music and movies. This upbringing had a profound effect on my faith and view of legalism.

    Piper’s dad believed in many of the legalistic rules, even though he was big into grace. Could such an upbringing influence how Piper views Calvinism? Perhaps. There is nothing wrong with looking at our history and seeing how family can influence things.

    BTW Hitler’s mother sure sounded like she had Borderline Personality Disorder and did some very nutty things. Hitler was exposed to bizarre things in his upbringing, which probably influenced his later stand on the Jews and Aryans.

    However, the point stands. It is OK to practice abstinence so long as it doesn’t become a requirement to be a really good Christian.

  24. Truly one of the funniest bits of religious humor/snark I’ve read in a long time. Or maybe ever.

  25. Calvinist are Cult Lead and Cult Fed….

    My question is why would the Calvinist follow a man teachings and doctrine whose religion or as I call them A “CULT” murdered men and women because they were opposition and exposed him for what he was……..
    a false prophet ?

    Why not have a group study Pontius Pilate and exploit his thoughts and doctrine why he had Jesus crucified? I can hear it now. I am a “pilateist”

    Same difference…

    I am on it…. or getting on it….As a Black Pastor in GA says…” Watch this – Watch this”

  26. You did not get it quite right about the bubble feeding. And the whales don’t come that far out of the water. 🙂

  27. Bennett
    What did I get wrong? What I saw looked like the video. Is the video wrong? I am confused.

  28. Dee,

    That must have been an incredible sight to see those whales jumping out of the water when you were on your Alaskan cruise.

  29. I’m still not sure what we’re counting, but the number does keep jumping, and we’re glad that somebody out there is reading what two ordinary middle-aged wives and mothers have to say about topics concerning the Christian faith.

    The number counts by one every time a page on the site is displayed. Click refresh and you’ll bump the counter by 1. Post a comment and you’ll bump it by 1. Go back to the previous page viewed then forward to the one you just left and you’ll bump it by 2. But 1 million is still a lot of pages. Plus it was restarted when it was about 40K.

  30. Is it just me or do I smell snarkiness?

    Mmmm… the sweet aroma!

    Jesus + “no mixed bathing” meaning swimming with a person or persons of the other gender

    This one belongs under the “fundamentalist” heading… substituting the word “gender” for “sex.” 😀

    You think Kirk Cameron should get the academy award for best actor in Fire Proof.

    That was one of the worst movies I’ve ever endured. Fortunately I watched it on YouTube for free and didn’t waste any money on it. Kirk Cameron is supposed to be a professional actor, and he was the worst actor in the cast.

    Wow, your web counter is close to 1 million, time to celebrate!

    It increases every time you refresh the page or go to another page. The man behind the curtain should be able to fix that for you. 🙂

    The “Preview” function doesn’t seem to be working tonight.

  31. Don’t forget about supporting Israel in almost everything. That might go in both the fundamentalist and evangelical categories. The Calvinists criticize Israel in almost every decision so they can differentiate themselves from the fundamentalists. I remember I saw something a decade ago on the news in which I thought Israel had reacted too harshly to a situation (my memory is failing what it was specifically). Thanks to my fundamentalist upbringing, I immediately started to condemn myself for “not supporting Israel”, began to question my salvation and if I was going to hell, and wondered if the satanic liberal media had brainwashed me. Luckily, I don’t have those meltdowns anymore, and try think through any issue related to Israel without having a knee-jerk reaction for or against Israel like 90% of Americans do.

  32. Concerning Piper and his dad….

    If you listen to these guys enough, you see a pattern. I can remember hearing Piper talk about his dad years ago. His dad traveled a lot and that left his mom in charge of the home. He talked about how competent she was but the minute his dad walked into the door, he took over and his mom knew her rightful place. He even gave examples of his dad choosing seats in restuarants, etc. He was trying to relate the “natural plan of leadership for males”.

    What I always find interesting about this is that they want to make sure we believe that their women are smart and capable but they must put this aside the minute the male organs enter the room. Sorry to be graphic but what else can it be?

  33. Stan, I support Israel because they are democratic surrounded by dictators. Also, name me one Arab/Muslim country that has Jews elected to it’s governing body. (I know, few have real elections) The Knesset has had Arab/Muslims for many years.

  34. Lydia said,

    “I can remember hearing Piper talk about his dad years ago. His dad traveled a lot and that left his mom in charge of the home. He talked about how competent she was but the minute his dad walked into the door, he took over and his mom knew her rightful place. He even gave examples of his dad choosing seats in restuarants, etc. He was trying to relate the “natural plan of leadership for males”.”

    Apparently, the absence of John Piper’s evangelist father during his formative years has had a significant impact on his life. Piper mentioned his “imbalanced parental upbringing” in a 1984 sermon. Here’s the excerpt:

    “But my struggle with anxiety is not just at the end of vacations. I wake up anxious virtually every morning. It’s probably some weird quirk in my personality or maybe some remnant of imbalanced parental upbringing, or more likely because there is sin in my mind and heart every day.”

  35. Deb/Lydia

    I believe Piper has a classic case of cognitive dissonance over his salvation. He believes he is one of the “worst sinners in the world” as all of them do. Yet, he is loved and enjoys his fame. If he truly said that about anxiety,then he has never inculcated the releasing grace of Jesus into his life. And there is freedom in that.

    Sin is used as a weapon of mass control by many in the “Jesus is still on the cross” crowd. They point fingers at people who come to their churches and tell them they have nothing to say because they are so infected with sin. But these guys have read the Bible and know they are as well. So, late at night, they feel guilty yet they can’t let go because it would mean that the priesthood of the believer included all those people who should shut up and do as they are told and fork over the cash.

    AS for leadership, is trivializing the whole matter by using the choice of seats in restaurants to make a stand. Leadership is earned, not by silly examples but by servant like behavior over the long haul. Piper knows this is well and so, he is conflicted.

    I wish the Calvinistas would start concentrating on grace instead of sin.

  36. Deb

    Most blogs fail after about 8 months. Even though the number refreshes with comments (not our own btw) and it does include people who view more than one page (not ourown either), it is still a significant accomplishment that many of the Calvinista crowd would wish to achieve. It just goes to show that God uses the most unlikely-middle aged women- to confront the established “dudes” of this movement.

    I still remember some arrogant pastor in Oregon calling us an obscure, little blog when we first started. He was right- we were but he also meant it in a derogatory sense. Not so small and not so obscure any more. Not up there with the big boys, but slowly trending upward.

    There are a couple of things that this blog has done. We have made some wonderful friends. And I have a place to talk about all these things that have been rattling around in my head for years with no place to go with it. Finally, the thoughts are out there for public consumption. We can get feedback, refine our thinking, and continue to grow, Lord willing.

  37. Arce, thanks for your response. You’ve got to be careful when stereotyping us Calvinists. Most modern-day Arminians believe in what is philosophically called libertarian free will – that you are not truly free unless at the last second you could always choose to do whatever is the opposite of what you end up deciding to do. Calvinists fall into two camps on the idea of the freedom of the will. The first are the hard determinists who basically think that God has predestined everything and that’s that. There are secular humanists who think that everything is predestined too, only they usually think genes and the laws of nature are the cause. I’ve heard it argued that Jonathan Edwards fell into the hard determinist camp, although from my reading of him I’d have trouble believing it. I also don’t believe that a hard deterministic view of God’s foreordination is biblical.

    Calvinists like myself are philosophically known as compatabilists. Basically we read the Bible and we see that it says that God foreordained everything (Eph. 1:11, Isa. 46:9-11, Ex. 4:21, etc.). We also read the Bible and see people very truly acting with free agency – that is that as whole people they make their own choices based on their intellect, emotional response to facts, and the way their intellect and emotions influence their wills (Ex. 7:13, Deut. 30:19, Mark 16:16, etc.). The Bible doesn’t tell us how these two things co-exist, and although I know philosophers who are compatabilists have all sorts of theoretical possible explanations the best theologians I know refuse to go beyond what the Bible says.

    I had lots of classmates in my college theology and philosophy classes with Calvinist professors (I had classes with non-Calvinist professors too, for the record) who said they couldn’t worship the god they believed the Calvinists described. The thing is, we Calvinists aren’t trying to make up a false god. We’re trying to believe in the God we find in Scripture.

  38. My response is: If there is no choice, there is no sin and no salvation; we are no more that robots; and Jesus died to save the already redeemed. Seems totally contrary to what he said in Jn 3:16.

  39. That’s just the thing – there is choice. Biblically there has to be.

    And God is also sovereign. Biblically he has to be.

  40. As I said earlier, God is sovereign, even over his own sovereignty. My belief is that he withholds his sovereignty over us to provide us with choice. I do not believe that we are individually predetermined, walking through a script written at creation. That form of predestination makes God a watchmaker who set it all in motion and has no further role in his creation.

  41. Lydia-
    I support Israel the majority of the time, but I no longer feel I need to support them 100% of the time.

  42. “My response is: If there is no choice, there is no sin and no salvation; we are no more that robots; and Jesus died to save the already redeemed. Seems totally contrary to what he said in Jn 3:16.”

    I have wondered about this when it comes to what Calvinist teach about irresistable grace. If one is predestined (using their definition) can they “choose” to sin when they are saved? Do they choose to read the bible or not? Do they choose to pray or not? Can they ignore promptings from the Holy Spirit?

    If they can choose any of the above, then they have free will.

  43. Lydia & Arce,
    How would you define free will? Until one starts seriously digging into the subject, one often doesn’t realize how important that definition is.

    It’s part of why I prefer the term free agency.

  44. “It’s part of why I prefer the term free agency.”

    Explain why you think they are so different?

    If there is one thing that wore me out about studying Calvinism is the definitions. We have “ontological” to explain heirarchy in the Trinity. Arminianism to define any believer not a Calvinist. Doctrines of Grace which presupposes that Free Will folks do not have a “doctrine of Grace” which only means teaching on Grace. And on and on. Oh yeah, the lastest one is “open Theist” which is a horrible thing but you are one if you are not a Calvinist or do not subscribe to their latest (old Arian) heresy of ESS.

  45. Not sure why Dutch people would tell you that Christians wear long stockings and skirts. I lived in Holland for four years over 20 years ago and that was not my experience at all. Lots of Christians in normal clothes. Dutch people have very good dry senses of humor and they might have been using that on you. I went to my first Sandi Patti concert in Holland and lots of nice Christians there in normal clothes. Went to an English speaking Baptist church and lots of nice Dutch Christians there in normal clothes. Used to hang out at Tyndale Theological Seminary and lots of nice Dutch Christians there in normal clothes.

    Holland did have a very conservative group of Christians whom I believed wouldn’t even drive a car on Sunday. They would only ride their bikes to church and yes the women wore long skirts. They were some sort of fundamental Dutch Reformed Church group. That is probably who the Dutch tourists were referencing.

  46. Watcher, I would like for you to explain to me why an athiest would choose not to secretly hurt someone they hate? Many athiests don’t do that when they could get by with it. How could that be according to Calvinist thought? They are depraved and have no free will.

    Conversely, Could a Calvinist who is elect choose to hurt someone secretly, not repent and still be elect?

  47. Lydia, as far as I know in the case of free will vs. free agency the debate is framed by the issue of what’s called libertarian free will. Libertarian free will, as far as I’ve always seen it defined, says that my will is free from all constraints of human nature and other influences. The decision has to be entirely uncaused. If you consider yourself as a human being that’s a bit much to claim. For example say I’m given the choice of having green beans or peas as my vegetable with dinner. I have only recently come to ever decide to take the peas. Up until maybe 4 years ago there would have been no chance of taking the peas. The texture makes me gag. That fact caused me to reject peas whenever it was politely possible to do so. A few years ago I realized that it’s good to vary one’s diet. Peas still make me gag, but the additional fact that I try to eat a wide range of foods causes me to will to eat peas. I as an agent make these decisions. That means my emotions and intellect play a huge role in influencing the abstract part of me considered as my will.

    It’s important to compatibalists because once you realize that your emotions and intellect influence your will it’s easier to begin to grasp how God might will sovereignly and yet people might also will freely and both can be true. So a Calvinist believes that since the fall all peoples’ wills are bent by sin. Actually, so did Jacob Arminius. He parted ways with Calvin by believing in a concept known as prevenient grace, whereby God provided grace to sinners to accept his offer of salvation, but sinners could resist. Calvinists of course believe that God’s provided grace is irresistible. The divide between Arminius and Calvin is smaller than a lot of people on both sides seem to think, sometimes.

    Those who call “any believer not a Calvinist” an Arminian are being reductionistic. The Catholics who consider themselves Thomists, for example, would disagree. So would anyone following in Pelagius’s steps. I’ve met too many people in different places on the spectrum of the doctrines of grace to believe it’s nearly so simplistic.

    I’ve always understood total depravity as a doctrine not to mean that all people are thoroughly bad, but to mean that all people are unable to respond to God as they ought intellectually, emotionally, and volitionally. Common grace is still in effect – people are still checked by conscience. I couldn’t help but agree with my brother in college when he pointed out with disgust that many of the Mormons we went to high school with were much better people, from a human perspective, than the “Christians” we were surrounded by in college. The atheist in question may be a stoic with the moral character of a Marcus Aurelius who seeks virtue for virtue’s sake and feels a great sense of pride in his or her own accomplishment of self-mastery. The atheist may even overcome the hatred by learning to see the person with more compassion. And so the atheist does the right thing. What the atheist fails to do is acknowledge God in it all and choose to honor God by mastering him or herself and learning to love because Christ first loved us. And that is where the atheist goes wrong (although I’m sure Karlton would strongly disagree with me on that).

    Onto your second question. For some reason I’ve noticed that those who do not identify as Calvinists like to talk about election from God’s perspective and ask us poor humans who do identify as Calvinists to do the same. The problem is that I am not God and therefore by definition I don’t know “the secret things of God.” That means that I don’t have access to the master list. All I have are Scripture’s teachings. And Scripture teaches pretty strongly that an unrepentant heart is a pretty strong contraindication that one is not saved, whether or not one has a “John Calvin is my Homeboy” t-shirt. And so if someone were to die unrepentant of secret sin, having nursed it throughout their lives, and then that fact came to light, you’d find a lot of people across the theological spectrum questioning that person’s salvation. To a Calvinist that would include questioning his or her election. But I also do know that God’s grace is abundant and abounding and his ways mysterious and I can’t cover all the corner cases. I do know that it would be a grave sin and no one who loves God ought to stubbornly grieve the Spirit like that. I also know that “there but for the grace of God go I.”

  48. The Calvinists have defined what “open theism” is and put a lot of people into that category. But it is like everything else they define, they have chosen an extreme definition that people who believe in free will don’t even recognize. The idea that God has not predetermined to the minutia the future and, in fact, responds to prayer, confession, etc., that was not predetermined, is the core concept in true (not Calvinista defined) open theism, which is not a heresy. Defiining what the other side is and believes is a Calvinista pattern. I could define Calvinistas as hyperauthoritarian, dictatorial, denying key scripture passages and concepts, and creating a God that is as authoritarian as they are — i.e., a bunch of unlovely heretics worshiping a god they have made in their own image.

    But I won’t.

  49. Since my previous post, I have received and read Watcher’s last post. Again, another Calvinist definition of the other side, defining “free will” in an extreme way. Sorry Watcher. I believe in free will and do not agree with your defnintion.
    I have the freedom to define my belief in free will the way I choose. You can define it any way you choose. But I will respond to my definition of it and use my definition of it and we may end up talking past each other as a result. But I will not accommodate my discussion to your definition. Sorry, friend. I do not agree to let anyone else define the terms of debate; I do not succumb to your rhetorical devices.

  50. I’m with Watcher–

    In ALL the experience I’ve had in churches whether growing up IFB or evangelical or Reformed Congregations….I’ve NEVER heard birth control preached against. Never. Not once. I do remember some IFB friends I had in Holland (who were American military from Texas) who said that they didn’t believe in it. She had a really hard time giving birth to her first baby….bet she started using birth control at some point!

  51. Arce, you don’t have to agree with my definition. If we establish a common one, then we can discuss, if you so choose.

    But I didn’t set that particular definition and Calvinists didn’t either. Philosophers did (those two preceeding words contain a link). In fact I first learned it in a philosophy class and have only ever read it in philosophy textbooks. Here is an interesting quote from that link that shows what modern philosophers think about libertarian free will as defined in that summary:

    A recent trend is to suppose that agent causation accounts capture, as well as possible, our prereflective idea of responsible, free action. But the failure of philosophers to work the account out in a fully satisfactory and intelligible form reveals that the very idea of free will (and so of responsibility) is incoherent (Strawson 1986) or at least inconsistent with a world very much like our own (Pereboom 2001). Smilansky (2000) takes a more complicated position, on which there are two ‘levels’ on which we may assess freedom, ‘compatibilist’ and ‘ultimate’. On the ultimate level of evaluation, free will is indeed incoherent. (Strawson, Pereboom, and Smilansky all provide concise defenses of their positions in Kane 2002.)

    But I’m willing to accommodate my terms to how they’re being used in a given debate.

  52. Shato

    Tales of Alaska-Part 3

    Good night! First I have one guy telling me that I didn’t see what I saw during a whale watch. Then I have you telling me that the folks from Holland couldn’t be telling me the truth because you lived there over 20 years ago.

    I will say this one more time. These two couples were very well to do. I spent two weeks in their presence. I am recounting to you exactly what they told me. One further point: They said they called those Christians by the name “longstockings” if that helps you. If they were pulling my leg, they did it in such a way that most anyone would not catch it. They then must have “pretended” to show interest in my faith, “pretended”to ask me lots of questions over a period of time so they could have a big “haha” when I wasn’t present.

    This incident happened three years ago and they were recounting (stupid rich people that they were) what they perceived to be the faith as it currently plays out in Holland. However, being the idiot that i am, I answered their questions as best I could and spent many days enjoying their company. They even emailed, asking me for pictures that we took when our raft was attacked by a bear on the Middle Kayukuk River outside Gates of the Arctic National Park. I am now waiting for the next commenter to tell me that didn’t happen as well or perhaps the bear was just playing a little joke.

  53. “It’s important to compatibalists because once you realize that your emotions and intellect influence your will it’s easier to begin to grasp how God might will sovereignly and yet people might also will freely and both can be true. So a Calvinist believes that since the fall all peoples’ wills are bent by sin.”

    Here we go…”compatibalists”….

    But you beg the question…most Free Will people believe that people’s “wills” are bent by sin.

    ” Actually, so did Jacob Arminius. He parted ways with Calvin by believing in a concept known as prevenient grace, whereby God provided grace to sinners to accept his offer of salvation, but sinners could resist. Calvinists of course believe that God’s provided grace is irresistible. ”

    1 Tim 4:1: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

    2 Peter 2:20-22: “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.'”

    Heb 6:4-6: “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace

    Heb 10:26-28: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

    1 Cor 15:1-2: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

    This is why I asked if Calvinists have the ability to “choose” to study God’s Word or pray. I do believe that God gives us grace to believe. He “opened” Lydia’s heart.

    “And Scripture teaches pretty strongly that an unrepentant heart is a pretty strong contraindication that one is not saved, whether or not one has a “John Calvin is my Homeboy” t-shirt. ”

    The problem is you are describing Calvin! Not only was he not repentent about having Servetus arrested when he came to hear Calvin preach but Calvin lamented in a letter to a friend after the burning that many people were turning against him because of it! He was whining. He was totally unrepentent and the smartest theologian in the world was not smart enough to know that burning someone (or beheading him as he suggested because the “state” beheads, the church “burns” and he wanted the state to be responsbile) for disagreeing with your doctrine is not of Christ. In fact, if you follow the timeline, Calvin was very put out with Servetus for daring to “edit” part of his writings and sending them to him. So when he showed up in Geneva at his church to hear him preach, Calvin took the opportunity to have him arrested.

    yet, you want me to believe he is one of the elect, no matter what he did as a leader of the church in Geneva. besides, a brilliant theologian would know a “state church” is not of Christ. I guess infant baptism is ok since there is no free will. :o)

  54. ” Philosophers did (those two preceeding words contain a link). In fact I first learned it in a philosophy class and have only ever read it in philosophy textbooks.”

    And this is the big problem. Calvin borrows from Augustine and Augustine, who was into Manichaeism and the Neo-Platonism of Plotinus melded Greek Philosphy with Christianity. He was schooled by the Bishop of Rome in Rhetoric. We won’t even mention his personal life which produced a child but even when he became a Christian, he refused to marry her.

    He accused the Donatists of being heretics…Where Calvin got his excuse for his persecution and hate for the Anabaptists.

  55. I chalk up much of the free will-determinism discussion to personality, and I think that the big shift into Calvinism has come about as a reaction to anti-intellectualism in previous decades.

    (For the record, I grew up Dispensationalist/Arminian and have shifted over into Calvinism, but I am not in line with the Calvinistas. From what I can discern, they follow Covenant Theology. My teachings from the Assemblies of God had a Lutheran flavor as opposed to Calvin, and I find myself most consistent with New Covenant Theology since leaving Dispensationalism ideology.)

    As I’ve transitioned through and have learned about all of these theologies, I believe that certain theologies appeals to certain people. The attorney, Calvin, appeals to more Left Brained people (who prefer the strong logic), though it also provides the illusion of intellectualism for those who are wounded and cannot process their pain. They use intellectualism to hide from it.

    It also seems to me that more Right Brained personalities tend to prefer Dispensationalism, because they don’t share the type of forensic approach that Calvin had.

    I also believe that failure to respect other believers and to tolerate the discomfort of differences on these intramural concepts within the pale of Christian thought that accounts for the divisions that we see in the Church as discussed in this article. When we get more focused on defending our particular take and understanding than on Christ, Him crucified and the essentials of the faith, we become neotribal. It is that which threatens to tear the church apart. Neotribal separatists and those who wish to take dominion and purify the church seem to so easily lose sight of the essential doctrine and love that should bind us together. They exist in both camps.

    God graciously allows us to comprehend Him from many vantages and in many ways. As we mature as believers, some of these details get refined and change. Some will transition from one group to another, as life and experience tend to change our perspectives. Yet, the essentials of the faith in Jesus and His Sacrifice endure — or at least they should. But many are taught that one perspective or the other is evil, and rather than love and work toward unity, they work to purify and rid the Church of the other. They seek uniformity instead. They fall into the trap of more primitive defense mechanisms of seeing everything in absolute or black and white terms. This all or nothing approach might seem to make the work of discernment easier, but the distinctions remain and the consequences of reducing everything to too much simplicity brings division.

    In contending for one’s own perspective as valid, we can start contending it as absolute truth. And no man in this flesh has it.

  56. Note: the statement that God allows us to comprehend him in many ways should in no way be interpreted as an argument against who Jesus is and against essential orthodox doctrine, such as laid out in the Creeds of the Church.

    Given the fluid nature of truth these days, I thought it best to make that clarification! The Word is not something from which we can pick pet doctrines and abandon others if we want to remain orthodox and traditional. To do so is certainly legal in America, but it is not orthodox and not necessarily something that honors Biblical Authority.

  57. Lydia, I will admit to not having studied the Calvin/Servatius controversy myself. The only time I’ve heard of it was from my pastor who was pretty adamantly and self-professedly defending Calvin in that instance, so not an unbiased source. I also don’t know that I feel a strong need to defend Calvin. My beliefs about God’s sovereignty, man’s fallenness, and all the rest aren’t determined by Calvin but by Scripture. And yes, we Calvinists study Scripture and pray.

    As to Greek philosophy affecting the church I heard much about that problem in college and also from Mike Horton (note: he’s a Calvinist). I don’t think it’s good. That doesn’t mean everything Augustine taught was wrong, though. But certainly some of it was. And same with Origen and others of his predecessors.

    Cindy K, your observations on left brained v. right brained fit mine, also.

  58. Good grief so complicated. Is all this really necessary? I mean, when you really get down to the nitty gritty? I can’t help but feel that all this minutiae has very little if nothing to do with becoming a vessel through whom the Holy Spirit can do his powerful thang. It’s like data for the sake of data. Impressive, yes! But…. in the end, so what?

  59. elastigirl, that was my frustration with calvinism…..which I was attracted to because. of what cindy referred to as the,anti-intellectualism of many evangelicals with their 3pt sermons and church growth focus of ‘nickels and noses’. but I am afraid many neo calvinist have fallen for the celebrity cult of personality. they are just using 10 dolllar words. :0)

  60. elastigirl,

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. I believe the underlying motive of all this Calvinist terminology is to make those who hold to the “Doctrines of Grace” appear more theological savvy than they really are. C.J. Mahaney is the first one who comes to mind. He loves to quote Spurgeon and the others, ad nauseum!

    I believe it’s just a smokescreen. Give me transparency!!!

  61. Cindy

    I have been blessed to be in four churches that were open to the wide variety of thinking in regards to the secondary issues or what I like to call the “B” issues.I was never so taken aback in my life when I found out that a former SBC church was a Secondary Issue promoter. I saw such ugliness over this stuff. They pounded secondary issues into young minds and the stuff presented was taught at an elementary school level.

    I am once again in a free church that allows for differences. Calvinists and nonCalvinists actually get along, like each other and share communion unlike some of those in the Calvinista scholarly guild set. Did you know that Mark Dever would not allow Ligon Duncan, his friend, to take communion in his church because he is a paedobaptist? Just like the Bible says “They will know we are Christians by our doctrine and scholarly guild membership.” Right?

  62. @ Dee re. “Tales of Alaska”: Oh, I hear you! I have an internet pal who grew up in a fundie “Baptist” church in the Netherlands. Will have to ask if they wore “longstockings” in that particular church – and i won’t be at all surprised to find out that they did and/or still do.

    Now… your raft was actually attacked by a bear?! I’m glad everyone made it out of there OK!

  63. fwiw, I don’t see any reason to think that tales about unusual garb are suspect – I grew up in a remote part of PA where *all* of the most “fundie”-type Amish groups live, and… you would probably be amazed to see how garb differs from church to church. (And adult Amish women definitely wear “longstockings.”)

    Then – check the Mennonite garb (or lack of distinctive garb, depending on one’s church and personal convictions). And then… check the local fundamentalist/Quiverfull crowd.

    After that, go to a local mainline church (i.e., not Pentecostal) and see what people wear.

    The variations in this spectrum are enormous – all in one tiny part of PA. (That most of the dress codes are about womens’ clothing is a given, I’m afraid.)

  64. Lydia, couldn’t agree more about those 3 point sermons, each point starting with a same-letter word or else all rhyming words. Ee gads. So embarrassing. So, yes I LOVE meaty, intelligent food for thought. But about something that actually matters. That fortifies and strengthens and heals and frees someone.

    Since I made my recent comment above I’ve been challenging it myself, acknowledging the value in understanding where my knowledge and conclusions have come from — not in a vacuum, but information I inherited, heard, remembered, read in various places…. and where did that come from? There is value in knowing & understanding these things.

    At the same time, I see that one can analyze and scrutinize and categorize and systematize (sorry about the rhymes) the data in the bible and its relevant history for many lifetimes over and never get to the bottom of it all — never fully plumb the depths & crack the case.

    Sort of like an optical illusion that my children aren’t able to see and which took me a few tries to see — except on a much larger more complex scale, which no one can fully see & understand in all its potential focus.

    But we think we can and “WE WILL, and actually WE’VE DONE IT!” “No you haven’t!” “Yes we have, and you better watch out!” “I disagree.” “Our system is the only one that makes complete sense.” “Not to us.“ “Well, our team is bigger than yours.” “Yes, but my team is nicer.” “Well,…..God likes our team better!” “But He agrees with us.”

    It’s all rather interesting, maybe even fascinating. But there comes a point when it becomes data for its own sake. (Or, perhaps data for “my sake ”? For “my team’s sake”?) A pastime. An obsession? And it seems to me that it’s more about all that we CAN’T be and all that we’re NOT, instead of all that we can be and all that we are. We can spend huge portions of our lives arguing about what we can’t do and what we’re not (or what you can’t do and what you’re not).

    Meanwhile, all this higher cognitive functioning keeps one circling in the intellectual realm. A world of control. Predictability. Proveability (or at leasts the need for such a world, at the risk of losing to the opponents!). A safe place.

    A distraction from simply letting God happen. To us. To others. To others through us.

  65. elastigirl & Lydia, I appreciate your challenging words on “data for the sake of data.” I’m of the personality that can get caught up in theology not for it’s real purpose of living for the Savior who died for me and caring for others but for the academic exercise. I’ve always appreciated people who point me away from the academics and towards the living.


    Theology is also richly applicable to my every day life, even some of the esoteric stuff. For example take sovereignty. It’s a nice antidote to my control-freak nature to remember that God is in charge. In fact we were recently discussing with our realtor how we were over “the house that got away.” His comment, as a fellow Presbyterian, was “That’s when it’s good to be a Calvinist, isn’t it?” The point he was trying to make was that there are situations smaller than not getting the house you wanted to buy and also much larger where a deep and rich understanding of how God’s rule of the universe interacts with our daily lives that is amazingly comforting.

    And Dee, I don’t think the point of the terminology is to make people look smart, at least not in the circles I move in. It’s used for the same reason as people in the military with their ridiculous array of three letter acronymns – it’s just shorthand for complex concepts to make the discussion go faster. If as Cindy K observed Calvinism attracts left-brained types more easily it makes some sense that a whole lingo would spring up.

    But the whole left brained, right brained dichotemy reminds me of what a professor at my broadly evangelical college once told a class of freshmen – we in the church need each other, the Presbyterians need the Lutherans, the Methodists the Baptists, the non-demoninational churches the strict confessionalists, and on and on – because we have much to learn from each other about our God.

  66. Dee,

    So, you are going to tell me that a country full of 16 million or so people only has fundamental stocking/skirt wearing Christians based on the observations of four Dutch tourists?

    I was there two years ago and guess what? My Dutch Christian friends were wearing NORMAL clothes.

    I am right with you on the fact that I think wearing ultra conservative clothes does nothing to advance the gospel, however, I am also for telling the truth. The absolute truth is that there are many more Christian groups in the Netherlands who are not fundamentalists. The four years I lived there I only saw one family like that because they would ride by my house every Sunday on their bikes on the way to church. I have no idea why educated well to do tourists would tell you that. I am not denying that they said that, I am telling you that they were wrong.

    I live in an area where I see Mennonites all the time. The women wear their hair in long pigtails/ponytails, and they always have on some sort of drab clothing. Probably most people look at them and see weirdos. But I also know that a Mennonite person would give you the shirt off his back, help his neighbor, live a righteous life…who am I to judge them on what they wear? How is it any different for us to put down fundamentalist groups for what they wear then them thinking we are worldly for what we wear? I volunteered at Samaritan’s Purse this past winter to get the shoeboxes out and worked a long side some Mennonite girls. They were a blast and they were hard workers. Who are we to tell them that a personal conviction about clothing is wrong?

    One of the problems here is that you are painting the IFB with one broad brush. You can’t do that. They are very varied and different from group to group. I doubt John Piper was talking about the Fred Phelps type. He was talking about your average run of the mill fundamental church whose theology isn’t different from an evangelical but their practice is.

    You totally missed the point on #6. What John Piper was referring to was IFB seminaries…John was saying that they don’t care if they go against the flow of evangelical or liberal thought…they stick with their convictions even if it doesn’t bring them scholarly praise or lots of $$$$ writing books for the church at large.

    Again, I am not fundamental, I have no desire to be fundamental and I see lots of problems with they way they do/teach things. But they are Christians, they are people just like you and me and making fun of them serves absolutely no purpose.

    Let’s stick to the facts and not ridicule.

  67. Watcher–

    I really appreciate your comments. It’s hard for me to fathom why people could even think that God isn’t sovereign after reading the Bible. For me, if God isn’t Sovereign then He isn’t worth trusting.

    Some quotes from Jerry Bridges have been on this blog…Jerry Bridges absolutely believes God is Sovereign over everything. Just read “Trusting God Even When Life Hurts” by him.

  68. Numo–

    I was not saying that there aren’t some people in Holland who dress that way. Your friend might have. What I was taking issue with was “She told me that, in Holland, the Christians all dress that way and that is how they are identified.”

    That is absolutely no more true in Holland then it is here in the US.

  69. Watcher wrote: But the whole left brained, right brained dichotemy reminds me of what a professor at my broadly evangelical college once told a class of freshmen – we in the church need each other, the Presbyterians need the Lutherans, the Methodists the Baptists, the non-demoninational churches the strict confessionalists, and on and on – because we have much to learn from each other about our God.

    A few months ago, I had an article published about a comparison and contrast between the “patriocentric” woman and the balanced Christian woman, and I made the same case. I cited Romans 11 as an example of this and what I pray will happen as a result of this state of affairs concerning the extremes of fundamentalism and the extremes of Calvinism that looses sight of the essentials of the Gospel. The Jews were legalists, but they were the instrument which God used to bring salvation through Jesus. That salvation was opened up to the Gentile, and grace and mercy were shown through Israel to them. When many Jews failed to follow Jesus, it was those Gentiles that came back and showed grace to the Jews in their unbelief.

    I see the common thread that runs through both groups discusses as a legalism, forcing compliance with the outward things in hopes that they will force inward conversion. The paternalistic approach hopes to affect people in a way that they see best for their own good. This is exactly what Saul did before he became the voice of Judaism which brought the message of the Gospel to the Gentile, taking on his Greek name of Paulus. As the Jews were legalistic, so are the Calvinistas and the Fundies, and I pray that as God works whatever He is working that in the end, it will serve to minister grace to more people than if things had been done differently. What does that say in the KJV? For God concluded them all in their unbelief that he might have mercy on them all. And then it goes on to talk about the depths of God’s wisdom and “Who hath known the mind of the Lord.”

    I don’t know the mind of the Lord, and frankly, the collateral damage we see through this religious abuse and division does not make any sense to me in the natural. But I am not God, and for that we can all be thankful. I have learned as I’ve wrestled with very practical problems concerning all of this stuff to be more optimistic and to rest in my faith in God’s power to do exceedingly abundantly above anything that I can come up with. And I continue to have my days of doubt and disappointment which make my optimism seem silly. By the pulling from both directions, we are reminded to be more mindful of God’s sovereignty but also of our personal responsibility to do what is right and good through obedience to God and the Word. In other words, we must be helping to keep one another in line.

    But we do make the simple so very complicated. I don’t think it needs to be, but it takes faith and maturity and experience at sitting with feelings of discomfort when we realize that we are different from one another.

  70. I live near a Mennonite congregation and we are friends with many who worship there. They are generous, loving, caring, active in addressing social ills, etc. And their clothing is not extraordinary, tending toward the uncomplicated, everyday clothing I see in the neighborhood, except for the general absence of shorts and halter tops.

  71. Shato

    Perhaps their comments were based on their perception because your normally dressed friends are not making it into their world. I don’t know why that might be the case but in the perception of these well to do business people, that is how the see the Christians. Glad to hear your friends are wearing wedge sandals this season.

    As for their clothes, I frankly don’t care if anyone wears jodhpurs and believes it is the way to worship God by their actions. However, when they make it a requirement, or allude that they are better Christian for doing so, then they give a view of the faith to the world that is confusing and that view is what I intend to confront.

    As for the IFB they have launched a fair number of survivors groups and my guess is that this goes far deeper than a conviction to wear long jeans skirts. There is a problem with this group that was well outlined in Schizophrenic Christianity as well as the 20/20 special.

    I have not questioned whether or not they are Christians, something a number of people in this group and others like to do. I am merely saying that their practice of the faith presents a confusing message to the world.

    I think that many points can be made better by humor and will continue to use it on occasions when the shoe fits. Remember, I also made fun of more than the IFB, including the group that best describes me. When we can take ourselves a little less seriously then we can be a bit more relaxed about our differences. Please feel free to be very,very serious. Did you know that some people, instead of humor, use arrogance to make their points? I prefer to laugh.

    And I totally missed the point of John’s statement? Hmmm,tell me what scholarly guilds that nonIFB people like myself are waiting breathlessly to enter? I know what he was saying about the IFB-believe me, they do not come across as “scholarly.” I am more interested in these “guilds.” Are you a member of a scholarly guild? Will you sponsor me?

  72. Numo

    Yes, the codes are primarily directed at women who are “gullible and easily deceived” and need some men to tell them what constitutes appropriate dress.

    Also, in regards to my friends in Holland, the Christians may not be entering certain segments of society in their evangelization. Therefore, these folks have noticed only one type of Christian-The Longstockings. It is a small country and these folks were well travelled and owned a number of businesses. Perhaps they have yet to encounter the cutely dressed set.

    So, in fact, my encounter may be helpful to Christians in that country. Perhaps they need to make a concerted effort to reach into certain business segments. But, I have no doubt, that the inimitable Shato will tell me that I am all wet with this ides. However, he cannot take away the perceptions of these folks. They stand.

    Finally, I believe than any group of Christians who add something to the faith, be it a form of dress or a view on the age of the earth, is hurting the cause.

  73. Arce
    The Mennonites would put many of these superstars to shame. In fact, they are more into social justice than some of the “leaders” of the current, cool movements. But, they would just say these folks are liberals and that is as bad as saying one is not a 5 point Calvinist.

  74. There seems to be a misunderstanding by some here that free will folks do not believe in Gods Sovereignty. He was Sovereign when Adam ate with his eyes wide open.

  75. The understanding of sovereignty between “free will” and “five point” types (or whatever we’re calling them these days) has always seemed subtly different to me. The question of whether God merely forsaw someone’s salvation versus whether he predestined it, that sort of thing. Also the emphasis has always seemed different. But for each individual person who may self-identify with a given camp I think you might find a slightly different personal belief.

  76. “In fact we were recently discussing with our realtor how we were over “the house that got away.” His comment, as a fellow Presbyterian, was “That’s when it’s good to be a Calvinist, isn’t it?” The point he was trying to make was that there are situations smaller than not getting the house you wanted to buy and also much larger where a deep and rich understanding of how God’s rule of the universe interacts with our daily lives that is amazingly comforting.”

    You mean like when babies get cancer? Or a young girl is molested by a pastor? Calvinist make God the author and director of evil.

    I always worry when folks make comments like you did above. I believe God can intervene but not that He is directing every single action. If He is, there would be no need for the Cross. I certainly would not ask Him to plant the seeds for harvest. I would pray for rain, though. And understand that it rains on the just and unjust. Some get their reward here. And that is not a good thing.

  77. There was a young baby in my church who got cancer when I was in high school. And at about 18 months after a long struggle he died. I was not particularly close to the family, but in a church of about 100 people at an age where you are becoming increasingly self-aware and adult, it has an impact. Like any person and like any church dealing with suffering we all wrestled with it to a greater or lesser extent. And at the end of the day what I think many fell back on was Romans 8:28, that God was not creating evil but good.

    As to God’s relationship with sin, the Westminster Confession maintains the position that must be true of all orthodox Christians – that God could never be the author and director of sin. And I don’t think I’m throwing the word orthodox around lightly when I say that – God’s goodness is an ‘A’ issue.

    “The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is, nor can be, the author or approver of sin.” (ch 5 para 4).

    I have always, always gotten great comfort out of a wonderful quote from Martin Luther – “The devil is God’s devil.” (More on that if you click here). The idea is that no evil force is ever outside of God’s plan, and nothing will stop his love for us (Romans 8:38-39). “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” is not something I would trippingly through in the face of someone abused to explain God’s control (that is not the time or place), but it’s in Genesis for a reason.

    In my life I’ve been very blessed. But I did grow up the child of someone who experiences daily great physical suffering and can attest through all of it that a doctor’s carelessness leading to injury was good from God.

    Evil is real. God is good. God is all-powerful. God is sovereign. It’s tough no matter how you try to bring those items together.

  78. Watcher,

    My bible also teaches that God is love. His sovereignty is limited by his love, his choice to love us and to come and die for us. If he were all sovereign, then there would be a toothless devil and no evil in the world. But his sovereignty is limited, by his choice to create people with the freedom to choose.

  79. Numo

    Can you believe it? The river is shallow-about 4 feet deep in that area. The guide told us that bears do not attack on water so he did not carry a gun. It was two of my kids and my husband and I at 10 in the evening which meant bright sun in July. There was a male bear on the ban and I guess he thought we looked like a floating Triscuit. He did a dead on run at the raft. I started screaming-the guide told me to shut up and made all of us stand up and beat our chests and roar. Well, bear reared up on his hind legs and roared. I saw his teeth, dripping with water and almost fainted. My husband and the guide got the oars ready to start beating this ridiculously big bear and told the kids and me to try to slowly make our way to the bank while they distracted him. But, our roaring succeeded and he, at the last minute turned and ran away.

    Well, this caused a big hoo hoo with Holland America which sponsored out bus trip to the Arctic oil fields prior to our cruise. They gave us all sorts of perks. In fact, our story made the rounds in Alaska because “bears are not supposed to attack on water.” A week later, we had signed up for a rafting trip through an eagle sanctuary. I asked the guide if there were bears around. He started to give me the line about bears not attacking on water. I told him what happened. He said “Oh, you’re the people. That story is really getting around.”

    So, our story is legendary in some circles. I still do not like to look at bears.

    Let me know what your friends say about “the longstockings.”