The Appeal of Calvinism to Young Pastors

Originally posted at Modern March

At the G5 summit in 2009, Dallas Baptist University professor and award-winning author Dr. David Naugle was asked:

Why is Calvinism increasing in popularity, especially among younger pastors?

(1.) Because it satisfies a deep longing for transcendence found in the sovereign God and His glory in the context of a culture swamped with purely immanent, this worldly cares and concerns.

(2.) Because it provides a solid biblical and theological basis for counter-cultural cultural engagement and transformation, so that adherents can be against the world and yet for the world.

(3.) Because it possesses an intellectual appeal and spiritual depth over-against a reigning Christian anti-intellectualism and general evangelical superficiality.

(4.) Because it is a high commitment Christianity, an intense, biblical/theological serious, morally rigorous, spiritual mature version of the Christian faith.

(5.) Because it offers cogent explanations for our wonder at the natural world in creation, for understanding the depth of our brokenness and pain because of our sin, and our hope for restoration and renewal through Christian redemption.

(6.) Because it provides for a deeper connection to the history of the church, a sense of communion with the saints across generations, and participation in one of the great traditions of the church.

For the full text of his balanced critique of Calvinism in Baptist life, click here.

What say you?

Comments

  1. Chief Katie says

    C’est Magnifique!

    Just this morning I was listening to an old radio program from Iron Sharpens Iron where Tom Ascol spoke of these very things.

    When I consider how long I fought the Doctrines of Grace, I now wonder why. I must decrease and He must increase.

  2. says

    Calvinism first appealed to me because they were Scripture lovers. I read Calvinists for many years before I agreed with at least 4-points. To this day however, I’m not a “tidy” Calvinist. I don’t try to fit everything in the system. I even affirm single predestination.

    When I preach, I simply try to preach the text in front of me as it is written. There is still much mystery; and must I don’t understand.

  3. says

    Why is it appealing? Maybe because it is what the Bible teaches? Tweaking the question, why is it that now young pastors are reaching the proper interpretation of these texts?

        • volfan007 says

          There are a many of us out here, who believe the Bible…and study the Bible….who are not 5 pt. Calvinist….
          as a matter of fact, there are some very smart, extremely Biblical people, out there, who are not 5 pt. Calvinists.

          DAvid

          • says

            I don’t dispute that, but as I think the teachings of Calvinism come straight from the Bible, what has led to a resurgence of Calvinism is not any psychological effect or comfort but careful biblical study. Attributing a return to Calvinism to various sociological or psychological factors is akin to saying the return to Calvinism is more about zeitgeist than biblical study. While various trends and such can prepare people to better understand or receive this biblical teaching, the source of the resurgence remains God’s Word.

            I know non-Calvinists will disagree, but such is the nature of belief, conviction, and disagreement – one side is wrong and the other is right. I know which of those categories I am in. :)

          • Jim G. says

            Hi Chris,

            I think you see Calvinism in the Bible based on more than direct Bible study. Your presuppositions lead you to accept Calvinism. I’ve studied the Bible too and I don’t see the points of Calvinism clearly at all, with the exception of total depravity (which virtually all Protestant thinkers affirm). So saying “It is in the Bible” without discussing the presuppositions underlying the 5 points does not further discussion.

            I also think it is historically instructive that Calvinism as a system was not developed until fifteen centuries after Christ, and after the philosophical shift of the late Middle Ages which leads one toward the idea of divine determinism. Even what became some of the five points of Calvinism were not espoused really until Augustine in the 4th-5th century (he upheld T and U to the best of my memory). The rigid double-predestination of Gottschalk in the ninth century was condemned as heretical. The logical order of God’s decrees was not discussed (to my knowledge) until the Reformed scholastics under Theodore Beza. So we are only talking about the last quarter of all church history. But it has been important in Protestant history outside of the Anabaptist tradition.

            Jim G.

          • says

            “I think you see Calvinism in the Bible based on more than direct Bible study. Your presuppositions lead you to accept Calvinism.”

            The problem with this view is it eliminates any possibility of confidence in what the Bible teaches. One can never be sure, “This is what the Bible says.” One can only say, “This is what I think the Bible says, but maybe it’s just my presuppositions…” In that case, everything becomes suspect.

            But while presuppositions will play a role in anyone’s thinking, they do not determine belief, particularly when considering the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. A whole host of epistemological questions remain, but at the very least I’ll say it is overly simplistic – and dangerous – to ascribe someone’s conclusions to their presuppositions.

            As for the historical development of Calvinism, considering the stagnant nature of Catholic theology during much of the middle ages, it is hardly an argument against Calvinism that we don’t find many people talking about it between Augustine and Calvin. Many of our Protestant beliefs were absent during that same timeframe but reappeared during the Reformation, just when we see Augustinianism make its return as Calvinism.

          • Jim G. says

            Hi Chris,

            I want to uphold biblical certainty as much as you do. But herein lies the rub…I am going to assume you are a Christian man who desires to earnestly follow the Spirit and seek the truth in the Scriptures. So am I. But I don’t see Calvinism leaping from the pages of the biblical text as you seem to. We can take two approaches:

            1. We can say that one of us is truly following the Spirit and the other is at best misguided for not seeing what is so plainly there.
            2. Or we can realize that on this issue our presuppositions play a real role in determining what we see clearly and what we (relatively speaking) ignore.

            You seem to be taking approach number one, while I am at number two. You accuse me of being overly simplistic and borderline dangerous for my stance, but don’t you see the danger in yours? Presuppositions will steer you toward one group of conclusions and away from others.

            I think you also misunderstand my historical argument on two fronts. First, I think it is interesting that 300 years pass between the close of the age of the apostles and Augustine. There were some extremely astute theologians during that period (Irenaeus, Clement, Origen, Athanasius, the Cappadocians, Ambrose, Hilary, etc.) and none of them mention what would become Calvinism. That is not an argument, just an observation.

            Second, I would strongly oppose the idea that Catholic theology was stagnant in the Middle Ages. While there was a period of relative inactivity for about four centuries, that era was bookended by two giants in the area of salvation – Maximus the Confessor and Anselm of Canterbury. Close on the heels of Anselm came Abelard and Bernard (a real influence of Calvin’s) and later Aquinas – on anyone’s short list of the greatest theologians of all time. After Aquinas comes Scotus and Ockham, who laid the groundwork for late Medieval nominalism, which was the underlying philosophy for much of the Reformation.

            Finally, the only thing “Protestant” about Augustine is that the magisterial reformers agreed with his views on predestination and election. He is thoroughly Roman Catholic.

            In the end, saying Calvinism is obviously biblical is hindering real brothers who don’t agree. I think it implies we are somehow less capable in rightly dividing the word of truth. That is why I choose option 2 above, but you are free to disagree with me.

            Jim G.

          • says

            “You accuse me of being overly simplistic and borderline dangerous for my stance, but don’t you see the danger in yours? Presuppositions will steer you toward one group of conclusions and away from others.”

            Recognizing the presence and role of presuppositions is not the same as saying someone’s opinions are formed because of their presuppositions. As mentioned before, such a position undermines conviction and leaves everything in uncertainty. If there is to be the possibility of firm convictions, there must be the recognition that people can discern and understand the truth, not simply inherit it through environment and other factors shaping presuppositions.

            “First, I think it is interesting that 300 years pass between the close of the age of the apostles and Augustine. ”

            How much time passed between the close of Scripture and the firm establishment of the doctrine of the Trinity? And we consider trinitarian theology a primary issue while Calvinism is not. All biblical theology is as old as the Bible. Calvinism did not enter the scene with Calvin nor with Augustine but with Paul and Peter and other writers of Scripture – so ultimately they were given by God himself. But that they are found in Scripture does not mean they were immediately understood in all their fullness. We can see a development with many doctrines, even with the formation and authority of the Bible itself.

            And yes, certainly there are bright spots in the middle ages, but they were exceptions to a period aptly named the dark ages.

            “Finally, the only thing “Protestant” about Augustine is that the magisterial reformers agreed with his views on predestination and election. He is thoroughly Roman Catholic.”

            That would be difficult since Roman Catholic did not yet exist as such, nor did many of their more problematic doctrines – at least nothing like we know them today. What was Augustine’s view on Mariology? On praying to the saints? On purgatory? On justification by faith vs works? When considering specifics, he does not look all that Roman Catholic.

          • Jim G. says

            Hi Chris,

            I’m not going to convince you about presuppositions, so we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I don’t think you are getting my point. In the case of Calvinism, your firm conviction is something with which I disagree. We have the same biblical text. We have presumably the same Spirit. We have the same principles of hermeneutics. What is left but differing presuppositions?

            I don’t think it is fair to compare Calvinist-type doctrines and the Trinity. While it is true that the final formulation of the doctrine came in 381, it is a refinement of what the church had always believed, and there is plenty of evidence to that effect from the preceding centuries. The Calvinistic-type doctrines are just plain absent until Augustine. For the formation (or better, the recognition) of the canon, the argument above for the Trinity suffices there also.

            The Middle Ages are not the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages are a relatively small segment of the Middle Ages.

            I’m going to say this as kindly as I can, but you need to read Augustine at face value, and not backwards through the eyes of the Calvinistic teachers, who take the pieces of Augustine that they like and make him a pre-Protestant. The Roman Catholic Church sees him as the greatest of their theologians. While I think he says some very great and profound things, he is fully and completely Roman Catholic, even anachronistically. While Gregory the Great at the close of the 6th century is seen as the first real “pope,” there is plenty about Augustine that resonates with Medieval and Modern Catholicism – they patterned it after him!

            As for your questions, Augustine affirmed the total sinlessness of Mary based on her role as theotokos (On Nature and Grace 36:45). Augustine advocated the perpetual virginity of Mary (Sermon 186). Augustine advocated the communion of the saints and their prayers for us, as well as remembering them at the Eucharist (Letter to Faustus the Manichean, The City of God 20 and 22). Augustine advocated prayers for the dead (Sermon 172). Augustine affirmed and was the seed for the later development of purgatory (City of God 21). Augustine invented the terminology of justification (of imputation as well as infusion) the reformers so battled against. And while we’re at it, he affirmed the primacy of Peter in multiple writings, the mass, apostolic succession, baptismal regeneration, ex opere operato grace, and just about everything else associated with Roman Catholicism.

            Jim G.

          • says

            “We have the same biblical text. We have presumably the same Spirit. We have the same principles of hermeneutics. What is left but differing presuppositions?”

            There are other things, but they don’t bear mentioning now. But I am curious, if you boil the difference down to just presuppositions, do you see any way of convincing those with different presuppositions? How do you convince a Calvinist to be a non-Calvinist, or vice versa, if you are running up against engrained presuppositions?

            “The Middle Ages are not the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages are a relatively small segment of the Middle Ages.”

            Not really wanting to jump into a semantic debate about historical periods, but this is not the case. The terms are generally synonymous. The dark ages or middle ages are seen as starting with the fall of Rome and continuing until the Renaissance. Whenever dark ages refers to a specific portion of the middle ages instead of the whole, it still encompasses most of that period. It is not a particularly historically precise term but more a general recognition that during this 1000 year period there was a great deal of corruption and stagnation, trends seen both in society and in the church. Pick whatever term you like, during this period of history, the Catholic church was full of increasing corruption – both in its teachings and in its leadership. There is a reason the Reformation took place.

            “I’m going to say this as kindly as I can, but you need to read Augustine at face value, and not backwards through the eyes of the Calvinistic teachers, who take the pieces of Augustine that they like and make him a pre-Protestant.”

            My knowledge of Augustine and other teachers before and since is not comprehensive enough for me to argue one way or another with any depth. I know just enough Augustine (from Augustine himself, not from what others have said about him, but it’s been enough years since I’ve read Augustine that what I remember is pretty rusty) that I am not inclined to accept your analysis of his Roman Catholic ways. But as I say, my knowledge is not comprehensive enough to argue with any detail.

            But it doesn’t change anything. We certainly need to look with suspicion on any teaching which is largely absent from church history, but such absence does not finally determine what we believe. An obvious example is believer’s baptism by immersion. Baptists do not reject the practice just because it is almost entirely absent for most of church history; we embrace it because it is what the Bible teaches. So this goes back to my original point: Calvinistic convictions come from Scripture.

      • says

        Something to consider regarding this statement: Pressler and Patterson (co-authors of the resurgence) are NOT Calvinists.

        Calvinists are generally more conservative. So, they naturally fit in well in the conservative SBC.

        Mohler’s influence cannot be underestimated when it comes to Calvinism’s popularity in the SBC.

  4. says

    I’m old, and Calvinism appeals to me, too. It is the system of doctrine which acknowledges the greatest sovereignty of God, and the greatest inability of man .. which leads to the greatest love, mercy and grace of God, of any “system” I’ve seen.

    • volfan007 says

      There are many Believers out here, who believe in the sovereignty of God and the inability of man to save himself…and rejoice in the grace, love, and mercy of God, who are not 5 pt. Calvinists….

      David

    • The G says

      I believe in a greater sovereignty of God than you do. The sovereign rule of God as revealed in the Scriptures is not threatened or diminished by His freewill creatures making their own decisions. His foreknowledge is supernatural enough to know they will make their freewill decisions without Him ever determining them. God offers an HONEST call, one that can be answered by freewill, and not a determination that is only named as a “call.” God doesn’t do something and then call it something else to make Him look good. Faith is a response of the creature to his Creator because the creature wants want his Creator is offering him. A call can be answered or refused, otherwise it’s just not a call.

  5. Chief Katie says

    Jared,

    So nicely said. I can’t say that I was a willing participant. I went down fighting and screaming. No, no, no… how can this be justice?

    The moment when I realized that my sense of justice had nothing whatsoever to do with God’s justice came quite by surprise. My husband and I took our yearly trip the California Redwoods, a place I have often called ‘God’s Cathedral’. But this most recent trip truly humbled me to the majesty of God, and I heard those powerful words “BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD”. No, God wasn’t shouting, He didn’t need to. I finally heard him and I have never questioned that voice ever again.

    • Jim G. says

      Hi Katie,

      I imagine your sense of justice and God’s sense do correlate somewhat. They should. You are created in his image. The image is marred in the fall, but not eradicated. Just a thought.

      Jim G.

      • volfan007 says

        Katie,

        Who converted you and your husband to Calvinism? a friend? seminary prof.? It sounds like someone converted yall…

  6. Jim G. says

    I think these reasons (a little sadly, from my perspective, since I do not share all the Calvinist presuppositions) are right on the money. However, I would add one more reason to the list. Older Calvinistic-leaning leaders (Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, etc.) are aggressively pursuing younger Christians so that they can pass their views along. I think they are incredibly wise to do this. I am just a little sad that evangelical Arminians and evangelical Barthians have not been quite so visionary. The evangelical Calvinists have done such a good job that they are almost the only game in town for a vibrant faith that is intellectually stimulating at the same time. Other evangelical voices have a lot of catching up to do, if they can and want to.

    Jim G.

  7. Daniel says

    It appealed to me in college (~10 years ago) because I couldn’t see any other way to make sense of Romans 8-11. When I came to “Calvinist” conclusions, I had never read any other sources on the subject. These six points are probably valid, but for me it was just Bible study.

  8. says

    I think I would add that Calvinists have been very good at adepting to new media, especially in giving away free audio/video from conferences in the last 10 years. Consider that until this last year (thank you, Vance Pittman!), the SBC Pastor’s Conference was unavailable online even at a reasonable $0.99 price. One had to go through SBCTapes ministry to gain access for a substantial price for dvds/cds. It was pretty ridiculous when anyone with a laptop and microphone input could have simply hit record and uploaded those at no extra cost to the convention or the Pastor’s Conference.

    That said, there are ways that non-Calvinists could address many of the above concerns as well from the positions they feel Scripture has led them to. It would only strengthen the church at large for that to happen.

    I’m closer to the Calvinist side in general, but I want to see growing disciples of Christ in every part of orthodox Christianity.

  9. Dave Miller says

    Okay, guys and gals, I lean to the C-side myself.

    But some of these comments come off as arrogant and condescending. If I was non-C and I read this I would be offended.

    We need to be careful to treat our brothers and sisters, even those with whom we disagree, with a level of respect. People who respect and love God’s word come to a conclusion different than many of us have come to.

    So, we need to advocate that which we believe, but we also need to be careful how our words come across to those with whom we disagree.

    This message brought to you by “BIFF” – Baptists in Full Fellowship.

    Group hug.

    • volfan007 says

      I’m used to seeing this arrogant attitude amongst 5 pt. Calvininsts, Dave. I’ve seen these statements in here, and much worse…lots more arrogant and condescending….

      It was one of the things that turned me off of 5 pt. Calvinism.

      David

    • Frank L. says

      Concerning Calvinism and “BIFF.” Just this month a Georgia congregation voted to give around two seminaries (you can guess which ones) that are considered, “breeding ground for Calvinists.”

      This is not a small, side issue in SBC life. There was a time I thought it was, but now I think it is a serious challenge to BIFF.

      • says

        Frank, I hesitate to reply to your observation concerning the church that decided to give around two seminaries. Not because of you, but the issue considered in this post in light of this church in question.

        It has been said somewhere else that GGBTS actually has many Calvinists coming through and I can tell you that there are some at NOBTS including staff. I can’t help but think that the church above is having somewhat of a knee-jerk reaction to SEBTS and SBTS.

        That said, one of the things drawing young pastors/Christians to Calvinism is what may seem to be a more serious engagement of the biblical text.

        For one example, I would point you to what someone sent me a message about, the above mentioned church had a sermon on Romans 9 a week prior (as I recall) to sending the letter to the GBC. I had hope to hear some serious exegesis against the Calvinist position as a way to make the case for de-funding two seminaries. Much to my surprise I barely heard the text much less any exegesis or exposition. And this from a long time, well respected SBCer as I’m told.

        In fairness, I’ve not listened to any other sermons from the above church so I am merely making an observation of this one sermon in the context of anti-Calvinism. I’ve also addressed this issue in my post The Southern Baptist Phantom Menace.

  10. says

    Maybe it’s just me… but as a young “calvinist” pastor, I don’t see any of those 6 points as unique to calvinism.

    But as for why it’s appealing to me (w/o trying to sound condesending as Dave warned about)… it simply has to do w/ Bible study.

    The church I grew up in had very little theological depth, and I had very little depth. Went to college, sat under expository preaching for the first time from a guy who studied and studied and studied. He was very much not an arminian but he was also very much not a calvinist, and even preached against it.

    I started getting my theological moorings there, and went off to seminary anti-calvinist (I went to SBTS but all I knew about their theology at the time was they were Baptist and conservative–I chose them over MWBTS and SWBTS, my other two options, b/c they continued to send me info and keep in touch w/ me beyond the basic info packet I requested).

    Six months after I landed there I started pastoring. Still anti-calvinist. Well, except for limited atonement. I bought into LA before unconditional election. In fact, I was believing in LA when I uttered the now regretted line, “There’s no way I can believe in a god who unconditionally elects people to salvation.”

    At my first church, the first book I preached through was 2 Timothy. And it happened when I got to 1:9 that I stared and asked, “Okay, what am I going to do with this verse?” as it wasn’t fitting neatly into my theological system. So I studied, looked at various scriptures, and finally concluded: “Huh…I guess I can’t get around unconditional election.”

    So I became a calvinist and repented of my “I can’t worship” line. It appealed to me b/c of the Bible.

    Some people like to blame seminaries like Southern for turning their students… at that point we hadn’t even discussed the subject in any of my classes. Some people like to blame Piper for drawing young minds… at that point I had never read a Piper book, have since only read two (I don’t find his writing that appealing) and have only ever listened to two or three sermons of his. Some people like to blame 9-Marks… at that point I had no idea who Mark Dever, 9-Marks, or Capitol Hill Baptist were. Some like to blame Driscoll, Acts 29, etc… and at that point I was more well versed with and a bigger fan of guys like Norm Geisler.

    It was pure simple Bible study while dealing with the text I was preaching on, and the fact the 5 points lined up w/ the conclusions I was reaching.

    • volfan007 says

      What 5 pt. Calvinists books, or commentaries, did you read before becoming a Calvinist? Are you telling us that you had no friends, and no seminary profs…..no one taught you the 5 points? that you just learned the 5 points all by yourself? from just reading the Bible?

      If so, then you are absolutely the first person I’ve ever heard that could claim this! The very first one…c’mon, Mike…

      • says

        volfan007–that first semester: I did not have a class where calvinsim was brought up in any way shape or form.

        Commentaries–I was poor and young (well, poorer and younger) at that point; the commentaries I used I borrowed from a friend. They were the NAC.

        I knew the five points going in, b/c I was taught plenty against them at church and the BSU in college, so it wasn’t like I wasn’t familiar with the ideas and terminology. But, no at that point I had more books and more friends that were anti-the 5 points than pro. The only really pro-calvinist I had on my book shelf was MacArthur, and my college pastor used him so much that I didn’t even know MacArthur was a calvinist at that point.

        So, yeah… I had the terminology and definitions of the 5 points but an anti-calvinist bent and mentors, more non/anti-calvinist books than pro, and my Bible. Then when I came out of it, I beleived the 5 points were accurate.

        The main book I had at the time about it was Geisler’s “Chosen But Free.” I used that as a reference to find passages for both sides, and when I looked up the passages in context, I came to the opposite conclusions he did.

        • volfan007 says

          So, you had heard the 5 pt.’s before becoming one….and had been influenced by McArthur’s writings…these things influenced more than you probably realize….because you had the 5 pt.’s in your mind…even if from a negative viewpoint…..thus, when you got to parts of the Bible dealing with predestination and election…after not being taught about these doctrines…you couldnt get these Bible truths to jive with what you’d been told in the past….

          BUT, you still knew about the 5 points…..

          Before I went to seminary, I’d never heard of the 5 points…and, I’d never heard much preaching on predestination, election, etc. until I went to seminary. It caused me much angst, as well…because the 5 pointers at the seminary I attended were telling me that I had to believe the 5 points in order to believe these doctrines….

          But, I just couldnt settle on the 5 point system…not being able to get certain passages in the Bible to “fit” into the system…so, I didnt become a 5 pt. Calvinist due to certain passages….

          • volfan007 says

            But, it did challenge my mind and my faith…made me dig deeper and deeper…to try to understand these doctrines…

            And for that, I am thankful….

            David

          • says

            Well MacArthur wasn’t much of an influence… I had read The Battle for the Beginning and Charismatic Chaos at that point. Neither touch much on this issue.

            But yeah, I knew the 5 points.

            thus, when you got to parts of the Bible dealing with predestination and election…after not being taught about these doctrines…you couldnt get these Bible truths to jive with what you’d been told in the past….

            But they weren’t new parts of the Bible I hadn’t been exposed to. Well, at least not the usual suspects. While I was at my college church, the pastor preached through Ephesians and 1 Peter; and in both used the passages about predestination and election to teach why the calvinist position was wrong.

            But I did look at them again from a different perspective after encountering 2 Timothy and passages in John. Actually, the gospel of John (especially chapters 6, 8, and 10) had more to do with it than any other passage…

    • Dave Miller says

      Let me be clear – I think it is perfectly acceptable to give reasons why Calvinism appeals to you (or the reasons that it does not). That is discussion.

      Brandon’s post gave some reasonable (if not universal) reasons for accepting Calvinism.

      But comments like “well I have a Bible and read it” implies that anyone who doesn’t agree must not have a Bible or read it.

      The whole purpose of blogging is to advance our ideas, discuss them, defend them, even confront the views of those with whom we disagree.

      But we should do that with a basic respect towards those who disagree. That is one of my main gripes with bloggers – the failure to show basic respect for other believers with whom we disagree on certain issues.

      • Dave Miller says

        Advance your position.
        Respect those who do not agree.
        Keep studying, talking and seeking truth.

        I’ll call it the ARK principle! (The world needs one more new acronym, right?)

      • says

        I want to be clear where I agree and disagree.

        I fully agree there are godly, Bible-believing people who are not Calvinists. Lots of them. Lots and lots of them. From what I gather, many of the architects and leading figures of the conservative resurgence were not Calvinists, and these same men were vehement defenders of the Bible. That is not in question.

        I believe those who disagree with Calvinism are convinced they have biblical reasons for disagreeing. They are not tossing out the parts of the Bible they think are too Calvinistic, but they have a non-Calvinist interpretation of those passages. So they are studying the Bible and advocating what they see as biblical theology.

        However

        In general, people who become Calvinist do so because of the Bible. It is not because of a particular appeal the theology offers or the prestige of Calvinism or any other such thing, it is because they read the Bible and draw the conclusion that Calvinistic theology offers the best understanding of biblical teaching. Non-Calvinists disagree, of course – they say the Bible does not teach Calvinism. So both sides claim the Bible. But that does not diminish the fact that people with Calvinist convictions draw those convictions from Scripture.

        I was convinced of Calvinism because of the Bible. I ultimately found it inescapable. From what I came to understand the Bible to be saying, I could not reject Calvinism without rejecting the Bible. To me, it was that clear. To many non-Calvinists, that is not the case. But they are wrong. If I did not believe them wrong then I would not be a Calvinist.

        I don’t want to sound rude about such convictions, but we live in an age of postmodern wishy-washiness and one thing we as Christians must absolutely do is be clear about our convictions. I believe Calvinism because Calvinism is biblical. Those who reject Calvinism, however much they may uphold, love, protect, and study the Bible, they get the Bible wrong on these points. It is not a fatal error, but it is an error. So I can fully affirm that they uphold the Bible, but I can also note that when it comes to what the Bible teaches about the nature of predestination and God’s sovereignty over salvation, they misunderstand the Bible.

        What we are disagreeing about is not subjective opinion or personal preference, it is what the Word of God actually teaches. And whoever is wrong is teaching something other than what the Bible says. Because of the nature of this particular issue, we are free to disagree while still living and working and fellowshipping together. This is not a primary doctrine. This is not a matter essential to salvation. But we still must be clear about our convictions and where those convictions originate.

        • Jim G. says

          Hi Chris,

          Thanks for being honest. I do appreciate that sincerely.

          But you also must understand that those of us who disagree with Calvinism get our convictions from the Bible too – the very same Bible you read. I disagree that the Bible teaches Calvinism. I also do not believe the Bible teaches Arminianism. Let me illustrate and bear with me.

          There are three levels of discussion going on here.

          Level 1: The text of the Bible itself: divinely verbally inspired. Inerrant. Infallible.
          Level 2: The interpretation of the text: hermeneutics, informed by both other biblical texts as well as our hermeneutical method (including presuppositions), the Spirit, and the body of Christ.
          Level 3: The reflection and systematizing of interpretations of the text: this is the work of theology (includes 1 and 2, as well as other influences, including historical considerations)

          We agree, I would imagine, on level 1. I would also imagine we agree 99% (or more) of the time at level 2. Where we disagree is at level 3. This is the level of human reflection. We have left the level of divine revelation. We have also left the level of interpretation. We are now at the level of trying to reflect on it and to make sense of it all.

          The Bible does not teach Calvinism (or any other theological system, for that matter). There is no chapter and verse for the Synods of Dort. The interpretation of the text is not Calvinism (or any other system) either. What Calvinism, Arminianism, and all the rest are doing is giving a human attempt to systematize and understand the totality of the interpretation of holy Scripture. Theology is a human response to the revelation of God. That is why we all do it imperfectly, and why we see different things.

          Believe me, I am the furthest thing from a relativist you will ever see. But until we see theology as a human construct attempting to make sense of the right interpretation of the Word of God, we won’t get far in discourse. It is far too easy to equate what we sincerely think God said (our theology) with what he actually did say (the Bible) and we whack each other over the head with the Bible billy club.

          I am sincerely trying to help.

          Jim G.

          • says

            “The Bible does not teach Calvinism (or any other theological system, for that matter). There is no chapter and verse for the Synods of Dort.”

            Of course you are right about this. Systems of theology are not in and of themselves printed in the Bible. This is why we systematize our doctrines – organizing them in ways they are not organized in the pages of Scripture. But we can still refer to a system of theology as either biblical or unbiblical. Either the doctrines and teachings accurately reflect what the Bible says or they do not. And those systems are formed based on interpretation, making it a level two issue on your scale.

            Calvinists and non-Calvinists do not simply systematize Romans 9 differently: we have radically different interpretations. It is possible that we are both wrong on Romans nine, but it is certain that at least one of us is wrong. This is not a matter of systemization, it is a matter of asking, “What does this text mean?” and getting it either right or wrong.

            No systematic theology can claim to be divinely inspired. But one can say they believe this or that theology because of the divinely inspired Scriptures. I believe in what is commonly referred to as Calvinism because it is what the Bible teaches. If we want to get to specific passages instead of larger systems, I believe 1 Peter 1:1-5 teaches that God chooses those whom he will save, and that salvation is an irresistible work of grace; I believe Ephesians 2:1-10 demonstrates God’s initiative in salvation, to take dead enemies and turn them into righteous children; I believe Romans 9:8-24 defends God’s right to have mercy on whom he will. I could go on, but you get my point. Systems of theologies boil down to what we believe about particular texts. So the issue is, what sayeth the Scriptures. We disagree, which means at least one of us is wrong about what the Bible says.

          • Jim G. says

            Now we are getting somewhere, Chris.

            I’m not interested in trading texts, and I don’t think you are either. I think this is becoming a really good conversation now. My question is this: why do you choose texts like 1 Pet 1 or Rom 9 and not John 3:16 or 2 Pet 3:9 as a point of departure? I would even go so far as to say why (I have a hunch I am right on this, but I could be wrong) would you place such great emphasis on the sovereignty of God at the expense of his abounding love? (If I have overstepped, I apologize)

            I am sure you see by now that both you and I interpret Scripture using Scripture, but do so from different starting points. You must interpret 2 Pet 3:9 and John 3:16 in light of 1 Peter 1 and Romans 9. I interpret in the other direction. You claim that you believe what the Bible teaches. I don’t doubt you think you are correct. But what you see the Bible teaching (as do I) is informed by where you begin and what texts (and theological ideals) you already hold as primary. That hopefully makes more sense now and was my point all along.

            Jim G.

          • says

            “But what you see the Bible teaching (as do I) is informed by where you begin and what texts (and theological ideals) you already hold as primary. That hopefully makes more sense now and was my point all along.”

            Where I begin and end is with Scripture itself. If you say the Bible is a presupposition, then yes, I am influenced by my presuppositions. :)

            As for why I single out those texts, it’s because we are discussing one thing and not another. If we were talking about the free offer of the gospel and the demonstration of God’s love as shown through the cross, then I would quote John 3:16. But we are talking about whether or not God decides whom he will save and a different set of texts addresses that. Together, they form a complete picture. But when we are talking about what people generally think of as Calvinism, we are talking about one facet and that requires a particular focus in Scripture.

  11. volfan007 says

    I’ve studied the Bible for years and years, and I’ve never seen 5 pt. Calvinism from just reading the Bible…the only way I ever heard of Calvinistic teachings was reading 5 pt. Calvinists…and hearing other 5 pt. Calvinists talking to me about becoming one….

    I also know of countless other Believers, who study the Bible extensively…and they do not become 5 pt. Calvinists….

    How do you explain that, Mike?

    • says

      I also know of countless other Believers, who study the Bible extensively…and they do not become 5 pt. Calvinists….

      How do you explain that, Mike?

      The same way I explain how you can have both a presbyterian and a baptist who are ardent students of scripture. We’re imperfect.

      Maybe I’m wrong… so be it.

      But it was non/anti-calvinists who taught me the five points from an obviously negative perspective. It was from my own study that I turned from that to accepting the 5 points as biblically valid.

      I’m seriously not trying to be arrogant here or claim people of other positions don’t know their Bibles.

      I am simply saying in my case it was Bible study and not calvinistic influences that turned me on to the 5 points. Why is that seemingly hard to accept?

        • volfan007 says

          because you were influenced…it was not from simply studying the Bible…there was an influence there….

          • says

            Yeah.

            We’re all influenced.

            You talk about how before you never went to seminary you never heard those doctrines. But, especially if you came up SBC (and I don’t know you, so I don’t know), I bet you sang songs like “whosoever will” in church and heard John 3:16 talked about a lot. If like many churches (like the one I grew up in) may have even been along the lines of the revivalistic culture we see in many 20th Century SBC churches, which tends to flow against the ideas of calvinism even if it doesn’t use the terminology one way or another.

            We might not have the terms, but we all have various influences that dictate certain presuppositions as we go into Bible study.

            So I was influenced and you were influenced too… I don’t really see what that has to do w/ it.

          • Matt Svoboda says

            volfan007,

            You simply cant have a real conversation. We are all influenced.

            Mike,

            It is useless to try and reason with the unreasonable. We all have presuppositions and thoughts about the Bible/texts and people who have influenced us. Examples like you and me were raised with a very anti-Calvinism bent and yet we ended up Calvinists. Praise God! :)

            I hated Calvinism the first time heard what it was, understood the terminology, etc… But over a period of time, trying to study the Scriptures I came to the conclusions that the system called Calvinism is in fact what is seen in the Bible when it comes to Soteriology.

            Vol can tell himself people only become calvinists because of influences outside of the Bible, but that goes strongly against church history and the testimonies of millions. Also, if Vol is right, no one would have ever become a Calvinist in the first place! ;)

          • Jason says

            Is anyone not influenced in some way by some thing?

            I’m not sure where you are headed with this.

          • volfan007 says

            of course we’re all influenced by someone, or something….Mike said that he wasnt…I was merely pointing out that he probably was….

            He didnt just come to Calvinism by reading the Bible….

            No offense to Mike….I was not being mean to Mike…I was not looking down my nose at Mike…I was not trying to act ugly to Mike…I love Mike!

  12. Wade Phillips says

    I am a Calvinistic leaning “younger” SBC’er, and I think I started moving in that direction for several reasons. It began with questions I simply couldn’t answer. Specifically, what is the ultimate cause of a person being saved? I had always been told, “Well, we have free will to decide,” but that didn’t answer the question to me. Because if two men have the same free will, and one chooses Jesus, and the other doesn’t, then what causes the one to choose Him? Is there something in him that causes him to be better or smarter than the one who didn’t choose Jesus? I wrestled with those questions for years, and never could come up with an answer that satisfied me.

    I stumbled upon John Piper almost by accident. I didn’t know anything about him. Some guy just asked me to do a study of one his books, and I did. Before I ever knew he was a Calvinist, I knew he was one of the deepest, most passionate, expositors of the scripture I’d ever read. It was a depth I had never experienced in any church I’d been a part of it. It scratched me right where I’d been itching.

    So when I discovered he was a Calvinist, it made me re-examine my previous biases against it. And I found it helped me answer those questions that had been nagging me. I also found that it seemed to be right in line with what the scriptures actually said.

    I remained in a non-Calvinist, at the time, anti-calvinist church though, and this probably ended up being good for me. I went through my “cage stage” in my mind only. I kept my mouth shut about what I was studying, and what I was thinking, choosing rather to submit to the leaders in my church.

    Doing this was ultimately good for me, I think. It taught me some humility. It helped me see arguments for the other side. It helped me see that it was okay to keep my mouth shut and not feel the need to win arguments. And ultimately, it helped me to refine my thoughts some. Interestingly enough, my church has also done much the same. I’d probably best be described as a 4-pointer now, and the new pastor of my church, though a 2-pointer at best, doesn’t feel the need to fight about it. We are actually ordaining a Calvinist member of our church into the ministry later this month, something we’d probably not have done 4 or 5 years ago.

    So I think all of the reasons the author listed are pretty good ones, and probably help to describe my story. But I would be lying if I said that the influence of particular people didn’t have something to do with it also. As much as we might like to think our theology comes straight from the Bible, I think it is very rare that a person’s theology is not also shaped by other people. And I think that’s probably a good thing. Lone ranger theologians are the most dangerous kind.

    Just a tad more humility on both sides would probably make this a much smaller issue in the SBC.

    • Dave Miller says

      Wade said, “Just a tad more humility on both sides would probably make this a much smaller issue in the SBC.”

      Dave says, “What Wade said.”

    • Jason says

      I would love to see this be a “non-issue” in the SBC.

      But some don’t think others fit in the tent.

  13. says

    Calvinism/smalvinism. I like many things about the doctrines of John Calvin and some things about his followers; however, a steady diet of the sort of thing that always seems to ensue on the blogs is one reason why calvinism has some pretty vigorous opponents.

    A sampling:

    “When I consider how long I fought the Doctrines of Grace, I now wonder why. I must decrease and He must increase.”

    “Why is it appealing? Maybe because it is what the Bible teaches? Tweaking the question, why is it that now young pastors are reaching the proper interpretation of these texts?”

    “…because the conservative resurgence handed us a Bible, and told us to believe all of it.”

    “… as I think the teachings of Calvinism come straight from the Bible, what has led to a resurgence of Calvinism is not any psychological effect or comfort but careful biblical study.”

    “…the source of the [Calvinist] resurgence remains God’s Word.”

    “I finally heard him and I have never questioned that voice ever again.”

    “The evangelical Calvinists have done such a good job that they are almost the only game in town for a vibrant faith that is intellectually stimulating at the same time. Other evangelical voices have a lot of catching up to do, if they can and want to.”

    My question to my calvinist friends is this: Do you have an understanding why people sometimes react negatively to you?

    • Jason says

      No one is following John Calvin. Perhaps that sort of language should remain out of the discussion.

    • Dave Miller says

      Jason, do you not see how the kind of comments William copied could give non-Calvinists a little bit of angina.

      I am Calvinistic. But Calvinists can’t have it both ways. We cannot say we want to take part in the life of Baptists and then make comments like some of them made here.

      I have found a lot of Calvinists who are very sensitive about any criticism of Calvinists, but are also very quick to make derogatory statements about non-Calvinists.

      Can’t have it both ways.

      • Dave Miller says

        By the way, that observation cuts both ways. Some Baptists feel that taking harsh shots at Calvinists is okay, but are unwilling to listen to the Calvinist side.

        This is a Baptist debate that will be advanced when both sides tone down rhetoric, discuss scripture and respect those who disagree.

      • Jason says

        All I said was no one is following John Calvin. Nothing more.

        I think that accusation is old and unhelpful. Do you not agree?

        • Dave Miller says

          To be honest, I think “old and unhelpful” describes most of the discussions we have about Calvinism.

          Boil them down, its some variation of “I’m rubber and you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”

          • Jason says

            LOL True

            I just think that is a red herring of sorts in the discussion. It is a subtle jab and an attempt to portray those who hold to a certain theology as following a man (usually with a clever quip of, “I’d rather follow the real JC – Jesus Christ” attached).

            I just don’t believe it is fair to misrepresent people’s views. It is hard enough in this format to communicate, there is no need to add to the confusion with that tactic.

            No one who hold to these views is a “follower of John Calvin”.

            Like I said, that sort of language simply confuses the discussion and is not helpful.

            Just my .02

        • says

          It’s not an accusation, Jason. While I recognize that calvinists prefer the lofty phrase “doctrines of grace” to “calvinism” it is indisputable that the source of the doctrine is John Calvin and it is true in a sense that calvinists are following the teachings of Johannes hisself.

          But I admit to non-vicious tweaking of my calvinist brethren.

          Feel free to call me a follower of Jacobus Arminius if you want parity. After a few nights of sleepless handwringing, I should be able to cope. ;)

          I once bought a book of his but never read a syllable.

          • Jason says

            William,

            I don’t care what you call it, it didn’t originate with John Calvin. So that isn’t a fair representation of the issue. So it is not true in any sense that people who hold those views are following John Calvin. They may AGREE with John Calvin on certain soteriological teachings, but they are not “followers” of him. If you mean “they follow in the line of some aspect of his teachings”, then ok, but that doesn’t really elucidate the conversation as they would also fall in line with many other teachers.

            I know you are doing just a little friendly tweaking. It doesn’t bother me in that sense. I just don’t want to see the discussion side-tracked…as you KNOW that is bound to happen regardless since this issue tends to end up that way even when people are on their best behavior.

            Plus, as I mentioned, this is one of my pet peeves in this area of discussion. We are all followers of Christ, even if we disagree on this issue. We are not followers of men, either side, so let’s avoid that distraction if at all possible.

      • Jason says

        Dave Miller wrote: “Jason, do you not see how the kind of comments William copied could give non-Calvinists a little bit of angina.”

        Yep, I can see that.

      • Matt Svoboda says

        “Some Baptists feel that taking harsh shots at Calvinists is okay, but are unwilling to listen to the Calvinist side.”

        Is that what you were saying amen to, Vol?

        • volfan007 says

          Matt,

          With you, its always a fight….aint it? Am I not allowed to have a voice? a viewpoint? an opinion? without being accused of whining? or being angry? or just trying to be arguementative? or just so pig headed and thick skulled that I just cant have an intelligent discussion with someone?

          Matt, in all seriousness, Brother…are you just acting like a jerk in here? or, is this really your personality? Or, are you just mad at me for some of our discussions about alcohol from the past? or what?

          David

    • Chief Katie says

      William,

      I see that one of my comments made your list. I can only guess that you felt it was somehow condescending towards the Arminian side. I suppose if you really stretch it, you could accurately make that argument. However, I don’t think I said a thing about the other side that is disrespectful and that’s essentially because I don’t think there is anything to be disrespectful about.

      My comment was about my own arrogance at thinking I could in any way, determine what God’s justice is. For me, I had to learn that God’s ways are not my ways. I’ve never been sorry that I learned that.

      If however, anyone is offended at my own self-realization, I do not apologize. Coming face to face with my own pride did me a world of good and humbled me.

      I don’t speak for other people when it comes to the spiritual moments in their own lives. I can only state my own experience.

      • says

        No. I didn’t think it to be condescending. I presume (and grant that you may not, if so I’ll withdraw all of this) you meant that you heard God on calvinism, never to question Him on that again. What does that make the non-calvinist? Stone deaf to God’s audible voice?

        • Chief Katie says

          William,

          It sure looks as if you want to make this whole conversation something that is an ‘us against them’ mentality. If that is true, respectfully, that’s your issue, not mine.

          I rejected Calvinism out of hand, because I could not see a God who was “just and fair” within it.

          I can’t speak for other people and how God works in their individual lives. I can only relate what happened in mine. If you choose to see that as something to belittle, then there isn’t much I can do about it. However, let me reassure you that I don’t have any negative feelings or ideas about the Arminian side. I was there for decades.

          I believe that God meets us at the level of our need. I’ve no doubt He will still work in my life and I’m quite sure He does that for all Christians who love Him and put Him first. I certainly wouldn’t question anything that God has shown you. Seems like the right thing to do toward all who call upon the name of Jesus.

          • says

            I admit to a modicum of sarcasm towards my calvinist brethren and sistren.

            When you relate an experiential journey to calvinism, one in which you hear God’s voice in the redwoods “never to question Him again” (on the doctrines of calvinism, I presume), exactly how are the rest of us to understand you?
            You struggled with calvinism. You questioned calvinism. You finally yielded to calvinism and that in response to God’s voice…which makes the rest of us…what?…stiff-necked rebels against God waiting for the second blessing experience of calvinism?

            Tell me how I should understand you here.

  14. says

    As a DBU grad, I benefitted greatly from Dr. Naugle’s classes, teaching, and friendship. I’d like to recommend that if you haven’t take a look at the entire paper linked in the original post. I hadn’t read it before but it id well worth your time.

  15. volfan007 says

    I was in a seminary class one time, and one of the “young” Calvinist asked our elderly, very smart, very spiritually mature Prof(late 70’s or 80 at that time) was he a Calvinist or an Arminian. His reply has stuck with me for all of these years…he said, “Calvinism and Arminianism are young men’s religions.” Maybe that’s why so many “young” SBC’ers are turning to it.

    David

    • Matt Svoboda says

      Thats possibly the dumbest thing I have ever heard. lol

      It doesnt even solve the problem.

      • volfan007 says

        Matt,

        Again, it’s like you jump all over everything I say….Brother? Dude?

        And, let me explain this statement to you, since you’re having trouble….what this means is that Calvinism and Arminianism are things that young people argue over…it’s an immature way of looking at the great doctrines…settling for less….

        BTW, the Prof, who made this statement, was smarter than you and me and Dave all put together…so, if you’re calling this dumb…incredible….lol

        David

        • Jason says

          I’m not Matt, but perhaps the reason you get the responses you get is that your posts come off condescending, even if they aren’t intended that way.

          You painted the calvinist in your story as the guy who just doesn’t get it…and thus all calvinists just don’t get it. You implied that calvinists will grow out of it when they mature and are not young men.

          Don’t you see how that is condescending, even if it was unintended?

          • Dave Miller says

            Okay, Jason, I’ll drop this on you, because you seem like someone who will engage in conversation.

            My problem is that both sides are condescending and derogatory in their arguments, but they only see it on the other side.

            Again, I hope not to insult you here, but you see Vol’s “condescension” but do the Calvinistic comments that are condescending on this stream not elicit the same reaction?

            I just long for a discussion of this issue that does NOT descend into insults.

          • Jason says

            Absolutely both sides are condescending and derogatory. I responded to your earlier question about William’s comments just a few minutes ago saying as much.

            Both sides treat others like idiots. It gets old.

            I don’t mind having the discussion on this issue…but let’s treat each other fairly and not misrepresent their views. I guess I kind of expect the heat from the discussion (even if I don’t like it), but my pet peeve is the misrepresentation….which is why I tend to respond to those type comments.

      • volfan007 says

        Dr. Reginald Barnard, who was a professor at Mid America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis…back in the 1980’s. He was from Australia, I believe, and he studied in England. A very brilliant, humble man, who loved the Lord.

        I believe the statement he made sums it up pretty good. And, I’m not trying to be mean, ugly, or condescending….I am not trying to out argue anyone…but, I do believe what he said…that young men tend to get into Arminianism and Calvinism…and I would also say that intellectuals tend to be attracted to Calvinism, due to it’s heady, philosophical tendencies….

        David

        • Jason says

          I don’t doubt this statement is true. Young men do enjoy a good fight at times.

          My question is this: if it is a young man’s fight, then why is it the older guys in the SBC who are going after the younger guys for believing it?

  16. says

    We should certainly be careful not to run off on the stupid, and I do mean stupid, rabbit trail of “real Bible students are Calvinists” because it’s, well, stupid. :)

    All that aside, I was a pretty ardent Wesleyan for my first year or so in ministry and honestly came to question my theology when I couldn’t teach Romans 8-10 from the Wesleyan viewpoint. I simply saw Calvinistic leanings all over it before I had come to understand what Calvinism was. Now, I understand that there is valid intellectual thought behind the “non-Calvinist” view of Romans 9 in particular, but it didn’t gel with the rest of the book in my eyes.

    I believe that much of our interpretation depends on influence and personality. My personality in my view of Scripture has always led me to wanting – and inevitably worshiping – the idea of a BIG and sovereign God and that leaning in me probably catalyzed my Calvinistic beliefs today. I also was heavily influenced by Matt Chandler and John Piper’s preaching early on, spurring me forward. I believe that’s why, say, Rob Bell has gone where he has theologically because he doesn’t connect with the idea of a wrathful God, but a loving and gentle socially-concerned Restorer. Bell is extremely far off doctrinally as we all know, but his emotions may have led him astray, in my opinion.

    I don’t know if any of that actually made sense, but it does in my head!

    • Matt Svoboda says

      Brandon,

      I’m with you. I was a very anti-Calvinist person, but I just couldnt keep reading Romans 9, Ephesians 1, and several other passages without beginning to believe in the teachings of Calvinism…

      While I felt strong emotional feelings against Calvinism, I had a strong desire to understand Scripture rightly and I didnt think I was being intellectually honest with my non-C interpretations of those passages. I simply felt I was forcing my understanding onto the text.

    • Dave Miller says

      I think this encapsulates it pretty well, Brandon.

      I am Calvinistic (not a card-carrying five-pointer or anything) because I believe that is what the Bible teaches. I think that those who do not accept the sovereignty of God in salvation are misunderstanding the Bible.

      However, I also realize those with whom I disagree study the Bible, love Jesus and seek the truth just like I do.

      I guess what I am arguing for (on both sides) is disagreeing without disparaging.

    • Lydia says

      “I don’t want to sound rude about such convictions, but we live in an age of postmodern wishy-washiness and one thing we as Christians must absolutely do is be clear about our convictions”

      This was a big consideration for me when I started studying the Reformed position. It attracted me because everything else in practice was so shallow like the seeker movement, church growth, emergent, etc. I wanted more doctrine and less anti intellectualism. No 3 pt sermons and more exegeting.

      But as I studied (I still agree with quite a bit) I noticed something even as sinister as the shallowness of the other side. It was “called” Calvinism and no matter how hard they tried, that name kept slipping in. :o) Named after a man who lived a thousand years after Christ? That is how much ST has permeated our “relationship” with Christ?

      And I was born and bred on the “Sovereignty of God” so I was a bit confused as to how the Calvinists think they invented or promoted that position. However, we did talk about Jesus more than Calvinists seem to do.

      Then I noticed as time went by that the big names in the New Reformed movement were starting to do the exact same things others were doing in the seeker-church growth movement: gaining followers for themselves. And they discovered the marketing tricks the seekers had perfected and done very well with concerning conferences, books, speaking gigs, etc. It started looking like another Christian business with a fish slapped on it.And from the looks of it, this business is doing quite well. I saw in an article the other day, a survey of all our SBC seminaries show that 30% say they are Calvinist/Reformed.

      Just give me Jesus, please. Not “Calvin”. :o)

  17. says

    I basically was a 3-point Calvinist from early in my Christianity. My pastor heavily emphasized 1) total depravity, 2) unmerited favor, and 3) the perseverance of the saints. What brought me over to include irresistible grace was understanding total depravity and the necessarily logical order of regeneration. I believe that regeneration is instantaneous practially; but, logically, regeration precedes faith.

    I officially referred to myself as reformed when I changed my view on predestination. My brother-in-law, who was a 5-pointer, did an apologetics conference at my church. He founded apologetics on God’s overarching plan. He made a statement similar to what Steven Lawson said that made sbc news recently.

    Lawson said, “…it is, theologically speaking, “grossly ignorant” to believe that “God looked down the proverbial tunnel of time to see who would choose his Son” and then “in a reflexive manner” chose them for election.”

    Now, my brother-in-law didn’t say this. And, I don’t think Lawson should have said this. My brother-in-law just asked us the question about whether or not God’s choosing or election was a response to us or us responding to HIm. Based on the Scriptural evidence, I had to answer the question whether or not the salvation of man is ultimately up to God or man. The result was believing that God chooses us. We still choose Him; but, ultimately we choose Him because He first chooses us.

    I’m a single-predestinarian though; which makes me an oddball. I think Spurgeon was a single-predestinarian as well: http://jaredmoore.exaltchrist.com/2011/03/10/did-charles-spurgeon-believe-in-single-predestination/ ? Any other single-predestinarians out there? One professor said “It’s double or nothing.”

    • Jim G. says

      Hi Jared,

      I think it is hard to be a single predestinarian. If the following are true:
      1. God elects unconditionally all those who will be saved.
      2. There are only two eternal outcomes (salvation and reprobation)
      3. Anyone not elected to salvation is reprobate.

      Then anyone passed over (reprobated) becomes by default destined for eternal hell. I think the results are the same no matter how the act of election was actually accomplished. Single predestination becomes double because passing over someone is really the election not to elect. At least that is the way I see it.

      Jim G.

      • Dave Miller says

        The key distinction that I can see would be why a person goes to hell.

        The single predestinarian view (as I understand it) emphasizes that we send ourselves to hell with our sin. It is not ultimately God’s sovereign decree that does that.

        God’s decree is to save some from hell, but not to send anyone there. This fits with the affirmation that God does not wish (or will) anyone to be condemned.

        • says

          Double predestination is, at the very least, a strong implication of single predestination. It isn’t really possible to say, “God chose one group for salvation but didn’t even have in his mind anything regarding the destiny of the other group.” If he chose one group for salvation then, at the least, he chose to leave the other group on the road for judgment.

          But no matter whether one claims single or double, it is also necessary to recognize (though I suppose there are those who don’t recognize this – but they should) that what sends people to Hell is sin. Even if God creates one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable (an intention from God for each vessel), what makes one vessel honorable is the grace of God to justify his sins. What makes the other vessel dishonorable are the sins committed by that vessel, sins not justified through the blood of Christ.

        • Jim G. says

          Hi Dave,

          I see it differently. Let’s say there are six people on earth: Earl, Erin, Ellie, Ron, Rita, and Ralph. God elects Earl, Ellie, and Erin to salvation, but does not elect Ron, Rita, or Ralph. (He could have elected them too, but he chose not to do so for reasons only he knows.) The non-election of Ron, Rita, and Ralph serves as a de facto election to reprobation, since salvation and reprobation are the only options on the table.

          Single predestination does not solve the Calvinist quandary of 2 Peter 3:9. In the make-believe example above, God does not want Ron, Rita, or Ralph to come to repentance. If he had wanted them to come to repentance, he would have elected them to salvation. Their lack of election (or reprobation) is the proof that God does not desire them to come to repentance, for in the Calvinist system, one must be sovereignly regenerated before conversion (repentance/faith); and only the elect are regenerated.

          In the Calvinist system, ultimately the choice of who is elected to salvation and who is elected (passively by default or actively – the results are exactly the same) to reprobation falls squarely on the shoulders of God. Thus God cannot desire the salvation of the reprobate because the choice is his. This flatly contradicts the straightforward reading of 2 Peter 3:9, which is why there are lots of, let’s say, “creative” reinterpretations of that text.

          Jim G.

          • Jim G. says

            Thanks Chris,

            I am aware of the two wills in God idea. Like I said above, “creative.” One will is tied to the text. The other will is tied to the theological system. Piper’s great weakness, of course, is his presupposition (there’s that pesky word again, but he actually states it plainly) that he is firmly committed to unconditional, individual election as the hidden (my use of the language in the two-wills dichotomy) will of God. That cannot be surrendered, even in the place of texts that seem on the surface to contradict it. So there must be two wills.

            I just find it interesting that the hidden will (of unconditional, individual election) trumps the revealed will. That leads me to wonder where else in the Bible is the plainly revealed will of God trumped by some hidden will that I know nothing of. Where else must I rely more heavily on my theological system than the text itself? Hopefully nothing really important.

            Jim G.

            Jim G.

            Jim G.

          • says

            “he is firmly committed to unconditional, individual election as the hidden (my use of the language in the two-wills dichotomy) will of God.”

            One strength of the article is he makes a good case that a two-wills view is necessary for both Calvinists and non-Calvinists. Non-Calvinists believe God could save everyone if he so chose. He is not limited because of his power; he has the power, the ability, the sovereign authority to ensure everyone is saved. But greater than God’s will to save everyone is his will that salvation be a matter of human choice. So his desire for the free exercise of the will is greater than his desire for everyone to be saved, otherwise he would save everyone.

            For the Calvinist, the greater desire is understood to be the demonstration of his glory. For that we can point to texts such as Romans 9 where Paul lays out the extension of God’s mercy and the exercise of God’s wrath.

            “That leads me to wonder where else in the Bible is the plainly revealed will of God trumped by some hidden will that I know nothing of.”

            I’m not altogether sure what to make of this. Piper isn’t exercising pure conjecture. What has always impressed me about Piper is his firm reliance on Scripture, and in the article I linked he lays out the biblical case for the two wills view. Earlier you said he is influenced in his interpretation of the Bible by his presuppositions, but now you seem to be saying that he isn’t relying on the Bible at all?

          • Jim G. says

            This will be my last post tonight. My brain and fingers are tired.

            Beware the Piper Kool-aid. He is equivocating and is definitely smart enough to know what he is doing. I’m frankly surprised you didn’t catch it, as you seem to be pretty knowledgeable.

            The non-C two-wills view (if it can even be called that, but we will for the sake of discussion) has one will that “wishes” all to be saved and the other that has freely willed to allow a free human response to his grace for salvation. Those “two” wills are compatible, as God extends the offer to all, sincerely hoping all will hear, but holding the highest value to freely returned love and faith.

            That view is light-years from the view expressed by Piper. Piper’s God actively wills all that comes to pass. He determines all salvific choices by imposing irresistible grace on the elect and withholding it from the reprobate. He is the final say of who is saved and who is not, yet wishes those from whom he freely withheld grace could be saved? That would be like me killing someone while wishing they were unharmed.

            Piper is very cleverly (and deceitfully, in my opinion, because he is smart enough to know better) equivocating his view and Marshall’s. The two-will view espoused by Calvinists makes God out to be some sort of psychopath – he wishes he didn’t have to condemn Ron, Rita, and Ralph, but he unconditionally willed it, so off to hell they go.

            We’re likely at an impasse. You seem to mistrust everything I type. I gave you “chapter and verse” for Augustine that you could verify with 15 minutes at ccel. After all, I guess I’m just not biblical enough.

            Jim G.

          • says

            And here we hit the incompatibility between Calvinism and non-Calvinism. God elects those who will be saved and he leaves the rest to his judgment, a judgment all deserve because of sin. Salvation is solely an act of grace while the judgment issued is just. Scripture clearly teaches that God desires all to be saved, and Scripture clearly teaches that not all are saved, so something keeps God from accomplishing that which he desires. The only thing that could stop God from doing what he wants is God himself. Thus God has reasons for not irresistibly saving all people despite his desire that all be saved. In my opinion, Piper explains those reasons rather well.

            Of course, non-Calvinists do not agree with this and attach to it phrases such as, “That’s your God, but that’s not my God!” (from you: “Piper’s God” – do you imply he does not worship your God? Do you believe he is not a Christian?) or “makes God out to be some sort of psychopath”. On the last, I would encourage you to be careful. I know you disagree with Piper and other Calvinists, but are you so convinced that we are wrong that you will say the God we describe is a psychopath? If we are correct and this truly is what God reveals about himself in Scripture, then you tread on dangerous ground.

            “You seem to mistrust everything I type.”

            I disagree with a lot of it, that’s not the same as mistrusting it. Augustine was only one part of our rather extended conversation.

          • Jim G. says

            There is no point in us discussing this any further, Chris. I appreciate your effort, but I think we have hit the wall and we might as well stop. I honestly don’t think you are trying very hard to understand my position. You seem to enjoy being polemical. Of course I am not implying Piper believes in a different God. I am plainly saying that his “two wills” theory is so self-contradictory that it misrepresents God. I know you don’t agree, but please give me the courtesy of knowing that our theological reflections diverge here. Don’t you think in all of my posts I have tried to display fairness?

            And I am tired of the personal name calling. In this extended conversation, I have been called less-than-biblical, overly simplistic, and dangerous – all because I do not see the Calvinistic reflections (and their logical conclusions) to best fit the biblical data. Let’s just agree to stop here.

            Jim G.

          • says

            “I honestly don’t think you are trying very hard to understand my position.”

            I would point out that this is generally translated as: “You aren’t agreeing with my summary/argument/position/etc so you must be unreasonable!” but you would just accuse me of being polemical.

            “And I am tired of the personal name calling.”

            Color me puzzled. I did not realize it was name calling to evaluate someone’s position. And I’m not the one who tossed out a word like psychopath or some of the other things you said in that comment. But even there I do not accuse you of name calling; you were evaluating a position. Your evaluation is dangerous, yes, because you have some pretty strong things to say against God as he has revealed himself (there’s that evaluation of your position again!) but please try not to confuse disagreement with name calling.

  18. volfan007 says

    Much of what’s argued about in the 5pt. Calvinist-non Calvinist debate…is about the area of speculation…those things which are not clearly spelled out in the Bible.

    I know that the Bible teaches that God chose me….that He planned to save me before the world was ever created…that I’m saved by grace thru faith…and I also know that man must choose…man has responsibility…

    So, how can we reconcile God’s Sovereignty and man’s responsibility? Well, I just believe like Spurgeon and Dr. Criswell…both are true….like 2 sides of a mountain that join together in the clouds…I know that both sides of the mountain are true…how they come together…I dont know….and neither does anyone else….

    Now, beyond that…in the areas of debate…is purely speculation… the speculation of man…which should not turn to dogma….which should not lead others accusing someone that doesnt believe like they do…about the gray areas…of not preaching a true Gospel….BUT, we have people, who think they can figure it all out and put it into a neat, nice, little, theological box(system). I dont think they can.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      David: Calvinists believe both are true. Man is responsible, God does all the work in salvation from beginning to end. Paul taught both are true.

  19. James says

    At first glance I agreed with the five points of Calvinism. But I do not accept much of his teachings and conclusions as accurate. But Calvin was Amillennnial, accepted infant baptism, did not believe each church to be autonomous, and did not accept scripture as all that was needed to guide the church. In other words what defines Baptist, Calvin rejects. As you can tell I am from the Anabaptist line of thinking and wonder why Protestant theology is influenceing Baptist.

    • says

      James,

      This is slightly off topic, but in your Anabaptist thinking to you accept the church offices structured as bishops, elders, deacons, et al all existing simultaneously within the same local body? Also, do you believe in total disengagement from all politics?

      • Debbie Kaufman says

        As far as Baptists believing in Calvinism. Except for infant Baptism and the emphasis on the sacraments, I believe Calvinism to be totally Biblical, and as spelled out in monergism.com:

        What is Reformed Theology?
        Reformed theology…

        …presupposes God’s Word alone as our ultimate authority.
        …stresses the sovereignty of God, that is, His reign over all things, meticulously determining (Eph 1:11)
        all that comes to pass (i.e. God is never taken by surprise).
        …ephasizes a Christ-Centered proclamation of the gospel, that salvation is wholly of God, by grace alone
        through faith alone in Christ alone as revealed in the Scripture alone to the Glory of God alone.
        …views the Bible as a redemptive-historical organic unfolding of revelation which is structured by three
        covenants (redemption, works and grace).

        http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Reformed-Theology/Essays/

      • volfan007 says

        Non Calvinists also hold to Scripture and Scripture alone as being our authority.

        We also believe in sola Scripture.

        Wow, just wow….

        • Jason says

          Did I miss something? Did someone say that non-calvinists don’t believe in sola scriptura? I missed the comment. A little help?

  20. Bill Mac says

    I’m not a young pastor, but I will tell you what drew me to Calvinism. I remember it pretty clearly. I was in our pool (long since gone) one evening, trying to cool off. As I sometimes do when I am alone, I prayed. I was praying for the salvation of some people, and I began to wonder just what I was asking God to do. Obviously, I was asking God to save them. But of course I had been taught that God would save them, if they came to Him in faith. But what if they don’t want to? That’s not good enough. God had already promised to save those who came to Him in faith through Christ. No real need to pray for that. So why pray? What are we asking God to do? And, can He do it? I realized that we are not asking God to save people per se, but rather we are asking God to turn them around, change their heart, open them to the Gospel. So the question became, do I really believe God can and will do that? Can and will God take the unwilling and make them willing? I decided that I believed He can and does (the apostle Paul comes to mind). I wasn’t thinking in 5 pt terms at that point, but that was the beginning. It was extremely liberating. Suddenly I had confidence that God would save the unwilling, not by saving them against their will, as I have heard silly people caricature Calvinism, but by changing their heart of stone to a heart of flesh, and making them open to the Gospel. It was also liberating with the realization that my own shortcomings in my life, and in sharing my faith, were not going to be the cause of people being lost forever.

    • says

      Bill Mac,

      I have been reading all of the interesting comments post by Calvinist, Non-Calvinist, and Anti-Calvinist and I was trying not to jump into this discussion… (As the Calvinist appear to have the Anti-Calvinist on the ropes, and the Non-Calvinist are just sitting this one out)… But I just had to say that your insight into the issue of what we are asking God to do in prayer is “Most Profound” to this discussion!

      I would love to have the Arminian answer the question at to just what he is asking God to do when he is praying for someones salvation?

      Grace for the Journey,

  21. volfan007 says

    Me thinks that Jim G. is a very bright man, who has great perception into the truth of this whole matter. Me thinks I’d like to hear Jim G. talk and discuss things more.

    Thanks Jim G. for sharing your insights…..great insights, and you seem to really have a firm grasp on these issues.

    Someday, if we meet, I’d like to buy you a cup of coffee…and a donut, maybe….if the food police aint around to condemn us for being gluttons for munching on a donut….lol…..

    Also, Matt and Dave and some of you others are also invited for the coffee and a donut…if you promise not to report me to the food police.

    David

    • Jason says

      So, since Jim G. agrees with you, therefore he is smart and has “great insight”. Sigh. I see a lot of these posts on here recently, especially from random people coming in just to affirm those with whom they agree. That’s fine, but they don’t further the discussion. Nothing wrong with agreeing – but there are a lot of issues those 2 are discussing, random affirmations is a little dismissive of the issues and of the points brought up by Chris, which are quite reasonable.

      BTW, David (volfan), as someone who disagrees with you on this issue, can I say simply I have a bigger problem with you being a Vol fan than believing differently on this issue. :) Go Gators!

      • volfan007 says

        :)

        I just knew that there was something else terribly wrong with you! lol

        Troy and the Swamp People are hunting your type down…..”Choot it, Choot, Lizabet….choot it!” lol

    • Jim G. says

      Thanks, David.

      I am just faith seeking understanding. And along with Jason, I think Chris did get to a lot of the central ideas of Calvinism. We just started talking past each other. I share the blame. I will try to do better. I lost my cool a little with Piper. He was deceptive and should know better.

      But I won’t share the love of the Vols. I don’t dislike the Vols, but I’m a Mountaineer, as in West Virginia University. Mark down (I think) Sept 24 on your calendars. LSU will come into Mountaineer Field likely the number one team in the country. And they will lose. The Big East is on its way back!

      Jim G.

  22. John Wylie says

    I’ve said this on other comment threads and I will say it again, calvinism and arminianism are man made theological systems and as such are flawed. There is truth in both of them but neither is perfect. Take for instance the Romans 9-11 passages that keep getting brought up in this discussion. Romans 9 would appear to support calvinism while Romans 11 would appear to support arminianism. The thing that I think gets overlooked in those chapters is that God is clearly speaking of nations rather than individuals. When we suppose Paul’s referring to individuals in these verses the calvinists interpret chapter 9 as teaching unconditional election, and the arminians interpret chapter 11 as teaching loss of salvation.

    I hold to some calvinist teachings and some arminian teachings and from my conversations with fellow pastors, the vast majority of preachers in the Baptist rank and file find themselves in the same place. Even Dave, said that he wasn’t a complete 5 pointer, which means he doesn’t buy into the whole calvinist paradigm.

    • Jason says

      I can only speak for myself, but I do not identify as a “calvinist” simply because I hate confusing labels. That horse has been beaten so bad it is unrecognizable and the average person in the pew has been presented a bugaboo image that they relate to that term.

      I don’t believe what I believe because of some system. I seriously doubt anyone here does…on either side. That accusation is simply a strawman. Both sides are convinced they understand the biblical teaching, and they base their views on that. Despite all of our desires that the “other side” is simply a slave to their system, I just don’t think that can be a valid attack from either side.

      This is a disagreement on presuppositions and texts. Let’s not paint the discussion in some other way (following a system, following a man, etc).

      BTW, I think most people (on both sides) have rejected the “election of nations”. But that would be a fun discussion.

      • John Wylie says

        Jason,

        First of all no need to be defensive, my statements were not “attacks” as you characterized them. Also, the truth is that many people are slaves to systems and reject anything that violates their particular viewpoint. That’s why you see a lot of arguments utilizing human logic rather than the scripture. Finally, the election of nations view is actually held by a lot of people. I don’t think it constitutes the totality of the doctrine of election just the interpretation of Romans 9-11.

        • Jason says

          Probably a poor word choice on my part. I didn’t mean attacks in an aggressive way…just the means of critique of an opponents’ position. I know no harm is meant. Unfortunately, the words “attack” and “argument” sound worse than they are when a debate is the subject. Sorry for the confusion.

        • Jason says

          Really? Who holds to the election of nations position? I am unaware of many scholars that do. (Not doubting you…just very curious.)

          I think it is a difficult position to hold consistently through Romans 9-11, but even harder to hold in light of the whole of the letter.

          I guess one could say that your “system” won’t let you hold to those passages speaking of individual election, so you decided on the election of nations view. OR…I could say you really believe the text teaches it. I don’t think we need to assume people are slaves to their systems…but we cannot be naive and say that we are not influenced by positions held by others. That is a truth for both sides of this debate.

          • John Wylie says

            I don’t know what constitutes scholars in your interpretation, but Dr. Adrian Rogers and Dr. J. Vernon McGee held to the election of nations interpretation of Romans 9.

            I’m not immune to allowing my perspective to skew the interpretation of a text, neither are you or anyone else on this blog. I never said that everyone who holds to calvinism or arminianism were slaves to their system, but I still believe that many are.

          • Jason says

            I knew Rogers did, didn’t know about McGee.

            I know why pastors want to hold to that view…but I still don’t buy it as legitimate. It opens up too many holes of consistency with Paul’s argument in the letter.

          • John Wylie says

            Jason,

            I respect your opinion and find you really easy to converse with, even if we disagree. In my view, the election of nations view is the only way to reconcile Romans 9 with Romans 11. Calvinists make a lot of hay in Romans 9 and Arminians love Romans 11.

            I have two reasons for holding the election of nations view for Romans 9-11

            1.) The immediate context is speaking of the nation of Israel. (Paul’s kinsman according to the flesh)

            2.) In Genesis 25:23, Jacob and Esau very clearly represent two nations. “And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.”

  23. says

    John, I agree in principle with this statement:

    “calvinism and arminianism are man made theological systems and as such are flawed. There is truth in both of them but neither is perfect.”

    However, just because both systems are imperfect does not make them equally imperfect.

    • John Wylie says

      I would agree with you that it does not make them equally imperfect, but imperfect nonetheless. And because they are flawed we must all be willing to allow the Bible to correct our paradigms. There are serious and glaring errors with both paradigms and we must not tow the party line we must address them.

      • says

        John, but even what you’re suggesting = a system of your own making. I agree that we should test these systems based on Scripture; but, we should also have a healthy respect for tradition. Millions of our brothers and sisters believe these systems; so, we should be cautious about being “long-ranger” interpreters.

        • John Wylie says

          I agree brother, Im not talking about lone ranger interpreters, I’m talking about the danger of believing that any man made system is flawless. Some on this comment stream speak of calvinism as though there is not a single viable argument against any of its tenets, that’s really not the case.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            To be quite honest John, I am Calvinist and truly believe all the tenets to be true and Biblical. It’s why I believe them so strongly. I don’t believe there is any viable argument against any Calviist tenets. It’s why I believe them so strongly. To argue they are flawed is on my side of the spectrum, wrong, and an easy way to avoid having to deal with Calvinism in any meaningful way. So I would skip the whole no system is flawless argument because from my view, that just isn’t a good argument.

          • John Wylie says

            Debbie,

            It doesnt side step the issue at all, it hits it head on. The fact is that if all the implications of the five points are true, you make God the author of sin. Calvinism is inerently flawed, how anyone could live in this world and not know that calvinism like all other “isms” is man made and has errors is beyond me.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            It doesn’t make God the author of sin John. But even if that were true(which it is not) God cannot sin and everything he does is right and just. So if it did make him the author of sin, it would be right, just and to glorify God. It wouldn’t be wrong for God to be the author of sin.

          • John Wylie says

            Debbie,

            With all due respect you just demonstrated my point for me. If God were the author of sin He would not be good, just or right. He would not be able to be trusted and He could not save from sin. Your comments are the very example of dedication to a theological paradigm over what the scriptures teach. On one hand you said, God is not the author of sin, on the other you said even if God were the author of sin He would still be good and just. You’re really saying calvinism is right even when it contradicts itself.

            While there are lots of scriptures that fit very well with the calvinist point of view, there several others that turn it on its ear. We must rightly divide the word, and not say calvinism is always right, because it clearly is not always right.

  24. James says

    What does the bible say to young preachers? 1st Timothy 6:20-21 “O Timothy guard what was committed to your trust avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsley called knowledge by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith, Grace be with you amen.”

    What was committed to Timothy? I believe we know that when we see what Paul instructed Timothy to preach.

    2nd Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season, Convince rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching.”

    The major concern that I have with any System Matic theology is do we use scripture to find truth in the writings of Calvin, or is Calvin being used to define the bible? How much longer until we have a Piperism theology, or we call ourselves McARTHERIST? The wisdom and insight of others can be good and uplifting, but should not be held above or equal to scripture. If the Word has to be watered down or changed for the understanding of those that are lessor is it then the Word that transforms them or do they just conform to an opinion they don’t truly understand?

    I have come to believe that the reason so many preachers will say that they have a church full of lost people is a lack of the preaching of the Word and in its place is the preaching of man discerned wisdom. When you preach scripture, back it up with scripture, then the lack of understanding is between
    Them and God. But if you over explain or change the word Then James 3:1 is your warning.

    Would anyone disagree with this statement, ” why do we cry when a building burns but we never cry over those leaving the church and those that never come to church”. I taught that saying for years and still believe it to be true, but when I found out the two young men that burned 9 churches were my former students I had to ask myself was I responsible? Had they misunderstood my teaching or the bibles teaching? When you preach of Calvin’s opinion of scripture or anyone else’s has ask your self did God call you to proclaim His Word or be the mediator of wisdom to those who are not enlightened? Did this on my phone can’t review very well hope it makes Denver.

  25. Max says

    Whew! From various responses in this blog, it’s clear that the commandments of God have become mixed with or replaced by the teachings and traditions of men … and Jesus told us not to do that (Mark 7:7-8)! “Influencers” abound in church ranks these days. I fear that we’ve married strangers in the land and brought this mixture into the camp. Black and white have become gray. We’ve lost our way.

    There is much in Scripture about the sovereignty of God. There is much in Scripture about human responsibility and free will. Scripture does not contradict itself – thus, it all works together in a way that is beyond human comprehension. Beware of attempts to frame the mind of God with complex theological systems whose validity can be debated at every point.

    I’ve found the following prescription for this condition to be a helpful remedy in my personal Christian journey: humble yourselves, pray, repent and seek God’s face. Tune out the influencers and close their books for a season. Rest in the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Truth) to lead you through God’s Word … not the teachings of men.

    1 Corinthians 2: 1 When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

    • Jason says

      Max,

      I am curious about your comments about marrying strangers in the land. Do you care to elaborate?

      As I have said elsewhere…I don’t think the problem here is “influencers” as much as it is disagreement over certain presuppositions and how to understand certain passage within the overall teachings of Scripture. I don’t think either side are slaves to paradigms or following men. I think those are convenient accusations, but not a real appraisal of the situation.

    • says

      Max, I understand what you’re saying, and I agree somewhat.

      But, whether you rest on Calvin’s thoughts or Reformed Traditions’ thoughts about the Word of God or your own thoughts about the Word of God, you’re still resting on human beings’ thoughts about the Word of God. Why trust your own opinion more?

      I agree that we shouldn’t let thoughts influence us, but you cannot help but let your own thoughts influence you. The goal should be to understand what the author intended when he wrote Scripture. What should be believed is what can be proven as the author’s original intent for writing the Scripture.

      There will be things we get wrong about the Word of God; this is why it’s so important that we test our theology in the local church and in Christian history; for, these Christians have/had the same Holy Spirit we do.

  26. says

    This will stir the pot a little. Richard Mueller at Calvin Theological Seminary argues that John Calvin was not a Calvinist: http://jaredmoore.exaltchrist.com/2011/04/06/was-john-calvin-a-calvinist-nope/.

    Mueller is an outstanding scholar. I have heard Dr. Shaun Wright disagree with what Mueller is arguing, but he didn’t go into detail (I took his class over the Reformation in my M.Div.). Is anyone familiar with Dr. Wright’s reasoning for arguing that Calvin indeed affirmed the T.U.L.I.P.?

    • volfan007 says

      I too have heard that Calvin was not really a Calvinist…but that the TULIP came from Beza….thus, many of the “Calvinists” of today might really be called “Bezanites.”

      lol

      • says

        Richard Muller also argues that none of us are true Calvinists:

        “I once met a minister who introduced himself to me as a “five-point Calvinist.” I later learned that, in addition to being a self-confessed five-point Calvinist, he was also an anti-paedobaptist who assumed that the church was a voluntary association of adult believers, that the sacraments were not means of grace but were merely “ordinances” of the church, that there was more than one covenant offering salvation in the time between the Fall and the eschaton, and that the church could expect a thousand-year reign on earth after Christ’s Second Coming but before the ultimate end of the world. He recognized no creeds or confessions of the church as binding in any way. I also found out that he regularly preached the “five points” in such a way as to indicate the difficulty of finding assurance of salvation: He often taught his congregation that they had to examine their repentance continually in order to determine whether they had exerted themselves enough in renouncing the world and in “accepting” Christ. This view of Christian life was totally in accord with his conception of the church as a visible, voluntary association of “born again” adults who had “a personal relationship with Jesus.”

        In retrospect, I recognize that I should not have been terribly surprised at the doctrinal context or at the practical application of the famous five points by this minister — although at the time I was astonished. After all, here was a person, proud to be a five-point Calvinist, whose doctrines would have been repudiated by Calvin. In fact, his doctrines would have gotten him tossed out of Geneva had he arrived there with his brand of “Calvinism” at any time during the late sixteenth or the seventeenth century. Perhaps more to the point, his beliefs stood outside of the theological limits presented by the great confessions of the Reformed churches—whether the Second Helvetic Confession of the Swiss Reformed church or the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism of the Dutch Reformed churches or the Westminster standards of the Presbyterian churches. He was, in short, an American evangelical.”‘

        http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/how-many-points/

      • Jason says

        That very well could be. One of my profs in seminary did his dissertation on Calvin’s teachings, and he disagrees with the “Calvin wasn’t a calvinist” viewpoint. Interesting discussion, for sure.

        But in the end…I would venture a guess that most people have never read a word of Calvin. Nor do they believe what they believe because Calvin does or does not teach it. Nor do they know who Beza is. I have always been amazed that some people think that if they can distance Calvin from the discussion that it’ll impact the discussion. All it does is remove one voice, not the beliefs, because those beliefs do not originate with him. (Not that you are doing that, david, just speaking in general terms about what I have seen from that argument.)

        As I have been saying, this is a textually-driven issue, not a system issue. People on both sides believe what they do because of scriptural teachings, not systems (for the most part, at least).

        • says

          Jason, when I took “The Reformation” at SBTS with Dr. Shaun Wright, an SBTS Alum stopped by during one of the lectures. He spoke up during the lecture on Calvin and tried to discredit Calvinism by arguing that Calvin murdered Servetus. Dr. Wright handled himself graciously.

      • Debbie Kaufman says

        Beza was the successor of Calvin David. Tulip did come after Calvin’s death but Tulip does not go against anything Calvin believed or taught.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      Jared: People have been trying to say this since the beginning of time, when Calvin died. I don’t buy it.

  27. Stuart says

    If the question is, “Why is it so appealing to ‘younger’ people in the ministry?”, then several factors must be considered.

    * The Conservative Resurgence
    * A renaissance of expositional preaching
    * The general cheesiness of evangelicalism-at-large for the last couple of decades.
    * The man-centeredness of much “evangelical” preaching and worship.
    * Calvinism’s Structure
    * Calvinism’s two-kingdom approach to world affairs.

    There are certainly others. We could argue all day about whether any of these should, in and of themselves, draw younger evangelicals towards Calvinism. But taken together, I don’t see how anyone could reasonably or honestly contend that these factors don’t or haven’t had a profound collective influence on younger evangelicals’ migration towards Reformation thought. One doesn’t have to be a five-pointer to see it.

  28. volfan007 says

    Stuart,

    Another factor is that it’s a thelogical fad…I mean, it hasnt really been very prominent, and even attacked somewhat thru the years of SBC life….young people like something “new” and against the “establishment.”

    I wish some historian would look thru the history of the Church and see how the pendelum has swung back and forth thru the ages….from non Calvinism to Calvinism…from hyper Calvinism to just purely preaching on the love of Jesus and evangelistic preaching….now, we’re going from just preaching on the love of Jesus and evangelistic preaching emphasis back to Calvinism….because it’s “new” and “against the establishment, the old guys” and it’s a fad that’s spreading thru famous personalities…..etc.

    David

    PS. I’m not trying to be mean, or condescending, and I’m not angry in any way. Also, I’m not saying that 5 pointers do not preach the Gospel, nor that they do not believe the Bible…I’m just expressing my opinion due to the subject of this post. Also, I’m not playing the victim, nor am I whining about anything…just merely sharing my thoughts on this matter.

    • says

      David, it doesn’t matter if you’re “trying” to be mean or condescending, you are being mean and condescending.

      Listen to my sermons and to the sermons of other Calvinists on here. I doubt that non-Calvinists preach more about the love of Jesus and are more evangelistic than I am.

      Read this article “John Calvin: The Missionary, Evangelist, and Soul-Winner”: http://jaredmoore.exaltchrist.com/2011/02/19/john-calvin-the-missionary-evangelist-and-soul-winner/; and let me know what you think.

      • volfan007 says

        Jared,

        Read again…I didnt say that Calvinists do not preach the love of Jesus. I didnt say that Calvinists do not preach evangelisitc messages. I said that those truths were emphasized not too long ago, in the Church, overall….to the neglect of the preaching on Hell, or predestination, or election, etc.

        I was not trying to imply that Calvinists do not preach on the love of Christ.

        • says

          David, you said, “now, we’re going from just preaching on the love of Jesus and evangelistic preaching emphasis back to Calvinism….because it’s “new” and “against the establishment, the old guys” and it’s a fad that’s spreading thru famous personalities…..etc.”

          Do you understand why I thought you were contrasting preaching the love of Jesus and evangelistic sermons over against Calvinism?

        • volfan007 says

          As a matter of fact, I used to hear a lot of the old timers in Churches….where I’ve preached…tell me that they hadnt heard such old fashioned preaching on sin, and Hell, and judgment, and predestination, and election, etc…..

          In a lot of churches…SBC and otherwise….in the not too long ago past….the pendelum went away from certain doctrines to others….it’s kind of like….the fad of the day went from preaching on election and predestination…to preaching almost exclusively on the love of God, in direct rebellion to the “establishment” that was, and maybe because it was something “new,” something they hadnt really heard that much about under the “old” preaching.

          But then, the fad was to just mainly preach on the love of God, and to preach a lot of evangelistic messages….so, now, the theological pendelum is swinging again…away from the over emphasis on the love of God and evangelistic preaching….to Calvinism…because, after all, it’s “new” and “different” and goes against what the “old guys” did.

          You can see this in life played out in all sorts of ways….teens and thier music, hairstyles, clothes, etc…..

    • Max says

      “But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him.” (1 Kings 12:8)

      • says

        Max, so, when present southern baptists disagree and go against the old men that founded SBTS, they’re taking counsel with young men?

        • Max says

          Unfortunately, not all old men have wisdom, nor young men discernment. I was young and now am old … and find myself praying for a new measure of wisdom and discernment as I survey the SBC landscape.

  29. James says

    I am still not convinced that the reformers would agree with the Southern Baptist Faith and Message. I see where the bible backs up much of what the reformers taught, but as for as their structure of the church, baptism, and the bible being correct, they are nowhere near the Southern Baptist Faith and Message. They reformed a church built not on straight Christian teaching but mingled it with the Pagan traditions, to appease man. Luther did not even want the book of James in the bible because it did not support his view. What I am seeing and I may be wrong is a redefining of what Baptist believe, based not on the bible but on opinions of it.

    • Jason says

      First, that is NOT what Luther believed.

      Second, the fact that the reformers wouldn’t agree with the BFM2000 is really neither here nor there.

      Third, the reformers did not mingle their beliefs with paganism. That is historically inaccurate, theologically ignorant, and quite libelous, to be frank.

      Fourth, perhaps your anabaptist views have caused you to believe these erroneous things. I don’t buy the history or system of that train of thought.

  30. Stuart says

    I don’t disagree that it could be, to an extent, a fad with some people. But even if it’s a fad, theres are deeper more complex reasons for it than you seem to be willing to concede. But, hey, even if it’s just “rebellion”, I’d rather the young people in my church rebel in that way, than how my peers and I did. :-)

  31. James says

    @Jason I said they reformed a church mingled with pagan views (the Catholics)

    And why would the SBFM not be relevant on an article about Southern Baptist preachers. And I was originally told the comment about Luther by someone who had studied to be a Lutherian priest.

    • Jason says

      Ohhhhh….gotcha. Man, I hate this form of communication.

      re: BFM2000 – it is not relevant because it is hard to hold people in a particular context (which you noted) 500 years ago to a document we made 11 years ago. It is an interesting discussion, and one I would love to examine. But I say it is “neither here not there” because their adherence or rejection of the document does not prove they were right or wrong or that we are right or wrong. Hope that makes sense.

      re: Luther – I would look into a little more if you are going to claim it as fact or cite it in an argument.

  32. James says

    @ Mark I just saw your guestion. Bishop and pastor are the same role, and that the elders and deacons are.for with in the local congregation, but a church that is obeying the Scripture will be planting other churches and some but limited support and oversight is needed at first for new churches.

    I agree with a seperation of church and state, but when we have a chance to vote we should vote based on the moral principles of Christianity. I have never understood the teaching of Solo Gratis, then passing laws that try to force people to act in a way that shows unrepentent behavior that will not be counted as rightousness

  33. James says

    Jason my point was.not to apply it to the reformers but how can what Baptist affirm today be relevant to putting reformed theology in Southern Baptist Churches, sorry if I did not make that clear. I also understand that since there is no Baptist denomination (no hiarchy) that beliefs will vary from church to church. But how can one call themselves a Southern Baptist, then accept a theologain who believed differently how a church was to be led?

    • Jason says

      Well, reformation theology, to some degree, is present in all protestant/non-catholic churches. We do not believe what we believe in a vacuum, we are following in a long line of believers. For some reason that point is conveniently cited and ignored as people need it or want to forget it.

      If the theology is right and is from scripture, then of course it is relevant to us. None of us believe precisely what all of our forefathers believed on everything. They did not need to address certain issues that we must face today, nor do we have to deal with certain heresies unaided, because they already dealt with them.

      As for baptist polity, there are a range of accepted beliefs within baptist polity. There is room for some disagreement.

      I would also hope that we are not arrogant enough to think that BFM is the end all/be all of theological statements. It is pretty basic.

  34. says

    The reason for the return of Sovereign Grace might simply be because prayer is being made for a Third Great Awakening. In fact prayer for a reviving, a renewing, an awakening has been going for more than 60 years. I have been seeking the Lord’s face for such a blessing, since 1973. Could that be why there are so many people who are showing an interest in the principles, practices, and precepts of grace? After all, calvinism was the theology of the First and Second Great Awakenings and of the launching of the Great Century of Missions. Thus, it follows that if we are to have another awakening, we must have the theology that produces such things. Even the Reformation was launched in the context of an Augustinian Monk named Luther who, in addition to nailing 95 thesis to a church door, wrote a work, The Bondage of The Will, which he considered his most important work. After him arises John Calvin who is noted for his theology of God’s Sovereignty. We must also add John Knox, Zwingl, Bucer, Latimer, and a host of others who will ring the bells of Sovereign Grace and change the face of Europe.

    But the return to the theology of our forefathers must take into account their advocacy of the right spirit in which to propagate Sovereign Grace. Listen to Luther Rice, the father of missions among Southern Baptists. He stated:
    “How absurd it is, therefore, to contend against
    the doctrine of election, or decrees, or divine sov-
    ereignty. Let us not, however, become bitter a-
    gainst those who view this matter in a different
    light, nor treat them in a supercilious manner; rath-
    er let us be gentle towards all men. For who has
    us to differ from what we once were? Who has re-
    moved the scales from our eyes? or who has dispo-
    sed us to embrace the truth?
    “Why are not we sunk in fatal error? Why not like
    alas! too many of our friends and relatives, replyiing
    against God, rejecting his mercy, desipising his truth,
    neglecting the Saviour, or stupidly unsolicitous about
    the welfare of our immortal souls! ‘Oh! to grace how
    great a debtor?’ Let us be humble, not only in view of
    past wickedness, but of daily sins, and short-comings
    of duty — and let us have pity on our fellow creatures;
    surely we cannot be indifferent to their awfully perilous
    situation — let us pray for them; and as opportunity of-
    fers, warn them of their danger, and plead with them by
    the pains and mercies of our dying, reigning Saviour, to
    come unto him that they may have life.”
    (Memoirs,1840, p.333)

  35. James says

    While I will admit to not knowing all the Anabaptist views it is the belief that there existed a church before and alongside the Catholics, before the reformation. And that this church exist today as well, and that it is not just limited to or includes those that say they are Baptist. But that it is a belief that believes in autonomous congregations, that the Holy Spirit reveals scripture, no imposed baptism, and that the teachings of the Apostles is sufficient.
    Yes reformation theology has influenced non Catholics, but not all non Catholics are Protestiants.
    We could both find documents that support our views and dispel the others on the reformation and Luther. So this will ne my last post. But while the SBFM is not all nor the final answer, it is what has been chosen, and affirmed by the Southern Baptist, and because it is basic does not mean irrelevant.

  36. Bill Mac says

    The bottom line is that young people are drawn to Calvinism for the same reason that older people are. Because they think it is true. The reason they teach and preach from a Calvinistic perspective is because they think it is true.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      Exactly Bill. I’m convinced of that fact and have been for many, many years.

  37. James says

    No we do not all believe we are following in a long line of believers, but I do. And others do as well truth does not need us to accept it or know it to be true. Yet Catholics and the reformers do not seem to believe that because until they define it in their terms to their understanding they do not acknowlede its existence. That is why so many will study theolgians more than the bible itself. If you were more familar with the opening statement of the BFM you would know that it is more than stating what needs to be shown as still being relevant today it defines what Southern Baptist believe the church is. It is not the complete or sole authority in scripture but it is what was meant to seperate Baptist from Protestants, we can both find and reject documents supporting our seperate views so this will be my last post on this topic and I give you the last word Jason. Have a blessed day.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      James: You have just said the very thing in your comment that is bogus. We believe the Bible 100%. It is where I believe my views come from. Yes, I read theologians as do you, or do you not go to church and listen to a sermon on Sunday from scripture? I do. So much for that argument.

  38. says

    I’m not a 5 point Calvinist partly because of the following verses.

    Who takes away the sin of the world! -John 1:29

    For God so loved the world… For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. -John 3:16-17.

    I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. -John 12:47.

    Christ died for the ungodly. -Romans 5:6.

    If One died for all, then all died; and He died for all…God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. -2 Corinthians 5:14-16, 19.

    Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. -1 Timothy 2:4.

    Who gave Himself a ransom for all. -1 Timothy 2:6

    Who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. -1 Timothy 4:10.

    [That Jesus] might taste death for everyone. -Hebrews 2:9.

    Not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. -2 Peter 3:9.

    He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. -1 John 2:2.

    I freely acknowledge there are many intelligent, godly Calvinists. I just do not agree with all 5 points of Calvinism.
    David R. Brumbelow

      • Dwight says

        I get that his comment could certainly come across as rude to a calvinist, (I myself am not comfortable to say I firmly land in that camp) maybe you could help him understand how calvinists believe in those verses by actually explaining it rather than giving a short snide remark (Something that you seem to be doing really often on here).
        Sorry if that came across as harsh, but if you have something to say make sure it adds to the discussion. Deal with the issue, David makes it sound like Calvinists can’t believe what they believe, and hold to these passages as well. Actually explain why his view is incorrect. Just because he may not be arguing very well, doesn’t give you an excuse to sink down to the same level. It is that kind of attitude that leads discussions like these down the tubes fast!

  39. James says

    @ Debbie as I stated already the teachings of others can be uplifting and biblically acurate, and my use of theologain was not directed at current pastors, but the writings of the reformers and others that are used to define the church alongside Scripture. And I will stand by one of my original comments of do we let a systematic theology insert itself onto scripture, or do we study the bible for truth and then test the theology against the scripture. And since we can all say the same word with a differnt intent implied and use different words for the same intent I will agree that much of how I phase things can be confusing weather or not you agree or disagree with me.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      I would contend that you were taught what you believe James.

      James: I have no idea what you just said.

  40. Lydia says

    “To be quite honest John, I am Calvinist and truly believe all the tenets to be true and Biblical. It’s why I believe them so strongly. I don’t believe there is any viable argument against any Calviist tenets. It’s why I believe them so strongly. To argue they are flawed is on my side of the spectrum, wrong, and an easy way to avoid having to deal with Calvinism in any meaningful way. So I would skip the whole no system is flawless argument because from my view, that just isn’t a good argument.”

    Debbie, you contradict this “all tenents” position above in the comments. Sacraments are part of Calvin’s belief system.

    ‘To argue they are flawed is on my side of the spectrum, wrong, and an easy way to avoid having to deal with Calvinism in any meaningful way’

    I am trying to make sense of this statement. If one thinks any part of Calvinism is flawed it means they want to avoid having to deal with Calvinism in any meaningful way?

    Wouldn’t that suggest they cannot think it is flawed to deal with it in a meaningful way? :o)

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      There is a Greek word for what you have said in your comment Lydia and again I won’t answer nonsense comments.

  41. James says

    Debbie actually as I studied Calvin, the modern church, and the bible I was confused because while I noticed some.things. supported by scripture I noticed that tradition was more dominate than biblical knowledge. I have allowed my beliefs to be transformed by Scripture not by any one preacher, theology, or church. But in the last year I have read several books and met several preachers who have let me know I am not alone in what I believed the bible teaches. From books by David Platt, Francis Chan, and watchman Nee, McArther, and Piper. One of my mentors is an evengelist who preaches at many Southern Baptist conferences and evangelism events, and he has said that many Christians follow their pastor or favorite theologain and give them the glory that is should be directed at God, and that is my concern as well. If we are Christians why call what we believe after another name. 1st Corinthians 1:10-17
    Think of me.as you will when God ask your opinion of.me then I will be concerned with it.

    • Jason says

      To be fair…I think the labels are not people “following their favorite leaders” but they are a form of theological shorthand to aid in discussion. We do that when we say someone is evangelical or baptist as well.

      Don’t fall for the “calvinists follow John Calvin” bit…it is inaccurate and a bad argument.

      As for your mentor’s statements, I would say that I am sure that is true for a few people, but I don’t think that is by any means a prevalent problem. I mean, is there a thin line between honoring and idolatry? Sure. But would you say you follow your mentor? Are you then guilty of the very thing you accused and the thing he is describing. You would say of course not, as would the people he is accusing. I don’t think anyone here is guilty of Paul’s statement to the Corinthians that you cited, nor do I think that is a big problem in this discussion. It is simply a clever diversion to the issue.

      • Lydia says

        ‘Don’t fall for the “calvinists follow John Calvin” bit…it is inaccurate and a bad argument’

        ooookkkkaaay….a bad argument? Seriously? Why not call it “Bobism”, then?

        They don’t teach logic anymore, do they?

        So, I can call myself a Platonist but you would be wrong to assume I follow the teachings of Plato? Or, how about I am a Randian but you would be wrong to assume I agree with all the tenets of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism?

        Do you see the problem? You are assuming something that average person not discussing this on blogs will not know. You call it “Calvinism” but anyone hearing that is NOT to assume you follow Calvin’s teachings. (You cannot follow him ’cause he is dead)

        The problem becomes worse when what belongs to Christ is attributed to someone else.

        • Jason says

          To be fair, I don’t call it “calvinism”. It is the theological shorthand that calls it “calvinism”. I don’t call myself or what I believe “calvinism”. In fact, most people that believe it do not for precisely the reason we are discussing.

          The only reason the term is used is because there is a history to it and it is a term that is known well, even if misunderstood by most who use the term.

          Sure there is confusion based on the fact that this term arose…but the unfortunate terminology does not necessarily denote that one is a follower of a man. Moreover, even if one agrees with Calvin on THIS issue, it does not mean that he agrees with him on every issue. In fact, I know of no one who agrees with him ob every issue…so technically there are ZERO calvinists.

          Unfortunately terminology, no doubt. But we can’t escape the usage of it…so the best we can do is explain and define terms the best we can. Since no one uses it to describe that they are following Calvin, it is unhelpful (and dishonest) to say that they are.

          • Lydia says

            ‘But we can’t escape the usage of it…so the best we can do is explain and define terms the best we can. Since no one uses it to describe that they are following Calvin, it is unhelpful (and dishonest) to say that they are.’

            That whole comment contains some serious hoops to jump through. If you cannot escape the usage of it then that is a good place to start with the problem of the terminology

            So, now it is not only unhelpful to think one who refers to the Gospel as “Calvinism”, but actually dishonest to think that person follows the tenents of Calvin.

            Okey dokey. Perhaps you could print up a rule book with definitions and hand it out so we are not dishonest on the topic. :o)

            An interesting question is “Why?’ can you not escape the usage of the word.

            What was the Gospel before Calvin defined it for us? Sometimes I think you guys believe Christianity really started in the 1500’s.

          • Jason says

            Lydia said: “So, now it is not only unhelpful to think one who refers to the Gospel as “Calvinism”, but actually dishonest to think that person follows the tenents of Calvin.”

            Not what I said.

            Lydia said: “What was the Gospel before Calvin defined it for us? Sometimes I think you guys believe Christianity really started in the 1500?s.”

            Not sure where in this entire discussion you would gather that I or someone else said or believed that.

          • Jason says

            Lydia said: “‘But we can’t escape the usage of it…so the best we can do is explain and define terms the best we can. Since no one uses it to describe that they are following Calvin, it is unhelpful (and dishonest) to say that they are.’

            That whole comment contains some serious hoops to jump through. If you cannot escape the usage of it then that is a good place to start with the problem of the terminology”

            I’ll try and explain it again for you. The term “calvinism” is a loaded one, I think we can all agree on that.
            Proponents cannot necessarily agree on what all is included (and/or implied) by the term.
            Opponents cannot seem to fairly and accurately represent the beliefs that are clear and agreed on.
            The you have the added problem that many accept the label “calvinist” but only in the sense that they are “calvinistic” in their beliefs or they redefine/clarify certain aspects of beliefs.

            Because of all of those factors, the label is a difficult one to put on people…and many people reject it. That is why there is so much confusion on the issue.

            All of that is simply descriptive…not sure how you can say that isn’t true. I am simply describing what the reality of the situation is with regard to this label.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            Lydia: Let’s start going down what you believe and I promise I’ll make up stuff about your belief system too. Okay? Deal? Good grief.

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          Lydia: It has been explained to you, it is an old argument, older than you are, so it’s not original with you. It’s been answered, I don’t mind the name Calvinist why should you?

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          Lydia: It has been explained to you, it is an old argument, older than you are, so it’s not original with you. It’s been answered, I don’t mind the name Calvinist why should you?

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      James: I too allowed my belief system to be defined by scripture and by several speakers. I took the notes studied them from scripture and formed my beliefs. Now that we have established that, the rest of your post I won’t even respond to because you are doing whatever you can to slander what I believe, and I won’t answer such nonsense and lies.

  42. James says

    I would say that I am seeing a difference here in how those affirming Calvin on this thread differ greatly from other discussions that I have had on other threads. Though I have tried not to judge anyone previous conversations have steered my comments. But this is a Southern Baptist site. And no one that I noticed who is claiming Calvanist beliefs is concerned for the difference in what Southern Baptist affirm to distenguish themselves from others. I visit multiple churches each month. And this mixture of theologies has led to churches full of people making all kinds of theological statements not based on an understanding of it, but because it sounds good to them. When a church is given confusing doctrines the confusion will come from.that church. If a pastor wants to preach and teach based on Calvin’s teachings, then let him find a church that already accepts that. How many young pastors have left a church with a hard heart, bitter toward the church because his preaching did not ignite the church into sudden growth and revival. I have heard from many people who are tired of preachers preaching sermons that require a seminary degree to understand because the pastor preaches from his education using terms for faith and God never found in the bible, more than straight scripture. And then be belittled and told if they had a desire for knowledge they would study extrabiblical writings and not be ignorant (that is not how it is said but that is how they recieve it). May yall all know the blessings the Lord has for you and I pray that you do the works he has prepared for you.

    • Jason says

      Again, these theological bugaboos get old. Who are these supposed guys going in to churches and telling them “study extra-biblical writings”? Those kind of accusations are easy to make, harder to prove, and probably not based on reality.

      I mean, you “heard” that happens. Is that like when you “heard” that Martin Luther didn’t believe that James should be in Scripture?

      I respect that you are concerned for the churches of the SBC. I am too. I don’t believe pastors should teach “systems”, they should teach the Word. Of course, a pastor’s beliefs will come out on certain passages. I want my people to trust Christ and His Word. Period. Not a system. But here’s the thing that some people don’t grasp. The phrase “what Southern Baptists affirm” is a difficult one to define. Isn’t it? The BFM2000 is broad and inside its pages one could teach several understandings of election and atonement and depravity. If you think that what those here teach who identify as “calvinistic” they are WELL WITHIN th boundaries of not only orthodoxy, but also the BFM. In fact, I think consistently they hold the BFM better than those who do not, but that may be a discussion for another day.

      The accusation that they are outside of those bounds and teaching things that are contrary to “what SB’s believe” is simply wrong. If you went to many SBC churches as you say, you’d recognize immediately the broad range of emphases and belief across the spectrum.

  43. James says

    Jason you have just proved to me that you do not know the difference between discernment and assuming, you assume what I have seen and witnessed is only what I have heard.

    • Jason says

      No need to get defensive and make personal attacks. I could possibly be mistaken, but that does not mean I don’t know the difference between discernment and assuming. That would be, well, as assumption on your part. A little ironic.

      Now, I didn’t assume anything. I responded to what you said. I never made any statements about everything you have seen, heard, or experienced. I only responded to what you posted.

      You said “I have heard from many people”…so I responded to that statement. Perhaps if you had further evidence you should cite it, all I can go by is what you posted. No assumption there…just responding to your words.

      Now, I could enter a cute comment about discernment or reading comprehension, but I will refrain for the sake of discussion. In this medium is difficult to communicate, and it is easy to be misunderstood. I will “assume” that is what happened here.

      All that said…I would love to see you respond to the actual point of my posts rather than focus on the minutiae of the post.

  44. says

    Well, when a calvinist makes a statement as did Debbie way above
    (“I don’t believe there is any viable argument against any Calviist tenets.”) does such leave any question about why any discussion is fruitless? If there is a discussion then the purpose of the same is only to convince the non-calvinist of his or her error.

    BTW, on the CR and calvinists: Name one SBC president in those contentious years who was a calvinist.

    • Jason says

      To be fair, most people on both sides are not very open to changing their minds on this issue. True?

      I mean, we believe something because we are convinced there is no viable alternative. So I would guess most people feel that way even if they don’t say it.

      But, yes, it is why discussion on this issue is so tough.

      As for your last statement…the fact that no Calvinist was SBC Pres (that I know of) doesn’t really mean a whole lot. What is your point? (BTW, wasn’t Criswell a calvinist?)

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      William: I wouldn’t believe what I believe if I thought there were any viable argument against Calvinist tenets. Are you saying that you believe there is a viable argument against what you believe to be Biblical and true? If the answer is yes, my next question would be,Then why do you still hold to it?

      • says

        When someone says there aren’t viable arguments against the major tenets of calvinism, I take that to mean that they have heard all that they need to hear, read all that they think they need to read, and know all that they need to know. Additional arguments and knowledge are unnecessary.

        Most of us understand that there are things that we haven’t heard or read, things that we don’t know, and things that we don’t know that we don’t know.

        So, what would the point be of discussing calvinism with such a person? No point that I can see. Such a one’s mind is made up and there is no possibility of dialogue.

        As to your question to me on settled truth, sure, I don’t see a viable argument against the major points of Christian doctrine (deity of Christ, trinity, etc) because departing from those is to depart from Christian orthodoxy. But that isn’t what you meant when you said, “I don’t believe there is any viable argument against any Calviist tenets” is it?

        This reminds me of the calvinist pastor who was intent on correcting ‘heresy’ in his congregation. Seems they weren’t sufficiently calvinistic. They were Christians, just not calvinist Christians. He was a short termer.

        • Chief Katie says

          William,

          It surely seems to me that it is you who have decided what ALL Calvinists believe, read, and accept as truth. If that’s accurate, then that is your issue, not ours, and for the fourth time, not mine.

          My experiences are mine. They are not yours. If you find some hidden agenda in what I have said, again, that is your issue, not mine.

          I’m content and at peace with what I believe. I don’t think that others need to feel that I am more or less spiritual than they are. Hopefully we are all seeking to improve our relationship with the Savior. I’m quite sure that others want the very same thing. I’m very willing to respect their journey.

          Lastly, William, I’m a teacher and it’s really perfectly acceptable to not turn everything into a battle and it’s also just as acceptable not to turn every idea in the universe into a lesson on ‘compare and contrast’. Being a reformed believer doesn’t mean I hold any disdain for those who are not and it absolutely doesn’t mean that I feel superior or smug about what I believe.

          Let it go William. Being continuously suspicious about the motives of others, gets old and closes the mind to what others really believe.

          God Bless………………

          • says

            We’re missing each other here. I haven’t argued the tenets of calvinism. I have reacted to Debbie who said she knew of no viable arguments against calvinism and to your statement on coming to calvinism.

            Yeah, it was your experience. That’s my point. I haven’t argued for or against it. I have asked what that leaves for sub-calvinists who haven’t had a redwood forest meeting where God spoke?

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      BTW William, Al Mohler would have been a Calvinist who was President of the SBC I had no doubt, or would have come close 4 or so years ago but he became very ill at the time, was hospitalized, and said he would not consider it.

      And it could be a problem that a Calvinist hasn’t been President, but it doesn’t bother me. I’ve been happy with our direction in the past few years. Slow but sure, as long as Christ is at the center it doesn’t matter to me if a Calvinist or non-Calvinist is SBC President.

      • Jason says

        It also shows a bit about the perspectives of the 2 camps.

        The calvinists are ok with non-calvinist leaders.

        The non-calvinists are not ok with calvinist leaders.

        Moreover, the calvinists (on the whole) have been very supportive of those leaders (mostly non-calvinists) who have been in charge and have not tried to “take over” the SBC as some have said they want to do. It seems they are willing to co-exist and cooperate within the SBC. But there are some who try and kick them out and definitely don’t want them in leadership. Some are even so petty that they give CP money around institutions led by calvinists or even those friendly with it. (Side note: isn’t that REALLY anti-CP? I think so.)

        The whole situation tells me a lot about the 2 camps.

        Of course there are jerkish comments from both camps on websites (I expect it on there). But the mean-spirited behavior I have seen in the SBC seems to be coming only from one side.

        • says

          What it shows, Jason, is that there weren’t any SBC leaders in the contentious years of the CR who were calvinists. Non-calvinists, strident non-calvinists, were responsible for the CR.

          Debbie, I’m talking about the years when there were contested SBC presidential elections. Rogers, Smith, Draper, Stanley, Young, etc. Find a calvinist among them.

          • Jason says

            Williams said: “Non-calvinists, strident non-calvinists, were responsible for the CR.”

            Certainly you are nit making the argument that only the people who were SBC Pres. were “responsible for the CR”, right? That is not how it went down. The people responsible for the CR were all the messengers from churches big and small, among whom were every calvinist in the SBC. There were NO calvinists opposed to the CR. None. Not a one. There were many “strident non-calvinists” against the CR. True?

            Now, if your point is ONLY that there were no calvinist SBC Pres. Then, fine, that appears to be true. But that is really neither here nor there, is it? There could be many reasons for that. Maybe the good ol’ boy club didn’t allow calvinists in, thus they couldn’t be Pres.

            But you CANNOT draw the conclusion that calvinists were not, in part, responsible for the CR. All of the calvinists in the SBC were on the side of the CR.

            Moreover, the CR is, to some degree, responsible for many calvinists popping up. There are more calvinists in the SBC now, because of the CR. Conservative theology and inerrancy are breeding grounds for calvinism; liberal theology does not produce calvinists, so of course there were fewer calvinists when the SBC seminaries were more liberal.

            That brings me to the final observation that guys like Mohler (and others) had a large role in the CR, even if it was later on. If Mohler hadn’t been at SBTS, there is no telling where it, and other seminaries, would be.

            I don’t think not having a calvinist SBC Pres really says much about the debate at all. So, I’m not sure where you are going with it.

            I asked this last time, but wasn’t Criswell a calvinist? I believe I read that somewhere.

          • Frank L. says

            William,

            I could have missed something, but I don’t recall the word, “Calvinist” coming up even one time in regard to the CR. And, Dr. Patterson is anything but a “strident non-Calvinist.”

            In my understanding, this just was not the key issue. Other issues like, were Adam and Eve real people, seemed to be at issue.

            To now make the CR a fight between Calvinists and non-Calvinists seems to be a great stretch.

            The reason you see so few “Calvinists” among the leadership of the Convention does prove something, but not in regard to the CR, in my opinion.

        • Jason says

          Here are the main points from my previous post (7/17, 2:13 am), William. I’d love to see your responses…or anyone else’s.

          What the CR showed, and what the resulting years have shown:
          1. The calvinists are ok with non-calvinist leaders.
          2. The non-calvinists are not ok with calvinist leaders.
          3. The calvinists (on the whole) have been very supportive of those leaders (mostly non-calvinists) who have been in charge and have not tried to “take over” the SBC as some have said they want to do. It seems they are willing to co-exist and cooperate within the SBC.
          4. There are some non-calvinists who want to kick calvinists out and definitely don’t want them in leadership.
          5. Some non-calvinists are even so petty that they give CP money around institutions led by calvinists or even those friendly with it. (Side note: isn’t that REALLY anti-CP? I think so.)
          6. The mean-spirited behavior I have seen in the SBC (real life, not the internet) seems to be coming only from one side – since only one side is trying to rid the SBC of the other.

          • says

            1. OK
            2. Sez who? I would have voted in a heartbeat for Mohler. I disagree.
            3. No argument with you here.
            4. True.
            5. True. Your characterization is “petty.” The consider it deliberate and serious. Cheap shot.
            6. I don’t know mean spirited calvinists. I haven’t seen mean spirited non-calvinists here. I have seen, often, insufferable calvinists and my list of quotes way, way above is an example of that.

          • Jason says

            William, thanks for responding. I like interacting with you.

            re: #2 – I had 2 things in mind. One, it was a follow-up to #1. Calvinists have been voting for non-calvinists for years and not making a big deal about it. Two, we all know there are some who refuse to let calvinists take part in the reindeer games of the SBC. When Mark Dever was up for VP, I overheard many saying they would never vote for him precisely because of that issue. The blogs were all “atwitter” (pardon the pun, it was before twitter) when Mohler was rumored to run for Pres. Now that there are some calvinists (or at least, calvinist friendly) guys in leadership – people are getting upset. (See #5) Again, many a blogger is against the “direction of the SBC” and one of the cited reasons is this right here.

            My point was that one side seems ok to cooperate, one side does not. (That was #3 and #4)

            re: #5 – Yes, I perceive it as “petty”. I don’t see any calvinists (a) bypassing institutions run by non-calvinists, or (b) making a big deal of it by publicly announcing it. Maybe it was “b” that made it come off as petty. It is one thing to make a convictional decision. It’s another thing to draw attention to it.

            re: #6 – The internet is full of all sorts of insufferable people of all beliefs and denominations. That is why I tried to focus my comments on those not-internet-central, until this reply. I had association meetings and the like in mind. I had state convention exec directors sending out memos and CDs in mind. I had SBC convention and pastors conf messages in mind.

          • Jason says

            William,

            I just read your blog post on Abilene BC “de-funding” SBTS and SEBTS. Your comments in the comment stream were helpful, IMO.

            I guess my problem with it is publicizing it and making a big deal about it. Of course they are free to do as they please. I don’t think this issue is one to divide the convention or withhold money over…so to make this the issue SEEMS petty to me. Though I am sure to them it is not. But to publicize their decision is a bit much.

            I hope you can see where I am coming from on this one.

  45. James says

    . Therefore I will not have him in my Bible to be numbered among the true chief books, though I would not thereby prevent anyone from including or extolling him as he pleases, for there are otherwise many good sayings in him. One man is no man in worldly things; how then, should this single man alone avail against Paul and all Scripture.
    That is from the preface of Luther’s bible.in reference to the book of James.

    What I have heard people say is they are tired of preachers who preach educated sermons based on extrabiblical words and I have heard this first hand from many different people phrased severl different ways. I was not implying it was a rumor. It is first hand observation as I listen and council with people trying to get them involved with a local congregation. And it seems you as many find it easier to dismiss it than take it to heart and see the compassion they seek. I beieve the bible to be the revelation of the Perfect God to us through the lives of imperfect people. What do you beleive the bible is Jason

    • Jason says

      Yes, Luther had issues with the book of James, but he never said it was not part of Scripture, which is what you accused him of saying. He also spent great time dealing with the text, precisely because it was scripture. You have to look at the body of work, and the reasoning of his arguments. These anachronistic arguments are usually fruitless. Again, like Calvin, even if you took out Luther from the equation…no one is basing their beliefs on Luther. He is simply one voice.

      Great, people are tired of sermons based on extrabiblical words. Me too. I hate seeing sermons based on movies and on books by Rick Warren. So, we are on the same team here. I am not dismissing that…I want people to preach Scripture. Period. Nothing else.

      I just don’t see a whole lot of calvinists doing that. If you do, please cite some examples. I will join you in calling them to stop.

      • Jason says

        To be clear, I don’t see a lot of calvinists basing sermons on “extrabiblical words”.

        If you want to be critical of modern preaching in general, I am with you. Heck, at the SBC you will get “amens” from everyone there about expository preaching, but I would bet the vast majority couldn’t exegete their way out of a wet paper bag. They may read a verse at the beginning of the sermon, but they quickly go to their own stories and illustrations rather than preach/teach the text.

        Moreover, OT preaching is virtually non-existent, and when it is existent it is pitiful, moralistic nonsense, devoid of Christ as the focus.

        So, you have a friend on the “preach the Bible” party.

  46. John Wylie says

    Actually I’ve heard that Luther disliked the epistle of James several times over the years. He believed that it belonged in a category referred to as the Antilegomena which included Hebrews, James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Revelation, and that these books were not as reliable as the other books of the Bible.

    In his preface to the letter of James he said this “In a word, he (James) wanted to guard against those who relied on faith without works, but was unequal to the task in spirit, thought, and words. He mangles the Scriptures and thereby opposes Paul and all Scripture. 5 He tries to accomplish by harping on the law what the apostles accomplish by stimulating people to love.” The rest of this paragraph is posted above in James’ quote.

    • John Wylie says

      Luther actually stated that James taught contrary to Paul. The Antilegomena was a list of “disputed” books. And Luther in his preface clearly set James against Paul and the other scriptures.

    • Jason says

      Yep, he didn’t like it. But you have to remember his context. He was struggling to figure how it’s teachings were connected with “justification by faith” that he was seeing in the other epistles.

      No one disputes those points. He was off in his estimation of this book. No question.

  47. James says

    Neither one of us knows the mind of Luther and his writings on James Jude and revelations seemed to have evovled over time. I see both sides of the argument mine and yours on Luther, as for as Calvin goes we would probably agree on more than we disagree, and I will not name names some are preachers I have great respect for and it would be to no ones advantage have A blessed evening Jason I really need to quit. I am about to get scolded I believe for getting into another online debate.

  48. says

    Reply to Brother Brumbelow (#169) regarding kosmos (world), especially in I Jn.2:2: Too bad you have never read Frank Beck’s (Successor to Dr. A.J. Gordon at his church in Boston) little tract on the Five Points of Calvinism which follows the TULIP outline. On I Jn.2:2 Rev. Beck pointed out that the same phrase, “the whole world,” is used in I Jn.5:19, where it is very obvious that the whole world does not mean everyone without exception: “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness (or the wicked one).” There lie means to lie passively under the wicked one’s control, but John is surely excepting himself and the other true believers, “We know that we are of God.” The word “world” often has a qualifiers. Also the idea of particular redemption can serve to invite even someone who is seemingly excluded as in the case of the Canaanite woman in Mt. 15, where Jesus said, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

    She was not a Jew, not a sheep of the house of Israel, and yet her response was one of worship. Then our Lord goes further and raises the issue of Total depravity and even reprobation, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” Her response to that really tough presentation (though it was ameliorated by the use of the diminutive for dogs (little dogs). You will note that she agrees with our Lord’s term for her, “Truth, Lord, but even the little dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their little masters’ table.” The nearest parallel that I can identify in life for describing the phenomenon of presenting opposite precepts is what is called in some forms of counseling, the therapeutic paradox. It is somewhat like what Doctor Viktor Frankl in Logotherapy prescribed for a medical doctor who came to him with a problem of profuse perspiration which the latter suffered, when he got into a meeting with other medical doctors. Dr. Frankl asked him how much he perspired. I do not remember how much he said, but Dr. Frankl prescribed that he perspire a pint or a quart, a large amount that far surpassed what the medical doctor perspired (we would say sweated) in his encounters with other M.Ds. Somehow or other, a therapeutic paradox restores a sense of responsibility and control over what seems and perhaps is involuntary.

    It is true that the Sovereign Grace approach has been noted in history for its use of paradoxes. I have a book published by Southern Baptists, dated in 1859, bearing the title, Christian Paradoxes. The paradox of God calling a wretched, miserable sinner to be His child and servant makes for a great sense of humility…a fact that is brought out in an admirable sense by the most popular of Christian hymns, Amazing Grace:”Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”

    A Third Great Awakening will surely bring into play a tremendous sense of humility, one mocked by one of the characters in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield (if memory serves correctly), “I am so very humble, etc.” I would exhort all who read this blog to begin to pray daily for a great awakening, a heavenly visitation, that shall reach every soul on earth, beginning with this generation and continuing for a 1000 generations, pleading the nearly 100 promises recorded by Jonathan Edwards in his Humble Attempt which were pleaded by William Carey, Andrew Fuller, Luther Rice, and others in the launching of the Great Century of Missions and in the visitation of the Second Great Awakening.

  49. Debbie Kaufman says

    You know James, Lydia, David etc. Given enough space and time, actually little time, I could take what you believe and show you error after error from scripture, but I choose not to do that. Why? Because I respect that you view things differently and I would guarantee you that I would take your beliefs and represent them properly.

    Calvinists can’t deal with Calvinism properly because you all won’t let us. We are so busy dealing with misconceptions, who can deal with anything else? Now, if you want to have a meaningful, you listen, we listen discussion, fine. Then deal with Calvinism fairly using truth and not Snopes type garbage that you heard, or you think. The arguments that you have given are as old as scripture is which is why I believe Paul said what he did in his writings. So you are not being too original in your arguments. I will be happy to share what i believe although you can look on monergism, listen to any number of sermons from Calvnist Baptist preachers, or read Piper, Spurgeon, Calvin himself , Luther on justification by faith etc. There is a ton of information out there and we can deal with honest questions. I can’t deal with this rubbish which is why there is a divide that shouldn’t be there. I won’t deal with nonsense.

    I also don’t buy that ministers go into non-Calvinist churches and try and change them. I have seen no plausible evidence this happens. Until you can provide concrete written proof, I don’t or won’t hear it.

    • John Wylie says

      It happens all the time Debbie. My brother attended a church where this happened. It was called Victory Baptist Church but today it’s called Victory Reformed Baptist Church.

      I’ll surprise you though, I love Dr. Mohler and would have no problem at all with him being SBC president. I don’t hate Calvinists, I’ve had a calvinists in my pulpit many times. I just don’t think they have a lock shut case.

      But I would ask you this, why do you insist that Calvinism has no flaws, when calvinists can’t even agree on what calvinism believes?

    • says

      Debbie, your experience is limited on calvinist ministers going into non-Calvinist churches and trying and change them. If you don’t “buy” that because you have seen no plausible evidence, well, is the problem lack of evidence or you just haven’t seen it? Even Tom Ascol has written adivce to young, eager calvinists about going into a church and straightening all the sub-calvinists out.

      • Lydia says

        Part of the problem with today’s Calvinism is that Calvin would not recognize it. :o)

        • Jason says

          That’s absurd. These beliefs did not originate with Calvin and his endorsement of them is not necessary.

          That kind of statement shows a misunderstanding of the issues under discussion.

          • John Wylie says

            I don’t think that the problem is misunderstanding, misconceptions, or misrepresentations. The fact is that calvinists don’t even agree with each other on the finer points of their doctrine. So when a non calvinist represents what he/she understands about calvinism, he/she gets accused of purposely misrepresenting or else not properly understanding calvinism.

            Let me give you an example, last summer a wonderful family in my church lost their 2 and half year old babygirl to an accident. I had at least one of my reformed baptist friends tell me that since she had not lived long enough to have come to faith it was an indication that she was nonelect. Since then I have had a few other of my calvinist friends indicate that at least some babies who die are nonelect. And then others tell me that all babies are elect. My point is that, when I talked about this on my blog I got accused of purposely misrepresenting calvinism when I had not.

          • Jason says

            No, John…there are some aspects that all calvinists agree on. It is those areas where people still continually misrepresent. Calvinists only really disagree on the extent of the atonement, and most of that is nuance, not real disagreement. But yet I see misrepresentations on the history of the belief, depravity, and election as well.

            The areas that calvinists debate each other do not explain the constant misrepresentation. Nor does it explain historic misrepresentation or fallacious arguments, like the one by Lydia.

            Your example would only be an example of misrepresenting calvinists if you tried to paint a picture that all calvinists agree on that issue and that there was one position that all calvinists hold. If you said there was one view, then you misrepresented them. If you did not accurately represent the multiple views, then you misrepresented them.

            There are many ways to misrepresent a position…or positions. That should be obvious.

          • Lydia says

            ‘That’s absurd. These beliefs did not originate with Calvin and his endorsement of them is not necessary”

            Jason, I hate to point out the obvious but it is called “Calvinism” for a reason whether they originated with him or not.

          • Jason says

            Lydia, That has been discussed. It is theological shorthand…and most so-called “calvinists” don’t call themselves that.

            Calvin’s beliefs are inconsequential to the issue. Deal with the beliefs, not the personalities. (Besides all that, your point isn’t even true. But that is really neither here nor there in the discussion.)

    • Dwight says

      As a pastor Debbie I have actually seen this happen multiple times. Does it happen everywhere? Highly unlikely. However, it does happen. Saying you have never seen it does not prove it to be incorrect. As a side note, all the times I have seen this happen generally ends up in a nasty church split which is very sad to me.

  50. Louis says

    And being a Calvinist also improves one’s IQ by 20 points!

    None of the things listed in the points in this post is distinctly related to Calvinism. Many of them could be said by other movements/theological systems, when rightly believed and practiced properly.

    A post could be written about the wonderful benefits of Calvinism and the various theological advantages of that system, but to do so, one would have to focus on the actual distinct points of Calvinism.

    These points are basically along the lines of this type of argument – “Because I became more interested in reading theology after I started reading Reformed theologians, it would be like saying – Calvinism makes people better readers.”

  51. Louis says

    I have a strong bent toward Reformed theology.

    Having said that, I have absolutely no desire to call myself a “Calvinist.”

    The only name, in my opinion, that we should want to be known by is Jesus. I will happily call myself a Christian.

    I have no problem describing to people what I believe, but I don’t think it is good form for a Christian to be known by any other person’s name.

    One of the things about the some in the modern Reformed movement (I find this very little in Baptist Circles by the way, but it is there), is the urge for people to embrace the name “Calvinist” or “Reformed.” That, to me, signals, from the get go, a tendency toward a small club that is going to descend in to arguments about who is more Calvinistic or true to the Reformed heritage. That can lead to being more concerned about Reformed heritage and consensus than to being opened to constantly examining any theological system and find that it needs improvement to be consistent with Jesus.

    Also, I think it is a loser from a point of persuasion, and possible obscures Christ himself, to be advocating for an individual who lived centuries after Christ and died centuries ago.

    Calvin had some pretty big warts and problems, despite his brilliance. That is true of all the Reformers, and that is why their faith is not practiced the same way today as it was when they lived.

    I think it is a mistake for the church to get caught up, or even appear to get caught up in, trying to maintain public fidelity to a particular historical period or formulation.

    Again, I agree with Reformed principles primarily, but I would rather advocate for the Bible and the principles and truths it states, that happen to be ones that Calvin and other Reformers recovered after many were lost for so many years.

    But advocating for the Bible and what it teaches as a Christian is what I believe we are supposed to do – not advocate for John Calvin and Calvinism or even Reformed Theology.

    • says

      But advocating for the Bible and what it teaches as a Christian is what I believe we are supposed to do – not advocate for John Calvin and Calvinism or even Reformed Theology.

      Bravo. I would add to that that the doctrines of grace/five points/whatever a person wants to call them are not salvific. Therefore, if someone does not hold to them that does not mean that have not believed the gospel. It would be my opinion that they’re wrong but it’s not as if they’ve shipwrecked their soul or, more importantly, that they’ve leading those that they share Christ with astray. I could cooperate with a non-calvinist any day of the week and twice on Sunday. =)

  52. Jason says

    Louis wrote: “I have absolutely no desire to call myself a “Calvinist.”

    The only name, in my opinion, that we should want to be known by is Jesus. I will happily call myself a Christian.

    I have no problem describing to people what I believe, but I don’t think it is good form for a Christian to be known by any other person’s name.”

    Totally agree. I don’t know many so-called calvinists who call themselves calvinists.

    It’s because of that, that I don’t see many trying to get people to embrace that title. the term has been so used and abused, you have to carefully define it before you can agree to it. There are some depictions of the beliefs that have been so distorted by non-calvinists that it is nothing close to what I believe.

    I eschew labels the best I can. I think most others do as well. The use of it on blogs and online discussions is usually just theological shorthand, like saying “I’m a Baptist”, that doesn’t explain it all, but it’s a starting point in the discussion.

    Again, no one is advocating John Calvin. That sort of thing is silly. No one does that. He was a brilliant, but flawed, individual…like so many before and after him in church history. There are no such things as “followers of Calvin”. I would think that would be obvious, but it is a typical attack on calvinism. I believed what I believe long before I read anything by John Calvin. I think 99.9% of “calvinists” want to advocate the Gospel and the Word of God, not system…and 99.999999999999999999% don’t advocate John Calvin.

    • Frank L. says

      I agree, the only titles we should bear are biblical ones, like “Baptist,” as in John the Baptist.

  53. James says

    I am a preacher not a pastor but what I have found is when people associate someone with the pulpit they will often take what that person says as a direct message from God to them. Any person quoted as positive they accept as everything from them as good, (these are the same people who expect their pastor never sins). Most people in most churches I attend seem to have very little knowledge of the bible and even less on extrabiblical theological terms. That is why I stress using scripture to support scripture, so that when they do read the bible they see what has been preached to them. The overuse of theological terms and statements confuses people which leads to people being confused by what and how God works in the lives of His people these are many of the people who will leave your church. But they will have a testimony in your community “I tried the church thing and God thing and it didn’t do anything for me”. This is not just a SB proplem it is in many churches. But when someone does commit to studying more seeking knowledge and they go to the theologains you quote are they going to be taught and have reaffirmed what your church is teaching. Nothing against Calvin or any of the reformers but they believed in a union between church and state that forced people to act like Christians that were unrepentant sinners. They accepted infant baptism, they believed they had the right to decide what part of the bible we use today was Devine and some from man only, they believed in religous wars to force their belief system. Are these Baptist beliefs, are these biblical beliefs? People who don’t find word for word in the bible what they learn in church are those that become targets for Mormons, and Jehovah liars (oops witnesses) they take their distortions of scripture to explain away theological terms not found in the bible. Everything I just said comes from firsthand expierance, so if you have never seen it it does not mean it does not exist. I am sure everyone huas seen and knows things I don’t know, even things I don’t believe get proven true.
    It is not wrong and can be helpful when preaching to use quotes from others but remember your congregation looks at that pulpit as the voice of God. And not all have the ability to seperate what is biblical and what isn’t in the lives of those we quote.

  54. says

    There were advocates of Sovereign Grace before John Calvin ever came on the scene. Before him, they called that system of theology, Augustinian, and before Augustine, Paulinism. I found a case in, I think it was Foxe’s Acts and Monuments (6-8 volumes behind the Book of Martyrs,,,these volumes were 800-1500 pages thick, if memory serves since the 1960s when I looked at them at the Univ. of Mo.’s library in Columbia, Mo.), where a person was burned at the stake for believing that Free Will and Popery came from the universities..clearly implying that predestination was that individual’s viewpoint….and this was some years before Calvin was converted,…It might have been even before he was born..Them Lollard folks were given to real commitments to their underdstanding of the Bible. I read where one carried the wafer home in his mouth and fed it to the rats out of contempt for the doctrine of transubstantiation. I think he became toast for that. The Inquisitors could be very harsh, and they were persistent.

  55. Frank L. says

    This past Sunday evening I preached a message entitled, “Great Expectations.” I obviously stole that from Dickens, but I also used William Carey’s sermon idea from his Deathless sermon: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

    Carey’s life (Father of Modern Missions) certainly throws a wrench in any discussion of “Calvinism” as calvinism is generally caricatured. Carey, a Particular Baptist was the Father of Modern Missions.

    Makes you wonder . . .

  56. James says

    I do believe there is a distinct difference in the leval of acceptance to Calvin and other reformers among those raised with Baptist and similar beliefs.Compared to the denominations with more direct ties to the “Reformation of the Catholic Church”.

  57. Lydia says

    “The fact is that calvinists don’t even agree with each other on the finer points of their doctrine. So when a non calvinist represents what he/she understands about calvinism, he/she gets accused of purposely misrepresenting or else not properly understanding calvinism.g”

    Exactly. I find it as frustrating as I did talking with Emergents. I was supposed to know ‘their brand’ of Christianity and because I did not (because they were so many nuances), then it became: You did not understand, if you understoood it, you would agree sort of thing. After all, it was all right there in the bible. :o)

    • Jason says

      Well, maybe it would help if you simply asked them what they believed, and then responded to THAT. It’s really not a hard concept to grasp.

      • Lydia says

        Jason, Ask a “Calvinist” what they believe? So, the “Calvinism” moniker does not explain it? See my point? Perhaps, not. :o)

        • Jason says

          No, ask an individual what they believe. Since most of theology is nuanced, that is usually a helpful tactic so you don’t assume a person’s beliefs.

          If someone tells me they are “baptist”, it gives me a general starting to place to work from…but it doesn’t tell me everything about what they believe about ecclesiology or soteriology or anything else.

          That’s all I meant.

          Many people, including me, do not claim the term “calvinist”. But for the sake of discussion, as a starting point, I do. But if you wanted to know specifics of what I believe (or anyone believes) you might know the general idea, but you would need to ask to get specifics. Everyone is like that. I was just saying you can’t assume too much, because labels aren’t simple or thorough.

          • John Wylie says

            Okay Jason, I’m interested, what are your beliefs? I know this is a complicated question and one that is time consuming so maybe we could deal with them one at a time using the TULIP if that’s ok.

            What are your beliefs on total depravity? I know it’s late but maybe we could discuss this over the next few days?

          • Jason says

            No, you are not interested.

            But since I know what you are trying to do…you just don’t seem to get what I’m saying. If this was an honest conversation, I may say something along the lines of: I agree with the calvinistic teaching of total depravity (pretty common understanding), and if I had any areas where I might define it a little different, I would then mention it.

            I find it a little ironic that people who want to accuse calvinists of being dictated by their system will at the same time accuse them of not being dictated by their system enough and having differing areas of focus within their soteriological beliefs.

            (It’s also funny how easily you guys walked into proving that point for me.)

          • Lydia says

            ‘Many people, including me, do not claim the term “calvinist”. But for the sake of discussion, as a starting point, I do. But if you wanted to know specifics of what I believe (or anyone believes) you might know the general idea, but you would need to ask to get specifics. Everyone is like that. I was just saying you can’t assume too much, because labels aren’t simple or thorough.”

            The “general” idea of Calvinism for most people, not from seminary background,s might be that you affirm the sacral system like Calvin did.

            Fifteen years ago, I would have thought you were a Presbyterian if you said you were a Calvinist . :o)

            If I say I am “SBC” they might think of that guy on CNN…that lobbyist for the 16 million. :o)

          • Jason says

            Exactly my point, Lydia. Perhaps we weren’t far off, just talking past each other a bit.

  58. Lydia says

    ‘I find it a little ironic that people who want to accuse calvinists of being dictated by their system will at the same time accuse them of not being dictated by their system enough and having differing areas of focus within their soteriological beliefs.’

    Which Calvin are we talking about now? :o)

    ‘(It’s also funny how easily you guys walked into proving that point for me.)’

    I was only having a senior moment, Jason. :o)

  59. Lydia says

    Jason, Just having a bit of mirth over ‘The Calvin’ we must pick and choose from. The Calvin smorgasbord.

    John Wylie wants to have a sincere discussion with you and I promise to stay out of it.

    • Jason says

      Lydia, not really a smorgasboard…but there is not homogenous agreement on EVERY aspect of EVERY point. There isn’t a wide variation, but you can’t assume anything about anyone.

      I’m not being evasive to you…I am just trying to illustrate the point that everyone had particulars that they focus on. Usually there is pretty strong agreement on the points, but the way they are taught and nuanced may be a little different person to person. People vary in how they define election (double predestination?) and even in their explanations of effectual call and ordo salutis. Obviously people nuance their explanations of the atonement.

      That was my initial point…to get the nuances you have to ask, not assume…because people emphasize different aspects of these points because they are driven by the text, not the system. That’s what I was trying to say in the beginning.

      • John Wylie says

        Jason,

        Yes I was really interested. You have said repeatedly that the views of sovereign grace people are either misunderstood or misrepresented so I want to know what your views. If you don’t wish to enter into that conversation that’s cool. I was just wanting ascertain what you believe on each of the points and then express my views. Anyhow no big deal.

        BTW I never said that all people were just slaves to a system, all Ive been saying about that is that every system including calvinism is flawed. But I will say that there is a lady on this comment thread that has demonstrated time and time again that she’s absolutely convinced calvinism is a flawless system. My point has always been that we all have finer points of doctrine that need to be corrected, myself included, none of us have all the loose ends tied up.

        • John Wylie says

          And Jason,

          Please don’t accuse me of dishonesty. I wanted to alleviate the problem of misrepresentations and misunderstandings, that was my motive. Because quite frankly this conversation is fruitless if all we do is question people’s honesty and accuse people of misrepresentation but never clarify those areas where we feel we were misrepresented.

          • Jason says

            I apologize, John. I thought that was simply a rhetorical tool. It is quite hard to judge the tone of posts in this medium. I apologize.

            To be fair to the discussion, I did not say that everyone misrepresents the views, nor did I say that all of the views are misrepresented, nor did I feel that I was misrepresented.

            I was making an observation about people assuming what others believe without specifically asking them. It is when conversations go down like this: “You are a calvinist…so you don’t believe human beings make a free choice.” or “You are a Calvinist…you don’t believe God loves everyone.”

            It was those types of accusations and misrepresentations that damage the discussion. Of course the vast majority of calvinist belief is the same, but people define it differently.

            My whole point was don’t assume what someone believes. Ask them. Sure, calvinists probably have a pretty similar understanding of most things…but the finer points and the extent to which they take some things very greatly.

            It is precisely because you are right that every system is flawed that we tweak the areas that we see flawed. That is why everyone you meet has just a little different take and a little different emphasis (calvinst and non-calvinist alike). Since we are not slaves to a system, we differ. Thus calvinism is non-homogenous, in that sense.

            John, I appreciate your interest in my beliefs. Thanks for asking…and thanks for demonstrating how the conversation should go. That said, I don’t think you or I have the time to discuss this issue point by point, do we? Especially on this site. But I appreciate the gesture.

          • John Wylie says

            Thank you Jason. I accept your apology and offer mine if I’ve offended you in any way.

            I have a lot of friends from the sovereign grace persuasion and I respect them and routinely have them in my pulpit. In August I’m preaching in one of my sg friend’s pulpit. While I do have serious differences with certain aspects of this doctrine, I have never met anyone of this persuasion who was anything less than sincere.

        • Jim G. says

          Hi John,

          I’m not trying to jump into the conversation between you and Jason, but I did want to affirm something you said. You are absolutely right in saying all our systems are flawed. They are flawed because we are flawed. Theological reflection is a human enterprise, and as such is limited by all the things that limit us in every other area of life – lack of full understanding, finitude, the residual effects of sin, etc. I’ve been doing theology long enough to see some things pretty clearly, but others I don’t see clearly at all. I know most of my blind spots. Not all, but most.

          I think it is the lack of true humility in our theological reflection that is causing this Calv/non-Calv rift in the SBC. Both sides have been guilty of it. We need to repent of it and try to understand and affirm the other side. In this case, each side sees something important the other side misses.

          Jim G.

      • Lydia says

        “There isn’t a wide variation, but you can’t assume anything about anyone.”

        I just do not see this. How can you divorce the sacral system from the term “Calvinism”?

        But people do. And it makes no sense.

  60. James says

    Why does it seem that so many people seem to be saying they did not understand thier salvation until they learned about depravity? If my understanding about depravity is correct, how can anyone claim to ne regenerate, who did not understand in their heart throttle seperation from God? It was my knowing my seperation from God that left me with know choice but to accept Christ blood sacrifice offered on my behalf ot never have hope. What we have in the NT are conversion stories of people who understood and accepted their seperation from God (depravity). But we as Calvin face people growing up with the thought I am a Christian because they were taught that they were before they really knew what it meant. And it is human to assume what we know and have expirianced is what others have. Therefore we expect others to except and communicate the way we do in order to believe the same things.

    As to the issue of why many non-calvinist will not accept a calvinist leader, I believe in the SB circle there are to many who connect Calvin with mainstream Protestent religions which have a history of being negative toward many Baptist teachings. That the two are emerging seems to be the case from my perspective. But will one swollow the other up? Will one have to give up what it holds dear to make way for the other? Is this non-calvin vs Calvin reform- vs nonreform theology, or just people who cannot accept everyone does not speak and use the same terminology they do. And are some of us on both sides somewhat ignorant or just unconcerned that people see the samethings from different perspectives.
    Hard to review on my phone hope it is understandable.

  61. Lydia says

    “If my understanding about depravity is correct, how can anyone claim to ne regenerate, who did not understand in their heart throttle seperation from God? ”

    I agree with what you are saying above. It is very true. However, when a Calvinist talks about Total Depravity, I have found, in most cases, they are defining it also as “Total Inability”.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      It is exactly what I believe Lydia. Total Depravity is total inability. Before Christ we do nothing for the glory of God, we do it for our glory. We are totally hopeless until God the Father through the Holy Spirit steps in and as Ezekiel says changes our heart of stone to a heart of flesh. We are this way because of the sin of Adam. Even David in Psalms knows we are born dead in sin.

      Paul says in Romans 5:12,15, 18 & 19:

      “By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin”
      “By the one man’s offense many died”
      “Through one man judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation”
      “By one’s disobedience many were made sinners”

      • Debbie Kaufman says

        Isaiah 64:6 says even our good deeds are tainted with sin and are as filthy rags before a Holy God.

        6But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away..

      • Lydia says

        Why not change the T to Total Inability? :o)

        Both Free will’ers and Calvinists believe in Total Depravity.

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          You can call it either Total Depravity or Total Inability and both would be correct. The word depravity is defined by our natural condition apart from any grace from God of restraint or our transformation.

  62. says

    A baby doesn’t understand anything ordinarily; it just has this tremendous hunger for food and cries accordingly. Later, it gets understanding, wants more diverse foods than just milk and pabulum. Eventually, it learns that three meals a day, balanced and sensiblly pleasant, meets the body’s needs.

  63. Lydia says

    “Lydia: Depravity is not in relation to other humans beings but in our relation to God.”

    I get your definition. thanks.

  64. says

    I don’t know why it is increasing in popularity, but I suspect it is a sign of the times. We are a pre-Christian society in the US and while I see many denominations succumbing to the creep of false teaching, I also see a significant group of faithful Christians shoring up against the tide. And these Reformed pastors are part of them.

    I have not always held a Reformed soteriology, but as I applied hermeneutical principles over time I came to see the scriptures in that light. Rarely do I see a non-Calvinist handle the text of scripture as carefully as many in this generation of Reformed pastors. In fact, the dialog I hear from most non-Calvinists tend to leave the scriptures at a shallow level and delve into more subjective “what seems reasonable to me” arguments. I had to leave that behind and change my thinking as I meditated on the scriptures. I haven’t studied the Reformers as much as many, but the five points summed up by the Council of Dort (I think) clarified pretty well the conclusions I had been arriving at.

    And if anyone wants to question my presups on this, they are pretty well formed: Any carryovers from my pre-Christian thinking must be held in suspect and transformed by the Bible, which is God’s revelation to us. Therefore, I have to be willing to give up any belief which is not supported by scripture and I may have to tear asunder my most deeply-held sensibilities in order to replace them with the sensibilities given by the scriptures. Because if I worship a God who is misrepresented in my own mind by my own flawed thinking, then I commit idolatry – I worship a false God. That’s what’s at stake. That’s what is at the heart of my presuppositions.

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