Calvinists, Calvinistas and Me

"Here’s my rule of thumb: the more responsible a person is to shape the thoughts of others about God, the less Arminianism should be tolerated. Therefore church members should not be excommunicated for this view but elders and pastors and seminary and college teachers should be expected to hold the more fully biblical view of grace. "         John Piper   ("Hmmm" -Dee)



Salem Witch Trials-The Puritans in Charge


Note: The blog format is changing and is in need of some tweaking. Please bear with us.


Recently, a few concerns were raised about our seeming negativity towards Calvinism. I will admit, we are negative but not towards Calvinists. We are concerned about “Calvinistas”, a term invented on this blog. I thought a review of my thoughts on this matter might clarify my way to differentiate between these two terms.

A few years ago, I had weekly meetings with a well-known Mormon leader. Early on, he challenged me to read books by Mormons, not books about Mormons. In other words, he did not want me to judge his beliefs via hearsay. I agreed. Having been a Christians for many years and understanding key Christian doctrines, I was able to analyze the many books and websites to which he directed me. I even attended a service and Sunday school at a local stake.

Interestingly, several Christians thought I would be accosted by “demons” and fall prey to error. In fact, none of this happened. I even learned a number of things about Mormonism that I did not read in typical books written with the intent to “witness to Mormons.” For example, much to my Mormon friend’s dismay, on a Brigham Young University Question and Answer site, I learned that Brigham Young believed that there were people dressed like Amish people living on the dark side of the moon. Their answer was even more amusing. They claimed we had not yet seen the entire moon! I copied this and gave it to my friend. He appeared startled. Although he is still a Mormon, he respected my willingness to learn the faith from his perspective.

I continue to use this philosophy as I approach Christian conundrums. So, a few years ago, I decided that I was going to do a bunch of reading and make lists about who made the most sense-the Calvinists or the Arminians. I read Sproul, White and some of Calvin’s Institutes. I made extensive notes, which I still have.

So, where did that leave me? Unsatisfied. I was impressed with the body of work in general. There is no question that most of these writers and thinkers are zealous in their pursuit of Scripture and many evangelicals could take a clue from their commitment. They are Biblically faithful in their conclusions and rarely use “feelings” as a basis for their theology.

However, Calvinism does not answer all of my questions. In particular, it leaves me wanting in the area of man’s choice. In spite of the well-developed arguments to the contrary, I continue to see no problem in a sovereign God imbuing in all men with the capability to make this choice without coercion. I have found that most Calvinists respect my decision.

But, this is not the case with the Calvinistas. The Calvinistas defend Calvin, the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards and the modern day Reformed big dogs like John Piper, as if they are defending Jesus Christ and I find this disconcerting. You see, I, too, respect these theologians but I do not think they are without the possibility of error. 

This is my perspective. John Calvin, a remarkable and gifted theologian, was also a sinner who was an intolerant authoritarian ruler. Here is a link to our post on Calvin called John Calvin, the Original Reconstructionist and Mere Mortal

The Puritans were superstitious, deceptive land grabbers, and intolerant of the first Baptists. Please refer to our five posts on the Puritans. Here is a link to one called Why Didn’t the Puritans Follow Matthew 18? 

I can empathize with those who find that Reformed theology gives a depth and breadth to their faith. I have friends who are Calvinists and I enjoy their thoughtfulness in theological debates. But, sometimes I am stymied by their assumption that I haven’t read or listened to the big dogs of the Reformed bent. There seems to be a supposition that, if I really, really read and understood the incontrovertible theology of the Reformed movement, I would have to believe it. If I don’t, I am stupid, a lightweight or, even worse, just another gullible woman.

The Calvinistas demand adherence to certain secondary issues including strict complementarianism in which vaguely concealed undercurrents of sexism are considered “Biblical.” By this I mean certain statements by the vaunted Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and echoed by Calvinistas like Mark Driscoll that women are “gullible and easily deceived.” I find pronouncements of this sort offensive and unbecoming of those who consider themselves thoughtful Biblicists.

Even the name of the Council of “Biblical” Manhood and Womanhood shows certain arrogance. Why? Because they leave no room for the possibility that those of us, who might have some minor disagreement with their views, could have a view that is also Biblical. It is either their version of the Bible or one is outside the pale of orthodoxy. Hubris is unbecoming to the faithful.

There is a strong push to hyper-authoritarianism with such pastors believing that they have a “special anointing.” It is almost embarrassing the number of Calvinistas who say foolish things and thus demonstrate that their “anointing” is very, very questionable.

Finally, I am looking forward to the debate that will arise as Al Mohler begins his Inquisition into “creationism.” Mohler is a true believer in Ken Ham and the Flintstone Doctrine, which states that men and dinosaurs cavorted together a few short millennia ago. He calls this the major issue for the coming year.

Interestingly, there are a few Calvinistas who believe in an Old Earth or Theistic Evolution. Now, both sides are convinced that they have the correct interpretation of the Bible in this matter. My prediction is that, once they prove the rest of us are unbiblical, they will go after each other. Frankly all these guys should be glad that Calvin did not prevail in his views of punishment for supposed “heresy” or there would be beheadings in the near future.

I find it amusing that most Calvinistas resemble the old hardcore Southern Baptist leadership in almost all of their secondary contentions. Most old time SBC types are strict free will adherents. It’s funny how a bunch of men (primarily) have arrived at the exact same conclusions on the age of the earth, the anointing of pastors and the role of women. Could it be that the only thing that divides them is a simple TULIP? And, in the long run, does it really matter? The theological underpinnings are different but the actions and attitudes are the same.

Oh yeah, so what do I believe? I do not embrace either side of the argument. I think the reason that there are always two sides to this issue, both now and in the past, has to do with the fact that the full story is far more complicated than simple. Our salvation is simply defined. We see a glimpse of God through Jesus.

But, when I contemplate multiple dimensions (Hugh Ross said there could be as many as 13) and the possibility of multiverses, I become perplexed, and even more so humbled, and wonder what really is out there beyond the edge of the universe that we now see. I think the truth is not fully comprehendible in our current, limited humanity and find certain formulas about God’s functioning somewhat formulaic. (Like we really know what’s going on out there). But in the vastness of space and time, there is our God who is in control and it is in Him I trust even though I do not, and cannot in this life (and maybe, even in the next) fully understand.

Bottom line: I like the Calvinists. It is the Calvinistas with whom I struggle.



Lydia's Corner: 2 Samuel 7:1-8:18 John 14:15-31 Psalm 119:33-48 Proverbs 15:33



Calvinists, Calvinistas and Me — 128 Comments

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    I have no intention of becoming nude with any one on this blog.

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    I would encourage you to read outside the pop apologetics of Reformed publishing. Sproul and White have some value, but confessional Reformed thinking (even in this country) is wider and deeper. You should be reading the theologians who are actually doing the hard work of constructive dogmatic thinking: Douglas Kelly at Reformed Theological Seminary has an excellent first volume systematic theology. Michael Horton at Westminster California is awe-inspiring in the breadth and clarity throughout his vast corpus. Kevin Vanhoozer at Wheaton is perhaps the most creative evangelical theologian in the Reformed tradition. Richard Muller at Calvin Seminary is the greatest Reformed historical theologian since Philip Schaff in the 19th century. Muller has revolutionized the way we think about Calvin and his successors in the 17th century.

    You may say that these are the Calvinists you respect, not the Calvinistas you bemoan. Fair enough, but I really don’t think the distinction is that easy. These are the teachers and leaders who are shaping Reformed theology in America, training the current and future generation of Reformed pastors and scholars. They are supported and funded by Reformed institutions and publishing houses. Kelly, Horton, Vanhoozer, and Muller all teach at evangelical seminaries, with Kelly and Horton teaching at two of the more conservative Reformed seminaries in the country (RTS and WSC). I really don’t think we can distinguish the Calvinistas from the rest, without unwittingly dismissing the whole culture of confessional Reformed thinking. I can do that as well — and have done that — but it doesn’t actually help anything. That’s what I’ve come to realize. Instead of picking on the more disconcerting aspects of Reformed churches and culture (e.g., certain statements by certain celebrity figures), I want to actually see the complexities of the movement, good and bad, as with any church tradition. I could say the same thing about the Roman Catholic Church, to give an example of a much maligned church and people.

    Those are just some thoughts that come to mind, for what it’s worth. As an exercise in going deep, I would challenge you to spend some time, not just with the scholars I mentioned, but even with a celebrity figure like John Piper. Study his history, his church work, his written works. You’ll find a lot of stupid things here and there, but you might also be humbled by the overwhelming amount of good he has done. Moreover, listen to people who have been positively influenced by Piper, like a woman at my church who lost her husband to cancer (at the height of his medical career). I listened to her for an hour about how some John Piper talks (on CD’s that were given to her) completely changed her thinking about suffering, about God, opening herself to the beauty that came during her husband’s cancer. As she tells it, God used Piper to bring her and her husband closer to Him. So, that’s one example of what I’m talking about: going deep and wide, including the mishaps and sins along with the tenderness and holiness found in the Reformed churches.

    By the way, as I mentioned on my blog a little while back, Kenneth Stewart’s Ten Myths About Calvinism is an excellent entry-point into the breadth of Reformed thinking. Once again, Stewart is not some fringe scholar with no influence; rather, he teaches theology at the PCA-funded-and-operated Covenant College.

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    They are very selective in their choice of scripture. And, as I have said here before, they believe that the sovereignty of God is his most important attribute and that he is sovereign over everything, past, present and future, EXCEPT HIS OWN SOVEREIGNTY. That means that NOTHING HAPPENS THAT GOD DID NOT CHOOSE TO HAPPEN. Which, to me makes God a monster who causes little children to starve to death, then sends them to hell to be eternally tormented, because that was God’s purpose for them before the creation of the universe.

    I’m sorry, but to me God is sovereign over his sovereignty and can withhold it and allow us to choose. To me the most important attribute of God is his love for us, and as he loves us, he gives us choice to love him or not.

    So, as far as I am concerned, the Calvinistas are heretics. They do not worship the God I worship. And they use their theology to say that all human systems exist because it is God’s will, and therefore, our previous patriarchy and subjugation of women must be God’s prescriptive will. So Dee, they don’t like you being so smart and don’t like you holding them up for possible criticism.

    BTW, previous comment had to do with you note. I will BEAR with you, but not BARE with you.

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    Also, Piper has also done a lot of evil. There are legions of college-age young people who have left the Christian faith after being at Piper led events. It almost happened with our daughter at a SBC event at Glorietta about ten years ago. Luckily, we know of a non-Calvinist theologian who attended her church and told her to go see him. I emailed him and requested him to follow up, and she recovered from the threat Piper caused to her faith.

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    I still don’t see how you can make the argument about sovereignty. If it is a quality of God…the semantics just don’t make sense. It is like saying God can be more powerful than His own omnipotence (rock so big…), or that, maybe more accurately, He can choose not to know something and still be omniscient.

    Sovereignty, like omniscience and omnipotence either defines your nature or it don’t. I think the attempt to redefine words is simply a reflection of your unwillingness to accept what you point out to be a very correct assessment of evil and God.

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    sorry…that should read “or it doesn’t”

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    I was more interested in figuring out this new format than in reviewing my spelling!

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    John Piper has been excommunicated from any position of influence in my life and he has forfeited the right to be taken seriously because of all the stupid things he says, like the quote at the beginning of this article.

    Good job, Dee.

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    I would agree with you about Arce’s comment, but while I think the problem of evil is the most difficult question of all for Christians…I don’t think it is completely unanswerable. I just posted on this very topic today on a blog me and a few friends started up for fun.

    (Everyone else can feel free to ignore the link, I am not trying to promote our little blog…I just wanted Karlton to be able to check it out if he wants.)

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    Dee said, “I find it amusing that most Calvinistas resemble the old hardcore Southern Baptist leadership in almost all of their secondary contentions.” I find that amusing also but what is most amusing to me are some of the current crop of pastors which are coming out of the Baptist seminaries who combine reformed theology with all of those secondary babtist contentions and then take the militant view of the entire thing. I wrote a post for this blog several moths back about this very subject and how our church had hired such a pastor. He wasn’t completely upfront about these beliefs and neither was the pastor search committee. We’ve moved on and no longer attend there. Today the church is months away from closing it’s doors for good due to lack of funds. Membership has dwindled to the point that they won’t be able to pay the bills much longer. I’ve never witnessed a church die before but it’s long, drawn out and not very pretty to watch. Much as I hate to see that happen to my old church it’s probably for the best. It’ll be one less place for the Puritanical view of Christianity to be taught. That’s a good thing for our faith.

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    I appreciate your thoughtful response to my post. I am most impressed with the level of discussion on your blog. I am aware that my treatment of this subject is more plebeian than yours might be. However, if you look at the goal of this blog you might see that it involves looking at trends as opposed to deep academic, theological discourse. In other words, this is the stuff that is being fed to all of us in our current churches and circles.

    I used to be a fan of Piper. Even taught from a couple of his books. No longer. The quote at the top of this post indicates my concern. Let’s see… we shouldn’t consider “excommunication” of the Arminians????? Who in their right mind would even go down this path! This quote gives deep insight into the overbearing arrogance of those who are in the Calvinista set. And I despise such thoughts even being considered as a normal part of the church. And this is only one statement out of many.

    Does Piper’s stuff have some merit? Parts of it do. He is a Christian, after all, and so there should be some stuff we can agree with. If not, then would have to consider the fact that he has moved outside the bounds of the faith. However, it is important to realize that some people get help from Oprah so finding some folks who get help from Piper is not necessarily mind boggling.

    As for the other names you suggest, I am quote familiar with Michael Horton. I believe I have used some of his quotes. As a bit of a history buff, I am well acquainted with Schaff. I have heard of Muller but not so the others. As time allows, I will try to get in some stuff by the names you suggest.

    However, you cannot so easily dismiss the “Calvinistas” who are gaining in ground and popularity. And I do find the designation helpful at this level. They are doing a good job of tearing the church apart and I find some of their methods and theological “trajectories” (one of their buzzwords) alarming.

    I hope you read Jerry’s comment just above mine. This is the reality-arrogance, hyper-authoritarian, weird, abusive and intolerant are a few words that come to mind.

    Once again, thank you for your thoughtful reply.

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    Anytime you want to do an update-the blog is yours. I think a real time example is most powerful.

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    Please feel free to elaborate on Piper’s affect on you. I am most interested.

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    Unlike other blogs, I welcome links to reader’s blogs, etc. The more knowledge the better.

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    PS Do you think your friends at SGM would be so gracious as to providing blog links to opposing blogs? Better yet, do you think they even encourage dissenting opinions on their blogs? We have some proof that they do not.

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    I appreciate the link and have added your blog to those I regularly read and comment on. I will read that post in full later (after work), but would comment quickly to say that I think think the biggest question is:

    Does the Christian God exist?

    I think this one question is at the heart of the entire religious dialog. I think Christians need to have their feet held to the fire, and be forced to deal with this one issue before discussing anything else. Either there is objective evidence for the existence of the Christian God, or there is not. If there isn’t, then everything else is, if you’ll forgive a biblical quotation, a house built on the sand…it has no support other than wishful thinking and the individual’s desire for it to be true.

    Thanks for the link!

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    Does God exist? Yep. But you have decided it must be by man’s rules that He is proven. Do you really think that all of us, combined with great minds (not saying I have more than a simple mind,btw) throughout the millennia are just a bunch of fools? Actually, I know you do and the Bible makes it clear that we will be fools for Christ. For me, and many, many others, that is an honor.

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    That’s what proven means…it makes no sense to say that something unproven can be proven by the unproven things rules!!

    If you think there is a third option between the two I offered, then what could it be? Either there is sufficient objective evidence to make God existence, if not proven, at least plausible or there isn’t that type of evidence, which means that a person’s belief in God is simply wishful thinking…what other possibility is there?

    I don’t think anyone here is a fool, sorry to take the “honor” away, but I do think that while you display excellent analytical and reasoning skills on many subjects, for whatever reason, when it comes to faith and God, reason and logic are waiting in the unemployment line. 🙂

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    Different blogs are designed to do different things. I have no desire to get into a debate on SGM…I have found it to be fruitless. The only ‘SGM’ blogs I am aware of simply aren’t meant to be forums of debate. Our blog is open to debate, but on topic…and SGM simply isn’t going to be a topic (for the foreseeable future). Two of the five contributors aren’t members of an SGM church and the blog has other things in mind.

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    I look forward to your comments.

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    Oh, and as to the question of whether there should be a blog out there designed to debate those who take issue with SGM…maybe. I have argued in the past that there should be. But I think the anti-sgm blogs provide plenty of the ‘other side’ for those who are worried that SGM tries to control info.

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    Dee and Deb:

    New format is great.

    I dabble so much in most of this, it’s hard for me to get worked up about it.

    I have read a little Piper, and like what I have read. Saw Piper interview Rick Warren on the net. Really enjoyed it. Never have heard Piper preach. My pastor likes Piper. Haven’t see anything weird coming out of him, though.

    So, for me, I think I would have to spend a lifetime reading all of Piper to get him, then fall in love with him, and then be enraged so that I hate him. The learning curve is just too long and requires too much energy.

    This movement seems to me like so many Christian emphases that come long in the history of the church. Maybe it’s accelerated nowadays because of technology.

    I don’t know of any speaker, church, movement or emphases that cannot be or already hasn’t been taken to an extreme. That’s not an excuse for it happening. It’s just my personality and reaction when it does.

    I do run into what I will call third of fourth generation disciples of various movements. They are usually insufferable.

    Never have heard of Kevin Davis, but WOW, what a comment. Very well written. Can’t vouch for any of it, but I know good writing when I see it.

    Why is it that atheists are, worse than all types, insufferably evangelistic?

    Their system of belief is as much faith based as any religion on earth.

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    Atheists are insufferably evangelistic because their “faith” provides them with no peace. They can’t take comfort in the arms of a loving God or have a personal relationship with a Savior. Their only method of gaining peace is through having other people tell them how right and intellectually sound their thinking is. The more people who do that the more right they feel. But theres always that pesky little doubt in the back of their heads. That what if I wrong feeling (whether they admit it or not). That’s why they, even and especially the militant ones, feel the need to “congregate” together and “convert” people to their way of thinking. It helps them dispell the doubts and every convert is an afirmation of their rightness. Read Karls comments above “I think Christians need to have their feet held to the fire, and be forced to deal with this one issue before discussing anything else.” Who will do this feet holding and force the issue dealing?

    The problem is that Karl will never accept any arguement or evidence that you or any of us supply so debate with someone like that is fairly pointless. His claim is that we are the ones that must provide the proof since we have made the claim of God’s existence. The burden of proof is with us. He is merely the defendant of truth and we are the proscecution. He claims this because he can not scientifically prove God’s non-existence (they take it as an article of “faith”) so he is in as weak an intellectual position as we are with our own faith. The whole thing devolves into a pointless schoolyard “I know you are but what am I?” back and forth and is very tiresome.

    Dee I would love to provide an update on how this is has all played out but, most of the things I hear are no longer first person testimony as I no longer attend there. I would hate to be accused of gossip! When I drive by the place and see a for sale sign in the front yard I would be happy to do the research and write an update. Shouldn’t be too long. The last financial statement I saw showed an average monthly deficit of $3K or so and attendance has dropped markedly since then. (I know this cuz many of the “refugees” attend our new church.) Unless the SBC bails them out it’s just a matter of time. Thanks for the oportunity to share my experiences. Keep fighting the good fight!

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    It has been fascinating to watch from the sidelines as Calvinistas and hardcore Southern Baptists become unlikely bedfellows on all of the secondary issues. As sad is it will be when they turn on each other, part of me hopes that day will come (and the divided kingdom will fall).

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    What a load of nonsense. I think the Christians themselves who should hold their own feet to that fire. The problem is Christians talk and act as though the existence of God is a foregone conclusion, but without any basis in reality.

    You obviously have never read, at least not carefully, what I have written over and over and over again. I have repeatedly stated that God may in fact exist…but to commit to that as fact in absence of objective evidence is wishful thinking and nothing more.

    “My “faith” provides me with no peace”…could you please stop making up nonsense and pretending to know how I feel. Hubris is hardly a Christian value and that statement is wrong on more accounts than I care to go into.

    Yes Jerry, I’m so sorry but the burden of proof IS on you. It is the only rationally sound position. Do you really think that if I claim to have a goldfish with human feet and toes that it should be YOUR responsibility to prove it isn’t true instead of my responsibility to prove it is?

    Lastly, I “congregate” with other non-believers once every couple of months and we discuss politics, the economy and a variety of other topics not even related to religion…in fact the topic hardly comes up at all…I go for the debates and because people there hold DIFFERENT opinions and they can articulate reasons for those opinions and NOT because they all think the same way.

    The bottom line is that instead of addressing my question head on and honestly, you resort to ad hominem attacks, a childish and fundamentally dishonest debating technique.

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    My apologies, but I had two hearings today in the next county and had to be up and out by 7:30, ready to argue on behalf of my client and her abused daughter, still with the abusive father.

    Sovereignty is the ability to cause things to happen, to bend the realm to ones desires. In human affairs, it is always wielded with limits, political, sometimes legal (constitution), most often practical.

    As a sovereign, God has the POWER to cause whatever he chooses to cause, to make happen what he chooses to happen. The issue is that he has the choice — he is not a Midas figure without the ability to withold his finger of fate.

    My comment is that God is sovereign over his own sovereignty — he has the ability to limit his exercise of power. If he did not, then he could not also be a God of mercy, love and justice. Each of those characteristics of God, described often in the Bible, is equal in importance to his sovereignty. Without his choice to restrain his power and sovereignty, there was no need to love mankind enough to become incarnate and die a cruel torture and death, since the purpose was to offer mercy and grace, which he had no need to offer if all was predetermined by his sovereignty.

    Again, a God of unrestrained sovereignty (his own restraint on himself) is a God unworthy of love or worship — in fact a monster.

    I have my own experience that tells me that God is real. I have told of one encounter with the voice of God. I have had others that I choose not to share. As a person trained in mathematics and science, epistemology and the social psychology of research and knowledge, a lawyer and ethicist, what I can say is that objective truth is a weak form, as weak as literal truth, for it covers so little of the human experience and leaves the greater portion untouched. If all you know is objective truth, I pity your loveless, and uncommitted to anything, life.

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    I find a discussion on theology in the absence of application at times rather useless. For example, if one takes Calvin’s theology and then look at how it was applied in his “city on the hill”, one would find a hyper-authroitarian ruler who had no problem chopping off the head of his definition of heretics.

    The same goes for your reference to SGM, along with your affiliation with this denomination (yep-I know its a family-). So, for example, if one would apply some Calvinistic theology, centering on the sinfulness of mankind and stopping it at the Cross with little emphasis on both the Resurrection and the incredible love of the Father, then one might assume that those in such a church might be a bit, shall we say, heavy handed in their practical application of such theology. This might include strong armed discipline utilizing embarrassing consequences such as a church wide announcement of said sin and making people stand up and take their licks from the pastors and congregation.

    Just so you don’t jump all over me, i believe in judicious church discipline, avoiding public gallows unless absolutely essential. Calvin set a good example why the church and state need to be separate.

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    Fortunately, I’ve never sat under Piper’s ministry so he’s never had that much influence in my life to begin with. But when I look around at all the influence he does have and deal with the zeal of his rabid supporters defending the even the stupid things he says, it makes me ill. And I wonder how the heck he ever got so much influence. However he got it, it has to stop before he destroys any more lives.

    His words are the most damning evidence against him.
    I got into a debate with some guy saying that Piper’s advice to wives here was the godly and submissive response that women should give their husbands when being pressured into gross sin. Seriously? And this man wants influence in training young women?

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    To paraphrase the ole Bard “methinks you doth protest too much”. I must’v struck a chord given your reaction and your (once again) deflection of the discussion back on me. I’m rubber you’re glue! I contend that given that the vast majority of the people on the planet are deluded like me and believe in a higher being that yours is the minority report and you need to prove your position. So there! We can do this all day if you like. “You prove you’re right!” then I say “No, you prove you’re right!” Boring! BTW You need to come up with another analogy other than the imaginary animal arguement. That one’s getting a little worn. Though I must admit that your animal discriptions do give me a chuckle. A goldfish with human feet AND TOES….priceless!

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    Dee, you wrote: “…I find a discussion on theology in the absence of application at times rather useless. For example, if one takes Calvin’s theology and then look at how it was applied in his “city on the hill”, one would find a hyper-authoritarian ruler who had no problem chopping off the head of his definition of heretics…”

    I agree. It would be like trying to understand the difference between average velocity & instantanous velocity without any reference to differentiation or functions beyond degree one* (*straight line, slope is the same everywhere on its domain).

    How does one separate an ideology from the fruits of an ideology, or better yet, Calvin’s theology from Calvin’s works? I don’t think it’s possible, not even with circular reasoning and special pleading.

    And Mara, beseech Providence then that many hurting and abused women out here can have their shackles struck off and no longer live in fear over what some men say about the will of the Almighty based upon plumbing received at birth.

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    No apologies required (no pity either). Perhaps you can give me an example of God withholding His sovereignty and what it might look like if, in the same situation He didn’t. Might give me a clearer idea of what you mean.

    I would be happy to engage on “objective truth”, but maybe in another post. Suffice it to say, objectivity does not preclude appreciation nor enjoyment of the emotional and passionate side of life. However, there are areas for which objective evidence is and should be required as a prerequisite to belief…God is one of those areas.

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    That simply isn’t a rational position to take. The burden is always, and should always, be on the person making the positive assertion (regardless of the number). You are the one making the positive assertion, you are the one that needs to provide evidence if you intend to convince anyone on any grounds other than emotional.

    The chord you struck was one of exasperation.

    You also never answered my question directly, who’s responsibility is it to prove the existence of my goldfish?

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    GOD has given you plenty of evidence of Himself (Psalm 19, Romans 1, the universe, life, etc., ad nauseum). The problem lies at the center of your being–the heart. You will never be satisfied with the “evidence,” and unless a radical and supernatural work of grace, by being born from above, through the quickening power of the Holy Spirit, (you never were, btw, according to the Bible and as evidenced by your, now, persistent unbelief and apostasy) occurs enabling you to use your faculties rightly……….you will always explain away or dismiss anything that does not fit into your naturalistic and materialistic worldview…….even to the point of irrationality (violating the fundamental Laws of Logic).

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    Theology without application is indeed mostly useless. Other than that…like I said before, I have no interest in defending SGM here. It wouldn’t matter how may hundreds of sermons I produce on grace, the resurrection, books throughout the Bible not having to do with the cross etc. It wouldn’t matter how many people DON’T think there is an over emphasis on sin. Your mind is made up. Which is fine.

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    To the Guy Behind the Curtain:

    Love the new format! Is there any way you could list the number of comments for each post like you did on the previous format?

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    Ah – I just LOVE all the pat little answers. So typical of the Calvanistic approach 😉 Like Jerry who knows EXACTLY why Karlton is an atheist. As if he can look into Karlton’s mind and know exactly what he ‘knows’ deep down or has experienced. Or Kevin who just ‘knows’ that if Dee just read a little more ‘in depth’ the ‘real’ calvanist writers she’d get it ‘right’.

    The Calvanist approach – as I have seen it demonstrated so far – is not particularly different from the IFB or SBC approach. If you read the Bible carefully enough, one can figure God out, box Him up, and know EXACTLY what He will and will not do, and exaclty why He does it. Jerry seems to think that means he can also figure out what everybody else thinks and knows too.

    But the Bible indicates ‘we see through a glass dimly’. It seems to indicate that we have not yet much more than a glimpse of who God is, but that when we go to see Him we then will finally see Him ‘face to face’ as He really is. Taking that to heart and realizing both our choice to follow God and Gods infinite knowledge are Biblical concepts, I’d not be too quick to fudge a comfy little answer that eliminates all mystery over the issue.

    Of course, I’m not saying we can’t know some things from scripture with a good bit of surety. But the idea we can have it all figured out like is so common in the Calvanist(a) circles leads to a real problem with hubris, arrogance, and where there is real power, violence – as evidenced by Calvin’s solution to handling those who disagreed with him.

    Of course, it’s not just a problem with Calvanistic thought, its human nature -t old man (something that faith in Christ delivers us FROM – fancy that!). That is why it is so important to be humble in our assessments of what we know of God – to be grateful we have been given the incredible privilege of knowing Christ, of having a relationship with God. To be merciful and gracious in our presentation of that great gift, especially to those to whom the Gospel does not make sense – or to whom the Gospel has been presented in such a way as to be more death than life.

    Remember What Jesus said to the disciples who wanted to call down fire from heaven in judgement! “You know not what spirit you are of”.


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    I am with you on this matter. I think that Piper, when he first started was regular Calvinist. But then he became more strident as time went on. His understanding of domestic abuse is unbecoming for one who is so educated. Perhaps it doesn’t fit his carefully woven paradigm of patriarchal men who behave Biblically.

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    Interesting response.

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    I think Jerry’s response was a bit tongue in cheek. Also, he is definitely not a Calvinist!

    I think that what you said here is worth emphasizing. “That is why it is so important to be humble in our assessments of what we know of God – to be grateful we have been given the incredible privilege of knowing Christ, of having a relationship with God. To be merciful and gracious in our presentation of that great gift, especially to those to whom the Gospel does not make sense – or to whom the Gospel has been presented in such a way as to be more death than life.”

    Humility is not a strong suit of the Calvinistas. In fact, they are unable to see that they are quite the opposite of humble. CJ Mahaney’s book on humility is laughable, given his history as a self designated “Head Apostle” a title he just gave up because people would laugh when he and his minions would use it.

    They are an interesting breed. They know the MUST be humble because they are the elect and know everything worth knowing about the Bible. So, they co-opt the humility thing and do it “Calvinista style”.

    Mahaney dubs himself the “worst sinner in the world” (obviously trying to prove that he really is an apostle like Paul). Then, all of his buddies start saying that exact same thing. Before you know it, they have an all out war as to who the worst sinner in the world is! Good night! They are so ridiculous that I am contemplating starting a contest on my blog so that readers can vote on who the “worst sinner in the world is.” I am definitely leaning towards Mahaney but will consider other entries…

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    Thank you for supplying what is so often missing in these discussions, and what we certainly need more of, if we are to keep discussing and debating as intellectuals exploring our philosophical views….more rhetoric!!

    By all means, tell me what things God has placed in this world and how you can logically infer the Christian God and His attributes from those things and why they cannot apply to anyone else’s God.
    I’m all ears.

    Specifics…Not Rhetoric! (my new mantra)


    See everyone, Christians and non-Christians can agree!

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    I love your comment. However, I am deficient in the math arena. So what does this mean? “It would be like trying to understand the difference between average velocity & instantanous velocity without any reference to differentiation or functions beyond degree one* (*straight line, slope is the same everywhere on its domain).”

    One of my MBA profs told me at graduation that he had never seen a student so avoid math and use all sorts of circular reasoning to come up, amazingly, with the correct answer!

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    Frank and Ernest cartoon today can be found today at Consider replacing “Pantheism” with “Calvinist”. Consider, do Calvinists collect when their insurance has an “Act of God” provision? Would that not contradict their basic position that everything that happens is the will of God?

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    I think you might have read my post wrong, especially if you think I’m a Calvinist, which I am not. Like Dee said my comment was toungue in cheek BUT I would point out that there is a BIG difference between understanding people and understanding God.

    People arn’t all that hard to understand and I’ve had many many years of training and experience at reading them and the reasons why they do what they do. That’s called expertise, not hubris.

    Understanding God is a whole different ball game. I’ve been a Christian for most of my life and after all that time I come to the conclusion that I will never (this side of heaven) understand the ways and means of the Creator of the Universe. That is arrogance and hubris and the “Calvinistas” Deb and Dee speak of are often guilty of it. You seem to have gotten the idea that I’m a Calvinist and therefore think I can use my understanding of God to figure out people. That would be…well….wrong.

    If you’ll go back and read my original post you’ll find that I was providing supposition on why atheists in general (not Karl in particular even though I did quote him to prove a point) behave the way they do. (In fact they are actually no different from Christians in this regard, all of us having the same human need for acceptance and affirmation that our beliefs are valid.) Karl, of course, disagrees with my assessment of atheism just like I disagree with his assessment of Christianity. Nothing short of a movement of the Spirit will change his mind (and I pray that happens) just like nothing he can ever say will shake my faith. He and I are at loggerheads you might say. Hope that clears up the misunderstanding.

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    You claim to be an atheist, right? Now, I do need to make a distinction between acknowledging that there is a GOD, and arriving at the conclusion that the GOD of the Bible is HE. *My fault*.

    I do pressupose the reality of the LORD GOD of the Scriptures made known to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that the Christian worldview is the only way of making sense of the world as we know it. My point to you was that apart from divine regeneration by the power of the Holy Spirit, and special revelation via the Scriptures, you, me, or nobody else will believe the Gospel. To those who are perishing the message is foolish (1 Cor:1).

    As far as evidence goes…….you have been supplied with plenty which should drive you to “seeking” to find out how to know this GOD and who HE is. However, you have supressed the your conscience to the point of “atheism.” Most of humanity has been “spiritual” on some level, although, apart from special revelation, only under the sway of those false “gods.” The fact that you deny the obvious, with the light you have had, proves the irrationality of sin and the atheistic worldview.

    The Law of Causality states that every effect must have a cause. That is simple truth.

    Question–what caused the universe to come into existence?

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    So, you aren’t going to answer my question at all. Not overly surprised.

    Claim, after claim after claim…I guess the more you repeat it, the more you actually believe it.

    You say I have been supplied with “evidence”…really? Do you know what evidence even is? What is the “evidence”…again…

    Some specifics and not just more rhetoric.

    You know why Paul said “to those who are perishing the message is foolish” ? .. because that’s what people with a lick of sense were probably saying when they were evangelized…and Paul, needing to respond to that, took the same course that you are taking, instead of providing any kind of rational explanation or evidence he simply side-stepped it by saying well, they are perishing, they don’t understand it like YOU do…and in typical non-thinking insecure fashion…they patted themselves on the back, and accepted the “answer” hook, line and sinker.

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    The Law of Causality states that every effect must have a cause. That is simple truth.

    Question–what caused the universe to come into existence?

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    Forget the half-assed analogy loosely based on mathematics and look at it this way:

    I don’t think it is possible to separate Calvin’s institutes or Luther’s catechism from the actual deeds of history spawned in the Reformation. Even if one concedes that the Reformation has “saved” countless multitudes from the fires of hell (if one believes that sort of thing), one still cannot overlook Calvin’s horrific treatment of Servetus and Luther’s backing of the German princes who ground the peasantry beneath their boot heels. In general*, the legacy of the reformers has been one of war, cruelty, and despotism.

    (*does not take into account specific individuals or specific instances to the contrary)

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    In our space time continuum, at a macro level I would agree with you…the universe is deterministic. Now, two exceptions. In the world of radioactive decay, we can predict statistically what percentage of atoms will decay over a particular amount of time, it’s half-life, but we cannot predict which particular atom will decay at any particular moment because there appears to be no cause for the event. (causeless events exist in other areas of quantum mechanics as well)

    With regard to the universe, the key to remember is that time itself is a dimension and property of our universe…therefore when you speak of anything outside of our space-time, the concept of “create” or “make” or “cause” becomes meaningless.

    As mathematicians, physicists and now theorizing, it seems at least plausible that our universe along with an infinite number of others may derive their existence from membranes that exists outside of our space time continuum, and they are not affected by causality (no time, no causality) (see M-Theory).

    Now, let’s turn the tables. If everything is in fact deterministic, then the concept of free will goes out the window, because you have to look for a cause of your own thoughts, which brings you to a synapses operating on electro-chemical principles in the brain, then you need to ask yourself, if a deterministic cause is the origin of all my thoughts and not the other way around…then I absolutely am not in “control” of my thoughts, they are happening based on the electrical and chemical state of my brain at any given moment…is that really what you want to go…talk about down the rabbit hole. (actually it is a theory I subscribe to).

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    “If everything is in fact deterministic, then the concept of free will goes out the window, because you have to look for a cause of your own thoughts”

    No problem. GOD Almighty, alone, has “free will.”

    “As mathematicians, physicists and now theorizing, it seems at least plausible that our universe along with an infinite number of others may derive their existence from membranes that exists outside of our space time continuum, and they are not affected by causality (no time, no causality) (see M-Theory”

    Since you can’t test any of this, definitively, in a Science Lab, anywhere……..and it is beyond anything you can verify based on what you can know through your senses…….is it not accurate to state that the metaphysical sciences are your religion? I am not being sarcastic, but seriously, Karlton, that is a reasonable conclusion as it takes tremendous “faith” to believe such as opposed to, let’s say, the logical deduction that……every design must have a designer.

    So these “membranes” are the cause of our material universe, and possibly, an infinite amount more. They exist in another dimension? Are they intelligent?

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    Just as you cannot know which atom will decay, you can not know which synapse will fire in a human brain. And since it is not determined, neither is the choice a person may make fully determined, but only probabilistically determined. That means that one does have some degree of freedom in one’s choices, as well as being influences by one’s history and environment at the time of choice. Otherwise, you were predestined to be a difficult atheist and you have no choice but to be on this blog and respond exactly as you do. No choice, no individuality except that preprogrammed into you. That being the case, we should not be punishing those who do what we call evil deeds, it is entirely for the deterministic among us, determined by biology, and for the Calvinists among us, by the script written before creation. Sorry, but I accept neither as anything close to truth, but rather, the big LIE. Heresy on both sides.

    AS I hinted earlier today. If Calvinists really believe what they say, then every good and every evil is in the script written by God and it is all caused by him. Thus, they should not buy insurance, because every calamity is an ACT OF GOD, monster that the Calvinist God really is.

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    Not so, indeterminacy simply prevents you from knowing what the next thought will be, it in no way implies that you are in control of which one will occur. That seems to be a common misconception.

    So, given that addition…on what basis do you reject the concept?

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    The mathematics and research is what leads to these ideas. In addition it seems that those theories are supported because they explain a great deal about how things work in this universe. You dismiss it like two drunk guys in a bar came up with the idea while eating tacos last night.

    Do some research

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    You stated….”You dismiss it like two drunk guys in a bar came up with the idea while eating tacos last night”

    Not true, although, I am not willing to grant you more freedom with your claims than you do the theist. It is only fair. I can account for my worldview. Can you?

    Did I state anything in the preceding post that was not true, resulting from logical inference? Just because a conclusion angers you does not mean it is invalid.

    Here are some of the reasons I find your explanations problematic. Remember, everyone has presuppositions………….

    1st Timothy 6:20 — “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.”

    Colossians 2:8 — “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

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    I have been enjoying your give and take with Karl.

    Did you have any difficulty with the abp article? I had someone send it to me today and found it a bit disconcerting. We are planning to review the Resolved conference and will reference this article.

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    Muff wrote:

    …and Luther’s backing of the German princes who ground the peasantry beneath their boot heels.

    Indeed – this is one of those things that I wasn’t told (in a Lutheran Sunday School) when I was a kid. Had to find out a bit later, though in this case – and also re. Luther’s horrific anti-semitism – I don’t think anyone was trying to cover it up. (Especially the latter, since I was born in the mid-50s and the Holocaust was a very recent event.)

    I *wish* the most recent “bio” film about Luther hadn’t totally whitewashed this, but it shows Luther taking the peasants’ side. Talk about revisionism!!!

    As for peaceful people coming from the Reformation, everyone seems to discount Menno Simons and the Mennonites + other, related “peace churches.” (They were tortured and imprisoned and killed by Roman Catholics and other Protestants alike.)

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    That “science falsely so called” quote is interesting, partly because the original word (and even the word the KJV translators chose) probably has little to do with what we think of as “science” today.

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    It would seem that Karlton is a learned man, indeed. You don’t have to be a scientist to think rationally though.

    In all honesty, I believe Steve Lawson’s Calvinism (a moniker to describe a theological persuasion and not to gather and take sides with the man John Calvin) is the *biblical* view concerning the doctrine of Soteriology and the sovereignty/supremacy of GOD.

    I do not, however, adhere to “Covenant theology,” and am a covinced Baptist when it comes to ecclesiology. I believe in freedom of conscience–meaning I don’t have the state church mentality–in fact I am probably more anabaptist in this respect, but I am *not* ecumenical. I reject “Post-Modern” thought, and believe truth must be sought and can be known.

    I come out of an Idependent Fundamental Baptist background. They were King James Only, semi-Pelagian, Finneyesque, and very Pharisaical…… so the coming to the “doctrines of grace” was not without a price.

    I really do appreciate the freedom of exchange on this blog, and look forward to your review of the Resolved 2011 Conf.

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    Hmm… :”knowledge” (sometimes in quotation marks) is used in just about every other translation I can find in a 10 minute search. 😉

    If anyone’s interested in the history of our English usage of the word “science,” check here (scroll down to “Word Origin and History”):

    P.S.: I know I’m a geek, folks! 🙂

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    @ Jonathan: Karlton can tell you himself, but here’s a hint… he was a Christian for many, many years.

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    No, Karlton only professed Christ. Apostasy is a real phenomenon. The New Testament is replete with warnings about turning from the Lord.

    I am not seeking to be harsh or anything, but GOD said HE will not be mocked. The word of GOD is true. I am thankful for HIS patience and long-suffering. I am proof that he bears long with HIS enemies, forgiving them, so that HE may be feared.

    There is hope for Karlton–still–in Christ.

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    There is not a conspiracy concerning the word “science” in the KJV. It simply does mean “knowledge.” Modern science prides itself in having so much knowledge, one could argue that it is just another form of Gnosticism cloaked in secular terminology.

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    @ Jonathan: I would suggest that “science” probably meant “philosophy” at the time of the KJV translation. I was referring to etymology and changes in usage – not a conspiracy!

    As for your being certain about the state of another person’s soul, let’s just say that I think that is more than a little bit presumptuous on your part, or on the part of anyone who says that they know such things. I believe those matters aren’t ours to determine, but God’s. (Just sayin’…)

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    As for modern science being a form of gnosticism – ???

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    I was being a little flippant in the science is akin to Gnosticism comment, although, there are parallels.

    Any person that denies that Jesus has come in the flesh and is the Christ, GOD, in Son, is operating under the influence of the spirit of antichrist, and is already condemned. This is the truth of GOD’s word, not my opinion.

    As long as his heart still beats and he is still in his “tent” of flesh, there is hope, in Christ Jesus the Lord………..a way of escape from the present tense wrath and condemnation and it being poured out eternally. That may not be palatable, but I would much rather receive the truth, humble myself, repent of my arrogance and pride……….bowing my knee to the Lordship of Christ now because EVERY knee WILL bow, and there is NO escape.

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    I really have nothing further to add, except to say that I once thought and believed much like you seem to, Jonathan.

    Let’s just say that I don’t see everything in black and white only anymore.

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    Johnathan, Numo…

    Here’s a conundrum for you. When I accepted Christ as my savior I was in full understanding of what it meant. I understand clearly (at the the time, the 4 spiritual laws from CCC). I was honest and sincere in my repentance and desire for Jesus to forgive my sins, I repented of my sins and accepted Jesus as my savior and Lord.

    Here’s the 64k dollar question … If you maintain that I was never a Christian (because you maybe believe that it’s impossible for a “true” Christian to become an atheist…then either God is a liar or Calvinism is true (I’m not one of the elect and will burn in hell, regardless of my repentance and acceptance of God’s grace)

    Which one is it?

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    Darn it! I take neither position and , instead, believe that in this matter God gives man freedom.

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    What is your position on science? I believe that it is one method that God gave us to learn about the truth of His creation. Many, many scientists are believers and many others are deists. I believe that science will never discover anything that will disprove God. What say you?

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    Thank you for sharing a bit of your background. I am particularly interested in your thinking on grace. Also, can Calvinism become legalistic? Look at the quote at the beginning of this post. Do you understand what Piper is implying?

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    I haven’t had my coffee this AM so forgive the stream of questions. Could you tell me how science is like Gnosticism?

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    So then from your position, A person can be a Christian (saved) and then turn away from that set of beliefs, and that turning away does not impugn the reality of their conversion. Correct?


    Same question, agree or no?


    time for coffee!

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    Every time someone gets it in their heads that a particular form of theology is correct, an attempt is made to marginalize the opposition as ungodly and to revise history to paint a positive picture of the men involved in a movement. That is what has amused me about the current “must” trend of the Calvinistas of reading and quoting the Puritans. I grew up in Salem and I can attest to the fact that the Puritans did some pretty bad things in spite of their “deep” devotions.

    I just finished reading a science fiction called The Sparrow. Earth has picked up signals from a neighboring solar system. They are playing the most beautiful music one can imagine. A priest is selected to go to explore this place. He imagines it to be a wondrous planet with etherial philosophy.

    Instead, the writers of the music enslaved and occasionally cannibalized a slave race on their planet. The beautiful music was sung when they raped and tortured others. That is why I believe theology must be understood in the context of real life. Calvin and Luther did much to advance the Reformation but they did some very bad things as well.

    That is why I believe that we must emphasize grace in the lives of others. For all of his discussion on grace, Calvin showed precious little in his governance. I am waiting for the attack of the Calvinistas at this point.

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    One further question-I promise I will stop. If you have read this blog, you will see that I believe in a heaven and hell. But, if God wanted us to preach condemnation in such a strong fashion, why didn’t Jesus emphasize it as strongly in His ministry? The only people He really got miffed off with was the moneychangers, those who hurt children and the Pharisees who burdened the people. He seemed to be content to point to grace and spend time ministering to people.

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    I do not see a connection between modern science and Gnosticism, except that the words may share some common root meanings, but the beliefs and methodologies are completely dissimilar.

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    Dee, Karlton, et al.,

    I was being somewhat facetious in my comment about science. I know it is hard to convey that in a blog comment.

    I only meant that many of the secularists treat scientific theory as some sort of secret and elite knowledge that people of lesser means could never be enlightened to understand (unbelief in the existence of GOD is enshrined as evidence of true intellect)–a dualistic religion of sorts embracing the natural and material and denying anything supernatural.

    Because of the truth of Imago Dei, man has been able to acheive many great and wonderful things via the sciences, mathematics, arts, etc., but by the same accomplishments it has been the bane of fallen humanity enabling them to be deceived and deluded by the “evil one” into believing the original lie, and that is… “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
    Gen 3:4-5 (ESV). Rather than being thankful and glorifying GOD for all of HIS gifts, man worships himself as the fountain of truth and knowledge, and that is high treason. GOD *will* vindicate Himself in the end. The more light–the more guilt, and condemnation.

    I recently took a stand against *legalism* and, once again, my doctrinal convictions have costed me. There IS great freedom in Christ. I absolutely do not believe in coercion, as GOD alone is Lord of the conscience. I will not be ecumenical towards people perpetuating soul-damning lies though. I will dialogue and try to persuade people and seperate if necessary, but never attack someone personally–ad hominen–or otherwise. “Postmodernism,” “syncretism,” “pluralism,” etc., are all irrational diversions and lies, and I will not assimilate into such wrong-heade thinking.

    The biggest blight on the track record of the so-called church, professing Christ, in history, is the merger of state and church. This, along with not taking the testimony of the Scripture concerning the depravity of man and the sovereignty of GOD, or being incosistent with those professions, has led to much suffering in the name of GOD. The Devil uses this evil perpetrated throughout the centuries as propaganda to deceive many into concluding that belief in the *true* GOD is a lie. No doubt these horrible actions by false “Christians” has led many to conclude atheism or agnosticism or whatever else. GOD will get vengeance upon all who have, in an unrepentant fashion, persisted in conducting such evil in HIS holy name. The true Church is made up of authentic Christians, everywhere, and since Pentecost, is moving from faith to faith.

    Some of the most *legalistic* people I have encountered were not Calvinists, but this strand of incorrigibility runs throughout all religion as it is the default thinking of all people apart fron grace leading to sanctification. If a person has truly experienced the grace of GOD, in the forgiveness of sins, through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, it WILL be flowing out of them, although imperfectly at times, toward his or her neighbor.

    Karlton………….. The heart is deceitful above all things,

    and desperately sick, who can understand it? Jer 17:9. I do not pretend to know the details of your religious experience or of your motivations as such, but I do know that most people are “religious” and for various reasons. However, salvation is of the LORD. According to the word of GOD, it is not as though you lost your faith, rather, you never had genuine, repentant, faith from a heart of godly sorrow to begin with. The Bible speaks to this phenomenon.

    Dee, The Lord Jesus did castigate the hypocrites and legalists, but He preached to the masses the need for repentance and faith in His Person, and the consequences of eternal conscious torment if one dies in their sin. I do believe as long as there is life, there is hope because the LORD GOD delights in extending grace and mercy…. but grace can never be demanded as the LORD is debtor to no one. Romans 11:33-36.

    grace–when you get what you don’t deserve
    mercy–when you don’t get what you do deserve
    justice–when you do get what you do deserve

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    I would rather be around a gracious Christian who is, let’s say, an Arminian “free–willer” in their thinking, but believing in the necessity of the “new birth”…….much rather than a person who has grasped “truth” intellectually, but it does not translate out in their life in mercy and love. Not all Christians are Calvinists and not all Calvinists are Christians, and we all see dimly. I would much rather be around an unbeliever who at least has a reverence for GOD than many so-called Christians…….or even a kind “atheist” or “agnostic.” I do, especially, like to be around those that desire to know the Lord Jesus Christ and the word of GOD.

    I know I am only a forgiven sinner with nothing to be proud about. My life was debauched, and had come apart at the seams when the LORD reached down and rescued me from the pit.

    I have experienced, however, cruel treatment from some of those professing Christ. The Holy Spirit was not at all obvious in thier lives. Most “Christians” today love their own, and revolve around the “cult of personality.” It is sad, but by GOD’s wonderful grace, I will keep looking to Christ.

    Although, I disagree with most of the commenters on this blog, there is an obvious sense of freedom here, and I like that.

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    Also, in the above, I stated………….“Postmodernism,” “syncretism,” “pluralism,” etc., are all irrational diversions and lies, and I will not assimilate into such wrong-headed thinking.”

    I do respect the freedom for every person to come to their own conclusions, but I am not willing to engage in any type of dialogue that would lead to an epistemology resulting in any of the above schools of thought. Obviously, I believe what I believe or I would not believe it …..uh, well, you get the point.

    I *am aware* of the *Hegelian dialectic* by praxis, and how it has been used, sucessfully, even in the visible “church” to shift many away from the foundations of “true” truth.

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    Man. Take a few hours off and don’t keep up with this blog and it’s hard to keep up. Karl I guess I’ll hazard an answer to your question. You asked. “A person can be a Christian (saved) and then turn away from that set of beliefs, and that turning away does not impugn the reality of their conversion. Correct?” A Calvinist and many Baptists for that matter would say no that is not possible. They believe that “once saved, always saved”. I am neither and do not hold with that intrepretation of salvation. If I am to take you at your word (from your life history you have shared here), you were once saved (a Christian) and now you are not.

    Someone who believes in once saved always saved would say that you were never really a Christian in the first place due to the fact that you have turned away from that path. I’ve had lots of debates with folks over that doctrine. I think thats bunk. If freewill exists and God has gifted us with it then it reigns completely. You can choose to follow and you can choose not to follow, or to no longer follow. I don’t take it to the other extreme either where your salvation depends day to day on your sin and your actions. I don’t think you can loose it like you would loose your keys or just because you made a mistake. It requires a choice just like the one that made you a Christian in the first place. I believe that making that choice would “undo” the blessings and the transformation that occurs when one accepts Christ as their Saviour.

    Now my guess is that you have a counterpoint or some type of logical arguement about how this is a double standard or something all ready to go because what you asked is a leading question seeking a specific response. I’m sure I just provided you with the ammo for your gun so…ready…aim….fuego. I’m a glutton for punishment.

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    @ Karlton: you know, I have *no* idea what’s up with you… or your conversion. 😉 Seriously, I don’t. But I believe that God is merciful, and…. I just don’t feel like talking about judgment regarding you or anyone else. (Now or later; my ideas about this are in flux at this point anyway… having much to do with the fact that I’ve been looking at some orthodox – as well as Orthodox – approaches to this that don’t emphasize hell, but that do emphasize God’s love, mercy and grace.)

    @ Jonathan: it’s interesting to me that you describe both grace and mercy from a punitive perspective. Where is God’s love in that? (I have a pretty clear idea of what your response will be and would suggest that we agree to disagree on this; I heard all of these things for years in a church that grew harsh and punitive and eventually kicked me out for something I didn’t even do. So I take such pronouncements with a grain of salt – no offense intended toward you personally.)

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    @ Dee: while I agree with your take on science, it does seem like scientists keep getting condemned by church people – take what happened to Galileo as an example.

    At least Kepler and others didn’t get it in the neck, but I think the attitude of hostility toward discoveries that seem to contradict “conventional wisdom” is as real now as it was during the Renaissance. We look back at the history of science and conveniently gloss over the literal condemnation of many, the persecution of others, etc.

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    No tricks…honest 🙂

    BTW it would be Dispare, not Fuego my wife tells me.

    Just that in many conversations, people dismiss my statement that I was a born-again Christian..and “I can promise them…there is no one talking back…it’s all imaginary”, by saying well obviously you weren’t a Christian in the first place.

    My point being, if I was honest with my repentance, and honest with my acceptance of Jesus as savior and lord, then on what basis can they make that accusation, and even more interesting, on what basis can anyone know if they are saved (actually I think it is that insecurity that helps keep Christians “in the fold”.

    They all hear other people talking about how Jesus talks to them or hear people speaking in tongues or prophesying, etc..they know they don’t experience it, but believe that the others must be…so there must be something wrong with they either have a crisis of faith, or more commonly, they buck up, and tell everyone how Jesus speaks to them too…one big self-reinforcing delusion.

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    What part don’t you get?

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    Now the big guy himself admits to longstanding issues. So, here is my question. Was it my mind that was made up or yours?

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    For all of his discussion on grace, Calvin showed precious little in his governance. I am waiting for the attack of the Calvinistas at this point.

    Dee, I am curious if you’ve ever run across the information that nearly all modern American Presbyterian denominations (and as far as I know any that are larger than a “micro-denomination”) have adopted significantly modified views on the interaction between church and state, in the form of the American changes to the Westminster Confession of Faith? My Presbyterian pastor used to be on the committee that reviewed pastoral candidates in our area and has mentioned more than once that if John Calvin had come before the committee he was on with the views he had he wouldn’t have been able to be a minister in our denomination.

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    To which Presbyterian group are you referring?

    Also, any guy who would chop off the head of a man who disagreed with his doctrine, is a man I wouldn’t let join my church. My head would be the first to go!

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    As far as the statement by John Piper goes…… some sense, I get where he is coming from. You can’t have leadership in a church (this is not as crucial in a university or seminary) in constant conflict and contradicting one another. Again, this is were Sola Scriptura comes in as well as humility and patience while an attempt is made to reason together. If division comes, may it be from hearts with integrity and love, trusting GOD’s purposes in it all.

    Too bad, that far more often than not, this does not occur. Believe me, as I already have stated, I have firsthand knowledge.

    Here is an interesting piece of news concerning SGM and CJ Mahaney……

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    Look at today’s post. I find the comment to cover the sins in mercy amusing. Ask all the poor people harmed by this “family” if their sins were covered in mercy. I fully intend to ignore his admonition about gossip. That admonition has caused much pain and suffering in this group. It is used to silence questions.

    I totally disagree with you. I think that committed Christians can disagree on the finer aspects of theology and still run a church and fellowship together. I have seen it. Are you saying that I can’t get along in a church with a 5 pointer and still come out better together than apart? So, would you excommunicate me from your church?

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    No, not at all, as not holding to the “doctrines of grace” is not a matter of church discipline or excommunication (Piper said as much himself). That would be spiritual abuse.

    There are some “heresies” that would warrant such actions (for the sake of that person’s soul), but those would fall into the category of those beliefs not considered historically “orthodox.”

    My intended emphasis, as I believe Piper’s was, is more toward the “leadership,” and, of course, it would depend on how sharp the division would be. If unity around the Gospel of Christ can be maintained then that would be wonderful.

    Btw, I accept as valid, the scientific evidence for an “old earth.” Thought I would mention that so as to indicate that I do not look disparagingly at science. See, I am not as obtuse a Calvinist as you probably thought…. ha, ha.

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    Jeremiah 17:9 has been hoisted out of context in order to “prove” the total depravity (original sin) of humans more times than U.S. greenbacks have been devalued to adjust for international trade imbalance.

    The Bible speaks of many different kinds of hearts; the thankful heart, the hardened heart, the merry heart, and in this case, the deceitful heart. The very next verse says that God examines the heart for its true motives, that’s all. The verse says nothing whatsoever about a man’s or a woman’s default state in a specific real-life instance or held belief.

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    Karl…dude you got mad at me in another post when I analyzed your motivations and here you are asking me to analyze the motivations of Christians who question whether you were ever saved? What up with that? Well here goes. Most likely they cannot fathom that anyone who had ever accepted the gift of Salvation would ever willingly give it up OR (from the Calvinist perspective) having been called to salvation as one of the elect a person is not capable of rejecting it (since the person had no choice in the matter in the first place). As to how a person knows they’ve been saved…well that’s why it’s called Faith dude. To quote a movie “it’s like being in love….you just know it…”

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    Muff Potter,

    I was not pretexting. The Bible over and over again describes fallen and unregenerate man as depraved. Here is what Keil & Delitzch, two respected Hebrew scholars wrote…….

    To bring this truth home to the people, the prophet in Jer_17:9 discloses the nature of the human heart, and then shows in Jer_17:10 how God, as the Searcher of hearts, requites man according to his conduct. Trust in man has its seat in the heart, which seeks thereby to secure to itself success and prosperity. But the heart of man is more deceitful, cunning than all else עָקֹב, from the denom. עָקַב .moned , to deal treacherously). אָנוּשׁ, lit., dangerously sick, incurable, cf. Jer_15:18; here, sore wounded by sin, corrupt or depraved. Who can know it? i.e., fathom its nature and corruptness. Therefore a man must not trust the suggestions and illusions of his own heart.

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    Everything is not deterministic, nor can it be fully determined beyond a specific point. See chaos theory. There is a limit to which a future state of any system can be determined, as at some point the to define the initial conditions means to know that which is unknowable. Indeed, when to know what will be we must know the quantum state of the current system, we reach the maximum predictability of the system. Further, IF what follows from that quantum state is NOT deterministic, then at that point true determinism fails.

    As far as I can tell, the universe on the macro scale has both a deterministic element that allows a certain amount of predictability (like what the weather may be tomorrow), and also a ‘free’ element which is wholly unpredictable (like what the weather will be December 21 2011). Thus you might be able to predict to some accuracy who I will be tomorrow based on who I am today, but you can’t predict or in anyway know who I will be a year from now.

    And there is a very great deal of room for free-will in that equation.


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    @ Karlton: I believe your conversion was real.

    And that’s about all I can say on that subject with any certainty. But here’s the thing: I don’t have as much of a “closed system” of thinking as you might guess, and I suspect that’s true of many others who post here as well.

    I also do not believe in eternal conscious torment of any kind. Much like our pal Muff Potter, I feel like I’m clinging to the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, but that a lot else is up for grabs.

    Like so-called “total depravity,” for example. Just.can’

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    Delitzsch was a Lutheran, completely submerged under Luther’s teachings long before he ever became a Hebrew scholar. What do you think he’s going to take away from the table of Holy Writ and write commentaries about?

    The irony here is that the doctrine of original sin is foreign to Jewish thought and completely alien to the great Rabbinic thinkers.

    Both Catholic and Reformed thought (Lutheran too) maintains that humankind has no intrinsic worth and that any worth they may be allowed to attain can only be conferred on them extrinsically by a mystical conversion process.

    Although I accepted this dogma without question at one time, I no longer do at present, although like numo, I cling tenaciously to the divinity of Yeshua, his virgin birth, and bodily resurrection from the dead.

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    you are making a mistaken connection. The fact that part or all of the universe operates on chaos is immaterial. Whether an electrical impulse is deterministic or a random event in neither case do you have any control over it.

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    Muff Potter,

    “Both Catholic and Reformed thought (Lutheran too) maintains that humankind has no intrinsic worth and that any worth they may be allowed to attain can only be conferred on them extrinsically by a mystical conversion process”

    I don’t think this accurately reflects Protestant or Anabaptist/Baptist (not speaking for Roman Catholicism) thought at all. Teaching that man has no *inherent righteousness* that would commend him to an infinitely holy GOD is *NOT* the same as teaching that man is devoid of any intrinsic worth.

    GOD considers HIS creation, man, in HIS image, valuable enough to “pitch a tent” in human flesh, in SON, condescending in humility and entering HIS own creation…….becoming the propitiation for the sins of the world, vicariously, satisfying GOD’s wrath, expiating or taking away the guilt and just condemnation of sin as far as the east is from the west for all who will ever believe……… dying and rising again according to the Scripture for undrserving man’s justification (declaration of not guilty, as though never having been a Law-breaker, and the very righteousness of the infinite Lord Jesus Christ imputed or accounted as his own, in the forensic sense ……….all through the gift of faith alone in Christ alone. Praise be to the GOD and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ who alone could conceive of such a glorious and gracious plan of redemption!

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    Muff Potter,

    “The irony here is that the doctrine of original sin is foreign to Jewish thought and completely alien to the great Rabbinic thinkers”

    Go to the Psalms and see what those Jewish thinkers, especially David, had to say about man’s depravity and and the hoplesness if GOD should “mark iniquities.”

    By the time of 2nd Temple Judaism, the Rabbinic schools were totally apostate, hence, the severe condemnation of the whole system by the Lord Jesus Christ. The Rabbinic teachers did not even truly know their own Law and Prophets and had the largest part in crucifying the Lord of Glory. So, I would not appeal to them for authority.

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    @ Jonathan: I seriously doubt that the rabbinical schools were “totally apostate.”

    Also, there is a difference between believing in man’s sinfulness and the way original sin has been discussed by Augustine and many of his followers, especially those invested in the idea of total depravity. (Not all Christians believe in total depravity.)

    I think you are projecting your own views onto the OT as it was written, at the time(s) at which it was written.

    You are also projecting spiritual bankruptcy onto all the Jewish clergy at time time of Christ – something that has, unfortunately, led to pogroms and forced conversion and great ill-treatment of Jews throughout the entire “Christian era,” by supposed Christians.

    You might want to do a bit of study on the history of Judaism, no?

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    also… you might be interested in (if possibly troubled by) the standard Orthodox line on original sin. They believe that all humans are sinful as a result of Adam and Eve’s choices in the garden, but do not believe that all subsequent humans are guilty of the specific sin committed by Adam and Eve.

    I have no problem with that view; it’s actually pretty much (afaik) the line espoused by the church prior to Augustine. (Though I really should do some double-checking before I make a sweeping pronouncement like that. ;))

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    And Muff is correct: neither Judaism (nor Islam) believe in or teach “original sin” in the way it is understood by most Western (i.e., not Orthodox) Christians.

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    Lots of interesting comments. I have expressed, or attempted to express, my thoughts on Calvinism Here…
    Also thoughts on atheism.
    One brief point regarding election. I think most who call themselves Calvinists have it wrong.
    God is building for Himself a people, an elect people, the Body of Christ. All who trust God for their salvation (I put it this way because I’m not at all sure that those who have never heard of Christ, but trust the One they know is there, cannot benefit, according to God’s sovereignty, from Christ’s work on the cross) He brings into this Body. It is the Body that is elect, and all its members are then elect by virtue of their being members of it. We were chosen and predestined, “in him” (read Colossians 1).
    Only God can bring someone into this Body, but I believe the Bible is clear that anyone who seeks will find, and that no one who truly desires a relationship with Him will be turned away.
    Again, it is the Body that is elect, and membership in it is open to all. I believe every passage regarding election can be read with this in mind. It resolves a lot of issues.
    And lastly, I do believe that someone truly indwelt by the Holy Spirit can, nor will, ever truly fall away. The question is this, “Did you really become a new creation, were you actually, “reborn”, or did you just pray a prayer “accepting Jesus?” Just saying the words doesn’t accomplish a thing.

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    John K

    I really enjoyed your blog. Stayed longer than I planned! I enjoyed your thoughts on Calvinism and would love to reprint them in this comment stream if you would allow it.

    “Again, it is the Body that is elect, and membership in it is open to all. I believe every passage regarding election can be read with this in mind. It resolves a lot of issues.” I have heard this from a number of theologians who reject hardline Calvinism and I find it to have great merit. Have you developed this on your blog in any post? If so, I would like to read it and reprint it if you agree. If not, would you care to develop it?

    Also, in the same line, I have heard some argue that Christ, as the Head of the Body, is the one who was preordained from eternity. Add this to your argument for the Body and you have a well developed theology that will help those running from hardcore Calvinism. You will never convince the Calvinistas, they are always, 100% correct and you and I might be headed for excommunication in their eyes. 😉

    Finally, I like you reference to creation on your site. My husband and I often refer to creation as a testimony to the existence of God. That is why I have trouble with hardline young earth proponents. They claim that the testimony of creation is flawed because of sin and therefore one cannot trust the witness of the universe. Of course, I think their logic is flawed and find that God speaks loud and clear through His creation.

    Thank you for adding a new perspective to this argument. It is much needed.


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    John K, I’m curious how your position on God’s call differs from the classical Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace. After reading around on this site for a while I did some research into a variety of historical Arminian beliefs by looking at several Arminian blogs. What I found was that historically Arminians also believed (along with Calvinists) that God had to do something in order for sinners to come to him, but for the Arminian it was a less radical awakening than for a Calvinist. For the Arminian this grace extends to all, whereas for the Calvinist the “irresistible grace” of TULIP extends only to some. In all my conversations with Arminians in the past I’d never heard that all clearly articulated until I started reading around. The blog Arminian Today has this as it’s statement of faith covering prevenient grace. As a sidenote, that blog is a really fascinating read and the author’s words show a great heart for Christ.

    “5. I believe that humanity was created in the image of God but fell from its original sinless state through willful disobedience and Satan’s deception, resulting in eternal condemnation and separation from God. In and of themselves and apart from the grace of God human beings can neither think, will, nor do anything good, including believe. But the prevenient grace of God prepares and enables sinners to receive the free gift of salvation offered in Christ and his gospel. Only through the grace of God can sinners believe and so be regenerated by the Holy Spirit unto salvation and spiritual life. It is also the grace of God that enables believers to continue in faith as well as good in thought, will, and deed, so that all good deeds or movements that can be conceived must be ascribed to the grace of God (Genesis 3:1-8; Romans 5:12).”

    Dee, my experience with presbyterians is mainly in the PCA.

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    You are making the mistake of assuming that all electrical impulses are physically deterministic, assuming there is nothing more than electrical impulses to what we are, and assuming there is no as yet unknown element from which the will is comprised that actually has control over the quantum state (or other elements) that feed into when and where these impulses will fire. There is plenty of room in what we know for that which we do not understand to contain the essence of what we refer to as the soul or spirit, and there is also plenty of room for that soul or spirit to influence who we are and who we become. There is nothing in science yet that precludes the concept of free will as expressed in scripture – the ability to make a choice based on some as yet unquantified element of who we are.

    We simply do not know enough to categorically declare the physical is all there is to who we are. Or even to declare that within the physical that the sum is itself not greater than the parts.


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    Dee, feel free to use any of my stuff you like. I would be honoured (Canadian spelling).

    Watcher, I believe, along with Calvin himself (see Here, & comments) that God has given every person an awareness of His existence. Whether you call it prevenient grace or, as Calvin called it, “a seed of religion,” may be just a matter of terminology. (Ironically Arminius was himself a “Calvinist”.) In any case, for various or whatever reasons, some turn toward God and some seem to turn away. (cf John 3:19). Just as the incident of the snake in the desert, whoever turned toward the means God provided for their salvation were saved; whoever turned away, or rejected it perished. That is a picture of salvation through Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Those who turn toward him will be saved, those who reject him will perish. But I believe it is a personal choice, open to all. God has invited everyone to seek Him, and He has promised that those who do will find Him. (Deut 4:29; Jer 29:13; Mat 7:7 ff; and others)

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    A clarification on my previous comment. I do not at all mean to say that people choose to enter God’s Kingdom on their own. Salvation is all of God. IOW no one “chooses” to be saved. No one walks into the Kingdom by their own will. Indeed, without the Holy Spirit, given by God at the moment of regeneration, no one can even have a clue what it’s all about. We can only choose to seek, or walk in the direction, so to speak, of the light. God then rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb 11:6)

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    John K.,

    Let me ask you a question. If you come to the discussion table already believing that every person has an “awareness” of His existence. Would it be a fair statement then to say that when a person such as myself says there is nothing either in nature nor in my psyche, that reasonably infers the existence of any god, let alone the Christian one, that you would then simply dismiss my statement because you think I am telling a lie?

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    Hi Karlton.
    Let me ask you a question. Are you saying that you never, ever, had the sense, the inner feeling, that there was something… SOMETHING OUT THERE…, something beyond the purely natural or materialistic?

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    Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I just read all those comments- it took so long! I really like some of acre and numma’s statements, and karl’s too. Oh yes… but back to the important things I wanted to say… ummmm…

    Why do atheists and calvinists even argue with eachother, if they both believe that we can by our own wills have no effect on our own eternal destiny?

    The calvinist concept of God pushes me more towards rebellion than anything any atheist has ever said to me- does that mean I am the reprobate? I agree with acre, that they seem to be making God into a monster. But, maybe I’m wrong. There are some pretty difficult statements in the Bible for us proponents of free will. I bounce back and forth between saying “let’s all worship together and let God sort it out, just in case the calvinists are interpreting the Bible correctly, maybe this is part of God’s plan that is too great for me to understand” and “no, I refuse to worship a monster, I must have a theology that does not include God predestining people to hell, and I must fight against this dangerous interpretation of the Scripture.” Forgive my honesty, but that’s where I’m at.

    But, if calvinism is true, does it really matter?
    (maybe I’ve misunderstood calvinism here, let me know)
    Option a: there is no free will, so our redemption or rebellion are out of our hands anyway- thus it doesn’t matter if we believe in predestination or not, and we live in a world where moral law is obsolete. A kind of grateful nihilism.
    Option b: There is free will, and we should tell people that they must choose to follow Jesus or not. In this case double predestination should not be taught.
    Option c: God does not predestine people before they are born, but God invented Calvinism to test our faith and c1, he will punish us for rejecting his sovereignty, or c2, he will punish us for our lack of faith in his mercy. I hope God does not tempt us this way.

    It’s not that I demand God to respect people, but what I’ve learned and observed (through the combination of nature, the Bible and philosophy), about God’s character (and, yes, I’m assuming he exists, is active, is discernible, and is described in the Bible- I know those are a lot of big jumps, but that’s another discussion, I’m just dealing with theologies here) leads me to believe that if there were “un-saveable” people, Jesus would have incarnated as one of those to save them. You may think I’m a bleeding-heart humanist, but I appeal to the bleeding heart of Jesus for the salvation of mankind- the un-saveable and the righteous. He will not force us to listen, but he is calling.

    @Karl, my Dad’s beliefs are similar to yours I think, and I don’t get very far in these discussions with him either, so please know that I don’t want to be disrespectful or presumptuous(and if you were just talking about a theoretical person with past conversion, don’t laugh at me too much for speaking as if you were referring to your own life story). Sometimes I think “I heard God say something to me,” sometimes I think it was just my imagination. A lot of people try to make this a big testing ground, the result is, I think, a lot of “the emperor’s new clothes” effect going on. People fake speaking in tongues (I’m not saying miracles don’t happen, but I’m just saying some people are faking), or people interpreting dreams and notions as being from God without a real basis (“god told me to kill my kids” for a horrific example, or just “god sent me a dream about this woman, I have to leave my wife for her”). This is not right, and it often drives thinking people to either stop thinking or leave the faith. I recently re-read the New Testament, and a lot of it is not about an ecstatic experience, but about a way of life that leads to godliness.

    I’m not gonna attack your atheism here, because I think you have made what you believe to be a reasonable choice. I do hope you reconsider. The Holy Spirit is calling you, in ways that don’t fit into everybody’s definition of “hearing voices.”

    One thing I’ve noticed, and please don’t be offended, but I think moral atheism is about self-respect. I tend to think, like Dostoevsky’s Ivan, that without God and eternal consequences, “everything is permissible.” But I perhaps I have a more wicked mind than most, (and am more in need of God’s salvation). Most atheists I know hold themselves to a high moral standard. I do know a few who are completely ruthless and selfish, but they are either ignorant, or extremely nihilistic. The thing is, moral atheists hold faith to a high standard too, and it just doesn’t meet that standard for them. Moral and mental accountability. Refuse to believe the illogical, the incomprehensible, the undefinable.

    Paschal did a nice work on taking the gamble for God. I suggest it, although being purely logical, it does little to meet a high experiential or spiritual standard. But some of his other sayings are good for this, and I also recommend some of the orthodox church fathers, for a more reasoned approach than the usual- “you just gotta feel it, and if you don’t you’re not saved stuff.”

    There is Christianity out there that is not “the emperor’s new clothes.” There is Jesus, Yeshua- “God Saves,” a man of sorrows, the logos of God, the bread of life and the life that was the light of all men- death was swallowed up in his glory. I believe God prefers honest questioning to empty praise. “I believe, help my unbelief.” It is good to be humble and worship God, but we should have an idea of who we are worshiping, so we don’t end up worshiping our own evil, repellent creation instead.

    Wow, that writing took longer than all that reading, I’m sorry for the unedited nature and length of my comment, I’ve spent much time on here, neglecting my household tasks, but I hope it is for the best. My baby is waking up, gotta go 🙂 Peace to you, and love in Christ Jesus.


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    Nice post…

    As to Pascal’s wager…actually it has more than a few flaws. For example, if you take his premise to be true…then you should believe in whichever God someone come up with that has worse punishments than the Christian God or a worse Hell.

    Secondly, he makes an assumption that simply isn’t true, i.e. that if you believe and are wrong, than you lose nothing. If you believe and are wrong, you have wasted countless hours in prayer, at church, etc. that may have been better spent. Also, if you are wrong then you have clung to believing things about your fellow man which might not be true, you have believed in and propagated a set of beliefs to yourself and other people around the world (think evangelism and missions), which were false….

    You said that “that without God and eternal consequences, “everything is permissible.”

    I would disagree on that point. I, for example, do not believe that randomly murdering someone is “permissible”, but it is not because a heavenly father figure tells me so, but more because I do not choose to live in a culture that permits it, and I do not believe that it contributes to a flourishing, healthy society where people live without fear from their fellow man.

    As an atheist I evaluate my actions and what I think is ethical behavior based on a goal of creating the aforementioned society. The difference between that and Christian morality, is that, as the world changes, I am free to change those moral values to accommodate the world at large if a better idea comes along, whereas, the morals of religion are static…given by God…no changes permitted.

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    Sorry I missed your post, sorry to be answering so late. Yes, of course I have thought and felt at times that there must be something else out there…but for me that’s not evidence at all. There are many things that I feel are true…and I learn later on that I am way off base, usually when my wife corrects me.


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    Thank you for your kind response!

    I agree, Pascal’s wager does not explain why one should choose Christianity vice another harsher religion, and is too quick to assume that the consequences for incorrectly choosing religion are negligible, except that he is considering them negligible in comparison to eternity, so any number in that case is negligible, but I can see how that may be biased. His other writings fill in the background more and answer some of those questions- the wager by itself is not that impressive. I will try to make a better proof, but that will take some time.

    For now, I wish I could prove to you beyond the shadow of a doubt that God exists, and that I could prove it to myself too. But I’m not going to lie to you, I can’t prove anything. (I can’t even prove that you exist. That all depends on what criteria we agree on, but how can I determine criteria with a figment of my imagination- I could very well be the only real person, and dreaming the world :).

    I agree, most atheists are highly moral. They live the same way as Christians- doing good unto others and hoping those others will do good to them too. Atheists establish, adapt, and follow moral doctrines in a similar way to most religious people, I think, they just cling to different precedents. Some people are crazy about PETA, some are crazy about Ben Franklin, Marx, Buddha, Jesus, Adam West, John Lennon… People find something- a story, a theory of life- they fall in love with it, they hope it’s true, they hope it will lead to a positive solution for us, the conscience and consciousness burdened beings who roam this earth.

    We’ve all screwed it up. We haven’t reached this perfect society yet. Religious people and non-religious have done great things for society, and great harm. I’d like to apologize as one of the members of the body of Christ. Some of us, not understanding God’s truth, have hurt you, and have hurt millions of people. Whether they are still “saved” or not is not for me to decide, but I apologize, and I believe that God himself suffered and wept and died for their sins, as well as yours, mine, and every person’s.

    Is the Bible true? Is Jesus real? Does anyone hear my when I pray? Does someone care if I do right or wrong, even if nobody ever notices/ catches me? Is there a plan for this whole mess? Will I remember me when I’m dead? I hope so. Because I want to believe, things seem to me to prove it. If you don’t want to believe, you could see the same things, and not interpret them the same way. So, it’s a choice, and not an obvious one (unless you’re Pascal I guess 🙂 ).

    So, regarding what is and is not, I hope. “Faith is the evidence of things hoped for.” And, like you do, I try to act in love. “Faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these is love.”

    I could go into a lot more… but my son woke up from another nap and he’s crying for me.

    I would like to leave you with a question (or two), though, if I may, I think about this sometimes, and it’s a fun exercise:

    If you could invent God, what would he/she/they be like?
    If you could order society, and have a plan for the world, what would it be like (including human interaction, consequence, and whether or not anyone can have free will, eternal life, reincarnation, etc).

    Gotta go, Peace and Love,
    Ruth 🙂

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    wow, great questions…I might borrow one or two for my blog 🙂

    The easiest one to address is the concept of free will, I have an article already written on my blog, so I’ll leave that for you to read and comment on there.

    The other ones are going to require a little more thought, a.k.a. more coffee.

    Get back to you soon…

    Link to free will:


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    I can’t imagine any reason for creating God(s) or for that matter eternal life, I don’t think, even the people that champion the idea of eternal life have really thought it through. We can’t figure out what to do on a rainy Saturday afternoon…you really want to live FOREVER? I do have a few changes I might implement though.

    I would extend the range of human life to around 600 years, and not have puberty occur until about 100 and fade away after maybe 250 or so. Give folks time to live a little before starting a family and not feel so rushed, maybe get a little smarter before having kids too! I only want to delay sexual maturity, everything else can proceed at the pace it currently does.

    Since I can change anything, I’d much rather see success measured by how much we can improve ourselves and society, not by the accumulation of things or wealth.

    I think I would change the perceived three most important words from “I Love You” to “Can I Help?”

    I’d love to change the concept of education to small, single subject, schools open to people of all ages. Jump in at whatever level you feel comfortable in a particular subject, and stay until you’ve learned whatever amount you want. Let people put their education together piecemeal…and at little or no cost.

    Just a few quick idea…

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    I was once an Arminian, but in truth, I don’t think Arminian arguments really answer anything. Nada, zip.

    “That means that NOTHING HAPPENS THAT GOD DID NOT CHOOSE TO HAPPEN. Which, to me makes God a monster who causes little children to starve to death, then sends them to hell to be eternally tormented, because that was God’s purpose for them before the creation of the universe.”

    OK. So, as a non-believer once asked me when I brought up the free-will defense as an Arminian, why did God, knowing that Adam and Even would sin, create them in the first place? Why did He allow sin to enter the world? Or did He don’t know? Why did He allow the serpent to tempt Adam and Even? If it wasn’t part of His plan, why did He permit it?

    As for little children starving to death — why does God allow them to starve to death? What does free will have to do with it? Did they choose to be starved to death? Did anyone choose to starve them to death? Free will answers nothing.

    The heresy of Open Theism (yes, it runs counter to all historical Christian belief of all branches of Christendom) still cannot give any real valid answer. For example, why does God allow murder? Couldn’t He stop it? Even if He didn’t know the future, He certainly knows the present — He knows when it is about to happen. What about natural catastrophes?

    The reason that God allows these evil is because they are part of His Sovereign Will. Even atheists know that. There is no way out.

    The question is why is that evil part of His Sovereign will?

    Two more things. Many Calvinists do not believe God predestines damnation the way He predestines salvation. He passes over those who are not elect. He actively works on the elect.

    Second, Calvinists do believe people choose. At least the ones mentioned in this blog. ALL of them. The question is: why does one choose God? Are you more intelligent than Richard Dawkins or Rusell, or Flee, or Stephen Hawkings? Are you a better person than Gandhi? Why did you choose Christ and they didn’t? If it is really because of something found in you, then by inescapable reason you must say you are either more intelligent than them, or more moral than them, or both.

    I am neither. God had mercy on me and changed my heart so I could choose Him. Otherwise, I am more stupid than them, and more evil than them. There is nothing in my salvation I can attribute to myself that makes me better than Gandhi or Dawkins.

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    I’m sure he’s been called worse 🙂

    Here’s the dilemma…

    You could argue that permitting free choice and then having those people choose evil, does not make the creator evil any more than me giving you a bouquet of roses and you smashing the vase over your neighbor’s head and killing him, makes me evil for giving you the vase.

    The fact that God is omniscient, may or may not change things. For instance, if I look into a crystal ball and see that you will smack your neighbor tomorrow with the vase, does that in any way make me culpable?

    The same could be argued for God, because, even though He knows what will happen, He cannot intervene in a human’s free will, to change the course of events without taking back free will. I suppose he could interfere in the mechanical portion of events without He could make sure that when the vase hits you, the force is magically dissipated so no harmful event occur, like your death.

    Let me point out also, nowhere in the bible does it say God gave us free will…we assume it to be true, because without it we really have a problem.

    My position is, free will itself does not exist. Not because of God’s sovereignty, or Calvinistic theology, but rather from a biological basis, it would seem that the entire concept is nothing more than a comfortable way to explain things, but I don’t see how, from a non-spiritual perspective it is even possible.

    See here for longer discussion on it


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    Actually, our resident atheist makes a good point. He usually does but then he goes in for the kill 🙂
    Nick, your argument is one I have heard on many occasions. There is another possibility. God could have given man the ability to make a choice for or against God.

    Did you know that Flew (I think that is who you meant by Flee) became a Deist a few years back?

    And better than Gandhi? I thought all men were sinful and not one is better than another?

    And more intelligent that Dawkins? What does intelligence have to do with knowing God? Doesn’t even the simplest ploughboy have the capability to understand the Gospel?

    Do you think that your simple arguments, presented in an arrogant manner, will prove to us, once and for all, why we should become Calvinists?

    What is I told you that I am neither Arminian or Calvinist, finding both to be far too simple but am glad you have found an answer that takes care of the problems for you.

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    Jesus taught that prayer can change the mind of God, altering man’s destiny.

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    Dear Karl,
    I’m glad I’m not the only one horrified by the idea of eternal life, worried about eternal boredom. I believe only God can make us into the kind of people who can experience eternal joy. Thanks for answering my questions. I like your ideas, and I’m flattered you might put them on your blog, I think you’ll enjoy seeing what different people say, and what that says about them. If you want to make people mad, then you ask them how they would prevent people from screwing up their great world and still let them feel like they have some kind of control. I’ll talk more later, gotta go play w/ the baby 🙂
    Ruth 🙂
    PS: In my ideal world, I think children and teens under the age of 20 would actually be indestructible. No more worrying about the baby bumping his head and getting hurt, etc.

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    Above on Sun, Jul 17 2011 at 08:08 am “Jesus taught that prayer can change the mind of God, altering man’s destiny.”

    The question then came: “Where does Jesus teach that?”

    To which we never get a reply. No answer at all. Nada.

    Is anyone here familiar with CCC (Christian Cowards Club)? This is a group of Christians who HATE being confronted with Biblical facts and run away as fast as they can when anyone asks them, “Where is that in the Bible.”

    Then there is another group, DBCC (Drive By Christian Cowards), that come in and post a one time sucker punch, and then they RUN AWAY as fast as they can! Of course both of these groups stick up for each other and yell “HURRAY” when one of their fellow cowards does an attempted drive by character assassination. They miss their intended target by a mile, then speed away.

    You all know who I am talking about. No need to mention any names. Their reputation is well known.

    Any of you cowards want to come over here to this thread and have a REAL and honest Biblical debate (with Dee and Deb’s permission that is). How about a good “free for all”?

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    You are wrong to accuse Arce the way that you do.He carefully explains his positions on any issue he comments on. You may not agree with him but he does define how he comes to his beliefs.

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    Dee, I asked him a very simple question about the title “Reverend”, and he refused to answer me from the Bible. I wanted a Biblical answer and he refused to give me one.

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    I do not care about traditions and culture. I get that pathetic answer from my Catholic friends whenever I ask “Where is that in the Bible?” Why do some settle for man made traditions over the word of God? That it what I was trying to get to, but Arce refused to go there. Why do you think that is? Then his buddy numo jumps in with no explanation of his beef. And then another drive by with “doubtful”. What’s up with the gang attack from the CCC?

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    Doubtful is not a drive by and has been more than respectful, as well as very thoughtful.l on this blog. Doubtful is one who is not a believer and I have enjoyed his/her comments.

    Numo is also a very nice person who has carefully expressed many viewpoints over a long period of time. In fact, Numo, along with Arce are some of my favorite commenters. So, I disagree with you.

    Arce got tired and I understand why. He does answer you but your continue to fight where there is no fight. You just don’t like the answer. He has told you he is weary of the exchange. So, you lose. Dialogue will not occur.

    One of the things I learned by getting cussed out on multiple occasions on atheist blogs is when to hold my tongue and when to speak out. I need to decide what I am trying to accomplish. Am I trying to force them to come over to my way of thinking or am I seeking to understand. I learned to seek first to understand.