“To convince people don’t try to reach their head try to reach their heart.” ― Wealth of Words.
Some Calvinists are like Mormons
Years ago, I met with several Mormon missionaries and their supervisor over six months. We enjoyed our discussion. I read the Book of Mormon, making all kinds of notes in the book, and even attended one of their services. They thought they had a potential convert. Over time, as I countered their deeply held beliefs, they became frustrated with me. They spoke about a typical Mormon belief that one will get “a burning in one’s bosom” if one just prayed for God to do it.
Finally, I got fed up and said, “Let’s go ahead and pray for that “burning in the bosom.” So we prayed around a circle. I prayed, “God if this burning in the bosom thing is real, show me. If it’s not, show them.” I noted they kept peeking over at me. I guess they assumed that the burning would commence at any second. We finished our prayers. There was no “burning in my bosom” except for a bit of indigestion from the chili earlier in the evening.
They kept trying to figure out why it didn’t occur. Finally, they concluded that my prayer wasn’t “earnest.” I said it was quite earnest and that maybe it didn’t happen because their paradigm was incorrect. They had a problem. I did everything they asked, including only arguing from the point of view of Mormonism.
Throughout my life, I have diligently tried to understand the tenets of Calvinism. I read the suggested books, listened to their pastors and theologians, and even made a list in a notebook of the pros and cons of each side. I still remember one woman on a cruise who diligently and kindly tried to convince me that Calvinism and the TULIP clearly explained the Gospel. I remember her walking through a door and using that as her argument. “It’s like this,” she said.” From this side of the doorway, it looks like it’s your choice, but after you go through the door to heaven, you will look back and clearly see it was His choice.” I just shook my head. She said, “It didn’t work?” I said, “It did not.”
In some respects, Calvinists remind me of the Mormons. “If only you really loved God and were humble enough to believe in a sovereign God, you would be a Calvinist.” Oddly enough, I believe in a sovereign God, but I don’t see Him exactly as they do.
They also remind me of Ken Ham and other young earth zealots, who tell me I can’t be a “real” Christian unless I believe in a literal 6-day, 6,000-10,000-year-old earth.
The Augsburg Confession
My pastor was explaining the Augsburg Confession: Article VII.
Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. As Paul says: “One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all,” etc. Eph. 4:5-6.
and Article VIII.
1 Although the Church properly is the congregation of saints and true believers, nevertheless, since in this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled therewith, it is lawful to use Sacraments administered by evil men, according to the saying of Christ: The Scribes and 2 the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat, etc. Matt. 23:2. Both the Sacraments and Word are effectual by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ, notwithstanding they be administered by evil men.
3 They condemn the Donatists, and such like, who denied it to be lawful to use the ministry of evil men in the Church, and who thought the ministry of evil men to be unprofitable and of none effect.
My pastor emphasized that all Christian churches, which preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments, are still true churches even if we disagree on various doctrines. That is why we have many denominations. We don’t agree on everything, but we are still church members, as confessed in the Apostle’s Creed.
(I believe) in the holy Christian (or catholic) church.
The “Young, Restless and Reformed” theodudes made it worse for me.
Everything was relatively cool in my life on the matter until 2005, the beginning of the Young, Restless, and Reformed movement. Suddenly there seemed to be a demand that we all view Calvinism as a primary issue. I was deeply concerned since I could not adopt the TULIP as a basis for my belief in the Gospel. As I began blogging, I encountered serious concerns surrounding Sovereign Grace Ministries, Doug Wilson, Mark Driscoll, RC Sproul Jr, the Duggars, The Gospel Coalition, Mark Dever, etc. These groups were part of the Reformed movement. I didn’t buy what they were demanding of “true” believers. When I discovered harsh authoritarianism, a disregard for abuse, bizarre discipline, etc., I was surprised and unprepared.
I attempted to explain my differences. I remember one Calvinist used the Starfish Story in an attempt to explain how God is gracious in saving just a few.
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
I said that such a story could not be applied to God since He has the capacity to save all. According to His Word, He desires all to be saved. So I didn’t accept it.
I am not doing this to convince Calvinists. On the contrary, I respect that they see it differently than I do.
Their arguments didn’t make sense to me. I don’t believe in a God who would create people destined to go to hell because He wanted to do this for His glory. Recently I learned about a young woman who left Calvinism after long believing in it. It dawned on me that the Calvinists who don’t understand or care for my thoughts might listen to her. Not because they will buy her arguments but might be willing to listen to one who was formerly one of their own. As opposed to my viewpoints which might not be acceptable since I have never embraced their doctrine.
This post is also for those who struggle in Reformed churches, thinking they are bad Christians because they can’t go there with the doctrine.
John MacArthur’s ugly retort to a woman who is no longer a Calvinist.
Julie Roys recently posted John MacArthur Tells Female YouTuber to ‘Keep Her Thoughts to Herself’ and Listen to Him. (Julie Roys: Thank you for posting this!)
After discussing how he’s refined and tested his understanding of Calvinism over decades of study and exposition, MacArthur stated:
I was looking at the Internet the other day, and some wistful girl said, ‘How I became a Calvinist and left Calvinism.’ Well, the sophomoric comment like that from somebody, who should keep her thoughts to herself because she has no idea what she’s talking about, is to be measured against someone who for 50 years, has taken every text of the Bible and, and put doctrine into that text and see if it survives. And I can say that it has.
It’s particularly interesting because this woman respected MacArthur and was taken aback by his retort. I think MacArthur appeared to be a “little full of himself.” I wonder if he remembers that many people come to Christ, live a whole Christian life, and don’t even know who he is. It is his attitude that ruins it for the kind Calvinists out there.
Listen to this woman’s gracious and kind presentation and compare it to MacArthur’s retort. It takes about an hour. I believe it will help those told they are not “real” Christians because they don’t subscribe to the TULIP. She was a true believer until things changed. It takes about an hour, but her presentation style is charismatic.
John MacArthur, Doug Wilson.
If I were a Calvinist I would be so embarrassed by them.
I’m glad there are decent Calvinists out there. I feel bad for them that the squeaky wheel Calvinists get most of the attention.
Former Calvinist here, now confessional Lutheran. TULIP never set well with me, even though I believed it. Then I realized: TULIP is based on logic, not Scripture. Calvinists would not agree with that, and would quote many verses to support their position, but they have to twist and redefine words within those verses to make them fit the logical framework they have constructed.
The only way I can understand why anyone would adhere to Calvinism is dissonance and authoritarian control. I don’t mean this as an insult or derogatorily; I just can’t understand it any other way.
With MacArthur, one can see the authoritarian control clearly: anyone at his church or a church like it receives a clear message they are not allowed to think any other way or will face the derision of the leader and expulsion from the group.
Ask any Calvinist to reconcile the system with ideas of justice we find in Scripture and one will see the dissonance.
That said, one of my favorite people is a Calvinist and a couple of influential people I like are Calvinists, too. So…live and let live!
Dee’s analysis about why she could not find Calvinism as something to believe in reminds me of a little group I once hosted inside of my house. I had two friends, one a hard-core believer in Calvinism, the other a hard-core despiser of all things Calvinist. We discussed truth and theology and those two often went after each other, to completely no avail. The one talked about how much logical sense he claimed it made to him. The other could not, would not ever believe in a God who would create people with no choice but to go to hell.
A couple of decades went by and I think I finally figured it out. I know both men very well having spent much time with them. The anti-Calvinist came from a family where he was the only believer. The idea that God would create his parents or siblings just to predestine them to hell was not something he was ever comfortable with. In his old age he embraced a heresy that he condemned in his former years: a form of Universalism. This only happened after both of the women in his family died close together. This really bothered him and I figured that he refuses to give up hope in seeing them again even though they never claimed to be Christians. His beliefs are not founded in logic, per se, but in emotions and not being able to let go of family.
My other friend came out of a family dynamic that was chaotic, with a father who was not mentally or morally stable. My friend got saved and eventually so did all the rest of his family. So the above dynamic never played into his thinking. He never doubted being united with all of them when the last of them died. But he still has had the trauma and confusion of his youth to deal with. I have come to the conclusion that he found personal peace in the idea of God being sovereign and perhaps letting all that trauma happen just so that the whole family would feel a need to seek God and find him. While he is an engineer, I do not think his beliefs are based in logic or scripture any more then my other friend, but what he wants to believe.
The ironic thing of it now is that neither of these men actually believe that anyone has any freewill to choose hell. The one thinks SOME are predestined for it. The other thinks NO ONE has any freewill to permanently choose hell. I do not have these hangups. What I learned from it is while I do not claim that everyone chooses their preferred theology for these kinds of emotional reasons, many simply must. Not everyone is like me. I am fine letting God be whoever He is. I just take things on logic. Scripture does not always say what I want, what anyone wants. Just because I or someone else does not like it it does not make it null and void. And Calvinism appears to be to be a combining of partial scriptural truth with a whole lot of ancient Greece philosophy of Determinism. Combining any human philosophy with faith makes for something that does not let God be I AM. It is error and bad doctrine.
I now find debates about theology a largely pointless endeavor, where the people involved are many times ignorant of their own motives. Of why they believe what they do. Get them in a room together to argue and no one will listen to anyone else and no minds will change, because rarely is logic or scripture the final word in these things. Instead it is about things of the past that dictate the way people tend to think. And I do not believe God is behind that in a Calvinistic controlling kind of way. I believe in limited free will. Where to draw the line exactly between free will and pretestination? That question is above my pay grade and I can live just fine with that. I know God and I trust His character. Relationship is greater than theology to me. I do not judge God. He saved me from a terrible mess I could not get out of without His help. That made me loyal to Him the way that He actually is. I will not insult Him by trying to force Him into a mold of my preference.
“My pastor emphasized that all Christian churches, which preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments, are still true churches even if we disagree on various doctrines. That is why we have many denominations.”
I don’t disagree, but the reasoning is circular and presumes that “the Gospel” and “the Sacraments” have definitions that are universally agreed.
Many are also real Christians who do not hold to the Apostle’s Creed. Many old time Baptists do not hold to any of the creeds. And it is ok.
And yeah, John M. comes across as full of himself.
And unable to reason. A perfectly sovereign God can design the universe to show His glory, yes. But He could instead design it to show His love, leading to universalism. Or He could sovereignly decide to show His love but also allow the people He creates to freely choose to accept or reject Him.
None of those negate sovereignty. Which the Calvinists are unable to grasp.
Hello all, Calvinist here. 5 pointer and everything.
I’m not American. I’m Australian. I’m also Presbyterian.
I suspect that the main problem with Calvinists in the US is that they are too American and too Baptist. For whatever reason, there seems to be a history of abusive control in Baptist churches – more so than in other protestant churches. There’s also a link to political conservatism and patriotism.
I’ve always felt that Macarthur was a bit “off”. He calls himself a Calvinist but is also a dispensationalist. Calvinists in non-Baptist churches tend to be Covenantal and amillennial in their theology. Mac and GCC are also hyper-complementarian, arguing that women’s role is in the home and not to be earning an income, something which Proverbs 31 sort of disagrees with.
I remember back in the early 2000s someone on a baptist blog linked to a Macarthur statement on alcohol. He criticised christian leaders who drank alcohol as being immature and said that they were pharisaic because they they taught that Christians MUST drink alcohol. Of course this was a baseless ad-hom attack on the people rather than the argument. I’d also conversed a few times with some of his fire-mad followers (you know, MANIACs who like to PYRO) and they very quickly resorted to name calling and ad-hom attacks whenever anyone disagreed with them.
Mac and GCC, to my mind, are a mixture of Calvinism and IFB (Independent Fundamentalist Baptist).
Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight),
I really appreciate your comment – great to have a non-American, non-Baptist point of view and I agree with your conclusions. Wish I could tell my story of my entry into Calvinistic thinking and now my exit. But it could be identifying and I don’t want the backlash it could create. But I was such a young (adult but very naive) susceptible individual and bought the doctrine hook line and sinker. Now, as an aged, white hair adult, I see things so much differently all the while happily repeating the Apostles’ Creed Sunday after Sunday.
Dee, thank you for this post, since it pulls together issues I’ve been struggling to understand during the past several years. Neil, thank you for your post, I appreciate your viewpoint from an Australian point of view. Like you, I’ve always thought JM was a bit off.
And, like FreshGrace, I was saved as a young teenager in an ultradispensational church. I’ve shifted to a covenantal theology, and no longer look to newspaper headlines as pointing to the rapture.
It is a struggle find churches that offer expository teaching, and not self-help sermons. Pastors who show compassion, and not intellectual arrogance. Sadly, many of my friends are either leaving or have left the church out of frustration and poor treatment. Please Lord, help us.
“….God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong…” ESV
This is what I think is going on between MacArthur and Alana.
We left our church when a New Restless and Reformed pastor came. I was tormented by the idea – what if Calvinism is true? So, I began to research – I use mostly the Internet to do my research. Interesting podcasts by Mike Winger and Kevin Thompson and Layton Flowers helped… But it was Alana that helped me the most. Why, because she encourages people to do what she did – go to the Scriptures for yourself. Don’t rely on the “experts” to tell you how to interpret Scripture. And by the way, Scripture is not written so that only the “experts” can understand it. The gospel message is simple and straightforward, and it doesn’t require a decoder ring (TULIP) to interpret it!
So, I began with Romans – just like she did. I only had to read through Romans eight – marking in the margins where all five points of Calvinism were refuted by Romans – and I was completely convinced. No, Calvinism is not supported by Scripture. God is going to hold me accountable for how I – in good faith – interpret his word. He is not going to hold me accountable as to how I align with Billy Graham (although I agree with), John MacArthur, or anyone else.
This message is for Alana. I heard you say on Flowers’ show recently that you can’t shake the idea that you are being divisive. I had a similar problem a few years ago when I had to draw boundaries with a close family member who was constantly tearing me down and mistreating me. “Unloving” was the word I couldn’t shake! But I wasn’t being unloving by protecting myself and holding her accountable. And Alayna, you are not being divisive. False doctrine is divisive! You are a courageous hero of the faith: the beautiful, incomparable, astounding love of Jesus Christ for all people!
My best, Jane
MOD: Your comment got held because you changed the name you last used when posted 4 years ago. Sorry. GBTC
“Oddly enough, I believe in a sovereign God, but I don’t see Him exactly as they do.”
The Bible speaks much about the sovereignty of God. The Bible speaks much about the free will of man. It all works together in a way that is beyond human comprehension. To attempt to put the mind of God into a neat systematic theological box, is to stand in arrogance before the Creator.
Calvinism’s doctrine on predestination is incompatible with the whosoever-will-may-come Gospel of 90+% of Christendom worldwide … no matter how much the jots and tittles of reformed theology spin Scripture. An encounter with the Living Christ is not embedded in reformed teaching; doctrines don’t save you, only Jesus can do that.
“I remember her walking through a door and using that as her argument. “It’s like this,” she said.” From this side of the doorway, it looks like it’s your choice, but after you go through the door to heaven, you will look back and clearly see it was His choice.” I just shook my head. She said, “It didn’t work?” I said, “It did not.””
Hyper-Calvinism is a door that will slam you in the hind end … beware!
Along those lines:
From the recording: “ someone said to me, “why did we have to find out about this probationary status on Facebook?’ I’m going to be real honest with you., You didn’t have any right to find out about anything. That’s not your responsibility”
I, too, am a confessional Lutheran. Lutheranism has cleared up a number of issues for me.
I agree with this statement. God is free to be Whomever He simply is as I AM. Diving deep into the logic I find a contradiction in Calvinism, however. As they insist that God has to be ultra-deterministic even though scriptures do not actually say that, they deny God any sovereignty in giving men any free will at all. They are blind to this, but I would argue that Calvinism actually denies God His sovereignty in absolute terms. God is not free at all to give men differing amounts of free will. Logically speaking, this is the reality around us as a normal young man has much more freedom than a baby or someone sick in a wheelchair. An emperor has more freedom than a common man who has more freedom than a slave. Calvinism locks God in a box labeled “Greek Determinism is ultimate reality.”
Not that I am trying to talk any Calvinists out of their position. I recognize that they get some kind of comfort out of thinking God is the ultimate control freak. This is not a universal point of view as some would think a God like that is really the Devil. People hold tightly to wanting God to be such and such a way. The fact that certain points of opinion contradict scriptures has never really been an adequate barrier to preventing that. There are many other ways people do this with their theology making God out to be a Universalist, pro-LGBQT-, pro-their political party, pro their country over all others, ect.
We even try to put God in a box by trying to define what Love really is. It is God. Love is not lawlessness or license. Love is never a fruit of the flesh. Love must be what God actually does, not what we wished He did. And we wander from the truth when we define it is in ways that contradict this:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
One thing is for sure: JMac does not love for he is never patient, never kind, is always boasting and is very proud. He dishonors others frequently. He is always self-seeking. He is obviously very easily angered. He keeps records of wrongs done against him by women folk. He is a religious hypocrite just as much as any Pharisee was in Jesus day.
Dee, how right you are to not embrace the God calvinists describe!
Roger Olson said, “the god of the calvinists is not much different from the devil. The devil wants everyone in hell, the calvinist god only wants some.”
Thankfully, you know to the depths of your soul that God is love and He loves you and He loves your neighbor. May the world listen to you!
I find it fruitless to debate. If people ask me what I think, I tell them. Recently, one man asked me what I thought about Pastor Lorritts. before I answered, I asked him, “Are you sure you want to know.?” He insisted I tell him, and I did.
As for being ignorant of one’s motive, I believe we all are ignorant in this area. As my former pastor often said, “On my best days, my motives are mixed.”
He knows that the Sacraments are practiced differently in other churches. Yet he stood by what he said.
Thank you. What a great comment. You seem to be one of the nice “5 pointers.”
We seem to have a similar start to our Christian lives. For many, attending a liturgical-based church is helpful. They don’t tend to go off the deep end since the liturgy reigns them in. I started off with dispensationalism. I taught my kids about “the Rapture.” I am now amillenial in my theology. My kids have found their own way.
Best laugh of the day.
I love this very truthful and grounded statement.
As a trauma informed Mental Health professional, I believe this is true in so many areas including belief (or non-belief). And as Christian who believes in a loving and merciful God, I believe God extends a lot of grace towards these because He sees the things they struggle with that we cannot. He knows some of these decisions are base out of our brokenness and weaknesses.
I have studied Calvinism quite extensively and while I am not an expert I do have some issues with it
1. Arthur Pink a big Calvinist whose books still sell widely stated “ that God does not love everyone.” I struggle with that since while we are all sinners God loved me in my sin before salvation and loves me after.
2. Another struggle is the Calvinist’s belief that every action is foreordained. So basically God holds people accountable for crimes and sins that they could not help but do because he sovereignty ordained it. Even human courts recognize various circumstances such as first and second degree manslaughter etc. Calvinism seems to make God out to be a really bad God!
3. Thirdly ( I saw this in a magazine) if God has the power to save everyone why wouldn’t he do it. While I would agree with RC Sproul, a Calvinist’s Calvin that God doesn’t have to save anyone why wouldn’t he unless there was measure of free will on our part involved someway. In other wards, if I had the cure for cancer and didn’t share it with the world or only gave it to a select group , say white people and/or wealthy, I would rightly be condemned by the world.
Now I know there are Calvinists who have answers for this but as one antiCalvinist said, there are many more verses of scriptures that support the non Calvinist position than the latter. You really have to twist a lot of scripture to make it fit Calvinist doctrine.
Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight),
I agree with Dee!
I am not a Calvinist – never have been, never will be….. but I think you and I can disagree agreeably.
You seem to be like the Calvinists used to be in our American churches in the “good ole days”— before this neo-Cal stuff……….. when we could put our differences aside and gather under one roof and worship together.
BTW M, I once read, I believe correctly by John Piper that God destines some people to hell for “His glory.” I don’t think God has to send people to hell for honor and glory, God has all thr glory and honor in his being. He has the seraphim and cherubim and all the angels to do that and even the rocks and nature would sing his praises. My 91 year old mom has to be destined to hell for God’s glory?
I watched the entire video in this post and most of the TikTok from the last post. It seems like the YRRs, SGMs, etc., have been targeting young college students…………
Is it just coincidence?
I wonder why there has been no mention of the death of Charles Stanley on this website.
I Timothy 2:4 succinctly states why I could never be Calvinist.
During my 70 year tenure as a Southern Baptist, I sat alongside several classical Calvinists (even though SBC members in those days were primarily non-Calvinist). I counted some of them friends. I found them to be civil in their discourse and respectful of other expressions of faith. I may not agree with the tenets of reformed theology, but the “Old” Calvinists are a different sort than the “New” Calvinists who are arrogant rebels.
Dee, you alluded to First Timothy 2, verses 3 and 4, that God desires all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.
We need to point out to our new-calvinist friends that they’re not taking these verses literally. They interpret them instead to mean that God desires THE ELECT to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. But that’s not what it says.
And yet, they take the last part of that chapter quite literally–that women should keep quiet in church, submit, and not be allowed to teach or hold authority over men.
They say that they promote a “biblical” approach to doing all things churchly and christianly (read Dever’s list of nine marks). I no longer have patience for this doublespeak.
The mention of 1 Timothy 2:4 brings to mind other verses:
1 Timothy 2:3-4
“This is good and acceptable before God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Peter 3:9
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance.”
Revelation 22:17 (cf. Isaiah 55:1)
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears say, “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty come, and the one who desires the water of life drink freely.”
1 John 2:1-2
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
2 Cor 5:18-20
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
“Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?”
“For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!””
Ezekiel 33:11 — “Say to them: ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord GOD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked should turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’”
“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Troy, you beat me to it.
Alana’s story indicates very strongly, once again, that so much depends not on what the words on the pages of the Bible are, but on how they are interpreted. To say “the Bible says” is meaningless, unless we can read Hebrew and Greek – and even then, we will interpret the text. That’s not to say that translations are “untrustworthy”, but every translation (to and from any language) has some kind of slant; having done a bit of translating, I can attest to this reality. Translation is already some kind of interpretation. And when we even read any text – even a holy text – we interpret it.
We all of us decide which interpretation makes the best sense, sometimes quite unreflectively and sometimes being convinced by proponents of a particular view.
1 John 2:2
“And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
The whole world — Gr, holou tou kosmou, or all the world; per Strong’s holou from holos: whole, complete.
Kosmou of course relates to kosmos, permutations of which are found in verses listed above such as John 3:16-17 and 2 Cor. 5:19.
Okay. As I said, I don’t disagree. I’m just a very concrete thinker ;-).
I’ve long been curious.
What exactly (or a good approximation) does this mean?
Anybody, even if dee chooses not to answer.
It’s a fair question.
I completely agree with this statement. What we know about our God is revealed to us primarily through His Word. And while I trust in that, our interpretations of that are not infallible. And our God is vast. I suspect that even the Holy Angels do not fully know everything that could be known about our God. And humility is more valuable than simple knowledge.
Not only am I a five-point Calvinist, but I’m also a preacher. Many years ago I was influenced by an Evangelist who was a Calvinist (Australian Evangelist John Chapman).
The calling of a non-Christian to repentance and faith as they hear and understand the Gospel of Jesus is firmly part of Calvinism. The theological idea is that the Holy Spirit regenerates the elect, who respond to the gospel with repentance and faith. Monergism.
Every time I preach I include an explanation of the Gospel and a call to anyone there who may not be a believer to turn from their sin and place their faith in Christ.
Calvinists see God’s determinism and predestination as Biblical teaching, and a teaching which strengthens the faith, but it’s not essential to believe it for salvation. So a person can be a Christian and not believe in predestination. You don’t have to believe in predestination to be one of the predestined!
Of course there are different types of Calvinist. Hyper Calvinists disagree with “the free offer of the Gospel” and basically wait around for the elect to turn up at their church. The Primitive Baptists in America have some really bizarre beliefs about God’s sovereignty.
And the neo-Calvinist movement in the US since 2000 has been deeply problematic. To be honest they are making the same mistakes as the non-calvinist church growth people in the 1980s and 1990s: celebrity pastors, megachurches, controlling leadership, slick marketing, worldly success.
I listened to his chapel sermon response and, as someone who used to work in higher education, was shocked at the level of arrogance displayed by MacArthur. I’m sorry, but four years of your life (especially when as a late teen or twenty-something) and thousands of dollars down the drain if your university looses accreditation? That is ABSOLUTELY a student’s and their family’s right to know. It is frankly irresponsible stewardship NOT to know.
a high level of arrogance is in the DNA of Hyper-Calvinists … nothing Christlike about the behaviour of these characters
Having been in a Christian mental health support group for 4 years and now starting to attend a local NAMI support group, I have certainly seen a great difference in the ability for people to be self-aware of what and why they do what they do. Those like myself who once struggled with suicidal ideations tend to look deeply, while others like mothers grieve over their own children’s denial of very real issues. Those who have overcome their own strongholds are much more aware, then those who are in denial. In this way I am answering Dee’s response as well.
Self-awareness is a spectrum. I have noticed I appear to be more aware than most, but I had to in order to get control of my life. I have met some people who while struggling with their own mental health are far more aware of their own motives than many. This is an interesting paradox where humbling circumstances often make people more aware as opposed to less. On the other hand the two female pastors who kicked me out of the former group lost all self-awareness. They refused to listen or deal with reality. So I have seen the other extreme there too.
To which I would reply “I’m going to be real honest with you, I don’t have to support your ministry. It’ my responsibility to pursue the Kingdom of God, not your kingdom. Bye.”
Which is a killer theology for evangelism. It’s my prayer that no one turns up at their church.
“ And yet, they take the last part of that chapter quite literally–that women should keep quiet in church, submit, and not be allowed to teach or hold authority over men. “
And then there’s 1 Corinthians 14:34- “The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.”
Yeah, I heard that one enough, especially at business meetings.
But……… women are encouraged to sing in the churches (solo, duet, choir, etc) ……… that is not “keeping silent”. Women teach children’s and women’s classes in the churches ……… that is not “keeping silent”. Women speaking in church nurseries, fellowship halls, and kitchens seems to me to be a functional necessity – should we just pass notes, or should the men take over those jobs?
Everything I have mentioned is women NOT being silent in the churches.
Certain people have walked away from me when I’ve tried to bring that into the conversation at church. I think they were silently wishing that I would keep silent, period.
Without wimmenfolk, most Southern Baptist churches would be forced to close their doors. Womanhood is the most underrated treasure in SBC churches, more precious than gold.
It means that we have trouble judging our motives, wishing to present them positively, even to ourselves. We are biased, always, and we need to understand that. It works for me. In other words, in my case, he is correct.
We are biased even in our interpretations.
I think the thing that makes Calvinism so objectionable to its detractors is the fate of those who are not among the elect.
I’ve read somewhere that a theology can affirm any two (but not all three) of these three: “God is absolutely sovereign”, “God loves His creation” and “God tolerates the ultimate alienation of some of His image bearers.”
Perhaps the problem is not determinism, but infernalism.
This seems an appropriate place to again mention David Bentley Hart’s essay on “Creation Ex Nihilo” and its implications for individual eschatology:
(the article is viewable with the red “PDF” button)
Hart presents an argument that “if this theology is valid, then one cannot speak of God as being ‘good’.” This kind of argument seems valid to me as analysis of Calvinism, but more fundamentally as analysis of the infernalism that is actually a point of agreement among most Calvinists and non-Calvinists.
In my neck of the woods – Appalachia – JMac is revered as the greatest of Bible teachers and prophets by most IFB pastors and preachers. His commentaries are the most popular in the few Christian bookstores remaining. Many of those pastors are also Schofield or Ryrie dispensationalists, as well. It’s an odd theological mix.
My personal experience is that Calvinistic IFB or Reformed Baptists tend toward authoritarianism for reasons I don’t understand.
I grew up in IFB churches, then moved into Reformed theology for many years. In my late 40s I abandoned some of the TULIP petals and moved toward a mixed Wesleyan – Anabaptist theology. However, I am thankful for classic Calvinists like J I Packer, Timothy Keller and others who have been of great spiritual and practical help to me. Packer’s book Knowing God opened the escape hatch for me to leave fundamentalism. I’m in my 70s now and I can still remember the emotional and intellectual impact of that book when I read it in my early 20s.
The guy is both a heretic and guilty of being every bit as much a horrendous proud jerk as JMac. I recommend no one read that without keeping that in mind. And I disagree with your third statement. Some men, like my friend I mention, have a great deal of trouble accepting that God would give family and friends a choice with eternal consequences. I find it funny that you give one jerk a harsh judgment (well deserved) but let the other equally bombastic jerk off of the hook. I find both men equally repulsive.
It’s hard to understand dee.
You do a good thing here at TWW by exposing the rot in evangelicalism, and since it’s a good thing, I fail to see how the good that you do arises from mixed motives.
In 9 years here at TWW, I have yet to see you play-off the steam locomotive against the caboose (so to speak).
In an even more stark example, I totally fail to see how William Wilberforce operated from mixed motives when he lobbied for, and eventually took down the British slave-trade.
This came across the wire regarding a former church leader, derailed by money, now Most Wanted:
Brings to mind another mix of church folks and money, a Ponzi Scheme run by a couple of churchmen that drained the retirement of former missionaries and such who trusted them:
It is not that we do some things that are pleasing to God. It’s the other things, the tough stuff like hurting others where we might be tempted to justify our reaction, etc. I had given myself excuses when I didn’t get some things done. I justify it by saying, “I was just too busy,” yet I overlook wasted time.
I guess I could say that I understand, for me, what he is saying. Perhaps his paradigm doesn’t fit others.
Calm down. If it comes to the point you are getting angry, it isn’t worth it.
I take some comfort in the thought that the strongest argument against DBH’s argument in that essay is that its author is a person whose humility has not kept up with his talents.
I think the argument stands or falls on its own merits, not the demerits of its author; the same is true of JMac’s arguments.
That’s the challenge. Character surpasses performance or achievement or display.
Yes; amusingly, this truth echoes Prof. Lee’s words in today’s e-church.
Exactly. It’s a good one. Worth a listen.
The “elect” are the desirables in Calvin culture – those they can leverage, as Calvin did way back when, for their purposes, (they have money, they’re attractive, youthful success, worldly prominence, the right demographic, etc.). Like all narcissists, the narcissist pastor or leader or theologian finds his supply, his people. Note: when these supply people are no longer useful to the narcissist, the narcissist drops them. Ouch.
In Calvinist culture, the “elect” are those chosen by the narcissistic leader as “elect”. Chosen by a narcissist for his supply. Goody, goody gumdrops, grandma would say. “Elect”.
In the video, Alana says, “It was the cool thing to be a Calvinist … that appeals to my flesh … you looked down on Armenians … Calvinism was ‘good teaching’ … it appealed to my pride … the pastor was going to slowly indoctrinate the church and make it a reformed church … which was right and true and scriptural …”
So, Alana and her husband belonged to the cool crowd, the best that church could offer – the reformed Calvinistic select elect. Chosen. By narcissists.
From our personal experience, we were never “the beautiful people”. Churches ignored us. We have never been the attractive identified elect of any church or church leader. Great to be ignored, marginalized, and ghosted by narcissists. Never got caught up in this, though passing through various Calvinistic reformed venues. As ghosts, it turns out. Listening to this video, and learning more about Calvinism, explains why we have been ghosted and ignored.
We’ve never qualified to be in the inner circle, the inner sanctum of the pastor. So how does one follow Jesus when ignored by the church? That’s the point – following Jesus, not church leaders. And in following Jesus, we have been studying the Bible ourselves over and above any of the guys on platforms with microphones.
Jesus is not on a platform and He does not have a microphone. He himself was not one of the beautiful people. He was not a big donor and was not attractive to look at (according to prophecy). Jesus had no worldly success. Jesus was born into a lower class marginalized family and never became a social climber.
Jesus speaks directly to each of us through His Holy Spirit (with Elijah the HS spoke with a clear small voice), through His Word the Bible, and through others IF THE OTHERS ARE NOT CONTRADICTING THE BIBLE AND GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT. Most often, God actually speaks directly to us. The essential middleman (others) was cut out when Jesus died, rose, and sent us His indwelling Holy Spirit.
There is no beautiful people, big donor, attractive actives, inner circle sanctum with Jesus. Jesus died and rose for all to stand at the foot of the cross on level ground with everyone else who humbles themselves to take their place there. Level ground. No titles, no entitled. Nothing to brag about except Jesus Himself, our one and only Leader.
I love your comment, Nancy2(aka Kevlar)! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Whosoever will may come … all those who believe in Jesus enter His inner ring … without distinction of race, class or gender … from every nation, tribe and tongue … whosoever will may come.
My favorite part of this video by Alana, is when she shares about taking Calvin’s systemic theology books and compares them to the Bible, line-by-line, verse-by-verse.
I believe at that point the Holy Spirit spoke to Alana through God’s written word (however imperfect the translation and such), when she proclaimed, “I am not a Calvinist.”
The more we study the Bible in sincerity looking for answers from God, the more we find God, I believe. Her story renews my faith in our God to cut through the religious static of men on platforms speaking into microphones AND men with printing presses marketing their publications throughout the world. The individual seeks God and finds Him, no matter their demographic, social status, wealth, attractiveness, popularity, etc.
Regarding Christian publishing: John and Elizabeth Sherrill could not find a Christian publisher to publish the stories of Corrie ten Boom, Brother Andrew, and Dave Wilkerson. Too much work of the Holy Spirit therein, for the Gospel publishers. So, John and Elizabeth Sherrill founded their own publishing company: Chosen Books. Two of those three biographies became films.
As the attractive actives, big donors, and beautiful chosen people party it up as the narcissist’s elect, Jesus goes out into the highways and the byways bringing the sincere seekers and followers into the fold of true disciples. Not by power nor by might but by my Spirit, says the Lord.
I will when you calm down about the arrogant people you call Calvinistas. Anyone who has read or watched or listened to Hart has noted his sharp rudeness, arrogance and the fact that he has written a book on Universalism all merit concern. You are concerned that certain Calvinistas have written books about a certain heresy that permanently changes the status of the Son. The man I wrote about here who is now the Universalist has Hart as his hero. I find this as concerning as you find JMac’s fan club. And I have a right to not want to read, watch, or listen to anyone who claims to be a Theologian but throws the fruit of the Spirit out the window.
You have no problem with people expressing anger at JMac. I think very little of both men, for the same reason: bad fruit. I am just trying to use a consistent logic behind what I declare to be bad theologians. It is as much about what they do as what they say. And someone who actually tries to live righteously is going to make a better theologian over time. I think other than in this example you would agree with me. But why give Hart chances you will not give to Calvinistas?
Who is David Bentley Hart?
““If something is worth being rude about, it is worth understanding as well.” — David Bentley Hart
In regards to logic in general, what you say is true to a certain point. But in regards to Theology it is not, for Jesus said to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. We listen to Jesus because he was perfect. We listen to the Apostles because they were all martyred, not perfect, but they certainly paid a severe price. If I had the choice of reading a humble theologian or a prick of one both saying the same thing, I think I would read the humble one. The other is probably plagiarizing the humble one.
I have listened to the guy. He is an effective orator. But rude and arrogant at the same time. The quote I listed says a lot of where the guys mind is at. He equates rudeness (a fruit of the flesh) with understanding? Which Proverb did he get that from? I find it paradoxical that on a post about a Christian celebrity being rude to a woman and telling her to shut up, someone would post up as good something from a man who does the same kinds of things all the time. Who is Hart rude to? Those he disagrees with of course, very narcissistic just like JMac. Are some of those people women? That must be the case. Has Hart said something to a woman that is worse than the JMac quote? Probably.
Is he a heretic? His Wikipage has a “Criticism and heterodoxy questions” section quoting the likes of N.T. Wright. Do we need more rude influencers around today? I do not think so. Is Hart’s reasoning full of leaven, in the same way Jesus said? I think so. White washed septic tanks who have made themselves celebrities? Do such people really possess the kind of practical wisdom that we all need?
“Alana L. Exhibits Far More Grace [truth] … As She Explains Why She Can No Longer Be a Calvinist”
In 1 John 1, as well as the 4 Gospels and the book of Acts, the disciples tell about what/who they have seen with their own eyes and heard with their own ears, Jesus the Son of God.
Today, Jesus’ disciples who walk in the Holy Spirit and do not fulfill the desires of the flesh, Galatians 5.16, also have stories to share of what they see and hear of God.
Church gatekeepers, men with titles and microphones on podiums, don’t always allow sharing of these testimonies of God’s goodness for God’s glory.
Thank God that John and Elizabeth Sherrill, as well as Dee and Todd, have provided opportunities for Corrie ten Boom, Dave Wilkerson, Brother Andrew, Alana and many others to share their stories, testifying of God’s goodness, grace, and truth.
Ever grateful. Like Charles Lee shared, faithfulness is mentioned much more than success in the Bible. Moreover, in the grand scheme of things in life, faithfulness surpasses success. We appreciate the faithfulness of our Christian brothers and sisters, in sharing these faith-building stories.
I’m searching my Bible and I cannot find the word “Calvin” anywhere.
Did you check the Gospel According to the Apostle CJ???
Okay, bad joke…. but, I couldn’t resist.
Amen! Therein likes the problem with folks being drawn into aberrant theology … they don’t read the Bible themselves under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as teacher. The whole of Scripture just doesn’t support the tenets of reformed theology. A “systematic” system relies on cherry-picked verses stretched beyond context. When viewed through a whole-Bible grid, such systems fall.
Same here. In none of the translations, paraphrases, etc.
Very inventive of someone to come up with “Calvinist”, however. I guess the work-around of Calvin and Calvinist not found in the Bible is “reformed”. Code word. Is “reformed” in the Bible? Anyone? Curious.
A liberating cry from deep in her soul.
I think one has to concede that in Romans 9, Paul uses language that sounds an awful lot like the ‘negative predestination’ that so distresses people who find Calvinism distressing. I’ve come to the view that the wrath that was hanging over Israel, and that so distressed Paul, was the “under the sun” wrath of the coming war with Rome — that Jesus warned about, too.
According to my Strong’s Concordance, “reformed” is used only one time in the KJV (Leviticus 26:23). The Hebrew word used in that verse means “correct course” … a warning that the new reformers should heed.
Whose system? The question.
In our family, we have a habit of reading the entire Bible, each for ourselves. Avoids a lot of “systems”. Furthermore, no one in our family has come up with a system, or published any books on what they find. I guess the Word and the Holy Spirit, in fellowship, are enough. No platform or microphone is needed or desired or produced.
No one has emerged with the new new thing, shiny and profit-making. Just day-to-day living with Jesus. We don’t have men with titles, on platforms, holding microphones. Or, women.
No one raises money from donors. Everyone works for a living, simply seeking to earn a living wage as best they can.
Love God, love your neighbor as yourself. No reform found or needed, I guess. It’s good enough, from 2000 years ago to now. Nothing spectacular. It’s enough for us, but not particularly attractive to churches and leaders, we have found.
One would think the correct course would be simply getting back to: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, & strength, and Love your neighbor as yourself.
Hardly anything new. Just getting back to the basics of our faith in following Jesus.
“Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance, the race marked out, for us.” Hebrews 12.1
“ Very inventive of someone to come up with “Calvinist”, however. I guess the work-around of Calvin and Calvinist not found in the Bible is “reformed”. Code word. Is “reformed” in the Bible? Anyone? Curious. “
One thought just popped into my mind…… but, perhaps certain parties in the “reformed” camp are working towards “reforming” the Bible.
And every Wartburger shouted “AMEN!” (or should have)
We don’t need any “ism”… we just need Jesus!
They started with the ESV Study Bible … some of the commentary embedded in that attempts to change the whole thing!
Sounds like we’re overdue for a little Lysistrata.
Not crazy. Sounds like a plan. Theodudebro strategy. The history of theology plays this out well in real life.
Why is it that seminary professors and theologians never articulate the reality, with all of their biblical might, of predatory pastors and such? Safety of vulnerable people in church is never in their wheelhouse, by choice.
Polite church society, in theology and social practice, engages prominence, popularity, profit, etc., tilting their entire biblical perspective in that direction. The narcissistic religious leader preaches, with chosen scriptures, to gather his chosen, his elect, as his narcissistic supply.
Jesus, in contrast, turned the tables over of the profiteers in the Temple. He said a millstone be placed on the neck of the predator as he is tossed into the sea. He woe’d the religious leaders. He stood up for women; he was born of a woman, and rose to first speak with a woman. He fed thousands and collected neither money nor goods, ever. Nothing about Jesus was for show, for sale, for power, prominence, or profit. We follow Jesus likewise.
No, it’s not.
College kids are still malleable, whereas older adults are not.
They’ve (neocals) done good market research, and went from there.
I left the EFCA in 2004 because Calvinism entered the church. I knew about predestination, but hadn’t heard of various other tenets which now popped up in sermons. Took a while to figure out where they came from, but I knew it was wrong to say, for example, God would kill people for his glory and we’re supposed to be perfectly fine with that.
“…I was tormented by the idea – what if Calvinism is true?”
(speaking to the air, here)
the way i see it, God being God and we being humans, well, we’re all a bit off. no one’s wholly right. no one’s wholly wrong.
and the more system-y, the more rigid, the further away from the heart of the matter, though.
with God, i think there are even square circles.
we get ourselves in such a tizzy sometimes, having to have certainty. well, gosh darn, i thought we all valued faith?
i wish so-called leaders would shut their traps. they add to the collective christian neuroses.
“This message is for Alana. I heard you say on Flowers’ show recently that you can’t shake the idea that you are being divisive….Alayna, you are not being divisive.”
Alana, you are being honest. you are like cool, clean mountain air in the stuffy tent of full of pedantic church systems people.
divisive schmivisive… what nonsense. as if to be christian is to be one of those mass-produced identical 3-eyed toys in the toy grabber claw game at pizza planet.
stand tall and proud, Alana.
“I once read, I believe correctly by John Piper that God destines some people to hell for “His glory.””
you have to get horny over your own theological thought stream to come up with that one.
no one knows what God’s glory means, anyway.
“Give me just one generation of youth, and I’ll transform the whole world.” (Vladimir Lenin)
Piper strives energetically to affirm all three “legs” of the “impossible trilemma”
1) God is absolutely sovereign
2) God loves (all of) His creation
3) God tolerates (or even decrees) the ultimate alienation of some of His image-bearers
I think it’s in his book “The Pleasures of God” that Piper offers an analogy that many people influenced by him may have found helpful.
The idea that the analogy is intended to support is the “God loves the reprobate, but he still decrees their reprobation because there is something that He loves even more than he loves them — that “something” being the manifestation of His glory that is accomplished through the destruction of the reprobate.
(This idea is not original to Piper; IIRC he credits Jonathan Edwards with giving him a vision for ‘God’s passion for His glory.’)
So, God loves the reprobate, but not enough to exert Himself to include them among the elect.
Here’s the analogy — a General commanding an army in an important battle assigns a dangerous mission to a formation in which his son serves as a junior officer. The General loves his son and does not want him to die in the coming battle, but the battle has to be fought — it’s a higher priority than his own son’s life. The loss of the son’s life is a price the General is willing to pay to accomplish the larger, more important, purpose of winning the battle.
This is supposed to solve the problem — the General dearly loves his son, but there is something that is even more important to him than the survival of his child. “See — humans do that too.”
Of course, it’s an imperfect analogy. The General isn’t fighting the battle for the sake of manifesting his own glory (doubtless “glory in battle” is a motive for some military commanders, but in Piper’s analogy, the importance of the battle is larger than the life of either the General or the junior officer son), and the General doesn’t intend for his son to die in the coming battle for the sake of manifesting the General’s glory.
Decades ago, I found this analogy helpful, but it eventually wore off.
I think the problem may be “individual eschatology” more than the degree and extent of Divine sovereignty”. The discomfort with Paul’s “double predestinarian” language in Romans 9, for example, is much diminished if the wrath that is in view is understood to be “under the Sun” wrath against Israel (Romans 9-11 is, after all, focused on Israel) associated with the political/military crisis that was looming in Israel’s relationship with the Roman occupiers. This also explains how Paul could believe that “all Israel” would be saved — if the war with Rome could be averted, no-one would die in that war; everyone would be saved from it.
In this hypothesis, Jesus had already delayed the war (thus saving many in Israel) by dying in public, at the hands of the Romans, as Israel’s king. The Romans defeated the rebellion before it could get started, and the would-be militants among Jesus’ followers were demoralized (cf. the Emmaus Road story) for a generation [of course, eventually a new generation arose that did not vividly remember the calamitous AD 30 Passover when Rome pre-emptively killed Israel’s Messiah, and that generation did go to war]. In Paul’s thinking, if Jesus could accomplish so much simply by dying, how much more would he accomplish by reigning at the right hand of the Father.
I recognize that this is a very minority opinion, but I think that it is worth considering whether the prevailing consensus on “which leg of the impossible trilemma must be rejected” is valid.
Yes we do know and it’s not what Piper & Edwards say. The glory of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is when children and widows bear fruit from the gifts.
The inconsiderable boy traded, the disciples traded when they head hunted him, I trade when I tell you this, we all trade when we supplicate without ceasing.
Will you join me in my minority of one in view of your Ascension belief (when the church started – NOT at Pentecost).
You’re right about 30 AD and 130 AD.
Exactly. That passage is national, not personal. Calvinists are confused about God’s purpose for Israel vs. God’s promise to all and His universal love for all who will trust in Christ.
Reformed theology is full of mumbo jumbo text out of context which attempts to steer your mind away from Truth when viewed through the whole of Scripture.
Predestined to Hell? NO!!!
If you read Paul first (his epistles), you might get confused about this. But if you read Jesus first (the Gospels), the writings of Paul come into perspective.
what they call the soggy meat in packets
A lot of “bibles” and “bible” publishers have destroyed the meaning of gen 3:16 by reversing it. The feeling of women is towards their menfolk – a just so story.
Check your “bible” and recycle all the fraudulent ones.
I do not allow one of the women, who used to “exotically initiate men”, to teach men present tense until she’s firmer.
Chuckp, please be wary of “agreeing” with Sproul Senior! God “has to” save everyone because He is so sovereign He created mankind with the ability to turn contingency before the fact of our lives into necessity after the fact of our lives, but subject to many varying constraints in each case.
The elect will be those who will have sufficiently persevered in believing (Jn 3: 16 is continuous not once-off) and continually been refilled (Eph and Acts ch 1) to continually produce fruits worthy of repentance. Those who convert on their death bed, that split second is not without value (especially through testimony), those who convert prior to the eleventh hour, we should pass the gifts on by talking the walk, because many people need those from us.
1 hearing you loud and clear
2 aside: squared (passive participle) ones look circular because the squariness becomes recessive probably because straight lines are a special case of a curve anyway. BUT God certainly knows how to make ones that were like that without having anything “done” to them – I asked some passing miniature dancing angels who said so!
If Piper’s beliefs were correct, then God would be an omnipotent sadist……..
and that comparison to a general is wrong in so many ways.
I’ve been a Christian for 70+ years. During my long tenure in church, I have been exposed to all shapes and sizes of theology dealing with “individual eschatology.” Over the years, my eschatology has become pretty simple … when Jesus comes, I go.
It’s not just neocals.
Other evangelical (non-calvinist) sects are totally okay with it too.
They’ll invariably cite Joshua’s genocide of the Canaanites and why god had to order it.
Their god has long been an absolutist bogey-man in the sky who demands total obedience and will tolerate no dissent.
Good grief. Macarthur does not exactly radiate humility, does he?
Yikes. Abusive to the Nth Power.
I thought IFBs were anti-Calvinist? My friend who attended Bob Jones University certainly is! Does it vary according to what IFB camp one belongs to?
I agree, and I have heard this admitted even by a friend who, like me at the time, embraced those views out of belief that they were taught in the Scriptures. And this is more or less David B Hart’s argument, but expanded to the more general (and IMO more consequential, since the view is more widespread) question of whether infernalism is compatible with the idea that “God is good.”
Regarding the “General” analogy, in retrospect, it’s a bit embarrassing to admit that at the time I found this to be helpful, but perhaps that is a measure of the desperation of some believers who understand the Scriptures in this way — who want to affirm all three legs of the “impossible trilemma” — to find an explanation that does not in essence portray the Creator as a being whose character is hideous.
Maybe they are even trying to reform Jesus . . .
I saw that Calvinist pastor Dr. Health Lambert (who just endured his fifth brain surgery) of First Baptist Jacksonville just changed that church over to the ESV. (Lambert also just required members to sign an statement on sexuality to maintain their membership – probably a good thing, though controversial). Many members were unhappy when Mac Brunson year ago changed from KJV used by Homer Lindsay over to the NASB.
I would think that trusting the gospel – I Corinthians 15:1-4 – how that Christ died for our sins according to the scripture, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the scriptures – would be the correct course, as Ephesians 1:13 succinctly provides the process of what an individual must do to be saved. Then after that, reckoning our old man dead and trying not to use our members of instruments as unrighteousness but instead using them for righteousness, as stated in Romans 6.
Romans 9-11 does describe God’s dealings with Israel. The key to understanding the book of Acts is that it is about the decline of Israel, not about the birth of the church. Romans 9-11 does not have body of Christ of information but does discuss how God will resume his dealings with Israel sometime in the future after the Body of Christ is removed. Calvinists are big on Romans 9, which is not Body of Christ information. Paul is the first member of the Body of Christ – I Timothy 1:16, Ephesians chapter 3, etc.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, theirs is a sick religion.
Yes, and everything you quoted and pointed out is included in:
“’Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’
“Jesus said to him: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.’”
It’s all based on righteous relationship, first with God, and secondly with our neighbors and ourselves. When we worship God, and treat others (equally ourselves) righteously, we use our members for righteousness only, etc., as well as everything else you mention and all the rest.
Thank you, because to explain the meaning of Scriptures in ways that we haven’t heard in churches (except rare ones) is the core of our journey.
A wee while ago, Christianity Magazine did a short piece on speaking in tongues in the present day – as in, does that manifestation of the spirit still exist. It took the form of two short essays, one pro and the other one con. The essay against speaking in other tongues was written by the same Mr MacArthur as has been cited here.
What struck me as interesting (and still does) was that he didn’t argue against them on actual biblical grounds. Instead he argued that the idea of speaking in tongues violated his axiom of theSufficiencyOfScripture so, a priori, it must be wrong. Once you’ve decided that scripture agrees with you, then obviously you can spend a lifetime making it do so.
After you box yourself into a corner and find out as you study it more that Scripture doesn’t agree with you, you feel obligated to continue to preach the lie. These are the most dangerous characters in the pulpit.
Wilberforce would be the first to agree with Dee that we oftentimes if not always act from mixed motives, or at least might do so and he offers an insight into why this is when he says “ The generally prevailing error of the present day, indeed, is that fundamental one which has been already pointed out. But while we attend, in the first place, to that, and, on the warrant both of Scripture and experience, prescribe hearty repentance and lively faith, as the only foundation of all true holiness; we must at the same time guard against a practical mistake of another kind. They who, with penitent hearts, have humbled themselves before the cross of Christ; and who, pleading his merits as their only ground of pardon and acceptance with God, have resolved henceforth, through the help of his Spirit, to bring forth the fruits of righteousness, are sometimes apt to conduct themselves as if they considered their work as now done; or at least, as if this were the whole they had to do, as often as, by falling afresh into sin, another act of repentance and faith may seem to have become necessary. There are not a few in our relaxed age, who thus satisfy themselves with what may be termed general Christianity; who feel general penitence and humiliation from a sense of their sinfulness in general, and general desires of universal holiness; but who neglect that vigilant and jealous care, with which they should labour to extirpate every particular corruption, by studying its nature, its root, its ramifications, and thus becoming acquainted with its secret movements, with the means whereby it gains strength, and with the most effectual methods of resisting it. In like manner, they are far from striving with persevering alacrity, for the acquisition and improvement of every Christian grace.
(A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, 1830)
Your argument falls apart at Romans 9:24.
Yours falls apart at Romans 9:23
Calvin didn’t invent election; he didn’t choose the elect; he didn’t ‘leverage’ anyone. I do agree with you that what currently manifests itself as New Calvinism does a lot of those things but it isn’t Calvinism, a point I make every now and again.
These days, “charismatics” are functional cessationists.
Hmmmm, mostly unidentifiable fillers and artificial dyes…….. very little “meat”.
Interesting comment. It sounds as if the remedy is quite exhausting. Does one actually achieve what is sought?
Predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.
I notice that the main complaint of Calvinism in modern times is it’s teaching on free will. I’m not familiar with the modern Lutheran church but if you’re interested in possibly moving in that direction then you should first take the time to read Luther’s works on free will. Just a heads up.
What makes you think I am not familiar with his thoughts on the matter? Luther was also a proponent of the freedom of conscience.
Calvin, MacArthur, Piper…
Isn’t amazing what you (generic you) can manufacture from the pages of the Bible.
A thing almost unheard of in his day.
And then shoving your “making it so” down the throats of others, for fame and fortune.
My only purpose was to point out that those who leave Calvinism over teaching on freedom of the will (theologically) will find little satisfaction in Lutheranism. They would be happier as free will Baptists or conservative Methodists. Luther’s views on the idea of free will were at least as restrictive as say Edwards. As far as freedom of conscience in the sense of being able to leave a church with no hassle, I hope the Lutherans do better than some of the Calvinists. If so, I applaud them.
It is funny that you brought this up since last evening we had a class on the Augsburg Confession and discussed free will. It was agreed that we have freedom of choice in our actions, etc. However, we need the Lord’s help to follow Him since the Bible clearly shows that we cannot do it alone. AS one leader put it- It is like someone puts $100 under your pillow. It is your choice to use it.
I thought of you during the discussion and wished you could hear it. As for leaving the church, one has no problem doing so, and I have observed it to be the case,
There are no “member care lists. They left my husband and me alone for two years as we watched what was happening. The pastor was kind to us during that time, but they gave us space.
Perhaps there are differences in how each church handles the issue?
Actually that’s not true. A lot of Reformation historiography is quite simply mythology. Historians Christopher Haigh, Eamon Duffy, and others have done a lot to correct the record. History is messy and complicated!
“When Truth and Legend conflict, Print the Legend!”
— The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Western)
Into the Image of CALVIN?
CALVIN who alone has God All Figured Out?
Remember the “I” in IFB stands for INDEPENDENT.
And though such churches are totally conformist within their four walls, it’s Cro-Magnon Anarchy when it comes to other (So-Called) IFB churches. To the point where the Only True Church, the Only Saved, are “Us Four, No More, Amen! (and I’m not sure bout the other three)”.
Just like the Weathermen, SDS, and Chairman Mao’s Red Guard back in the Sixties.
Young and starry-eyed to Change the Face of the World.
Just give them a RIGHTEOUS enough, COSMIC enough Holy Cause.
And they’ll do anything – any Atrocity whatsoever – to bring that Cause about.
Never cracked open an ESV Study Bible, but I DO have experience (almost 50 years ago) with the Dake’s Annotated Refernce Bible (AKA the Only REAL Study Bible), and that one was just… WEIRD. How do the two compare?
The passage doesn’t mention what is needed.
Yes. But do you know how? Samuel, Mr J and I could do with some backup.
Headless Unicorn Guy,
The TEXT of many of the recently published and “updated” bibles HAS changed the whole thing, Don’t use recent bibles at all, full stop.
P.s don’t trust footnotes in any edition however old that says Genesis ch 14 doesn’t belong in it.
You rarely argue any viewpoint at all, that is why I thought you were solely providing background information. Most of the passages you do cite are not of sufficient help. And have you a more useful category than “is / isn’t calvinism” please? My bible doesn’t say we should defend the existence and status of a city state ruler, exactly like the present powerful pope is also.
You have not shown how Samuel’s argument “falls down” over Rm 9:24. I think that you don’t know how. Max’s doesn’t either. This is existential because I asked for help with my shame problem and my growth in the face of tyranny, and the letter killeth. Jesus came for the survival of spiritual integrity. If all you were doing was providing background, no-one’s viewpoint “falls down” (even if it did). I’m sure we value background information but you’ve no grounds to morally toy with our comments when we are individually fighting for survival.
There is no difference between saying this crew have made Calvinism more Calvinist / less so, and saying that they have made Calvinism worse. We would start thinking you were trying to deploy a kind of “no true Scotsman fallacy” on us? I think I’m not the only one, to whom any motive of yours to rehabilitate the image of your ideology appears convoluted. Which has spread to all denominations except a few congregations. Are you a functional cessationist?
Predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.
Michael, believers must spend time with Jesus through the Word. As we discipline ourselves to study the Bible, we behold His image throughout the Scriptures and conform ourselves to His example. We are conformed to the image of Christ in holiness.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2)
Yes! And this is because we received bestowing of unvetoed gifts for trading, on the back of Jesus’ post Ascension relationship and why he came, in addition to inbreathing prior. This is why “not the whole Holy Spirit” means “not Holy Spirit”. He wasn’t going to be inbreathed if He wasn’t going to bestow, unvetoed. This sort of angle doesn’t seem to emerge from typical passages cited on behalf of belief systems badged “calvinist” (even if the authors expressed this belief elsewhere, probably including Wilberforce, I think).
The predestined are what we do become when we assent that we have been bought into the above described system. Personal ongoing belief to abide (Jn 3:16) in our bought-in state comes from inferring our ongoing decision in response to God’s kindness towards our integrity in what has been a risky universe. The predestined are not an ad hominem category. Assent is mustard flour size.
The only glory of God is the fruit of the exercising of the diverse unvetoed gifts by inconsiderable people. The task of each is simply to advertise by example whether momentary or for longer, as per opportunity, what I call “1.5 volt power” for living – which is not “influencing” or leveraging, ingratiating or climbing up greasy poles.
Would it be any kindness of Father, Son and Holy Ghost to leave us unbestowed – or vetoed? Yet certain bigwigs do veto everybody, inserting themselves in our relationship with God, misusing God’s power (the functional sorcery the Bible occasionally refers to). That is why Ascension (in a few days) is the anniversary of the start of the Church.
Thus, how do we trade? Supplicate (including by formulaic prayers or other means when we’re inarticulate) in accordance with knowledge gained from meditating on the content of the meanings of all Scriptures exactly as you say. Our gifts are a spread, an accent, among the 55 counted (some say 18); this is in James, in Isaiah ch 55, 58, 61, in Prov 21: 10-31, the feedings of thousands, the parables, Paul’s crown. These are my opinions and to my mind the only chance to escape the shame of being “had”!
And in Gen ch 14! Implore and beseech God that you will have Mamres, Aners and Eshcols in your lives!
Sorry to have been so long in replying; I was away from my home and PC/internet connection and have not yet gained sufficient skill in interacting with the internet via my phone.
My attitude is basically, “I think there’s something wrong with the direction(s) christian theology has taken at least since the relatively early time of the crystallization of Western theologians’ understanding of Jesus’ warnings as relating to post-mortem realities rather than to the concrete historical situation facing his hearers — that situation being the imminence of war with Rome and the inevitability of Israel’s defeat in that war and the implications of the coming defeat for Israel’s way of doing religion.”
My response is “let a thousand theologies bloom”; maybe some of them will contain useful ideas. Personally, I find NT Wright helpful. Also Andrew Perriman, though I caution that he is an “acquired taste”. Post-mortem concerns are much more remote in AP’s thinking than in NTW’s; he is correspondingly more alarming to people who are still committed to consensus Evangelical thinking on the subject.
Regarding Ascension, I’m not sure that I clearly understand your views; I think you regard Ascension as being necessary in order for the Spirit to bestow gifts, and I think you see “operation of the gifts within the group” as the essence of what it means for a group to be “a congregation of Christ”. I agree with these, though I have a somewhat “mechanical” view of the matter — the Spirit is repelled from groups that are not characterized by “one another” love and so cannot dwell among ( en ) the members of such groups (I think this, for example, is why the church at Ephesus was in danger of losing its “lampstand”, Rev 2). Jesus had to depart from the midst of the apostolic band because that group was not characterized by “one another” love and thus was repellent to the Spirit; it was characterized by competition for Jesus’ attention and favor and for high position in the visible kingdom the apostles thought Jesus intended to inaugurate. Jesus’ death crushed these hopes, his resurrection revived them, and his ascension and the permanent withdrawal of his visible presence finally buried them and forced the apostles to face each other and start to obey Jesus’ command to “love one another as he had loved them.” When they began to do this, the Spirit was no longer repelled from the relational environment that existed within their group.
I’m not sure it matters precisely what one affirms on the question of “when, precisely, did ‘the Church’ come into existence.” In practical present-day terms, perhaps what matters is “what are the necessary conditions for the present-day working of the Spirit among the members of a group?”
Or maybe I’m mistaken and there is a connection — if we want present-day gatherings to be “churches” in the same way that the early gatherings were “churches”, perhaps it matters a great deal what we understand to be the moment when the apostolic band became a “church”. In that case, I would say that my view is that the apostolic band did not become a “church” at the moment of Ascension, but some time after that (but perhaps prior to Pentecost), at the moment when their obedience to Jesus’ “love one another” command made their group “inhabitable” by the Spirit.
I try to provoke. The chorus is that church started at pentecost, from those many functional cessationists. And the gifts should function “anywhere”: now that relating is rare anywhere, intercession is still the main mark of religion in a true God’s eyes.
Shall check out Perriman later. Father Mackenzie (the other one), citing various commentators, points out that it makes no difference whether the “christophanies” occurred during a sort of “ascension period” because i ) the inbreathing and the bestowing were still distinct and ii ) the bestowing unvetoed, in the general way that Moses had longed for, occurred after Jesus had finished His Ascending.
For what may have been a few weeks (according to some interpretations) Christ said He was coming and going to His Father, then after that that phase was past. We were definitely told that we would be sent a Strengthener while He is in a far country. Who demolishes the distance to our seat in Heavenly Places.
We don’t know in detail how much they were at loggerheads, only that they were “afraid”. As were apostles and disciples on numerous occasions since. Were Barnabas and Paul no longer church (Park Street sermon)? I’m going to comment on them and John Mark, in that thread.
According to the logic in your claimed stance one needn’t critique church decision making or de facto standard of mental / relational hospitality and, above all, the interceding they did was not part of “church”. I fear you are still too influenced by your old milieu, to value intercession as the main plank of church. Everything that happened, Jesus had told them a huge amount about, and tipped them off when it was geing especially near.
The unvetoed gifts are the inevitable consequence of Jesus’ ascending which is the core reason He came to us in the first place. Penal substitution is only a very small part and echoes universal folklore across thousands of years. “Fall” is a blatant metaphor and just-so story (the normal genre of explaining everything back to front to keep it light). “Him crucified” was the prelude to His ascending and Paul had suffered bodily (I am going to comment on this in the Park Street thread).
The reason I choose the main Ascension as the logical centrepiece is because conventional churchianity denied that there is church when anyone is inbreathed. What had Jesus been teaching them for 3 years, what was forseen by the Baptist and other prophets, what were the foretastes when the 72 went out, etc?
Hence almost all christianity has no meaningful place for Holy Spirit, blasphemy / quenching / grieving from those who bolster that system by their sophistry. It’s no sophistry from me: it’s my only chance to be saved from the shame they put over on me when they all “had” me.
Superapostles want us to not have our cake and not eat it: there wasn’t a church, and there aren’t gifts unvetoed: a quite neat system, it’s cost me night cold sweats to abolish. The only “church” is about vetoing and no mention of interceding! The bread of the meaning of OT and NT snatched out of our mouths! Sorcery!
The disciples when amazed what the inconsiderable boy’s two fishes and two loaves were amongst so many, were not stupid: they believed alright.
Michael in UK,
You won’t find much pneumatology at Perriman’s ‘blog. His central concern is to situate “good news” within its historical context — to Israel, the good news that YHWH was about to reassert kingly authority in Israel, to Gentiles the good news that YHWH had appointed the crucified but resurrected Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, as Lord over the nations of the mediterranean littoral.
Viewing “gospel” is this explicitly historical way is a bit disconcerting, because we are not 1st Century Israel, nor 1st through 4th century Gentiles. What is the “in historical context” good news that the churches can look forward to in our day? There are certainly abundant problems facing the present-day people of God.
As I wrote above, “let a thousand theologies bloom.” Perhaps there will be useful ideas in some of them, and perhaps some of these useful ideas will even be true.
We know a great deal about the quality of the relational environment among the apostles prior to the Crucifixion. The synoptic Gospels repeatedly report Jesus’ rebukes of their pride and self-seeking and competition amongst one another. I think it is precisely this that necessitated Jesus’ departure from the midst of that group in order for the Spirit to be able to work among them. While Jesus was present and their hopes for high position in a renewed Davidic Kingdom seemed realizable (they are still asking about this in Acts 1!), they would continue in their selfish ways and the relational environment of “love one another” that creates favorable conditions for the working of the Spirit in the group would not be present, and the Spirit would refuse to be present among them.
That’s my present hypothesis of the meaning of Jesus’ enigmatic remark, in the middle of the great Johannine Supper Discourse, that unless he departed, the Spirit would not come.
Thank you for interacting and in the light of the amazing effect your mention of Ascension, two or three years ago, has had on me I’d like to ask, can you remember why you mentioned it?
I keep finding N T Wright impenetrable and that’s just me. What was your point of entry with him?
But people without much pneumatology (Carl Henry, Edgar Hoover associate, is another one) are reinforcing ESS. The TGC in fact love Perriman because he doesn’t question their logical territory, he only pretends to finnick superstitiously in a mirror image of the way they do.
Mutual and joint discrediting of supplication, providence, the continuing eschaton, the gifts, the Holy Trinity, the meanings of Holy Scripture, leave “theology” irrelevant, stupid or poisonous and make reason dishonest (setting the world a bad example).
My cunning strategy is to use honest logic and reasoning skills to move the goalposts on the shaky (“vibrant”) ground the “evangelical (industrial) consensus” play football on. My sole motive is to rescue my own sanity and self respect.
Do you know these ideas:
i ) instrumentalism = to use others and oneself as means to an end (or almost completely so) and not as ends in yourselves
ii ) essentialism in two halves = to say that the word is the thing; and that an incidental aspect is the core thing
I hope we can discuss this further in future threads because all the issues keep coming back. All the other commenters are asking the same questions and I hope they’ll join in as well.
It was precisely this question of “why was it necessary for Jesus to depart in order for the Spirit to come among the apostles”?
Jesus plainly wanted the Spirit to come, and he could ask the Father to send the Spirit (Jn 14:6), and he was confident that the Father would hear his every request (Jn 11:41-42). Why not send the Spirit right away?
Something was preventing the Spirit from coming, or making the Spirit unwilling to come, while Jesus was still prese. Jesus’ departure from the midst of the apostles would, in some way, remove whatever it was that made the Spirit unwilling to be present in their midst.
The hypothesis itself (that there is a connection between Jesus’ command to “love one another” and the promise that he would send theh Spirit) was stimulated by observation of a (IMO) loveless orthodox presbyterian congregation, led by a (IMO) loveless session of elders. The elders kind of reminded me of the dynamic among the apostles prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, which led, step by step, to the idea that maybe there is a connection between “love one another” among the apostles and “I will send the Spirit after I depart”. If that connection is valid, it has obvious implications for present day christian congregations.
I hope that’s helpful.
I’m probably an “instrumentalist” by your standards. I hope that my life is an instrument of Divine mercy towards others. That might be a step in the direction of conformity to the likeness of Jesus, the beloved Son.
By my own standards, I’m a “christian aesthete” (I’m deliberately using this framing to set myself in distinction to John Piper’s vision of “christian hedonism”).
Jesus is beautiful, staggeringly, breathtakingly beautiful. He’s the true “image of God in man”. I want to glimpse that kind of beauty in myself, and I want to see it more and more clearly in others.
That’s my religion, in a nutshell.
I agree that NTW can be really difficult to follow. His yet-to-be-completed life’s work, “Christian Origins and the Question of God” is written densely and at the standards of scholarly discourse to make the case he is making to an audience of scholars. When a layman like myself wades into that pool, he is likely to get in over his head. I got completely lost in the middle of volume 4, “Paul and the Faithfulness of God.”
I found Wright intriguing at the outset because of his approach: “let’s think about the Jesus story as history.” Stuff actually happened back then, and that stuff meant something to the people of the time. I have something of a fundamentalist “back to the bible” tendency, and Wright’s approach was appealing when I encountered it, since he was not asking to go “back to our modern vision of ‘old time religion'”, but rather, ‘back to what the story meant when the story was still fresh and relatively uninterpreted’.
I also found Wright helpful in terms of my questions about the validity of conventional visions of personal eschatology. I won’t say more here; I’ve previously said more in comments than many people want to hears.
The thing that really grabbed me was the section in Jesus and the Victory of God where Wright discusses the question of “what did Jesus understand himself to be accomplishing in placing himself into peril of execution at the hands of the Romans?”
Wright sees Jesus’ drama at Jerusalem as “enacted prophetic warning”, sort of like the kinds of things that the OT prophets sometimes did (this happens repeatedly in Ezekiel, for example) to provide their hearers with vivid images of the danger they were in.
IOW, Jesus’s death was a prophetic warning to Israel of the fate that awaited it if the nation did not repent.
This is surely correct, and it answers many questions, such as “why was it necessary for the Messiah to suffer in precisely this way, place, and time?”
So NTW is very precious to me. One values the teachers who have helped to lift scales off of one’s eyes.
I fully agree with your objection to this in horizontal human-human relationships. That is not what we were created for.
I’m not clear whether you also think that this is evil in “vertical” relationship. I think that we creatures are instruments of the Creator — created “in the image” for good purposes. In the Creator’s sight, we are not “ends in ourselves”, but rather instruments toward the visible realization of the Creator’s purposes in the creation. Those purposes (channeling a bit of some flavor of EO theology, I think) also happen to be in our own best interests.
To reconnect with the subject of the original post, I do think that some visions of the Creator’s use of His creatures are objectionable, for example the idea of reprobation of some subset of the image-bearers for the sake of the manifestation of the glory of the Creator’s Wrath.
But I don’t think we can consistently object to the idea that the Creator uses image-bearers for His own purposes. That objection would appear to raise an obstacle to the idea that the Creator used Jesus’ suffering as a means of redemption. When a sufficiently important end is in view, voluntary suffering of an image-bearer to achieve that end is not only permissible, … it is beautiful.
“No greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
I agree that the questions are important and I look forward to further interaction.
Gosh it’s strange you may have thought you could be thought an instrumentalist, because it’s the mindset of those you wish to be liberated from, never did I think it yours. Bear one another’s burdens, don’t carry warped organisational baggage another mile!
(Ethics bonus: John Oesterle’s 1957 explanation of the Nicomachean Ethics shows how large the intellectual virtues should loom: thirst for knowledge and sound logic.)
Why did Jesus say so much about a leader who is in a far country and servants who traded gifts profitably or unprofitably (Prov 21: 10-31)?
When you said that, was when I got that part of the answer.
My prior jigsaw piece was partly as follows (and I’ve forgotten where I read it): trading in the gifts (to whatever degree of sacrificial love we shall prove able) is logically distinct from being saved, though closely related.
My other jigsaw piece from a sermon at a church I visited once, was about how there are three incidents between Jesus and Holy Spirit and three between us and Holy Spirit.
Eternally with Father and Holy Spirit
Him and John the Baptist in the wombs greeting Holy Spirit in each other
At the river and one or two other times when there was talk of being glorified (especially through our fruits)
When we invisibly and unbeknownst began to thirst for spiritual truth
When we were inbreathed
When we were endowed / bestowed unvetoed (and Paul says we are to continually be RE-filled)
This doesn’t mean fuss must be enforced. I deliberately took the focus OFF Pentecost because the style of that occurrence was not to be copied every where every time. What was central was Him finishing His ascension in between the last two, and them already beginning their ministry by supplicating (which will always be the proof of christianity).
And my other reason was to expose this very double switch while withdrawing any bait. Lip service to gifts as “Pentecost” while denying these any purpose (coupled to the virtues in a contingent universe), and thereby denying inbreathing, being saved, the whole lot.
By losing us with the “when”, are they finding it convenient to not let us see the several “whats”?
This is why there are more and better styles of going “back to the Bible” than fundamentalist (essentialist) ways, which never fit all the facts (hence the fashion of leaving some of them out).
Rather than worry about “what theology” as prominent figures often do, if we abandon essentialist assumptions about meaning, we will find ourselves equipped as God intended, for doing as the Bereans did and not follow claimed luminaries but infer for ourselves.
I greatly like your sense of wit!
This is only so because Holy Trinity is able to have a non-instrumentalist view of “instrument”. In God things which range separately in humans, come together; hence His greater sovereignty in daring to create us able to act by a degree of choice towards each other, create infinitely in language, music, etc.
Yes he is right to point out that in a contingent world this is a typical scenario / bind. Some of the Jews turning Christian while some others weren’t Jews, upset a hard won balance. It’s worthwhile for christians to remember that this world is (sadly) always wrongly punishing. Jesus knew this would still be so for others. We mustn’t let Wright get away with stopping once he has “established” a little finger pointing. What Jesus exhaustively taught hundreds of people for three years was to equip them to equip us (talking the walk) in this contingent world.
(Btw “don’t cease meeting together” meant attending synagogue as well as church, during the period applicable.)
Thus everything about Jesus, Holy Spirit, Holy Scripture, the apostles and disciples, is a visionary enlightenment about a whole lot more in addition to that scenario. Self home schooling to supplement my institutional education, I’ve gone back further than Wright, and deepened my vision of a range of subject matters.
From doing some “homework” among commentators in the last day or so, I think NTW tends to give lip service to criticising Augustine while taking care not to criticise him for what he really needs criticising for: his sacramentalising of initiation above the level of belief of the church. And Jesus Himself loved the spiritual ideas underlying the Pharisees’ creed, that’s why they are among His more sternly framed targets for their often forked tongues, parallelled by Paul and the superapostles.
I think that non-sensational and non-superstitious eschatology in the sense of the science of the “now” (since Ascension) comprises: ups and downs in life exactly like the last 80,000 years (though a little more hectically), some judgment on leaders who mislead, providential means such as discernment, to safeguard virtues while we pass on a meaningful message: in other words we can’t mutually excise it from soteriology, ecclesiology (which can only be honestly exercised by lowly individuals), hermeneutics, the whole lot. It’s vital to neither underestimate nor overestimate exactly how much Holy Scriptures tell us about the “how” and relate that to the moral of it. I hope some other commenters will rebut or supplement my opinions.
Forgive me, but this is too mystical to get much purchase in my thinking — but maybe that’s just me.
Taking a more “mechanical” or “engineering” approach, allow me to suggest that maybe the reason that God’s instrumental use of His image-bearers is not evil is because it results in greater good not only to the rest of the creation, but to the creaturely instrument, too.
“If we suffer with him (Jesus), we will also reign with him”
“therefore [because Jesus submitted to his costly calling], God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name”
and so on.
If I may riff on your prior mention that you find NT Wright to be difficult to follow, allow me to humbly appeal to you to communicate your ideas in smaller bites and using more words to aid reader comprehension. It often seems to me that you are using conceptual shorthand that is perfectly clear to you, but that I often find obscure. Maybe that’s just me, but I may not be the only TWW reader who finds it difficult to clearly grasp what you write — and consequently difficult to engage with it.
This is offered not as criticism, but in the hope of improving communication.
1 – God doesn’t “use us” when He “uses us”, He honours us as what we see as ends in ourselves that don’t detract from His ends for His purposes, because our existing is in His purposes. I was trying to distract from customary connotations or propaganda around a “good” big god “using” a dubious small person. Remember those perspective charts on the cover of geography and maths books? God has a bigger perspective: literally.
2 – When we aren’t single minded in our detachment from former masters we quench the operation of Holy Spirit gifts in praying, discerning and acting appropriately, if we make a habit of that we grieve the Holy Spirit, if it becomes an institutional habit or a power ploy by a leader He departs. This is my piece of help with what you described as your mechanical view.
3 – Another issue is that when we cease to use Scripture the way the EIC or YRR or designer outlet elements do, but in the Berean method instead, we can get more out of their meaning. Anyone is in the right to read theologies but, it needs to follow the experience of how christianity works so that we can check it out as we go. As an infant my parents taught – and my secular agnostic teachers agreed – that the core of christian life is seeking the help of our provident Helper.
4 – My main themes are that soteriology isn’t separate from the whole of the Gospel, that eschatology and Holy Trinity based on the actual Bible are about our lives now, and that honesty lies in methodical realism not directly supported in most churches any more.
5 – I’m not trying to emulate the impossible spoon feeding model. When you mentioned Wright (not a pastor) and others, I looked them up. Please do ALSO retort with a more focussed query like “how do you relate Wright to Augustine” (which was while I couldn’t pull up any Wright pages) because some sort of Augustine / Luther / Wilberforce is supposedly the air we breathe, so it’s worth asking which Augustine, which Luther, which Wilberforce, et al, otherwise we play along in inadvertent straw man games. (Rather than a blanket can you start the whole thing all over again from square one.) I do look at myself as separate from the concept that church organisations had of me. You yourself had already attached the issues that interest you, to your previous comment and that was why I was responding thus.
5 – The letter of religious lore kills and the Spirit makes alive. Thus when we don’t impute tyranny to God right theologies will bloom of themselves. The world crisis is because big religious leaders seeking influence forgot to teach us to pray, hence the fuss over whether one wears a dress and the impulse to intrude in our heads and beds, because that is elevating the incidentals over our personal essence.
6 – Piggy backing on your admission that you are up to Vol 4 in something can you pick a couple of points NTW or Perriman made about our own current christian lives which you found illuminating, or did you find them dull on that subject?
I meant to ask you about this sentence:
– do you mean post Jesus’ mortem
– or post your and my mortem
And why shouldn’t i, Jesus’ ii, His hearers’ iii, our iv, theologians’ interests cover all the angles and not just one angle. Jesus taught hundreds of people in detail, continuously for three years, and the actual Great Commission (sshh) is to teach us ALL He taught (talking the walk), which is what disciple “really” means.
Is “post mortem” a Perriman shorthand (he is beloved of the TGC).
(ref my previous 7.28, last two paras should have been numbered 6 and 7)
I think this is a weakness of Perriman’s work (and he is emphatically not beloved of TGC, though it’s possible that some TGC authors have found him stimulating; Perriman’s historically situated understanding of “gospel” must be anathema to TGC), and Perriman would acknowledge that; but that’s not what his work is trying to do. I think that what he is calling for is present reflection on the present situation of the people of God, and present thinking about what God might be doing in the world at the present time that might constitute present-day “good news” to the people of God. It’s a completely different theological project than what the churches have been engaged in since roughly the time of Constantine.
With regard to individual christian lives, that is not a big emphasis in Perriman. I imagine that he would refer to the spirituality of the Psalms as a useful reference point for present thinking on the subject, but I may be mistaken.
Wright does not emphasize “application” in the as-yet published volumes of “Christian Origins and the Question of God” and I haven’t read his popular level writings that may offer individual application, so I simply can’t comment. I hope that he lives long enough to complete Volumes 5 (which I think will analyze, in depth, the Gospels as history) and 6, which will attempt to pull everything together to answer the questions “Who is God” and “What does the Jesus story mean for us today?” There are glimpses of where his thinking may be tending in occasional remarks in public speaking that he sees the Church as “New Creation inaugurated before the actual arrival of the Age to Come”, which might have significant implications for how we think about life and practice in the churches.
BTW, while Wright is not currently a pastor, he has served a parish or parishes pastorally over the course of his long career.
Regarding Jesus’ warnings, I was referring to warnings to Israel of imminent “under the sun” calamities in the looming war with Rome (which I think is what the “hinnom valley/ gehenna ” sayings are about; they are of the same character as the clearly “under the sun” warnings of Lk 13:1-4). These sayings have been understood by the churches since quite early to refer to the individual post-mortem fate of what survives of an individual after the dissolution of his material embodiment. I’ve come to believe that that is a misunderstanding of the original intended and heard meaning of these sayings.
There’s a case, that looks strong to me, to see these warnings as actually about visible wrath expressed “under the sun”. If that case is valid, the gehenna warnings were for Israel in its specific historical situation — they were about what would happen to Israel and its people when the war with Rome came; Paul never used this kind of language in his address to Gentiles.
I don’t have time now to further engage in this thread, but I’ll try to understand what you have written here, as time permits. I suspect that I won’t agree at places, but I don’t have a problem with divergent views (unless they bear evil fruit in people’s lives, but I have no evidence that this is the case for you).
As I’ve previously written, let a thousand theologies bloom. I do urge you to invest effort in making yours comprehensible to people who don’t have your background and your glossary of conceptual shorthand. You’ve requested feedback — I think you’ll get more when people feel that they clearly understand what you have written.
Yes, you highlighted that among the meanings of Jesus’, James’, the prophets’ and Paul’s warnings (the latter in his own style) is about the fact that spiritually speaking with forked tongue leads to – among many other sorts of things – concrete dangers for all and not just in Judaea. Then the post mortem of each of us in the interim is something the Bible tells us little about.
I think both the OT and the NT tell us a greast deal about the purpose in our spiritual life nowadays and the knock on effects that will have around us (in that the Gifts of the HS are not a mechanical affair), but that the CIE shy away from this core topic.
The CIE love Wright or Perriman because they debate them on the same ground (whether cherished supposed bete noire or icon). All I’ve done is pull down the goalposts of the CIE.
Starved by the CIE who told us it was a banquet, we’ve lost our appetite. But just pulling one morsel out of the strange new fare is our step to more feeding.
essentialism in two halves = to say that the word is the thing; and that an incidental aspect is the core thing
Part of the Wikipedia article on Essentialism, about how a more basic view of essence is commonly both rightly and wrongly applied (but I would separate these out more sharply than is done here):
The implications of psychological essentialism are numerous. Prejudiced individuals have been found to endorse exceptionally essential ways of thinking, suggesting that essentialism may perpetuate exclusion among social groups (Morton, Hornsey & Postmes, 2009). For example, essentialism of nationality has been linked to anti-immigration attitudes(Rad & Ginges, 2018). In multiple studies in India and the United States, Rad & Ginges (2018) showed that in lay view, a person’s nationality is considerably fixed at birth, even if that person is adopted and raised by a family of another nationality at day one and never told about their origin. This may be due to an over-extension of an essential-biological mode of thinking stemming from cognitive development. Paul Bloom of Yale University has stated that “one of the most exciting ideas in cognitive science is the theory that people have a default assumption that things, people and events have invisible essences that make them what they are. Experimental psychologists have argued that essentialism underlies our understanding of the physical and social worlds, and developmental and cross-cultural psychologists have proposed that it is instinctive and universal. We are natural-born essentialists.” Scholars suggest that the categorical nature of essentialist thinking predicts the use of stereotypes and can be targeted in the application of stereotype prevention (Bastian & Haslam, 2006).
The CIE, inspired by the Manifest Destiny doctrine and the shifty William James, brought the misuse of essentialism into all walks.
This is reinforced by Heidegger-like theologians with their own sophistries, who devalue each individual and our personal capacity for contemplation and inference as our own preliminary to action.
Hence, the noises coming out of the “dudebros” and even their polite copycats are exactly what we have to mime (memes in Richard Dawkins speak), and must wilt in shame if we hesitate or aren’t 100 % “convinced”. This was why we came to look like caricatures of human beings.
What Jesus and Paul DO tell us about this (Jesus in the Parables), is how our status will come to relate to how we traded the gifts: did we steal from or oppress our fellow servants while the estate owner was in a far country, or did we talk the walk so that they could defend their integrity in this contingent world? This also answers why He went to the far country on ascending. This is why we must beseech Him for the omissions of our forebears and betters.
CIE = EIC, my error