Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why Many Atheists Are Scared of Ron Paul

Andrew Sullivan received an e-mail from a reader who was concerned about Ron Paul's skepticism of evolution. While this reader admits that he does admire Paul, as an atheist he finds it "absolutely mind-boggling that so many people in the United States, in this day and age, can still deny that evolution is real."

Here is the video in question:
Shocking, isn't it? I can see why atheists would be scurrying for the hills.

Please. Atheists have nothing to fear from Ron Paul. In fact, he is perhaps the best friend atheists have in politics. He is a Christian who actually believes in the Romans 13 command to submit to governing authority -- in this case, the Constitution of the United States. And that means he would not use government to impose his religious beliefs on the masses. In other words, he wouldn't push the teaching of creationism in public schools because he views a federally controlled, taxpayer-funded education system as unconstitutional in the first place.

But then that's the real problem atheists have with Paul, isn't it? Atheists have relied on a federally controlled, taxpayer-funded education system to force their agenda and beliefs down the throats of American children for decades. Perhaps they are afraid someone will finally neutralize the most effective weapon of proselytization in their arsenal.

Friday, December 28, 2007

This Week in Calvinism - December 28, 2007

  • Contrary to popular belief, we Calvinists believe the Bible every bit as much as Arminians do.

  • Listen to Tom Ascol's sermons online.

  • What are you looking for in a religion? Warm, fuzzy feelings? A constant focus on God's love? Less talk about sin? Do you think Classical Theology is a "pagan aberation (sic) of Judeo-Christianity"? If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, then Relational Theology might be for you. A blogger who calls himself "The Sola Scriptura Theologian" believes this is "a logical system to shame the extremes" of Calvinism and Arminianism. (But especially Calvinism.) He says, "If all you are going to teach is more confusion, perhaps it is better to just shut up." I couldn't agree more.

  • If you ignore the clear teaching of scripture and Christ's own claim that he is the only way to salvation (John 14:6), and if you are looking for a way to fight back against a Calvinist upbringing, then you may one day find yourself embracing pluralism. After all, following your "gut feeling" makes much more sense than following the written, proven, infallible word of the eternal God who created the entire universe.

  • Steve Camp reminds us that if we depart from scripture, we depart from God and a reverence for him.
  • Friday, December 21, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - December 21, 2007

  • Annette Selden reviews W. Robert Godfrey's book, An Unexpected Journey: Discovering Reformed Christianity.

  • Does Hebrews 6:4-6 teach that a true believer can lose his salvation? No.

  • The 12 Days of Theology.

  • Arminians don't evangelize. Gary Bisaga explains.

  • Pyromaniac Phil Johnson on how you can be sure in a postmodern world that's constantly changing.

  • Speaking of change, the emergent types will probably appreciate this: a Bible study at Hooters. Why not? I'm sure that's what Jesus would do.
  • Torture and Misplaced Trust

    I'm not sure what the morbid fascination is, but the boys at Triablogue are still praising the use of torture. I guess knowing that a suspected terrorist is being waterboarded (or worse) thousands of miles away somehow makes them feel safe. Whatever helps you sleep at night, guys.

    Just remember this: the government you trust to protect you now is the same government that was completely powerless to protect anyone on September 11, 2001. It's also the same government that saw to it that no one on board those planes could protect themselves. Is that the kind of track record that warrants trust?

    Sunday, December 16, 2007

    A Light in the Darkness

    Jerry Seehusen is a man of faith. I was blessed to have known him when I was going through a spiritually dark time years ago. He always has something encouraging to say:
      God gets His message out; in the midst of darkness there is a light that shines.

      Christian, it is not the time to be depressed; it is the time we go to our prayer closet, get on our knees, confess our sin, and thank God for His sovereign grace. We then need to get up, put on our God given armor (Ephesians 6) and step outside for the battle has come to us. Yes, it has come to us. God will accomplish His purposes whether we go with Him or not. He doesn't need us but chooses to use us. Are we ready for the battle?
    Something to remember when the cold, dark winter months start to get you down.

    Friday, December 14, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - December 14, 2007

  • Charles Spurgeon noted rightly that Calvinism is simply a nickname for our belief in the biblical doctrines of grace. Mark Kelly, however, has a problem with people adopting the Calvinist label. He doesn't like the fact that a 16th century Reformer is able to disrupt Southern Baptist unity: "There is something decidedly un-Baptistic -- and, I would argue, un-Christian -- about exalting any mere mortal to such a status." So, remember: it's perfectly fine for you to identify yourself as a Baptist and set yourself apart from your Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian brothers and sisters. Just don't call yourself a Calvinist. That's divisive.

  • After all the bridge-building in the SBC regarding Calvinism, Norman Jameson remains "just as befuddled by it, not a whit more attracted to it, and just as certain it has severe potential to divide."

  • Calvinism in three verses.

  • America's Calvinist roots.

  • Understanding Calvinism can be a rather daunting task, so Mark breaks it down a bit.

  • Looking for something to read? Tim Challies lists his seven favorite books of 2007.

  • Phil Johnson reminds us: "The gospel is the greatest sign of all, and it is the greatest wisdom of all unto them which are called. The elect see it, even if no one else does. It is 'the power of God' -- more potent than any cosmic sign."
  • Saturday, December 08, 2007

    The Death Penalty: WWJD?

    But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

    But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

    At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

    "No one, sir," she said.
    "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

    --John 8:1-11

    I had better things to do than watch, but the GOP/You Tube presidential wannabe gabfest earlier this week apparently included a snarky question regarding the death penalty. Presumably a young bible student, some kid from Tennessee asked former Arkansas head honcho Mike Huckabee about the death penalty. You know the evangelical lingo, right? What Would Jesus Drive? What Would Jesus Buy? Blah, blah, blah. Well, this fellow tossed a hand grenade into the mix and asked, "What Would Jesus Do about the death penalty"?

    Here is the transcript of the question and Huckabee’s non-answer:

    Tyler Overman: Hi. This is Tyler Overman from Memphis, Tennessee. And I have a quick question for those of you who would call yourselves Christian conservatives. The death penalty, what would Jesus do?

    Cooper: Governor Huckabee?

    Huckabee: You know, one of the toughest challenges that I ever faced as a governor was carrying out the death penalty. I did it more than any other governor ever had to do it in my state. As I look on this stage, I'm pretty sure that I'm the only person on this stage that's ever had to actually do it.

    Let me tell you, it was the toughest decision I ever made as a human-being. I read every page of every document of every case that ever came before me, because it was the one decision that came to my desk that, once I made it, was irrevocable.

    Every other decision, somebody else could go back and overturn, could fix if it was a mistake. That was one that was irrevocable.

    I believe there is a place for a death penalty. Some crimes are so heinous, so horrible that the only response that we, as a civilized nation, have for a most uncivil action is not only to try to deter that person from ever committing that crime again, but also as a warning to others that some crimes truly are beyond any other capacity for us to fix.


    Now, having said that, there are those who say, "How can you be pro-life and believe in the death penalty?"

    Because there's a real difference between the process of adjudication, where a person is deemed guilty after a thorough judicial process and is put to death by all of us, as citizens, under a law, as opposed to an individual making a decision to terminate a life that has never been deemed guilty because the life never was given a chance to even exist.

    Cooper: Governor?

    Huckabee: That's the fundamental difference.


    Cooper: I do have to though press the question, which -- the question was, from the viewer was? What would Jesus do? Would Jesus support the death penalty?

    Huckabee: Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson. That's what Jesus would do.

    The passage I quoted at the top is frequently cited by death penalty opponents and antinomians to posit that Jesus "tempered" the law with "love" or demonstrated the importance of "love" rather than the harshness of the law.

    But Jesus came not abrogate the law, rather He came to fulfill it; to free His people from the yoke of the law as a death sentence, and to liberate them to the law as a source of holiness, righteousness and sanctification. "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:17-20).

    Had the incident with the woman taken in adultery been a repudiation of the law, the Pharisees would have been able to charge and condemn Jesus with lawlessness. The purpose of the incident was to embarrass Jesus, but the Pharisees left confounded because Jesus confirmed rather than denied the law.

    The Pharisees took the woman in the act of adultery and brought her before Jesus. They obviously had police powers or the support of the regime and could compel not only her compliance but also require Jesus to preside over the hearing.

    Our Lord was seemingly in a bind. Adultery was common and not typically punished as prescribed by the law. What would He do? To ask for a full enforcement of the law, the death penalty, would invite hostility. But denying the death penalty would lay Jesus open to the charge of hypocrisy and lawlessness. The trap had been set: "'In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?' They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him" (v. 5-6)

    What was the response? "But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger" (v. 6). What was Jesus doing? He was reviving the trial by bitter water from Numbers 5. The ordeal was intended to provide either vindication of innocence or conviction of guilt. Read the passage:

    12 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'If a man's wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 by sleeping with another man, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure- 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder offering to draw attention to guilt.

    16 " 'The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the LORD. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the LORD, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, "If no other man has slept with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have defiled yourself by sleeping with a man other than your husband"- 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse of the oath-"may the LORD cause your people to curse and denounce you when he causes your thigh to waste away and your abdomen to swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells and your thigh wastes away."
    " 'Then the woman is to say, "Amen. So be it."

    23 " 'The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He shall have the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water will enter her and cause bitter suffering. 25 The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the LORD and bring it to the altar. 26 The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. 27 If she has defiled herself and been unfaithful to her husband, then when she is made to drink the water that brings a curse, it will go into her and cause bitter suffering; her abdomen will swell and her thigh waste away, and she will become accursed among her people. 28 If, however, the woman has not defiled herself and is free from impurity, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.

    The incident in question occurs in the temple (John 8:2). Thus the temple dust met the requirements of the law and Jesus, by his actions, places every accuser on trial. The scribes and Pharisess had brought the charge against the woman and Jesus had turned the tables by placing them in the husband’s category by invoking Numbers 5and writing in the dust.

    When Jesus says, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" (v. 7), he is not referring to sin generically, but to the sin of adultery specifically. Obviously all men are sinners, and such a general statement would make law courts impossible. Rather, Jesus is saying that men who are guilty of a crime are not free to condemn the crime. In effect, Jesus is confirming the death penalty by demanding that honest witnesses step forward to condemn the woman.

    Rather than condemning the death penalty, Jesus is reproving Phariseeism and exposing their sin. Not only had they denied a biblical pattern and doctrine of salvation, they had also become perverters of the law. Though professing to be champions of the law they had become its enemies by subverting it with the traditions of men. Christ, thus, was not denying the law or weakening its strictures, but restoring it.

    Friday, December 07, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - December 7, 2007

  • A couple of Calvinists debate the regulative principle of worship. Does the Bible teach that Psalms are the only worship songs that should be allowed in the church? No, but some people still hold to that position. They like to use Deuteronomy 12:32 as a proof text, which only leads me to wonder what the people of God sang before the Psalms were written.

  • If we believe in election, why should we preach the gospel? Spurgeon's answer: "God has called me to preach His word and if I knew that all the elect had a yellow stripe painted down their backs, then I would give up preaching the gospel and go lift up shirt tails!"

  • The Pope reads Augustine...and converts to Christianity!

  • Sam is a "Calvinistic, charismatic, complementarian, Christian hedonist." What's your theology?

  • Dan Phillips on scariest man ever.
  • Friday, November 30, 2007

    I Don't Heart Huckabee

    Of the candidates seeking the GOP presidential nomination, Mike Huckabee seems to be a favorite among evangelical Christians. But how many of you remember his "invocation" at a 2004 Republican Governors Association fundraiser?:
    The implication is clear: a vote for the GOP is a vote for God's side. Do we really want another professing Christian in office with that kind of distorted view of government?

    I think we can do a lot better.

    This Week in Calvinism - November 30, 2007

  • Ian Incubator-Jones figures that if God exercises election, it must be based either on arbitrary factors or a cosmic dice-roll. Scripture, however, teaches that both views are wrong. I tend to believe the Apostle Paul, who wrote that it "depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy" (Romans 9:16), and that God "has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills" (Romans 9:18). We don't know why God chooses certain people for salvation; we only know that God knows why he chooses certain people for salvation.

  • Abraham Piper on a kinder, gentler Calvinism:
      It won't be easy to change the pejorative stereotype that clings to Calvinism, but we can start by admitting that it is accurate far too often. Then we can make sure we are manifestly not self-righteous, condescending, arrogant, unfriendly, or argumentative. Also, you can count on us to buy dinner or coffee sometimes.

      Paying attention to those who disagree with us and taking them seriously, even if we're pretty sure we'll still disagree, is part of what it means to be in the body of Christ. It's humbling; it sanctifies. It will make us better husbands and wives. It will make us better Christians, and maybe even better Calvinists.
  • Ed Stetzer is making audio files from the Building Bridges conference on Southern Baptists and Calvinism available here.

  • If you can't decide between Calvinism or Arminianism, then Molinism might be the theology for you. It embraces the positive aspects of the other two philosophies while ignoring the negatives -- so you will never again have to worry about defending your beliefs!

  • Study: Recent SBC seminary graduates are three times more likely to be Calvinists.

  • As a Christian, I find it comforting to know that the God I serve is immutable -- that is, he never changes.
  • Thursday, November 29, 2007

    Blessed Is the Internet

    Dave Black has this reminder for Christian bloggers:
      Beware, then, the Internet and cyberspace, webmasters and blogosphers. God calls us to relationships in real time, in which we are to find our ministries. I live a fairly mundane life surrounded by different groups of people to whom I desire to minister: my family, my rural farming community, the people of Averett Baptist Church, my seminary students, the believers in Ethiopia, my doctoral candidates. The question I constantly ask myself is, What are their needs, and how can I best serve them? When I have time left over, I blog.

      Perhaps because I edit a website myself I am always a little wary of what people say or write. The Bible teaches that all of us, by nature, are basically egotistical, centered in ourselves and sinful. This means that a disciple of the Lord Jesus must be very honest about admitting his own inadequacy, insisting always that Jesus increase while he decreases. True, there needs to be a healthy interdependence among Christians, but never a co-dependence. God alone is the real Teacher, and the Bible alone His textbook.

    Friday, November 23, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - November 23, 2007

  • A lesson in Calvinism from a three-year-old.

  • According to EgoMakarios, "Calvinism is a strange combination of various Christological heresies." Naturally, this "orthodox" blogger has no problem knocking down that straw man.

  • Is Calvinism the gospel? Take a look at this and judge for yourself.

  • This Southern Baptist is right about one thing: Once you start down the path of Calvinism, "there is no turning back, until you reach all of its logical conclusions." As to the question of "Which came first: regeneration or faith?" I would start here.

  • A 36-year-old man with HIV finds comfort in the teachings of Calvinism.
  • Friday, November 16, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - November 16, 2007

  • Universalism vs. Calvinism.

  • The popular DVD, Amazing Grace: The History & Theology of Calvinism, is available from the The Apologetics Group for a new low price.

  • Nathan Finn is asking you to submit what you think are common myths about Calvinism. He "would love for you to share some of your 'favorite' mischaracterizations. ... The more outlandish, the better." He hopes to use this information for the upcoming Building Bridges conference on Southern Baptists and Calvinism that will be held November 26-28. You can comment here.

  • Rev. Charles Lehmann, a Lutheran, thinks Calvinism distorts the gospel: "Saying that the work of the cross was 'sufficient for all but effective for some' really doesn't get you very far. Where it does get you is fear and uncertainty. But the Word of God is clear. He has died for you. He has forgiven all of your sin." Wait...everyone's sins? Are you sure about that, Rev. Lehmann?: "Paul tells us that 'All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.' But he adds a wonderful word, one word in Greek, two in English… 'being justified.' Who is being justified? All, the very same all who have sinned. You, me, and every person who has been born or ever will be born." Oh, now I get it. Rev. Lehmann must be a universalist. So, logically, if God has forgiven everyone of every sin, then surely he will forgive my Calvinist beliefs. It seems this whole debate over Calvinism is much ado about nothing.

  • On Nov. 7, the Arbuckle Baptist Association in Oklahoma approved a measure encouraging members to "take a stand against the presentation of reformed theology -- often called 'Calvinism' -- as a legitimate topic that we need to debate; and instead of recommending that we should debate reformed theology, take a public stand against reformed theology." But even some non-Calvinists think that's being a bit too divisive.

  • Justin on Calvinism and homosexuality. An encouragement to those struggling with sin.

  • Sadly, even decent, God-fearing Calvinists are willing to defend the use of torture in our so-called "war on terror."
  • Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Dr. Black's Prescription for an Ailing, Politicized Church

    My friend, Dr. David Alan Black, has some sobering words for American churches in his latest essay:
      Things have in fact become so serious right now to give too much importance to the effects of what one says on the sensitivities of one's peers and colleagues. A writer like Orwell could hardly have imagined the kind of animal farm American society has become. Again, it is here that I think Christianity offers us a perspective that politics can't – that the purpose of life is to love God and love our neighbor, that Christ is the only answer to the wickedness and abysmal horror of our warmongering, and that a man lives only to the extent that he dies to himself. ...

      ... I believe the evangelical church is scared -- scared to face the truth about its statism, scared to face its this-world-centeredness and, therefore, scared to face its own corruptibility. Our present mood of crisis comes from the unrelenting feeling that we have failed to master ourselves or to deal with our neuroses or to acknowledge our political-economic lies. All of this stems from a much larger failing, namely the inability to recognize that the pursuit of happiness is the ultimate American scandal.

      So I come back to where I began, to that piece of wood to which our dark egos must be nailed if we are ever to make progress in this life. Genuine Christianity (and not that detestable form of evangelicalism we have become so accustomed to) has much indeed to offer us, if we would only give it a fair shake.

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    Faith and Hearing

    The Bible describes a vital link between hearing and faith. When Jesus taught through parables he said, "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear" (Mark 4:23). When asked if he was the Christ, Jesus responded, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27).

    When Paul wrote to the church in Rome he reminded them that "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:7). And he asked the believers in Galatia, "Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?" (Galatians 3:2).

    So, what about the deaf? How do we communicate the gospel to them?

    The above passages, of course, refer to ears and hearing in the spiritual sense. People "hear" in different ways. The important thing, as Paul points out, is that they hear "through the word of Christ."

    Thankfully, there are people like Toby Welch who are ministering to the deaf and hearing impaired. Welch is pastor of the Deaf Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas, and teaches American Sign Language (ASL) to homeschool students in the Houston area. He also has a blog that seeks to communicate the truth of God's word and the principles of the Reformed faith through sign language as well as the written word. Check it out here.

    Friday, November 09, 2007

    Tiptoeing through the TULIPs - Part 3: Limited Atonement

    Limited Atonement
    This seems to be the biggest stumbling block to those who resist the teachings of Calvinism. Many people think that in order for God to be "fair" -- naturally, they are looking at fairness from a human perspective -- Christ must have died for every single person. After all, John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." And, of course, there's 1st John 2:2: "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

    When it comes to limited (or, more accurately, particular or definite) atonement, God's word is quite clear on the subject. In Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45 we read that Christ gave his life as a "ransom for many." In John 10:11-15 Jesus talks about laying down his life "for the sheep." Contrast that with Matthew 25:32-33, where we see the shepherd separating "the sheep from the goats."

    Jesus continues with this analogy in John 10:24-27:
      So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."
    Still, we cannot get around the fact that the Bible does teach that Jesus did, in a sense, lay down his life for the world. The answer, as usual, lies in the context.

    Paul writes in 1st Timothy 4:10 that Christ is "the savior of all people, especially of those who believe." Now, we know that he isn't the "savior of all people" in the same sense that he is the savior of the elect. If that were the case, then all people would be saved, and given the context of what scripture has to say about the eternal judgment of the wicked, we know that can't be what Paul meant. Rather, Christ is the savior of all people in that by saving some, humanity itself has been saved from complete destruction.

    Another way to look at limited atonement is to consider what the term "propitiation" means in 1st John 2:2. It means to satisfy God's demands. God demands perfection, something sinful man can never hope to achieve. Jesus Christ, however, lived a perfect life and suffered our punishment on the cross, thereby satisfying God's holy justice. Our debt has been paid. To assume that Christ also paid the debt of those who ultimately end up in hell is to make God out to be unjust as one who punishes the same sins twice.

    If we are to be honest, we will agree that both Calvinists and Arminians limit Christ's atonement in some way. Did Jesus die for Satan and his demons? Certainly not. The atonement is at least limited to human beings. Do all people eventually end up in heaven? Again, no. There is no disputing the fact that the effects of the atonement do not extend to all people in the same way.

    Here is where we differ: Arminians limit the effectiveness of the atonement in that they believe it merely made salvation possible for sinners. Since they deny the Calvinist view of total depravity, unconditional election, and irresistible grace, they are forced to admit that there is the theoretical possibility that not one person would ever "accept Christ as savior." After all, if they wish to remain consistent in holding to the concept of "free will," then they must deny that God would give certain people the extra grace needed that would enable us to do what scripture says we cannot do on our own (Romans 7:18).

    Calvinists, on the other hand, limit the scope of Christ's atonement rather than its effectiveness. We would agree with Arminians that his death on the cross was sufficient to cover the sins of all. There certainly would not have been a need to have his suffering increased accordingly in order to cover the sins of each and every person. But that isn't how the atonement was designed. We believe that the atonement accomplished exactly what it was supposed to do by actually securing the salvation of all those for whom it was intended (i.e., the elect). "For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14).

    To say that God intended to save everyone, but, despite his best intentions, was unable to accomplish that goal, is to make God into something less than the sovereign, all-powerful Creator that he is. How much more God-glorifying it is to say, without hesitation or qualification, that he did exactly what he set out to do!

    Part 1: Total Depravity
    Part 2: Unconditional Election
    Part 3: Limited Atonement
    Part 4: Irresistable Grace
    Part 5: Perseverance of the Saints

    This Week in Calvinism - November 9, 2007

  • Tom Ascol lists five marks of a healthy church.

  • Stan puts the Walking Fish through the wringer.

  • Bob Hayton invites non-Calvinists to not just write Calvinism off as a "man-made philosophy," but to take a serious look at the evidence and "try to understand how we arrive at our conclusions."

  • Tim Challies gives a very positive review of The Five Dilemmas of Calvinism, by Craig Brown.

  • B.C. McWhite may not be viciously dogmatic on all five points of Calvinism, but you're in for a fight if you attack the doctrine of perseverance/preservation of the saints.

  • Trevin Wax "will not confuse second-order doctrinal distinctives with first-order doctrines. Once we journey down that road, we'll eventually start confusing third-order doctrinal distinctives with first order doctrines, and we'll wind up as isolated, irrelevant, and shrill as our independent friends."

  • Tom Conoboy enjoys living "life for life's sake, learning through experience, through joy, through discovery." He sees that as an antidote to the "cold, harsh, granite hatred of life that Calvinism instilled in generations of people like me." I guess I'm not sure where he got that idea. Knowing that there is a sovereign Creator in control of all things, who chose me before the foundation of the world, came to earth in the flesh, lived a perfect life, shed his blood for my sin, rose from the dead, drew me by his Spirit to a saving faith in Christ, and has secured for me a place with him for all eternity has instilled in me a warm, comforting, passionate love of life.
  • Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Four Things to Tell an Atheist

    Pastor Gene Cook Jr. gave the following presentation in Seattle on October 13, 2007:
      Part 1

      Part 2

      Part 3

    Friday, November 02, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - November 2, 2007

  • The Walking Fish thinks Calvinism has some serious implications: pushing people into cults, teaching that aborted babies go to hell, stalling evangelism, and making people unsure of their salvation. Frankly, I don't see what the problem is. Those are the things that drew me to Calvinism in the first place!

  • As you can see, there are numerous myths floating around out there about Calvinism. Pete deals with eight of them.

  • Mack Tomlinson points out some of the problems with hyper-Calvinism.

  • The Watchman paints a false caricature of Calvinism, saying we believe that God, "blind to any right or wrongs in our actions," chooses people for salvation. The truth is that while we do hold that salvation by grace through faith "is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9), we also recognize the fact that God "knows the secrets of the heart" (Psalm 44:21). We simply believe that our salvation isn't based on any right or wrong actions on our part. So, Mr. Watchman, if you're "uncomfortable with a judge too blinded by his own transcendent glory to judge between the immanent good or evil," you first need to realize that God is not blind; he knows everything (John 21:17). Next, you need to know that scripture teaches quite clearly that there is no immanent (or indwelling) good in man (Romans 3:10-12). However, from the depths of his infinite mercy, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

  • Some Arminians hate Calvinism so much that they'd "rather be called a Pelagian than a Calvinist." I'm sorry, but I can't see how any Christian, with even a cursory understanding of what either one stood for, could say that. To be fair, this blogger later admits he overreacted, but then says, "Yes, my disdain for Calvinism does tend to sway me toward more Pelagian/Semi-Pelagian thinking...and I do not think Arminius would agree with me."

  • John Pipes talks about the comforts of Calvinism.

  • Act now to get a special deal on the DVD Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism.
  • Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    The Reformation Turns 490 Today

    In honor of this historic event, Tim Challies invites you to join the "2007 Reformation Day Symposium":
      As I spent time alone with God this morning, my thoughts and prayers turned continually to the word "reform," but with -ing appended to it instead of -ed. I love to claim the title of "Reformed," but today my prayer was that God would continue reforming me. I am a work in progress and pray that God will continue to reform me and to reform the church. Perhaps He will work through some of these great articles that are coming in from the far reaches of the blogosphere as part of this Reformation Day Symposium. Each of these articles was prepared by a different blogger. Each makes a unique contribution. I'd encourage you to read at least a few of them.

      If you have prepared an article you'd like to share, let me know and I will update this list throughout the day.
    You can link to those articles at

    Oh, and happy Reformation Day!

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Spurgeon on Election

    I found Spurgeon's morning devotion for October 28 to be especially encouraging:
      "I have chosen you out of the world." —John 15:19

      There is distinguishing grace and discriminating regard; for some are made the special objects of divine affection. Do not be afraid to dwell upon this high doctrine of election. When your mind is most heavy and depressed, you will find it to be a bottle of richest cordial. Those who doubt the doctrines of grace, or who cast them into the shade, miss the richest clusters of Eshcol; they lose the wines on the lees well refined, the fat things full of marrow. There is no balm in Gilead comparable to it. If the honey in Jonathan's wood when but touched enlightened the eyes, this is honey which will enlighten your heart to love and learn the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Eat, and fear not a surfeit; live upon this choice dainty, and fear not that it will be too delicate a diet. Meat from the King's table will hurt none of His courtiers. Desire to have your mind enlarged, that you may comprehend more and more the eternal, everlasting, discriminating love of God. When you have mounted as high as election, tarry on its sister mount, the covenant of grace. Covenant engagements are the munitions of stupendous rock behind which we lie entrenched; covenant engagements with the surety, Christ Jesus, are the quiet resting-places of trembling spirits.
      "His oath, His covenant, His blood,
      Support me in the raging flood;
      When every earthly prop gives way,
      This still is all my strength and stay."
      If Jesus undertook to bring me to glory, and if the Father promised that He would give me to the Son to be a part of the infinite reward of the travail of His soul; then, my soul, till God Himself shall be unfaithful, till Jesus shall cease to be the truth, thou art safe. When David danced before the ark, he told Michal that election made him do so. Come, my soul, exult before the God of grace and leap for joy of heart.

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - October 26, 2007

  • TBNN reports that more churches (in what seems to be a celebration of diversity) are accepting and affirming Calvinists in their midst.

  • Sometimes you just have to appreciate idiotic statements: "Tracing today's capitalism to the church leaves an evil mark. The Reformation in its Calvinist version made religion a thing of this world and achieved the miracle of identifying blessings with the accumulation of riches. The shame of profiteering was wiped away and what was formerly lust for wealth became the fulfillment of God's purposes on earth."

  • Richard Smith says something we should all take to heart: "One can be a five-point Calvinist (whatever that may mean to so many) and still not truly believe in the depravity of his or her own heart. It can be nothing more than an intellectual teaching and it might even be something learned from a creed or a history class. But until that person has learned the depths of depravity of his own heart and learned that he needs grace every moment to do any spiritual good at all, that person has not learned depravity."

  • Reformed theology vs. seeker-sensitive "theology."

  • Just what we need: another ill-informed rant on the "Satanic heresies" of Calvinism. Yes, John Calvin believed (wrongly) in paedobaptism, but to claim that he actually taught baptismal regeneration? That's a new one.

  • Triabloguer Peter Pike on how an Arminian robot makes a choice.
  • Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Hagee's Heresy

    John Hagee has written a new book, In Defense of Israel, which he claims will "shake Christian theology." He says the book will "prove that Jesus did not come to earth to be the Messiah. ... Since Jesus refused, by word and deed, to claim to be the Messiah, how can the Jews be blamed for rejecting what was never offered?"

    Yeah, I thought that was outrageous, too, even for Hagee. But click here (or here) and see for yourself.

    Perhaps it wouldn't hurt Mr. Hagee to crack open his Bible once in a while:
      So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me." (John 10:24-25)

      Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    The Atheistic Worldview

    You've all heard the song:
      Imagine there's no heaven
      It's easy if you try
      No hell below us
      Above us only sky
      Imagine all the people
      Living for today
    What drivel. It may sound appealing when set to music, but no one really wants to imagine a world in which right and wrong do not exist.

    When you adhere to an atheistic worldview, you lack the necessary foundation to make moral judgments. Oh, the atheist will try to say that his worldview allows for things like right and wrong, but such notions are meaningless in a philosophy that wishes man to remain unaccountable to a Creator. Doing what's "right" boils down to doing what feels good "right now."

    The Armchair Theologian shares some of his thoughts on the subject. Included in his post is a clip from an interview with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who linked the philosophy of evolution to his murderous behavior. Put simply, evolution cheapens life.

    In a world based on the principle of "survival of the fittest," there can be no judgment as to what constitutes right or wrong behavior, even for human beings. After all, according to evolutionary theory, we humans have only been around for a blink of an eye, while the world has been changing constantly for billions of years.

    A.T. sums it up: "It seems to me that the evolutionary and atheistic thinkers want the Christian worldview to be true only when it's convenient for them, and use Christian morality to reject people who carry out their own philosophies to their logical conclusions."

    Brian Godawa, a Christian screenwriter and director, carried out the atheist philosophy to its logical conclusion in his short film Cruel Logic. You may find it a little disturbing, but I think it depicts perfectly the kind of world the atheists are trying to force on the rest of us -- whether they realize it or not:

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - October 19, 2007

  • Theological knowledge can be a great source of pride. What we need is more humility as we seek to know God.

  • T. J. Pennock says that Calvinism is "a strange religion that claims sinners are damned for not believing in a cross that makes no provision." So, does that mean the biblical alternative is a religion that claims sinners are damned for sins already covered by the cross?

  • Hank is already up to part seven in a five-part series dealing with objections to Calvinism.

  • A brief thought on justification.

  • While we're on the subject, does justification still matter? Apparently, justification by grace alone through faith alone can no longer be taken for granted in today's churches.

  • Pastor John Piper responds to David Instone-Brewer's article in Christianity Today on the topic of divorce.
  • Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Divine Providence

    What does John MacArthur's grandson's game-winning field goal have to do with a fatal crash on I-5, south of Santa Clarita? You have to read Phil Johnson's latest post to find out.

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Joel Osteen on 60 Minutes

    Joel Osteen was featured on 60 Minutes last night. In an interview with Byron Pitts, he talked about his "ministry" and responded to his critics.

    I watched it to see what Michael Horton, Professor of Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California, had to say. You can watch the video here while it's still available.

    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    Tiptoeing through the TULIPs - Part 2: Unconditional Election

    Unconditional Election
    God is holy and just, and all who fall short of his standard for perfection are under condemnation (Romans 1:18, Romans 6:23). It would be contrary to God's nature for him to allow any sin to go unpunished.

    So, if all are born into sin, what hope do we have? Our hope lies in the very one who is condemning us. Because we are completely powerless to overcome sin on our own, he, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, effectively draws certain people unto himself. In other words, he chooses who will be saved and who will not be saved.

    Most Christians will agree -- to a point. They cannot deny the doctrine of election entirely because scripture uses the terms "elect" and "election" explicitly (Matthew 24:41, Luke 18:7, Romans 11:28, 2nd Timothy 2:10, 2nd Peter 1:10, etc.). However, many believe the election referred to is conditional.

    Here is how conditional election works: God, at some point in eternity past, looked ahead down the corridors of time and, according to his foreknowledge, saw who would receive Christ as savior. Those are the ones he then predestined for salvation. This may seem like a simple explanation, but it's wrong.

    Here is what Paul writes in Romans 9:9-13:
      For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son." And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad -- in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls -- she was told, "The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
    It couldn't be any clearer. God's election is unconditional in that it is not based on anything we have done, are doing, or will do.

    Naturally, this doesn't seem "fair" according to human standards. Paul anticipates that and continues in verses 14-18:
      What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
    God's will is the key to understanding this important doctrine. We learn in Ephesians 1:11 that our predestination is "according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will." Doesn't it make much more sense that God's election is based on his own sovereign will rather than the fallen will of man?

    The more I contemplate the doctrine of unconditional election, the more I am humbled. God had every right to condemn me to hell for all eternity, but he didn't. And while I don't know why he chose me in Christ for salvation, scripture reminds me constantly that it had nothing to do with my works: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

    The truth is that we believers, even in eternity, may never know why God predestined us for salvation. We do know that what was done was done in such a way "so that no human being might boast in the presence of God" (1st Corinthians 1:27). In short, election is unconditional so that all glory is reserved for God and God alone.

    Part 1: Total Depravity
    Part 2: Unconditional Election
    Part 3: Limited Atonement
    Part 4: Irresistable Grace
    Part 5: Perseverance of the Saints

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - October 12, 2007

  • Paul Buckley on the humility of John Newton's Calvinism.

  • A brief slide show on John Calvin and the spread of the Reformation.

  • Pastor John Piper wraps up his series, Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ, with a sermon entitled Judas Iscariot, the Suicide of Satan, and the Salvation of the World.

  • Phil Johnson tackles the question, "Does God's sovereignty mean he makes people evil?"

  • Looking for something to read? Scott Bailey has some great book recommendations.

  • "Exiled Preacher" Guy Davies presents us with 10 points on the subject of limited atonement.

  • "Has God spoken with clarity on his freedom in the predestination of his people? Absolutely."

  • Huh?
  • Friday, October 05, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - October 5, 2007

  • The anti-Calvinist origin of the King James Bible.

  • Andrew Lindsey responds to Dave Hunt's book, What Love Is This?

  • Responses to the Amazing Grace DVD project have been overwhelmingly positive.

  • Marc thinks that 1 Timothy 4:9-10 refutes the doctrine of limited (or particular) atonement. He believes the Arminian teaching of unlimited atonement is "a more radiant and tenable position, and a reflection of Christ's magnificent work on Earth, including His purpose(s) for coming." Exactly how the prospect that most of the people for whom Christ died end up in hell is radiant and magnificent is never explained. One position he didn't consider: Christ is the savior of all men in that not all men are condemned. By saving some, God saved mankind from complete destruction.

  • Someone has finally figured us out: "Since Calvinism denies the necessity of choice, it was only natural that its adherents would seek to force their views on all dissenters." Well, if defending the gospel and the sovereignty of God is considered forcing our views on others, then I guess we're guilty as sin.
  • Thursday, October 04, 2007

    For the Joy of All Peoples

    This is from a few years ago, but it reminds me of my church's mission: "Spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ."

    Besides, I just like this song.

    Friday, September 28, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - September 28, 2007

  • Phil Johnson talks about the different gospels of John MacArthur and Doug Pagitt. The post sparked a lengthy discussion in the comments section.

  • Grant Swank thinks Britney Spears disproves the biblical teaching of eternal security. Naturally, he's assuming she was once a true follower of Christ. He might want to try actually reading the verses he offers as support of his position (in context, of course) and then take a look at John 5:24, John 10:28-29, Romans 6:8, 1Corinthians 1:8, Ephesians 1:13-14, Philippians 1:6, 1John 2:19, 1 John 3:9-10, 1John 5:4, and any number of other passages that explicitly deal with the security of the believer. Call me crazy, but I happen to believe that God's will is more powerful than man's.

  • Postmodernism and Calvinism clash like plaid shorts and argyle socks.

  • If your ignorance of history leads you to say that John Calvin "murdered a man simply because this man disagreed with his religious beliefs," then you might share Isaac Hulke's conclusion that Calvin is no different from a suicide bomber who kills "in the name of God and religion" and that Calvinists are "psychotic" and "deceived." I guess this means we should throw out everything Paul wrote in the New Testament since he admitted to killing an untold number of people for disagreeing with his religious beliefs (Galatians 1:13).

  • The Expositor presents a small list of those who have championed Calvinism throughout the years. It starts, of course, with J.C. (No, not that J.C. -- although he was, is, and will continue to be the reigning champion of Calvinism!)

  • What Christian apologists do agree on: that believers should always be "prepared to make a defense" (1 Peter 3:15). What Christian apologists don't agree on: the apologetic method one should use to make that defense. We know from scripture that the case for God can be made from what is seen and known (Romans 1:20), and that is the approach of the classical or evidential apologist. But we also know that some people are so blind to the truth that even the most profound evidence won't convince them (Luke 16:31), and that is why some prefer presuppositional apologetics. Nathaniel Darnell outlines a debate between two respected apologists: R.C. Sproul (classical) and Greg Bahnsen (presuppositional).
  • Sunday, September 23, 2007

    Tiptoeing through the TULIPs - Part 1: Total Depravity

    Just mentioning the term "Calvinism" is enough to stir up controversy. It is seen by many as a cruel and unforgiving philosophy, and trying to have a reasoned discussion about it usually means having to navigate a theological minefield. It is, however, an important discussion, and we should not shy away from it.

    What makes it so important? Charles Spurgeon once said, "I have my own opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else."

    This is not to say that one must be converted to Calvinism and have an in-depth understanding of the doctrines of grace in order to be saved. No true Calvinist would ever say that. But I do believe that studying these doctrines as they are taught in scripture is an important part of spiritual growth.

    These doctrines are so interconnected that I think it's impossible to deny one without undermining all the rest. I believe these doctrines are biblically sound and can greatly affect all aspects of our lives: how we view God, how we see ourselves, how we treat others, how we worship, how we evangelize, and so on. What's more, they serve to glorify God -- and that is our ultimate goal.

    Countless theologians over the years have explained, illustrated, discussed, and debated the five main pillars of Calvinism: total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints, otherwise known as "TULIP." Needless to say, what I am about to present here is nothing new. What I do hope to accomplish in this series of posts is to present you with my own personal understanding of these concepts as well as how they affect our lives as believers.

    Total Depravity
    Human beings were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). But what had been declared good became marred by sin with the fall of Adam and Eve. Because Adam was the representative of all mankind, every person since then has been born into sin (Romans 5:12, 1st Corinthians 15:22).

    While this does not mean that all people are as evil as they could possibly be, it does mean that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The Apostle Paul reminds us that we, in our rebellious state, are completely incapable of pleasing God: "As it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.'" (Romans 3:10-12). He expands on that in Ephesians 2:1-4, saying that even we believers were once "dead" in trespasses and sin, and that we "were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind."

    I believe the concept of total depravity correctly and biblically conveys the state in which we all find ourselves. No matter what we do, we cannot help but sin, "For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin" (Romans 14:23). We are fallen creatures in rebellion against our Creator, and our depravity is the constant reminder that we are in need of a savior. In fact, that was the purpose of the law.

    Paul writes in Romans 5:20 that "the law came in to increase the trespass." In other words, God's law exposes our sinfulness. Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Romans, says, "The moral law showed that many thoughts, tempers, words, and actions, were sinful, thus transgressions were multiplied. Not making sin to abound the more, but discovering the sinfulness of it, even as the letting in a clearer light into a room, discovers the dust and filth which were there before, but were not seen."

    We cannot understand the need for salvation until we first understand that we are lost. Once God bestows upon us salvation by his grace through faith in his son, we can reflect on our depraved human nature as we strive to grow in that faith.

    One effect of this can be seen in our relationships with other people. If we recognize our own depravity, it is easier to show grace to those who hurt us. Likewise, when we hurt others, we will see the need to repent and ask for forgiveness. Speaking from experience, I can say that this is extremely helpful in marriage.

    Most importantly, our walk with Christ will be more meaningful and intimate because we will know that we are nothing without him. Total depravity lays everything on the line and puts us in our proper place before a holy and just God. It also magnifies the incredible significance of his mercy "in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). What better reason could we have for rejoicing in worship and telling others about the gospel?

    Part 1: Total Depravity
    Part 2: Unconditional Election
    Part 3: Limited Atonement
    Part 4: Irresistable Grace
    Part 5: Perseverance of the Saints

    Friday, September 21, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - September 21, 2007

  • Cathy tries desperately to refute Calvinism's "false doctrine" point by point, but ends up refuting her own arguments by saying that our assurance of salvation is "firmly based upon Christ's finished work of atonement." Yeah, that's kind of what we've been saying all along.

  • Perhaps she should take Calvinism 101.

  • It's true: Calvinists quite often make the worst Calvinists.

  • Philip Ryken reminds us of the importance of mercy ministry.

  • I suspect that the Seeking Disciple (one of my favorite Arminian bloggers) believes in eternal security, but just doesn't know it. I think part of the problem is the common confusion of "perseverance of the saints" with "once saved, always saved." Scripture is quite clear that grace is no license to sin (Romans 6:1-2), so the only logical conclusion we can reach concerning those who profess faith, but produce no spiritual fruit, is that they were never saved in the first place.

  • Are the New Testament accounts of Christ just a myth? Pyromaniac Dan Phillips addresses this important question.

  • What's this? An Arminian writing about limited atonement? Well, just when he starts to sound like a Calvinist, he reverts back to the old "everything God did he did because he could look down the corridors of time and see who would choose him and who would not" position. Remember: in Arminian theology, everything hinges on man's sovereign choice -- despite what Romans 9:11 teaches.

  • Christopher Neiswonger on the five points of Calvinism (Part 1, Part 2).

  • Do you think Calvinism is good doctrine? Chuck Adkins wants you to think again. He challenges four of Calvinism's five points. Why only four? "We have decided not to deal with the last point of TULIP theology because it is defined in several different ways and because if it means simply that the saved cannot be lost, then we agree with it." Can someone please explain why so many Arminians are willing to accept the P of TULIP when, according to their own theology, everything else is based on man's free will? I mean, if man is able to choose to be saved, then why isn't he able to choose to no longer be saved? I'm still trying to figure that out.

  • I will be starting a series of posts dealing with my own understanding of the five points of Calvinism and how I think they can affect the lives of believers. Look for it soon!
  • Friday, September 14, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - September 14, 2007

  • David Heleniak doesn't understand Calvinism, let alone Christianity, but that doesn't matter. He's on a mission to help people overcome their "pyrophobia."

  • Ronnie W. Rogers thinks God's love poses a problem for the Calvinist. He writes, "While it is true that I love my children differently than I love another man's children, I would not sit idly by and let his child be run over by a car, when I could have delivered him, and then try to convince the father of the child how much I loved his son even if in a different way." His analogy is self-defeating because God most certainly is able to save all people, yet does not. Has Mr. Rogers allowed for the possibility that God is more concerned with his own glory than our fallen human concepts of love and fairness? Perhaps he would care to answer the burning question I posed a few days ago.

  • Ever since lashing out at Calvinists for embracing God's sovereignty, Roger Olson has been getting pummeled.Triablogger Steve Hays delivers the one-two knock-out punch.

  • Without using scriptural arguments, can you prove Calvinism is a false teaching? Isaac Hulke can. He claims that Calvinism is false because "it is stated that Jesus is the Savior of the entire human race." I suppose in a future post he will explain why it is that the entire human race is not saved.

  • Mark Snow doesn't like Calvinists and their adherence to sola fide because they reject the idea of baptismal regeneration. So, if you repent of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you aren't quite saved yet; you've got to take the plunge. Mr. Snow would probably advise that if you do make a profession of faith, you should take care not to get into a car accident while driving to church to get baptized. You wouldn't want to risk dying before the process of salvation is complete.

  • Laying claim to a theology that "lies somewhere between Reformation Arminianism and five-point Calvinism, with a decided aversion toward the latter," T.J. Pennock declares war on all Calvinists: "To be sure, we see Calvinism as a serious threat to the stability of Christ's churches (fundamentalist churches, in particular) and earnestly desire its elimination from our ranks. However, we fear it will take a long and nasty battle before we can finally rid Geneva from our assemblies. A rocky road lies ahead." Good luck, T.J.! May you have as much success as everyone else who has ever tried to rid the world of sound, biblical teaching.

  • Calvin vs. Luther. I'll admit that when it comes to extending the influence of the church into civil government, I'm more Lutheran than Calvinistic. Real change comes through the power of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the gospel.

  • Adam Omelianchuk explains at length why he is no longer a Calvinist.

  • Stan is not a Calvinist, either -- but in a different way.

  • C. Michael Patton remembers the day he became a Calvinist. For many, that day won't come until they get to heaven.

  • The Seeking Disciple thinks the Synod of Dort was a "kangaroo court": "From the beginning the Arminian view was not held as equal to the Calvinist view nor was the true purpose of the synod to help bring about clarity to the issues in the Reformed churches in Europe. The true nature of the Synod of Dort was simply to put Calvinist in complete power of the churches in Europe." Now, if that isn't a biased view of history, I don't know what is. He goes on to talk about how persecuted the Arminians were and uses that as evidence of just how bad Calvinism is. Has he forgotten the Reformation? Some saw that as an excuse to lash out violently against the Catholic church, and war eventually exploded all across Europe. Does that mean there never should have been a Reformation? Besides, the Arminians got their revenge when they took over the political systems of England and Europe and forced Calvinism out of the churches.

  • The Highland Host begins a series of posts entitled "Lies Arminians Tell," the aim being "to deal with a few Arminian misrepresentations of Calvinism."
  • Thursday, September 13, 2007

    Smoking and Legalism

    Steve Camp's excellent post on smoking and legalism sparked some interesting discussion on his blog. You can read it here.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    Nietzsche Finds His Niche... the Keane household, of all places.

    This humorous little web site "pairs a randomized Family Circus cartoon with a randomized Friedrich Nietzsche quote."

    Come on. A cheery, family-friendly cartoon merged with the dark, disturbing musings of a German philosopher? How could that not be funny?

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    A Burning Question for Arminians

    One of the blessings of the Internet is having a vast collection of Reformed and Calvinist resources at my fingertips. I have made many online friends over the years who have inspired me in my walk with Christ and whose words of encouragement have helped me in all areas of my life. It's also a comfort to know that so many other people out there, both Calvinist and Arminian, wrestle with difficult issues as they travel on their own spiritual journeys, actively seeking the precious truths found in God's word.

    Alas, there is a downside to this virtually unregulated medium. Anyone can get a web site or a blog and say just about anything with an air of authority they wouldn't otherwise have in the "real" world. (Hey, I'm living proof of that.) And that usually means one must sift through tons of dirt and mud (and venom and bile) to find a single nugget of wisdom.

    Don't get me wrong. I love controversy as much as the next guy. In fact, I had an hour-long discussion with two Mormon "elders" just the other night who stopped their bikes to try and convert me as I was taking out the trash. (They eventually gave up in frustration and rode off, saying that it was clear I didn't even believe the Bible, and that I was wasting their time!) But much of the controversy found on the World Wide Web comes from Christian bloggers in what can only be described as a misguided (and in many cases, I'm willing to grant, unintentional) attack on some of the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

    Like the Remonstrants of old, these bloggers are lashing out in ignorance against certain teachings in scripture because they can't make sense of them from a human perspective. "A God who chooses some people for salvation and not others? That isn't fair! My God is a God of love! And what do you mean that God ordained sin to enter into the world and that he causes bad things to happen? My God is not the author of sin! My God is not evil!" On and on they ramble, never seeming to tire of setting up Calvinist straw men and knocking them down in righteous indignation.

    It is the issue of God's sovereignty with which they seem to have the biggest problem. Oh, they will readily agree that God is sovereign over all creation, but they will be just as quick to criticize a brother or sister who talks of a God who turns hearts toward hatred (Psalm 105:25), who means evil for good (Genesis 50:20), or who molds all people for his own purposes (Romans 9:21-23).

    Unfortunately, they don't stop at mere criticism. Many go on to make the outrageous claim that we Calvinists believe in an evil God. They would agree with Dr. Roger Olson, professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, who said, "The God of Calvinism scares me; I'm not sure how to distinguish him from the devil."

    Which brings us to the issue at hand.

    Imagine the following situation: I'm out for an evening stroll when I smell something burning. I look around and notice flames in one of the second floor windows of a neighbor's house. In the other window, I can see a little girl pounding on the glass and can hear her cries for help. I do nothing. I don't even use my cell phone to call 911. I just stand there watching until the entire house is engulfed in flames and the little girls dies. Now, since I was perfectly capable of saving her, but chose not to, how could anyone with a conscience say that I was not responsible for her death?

    From a basic human perspective, there wouldn't be any doubt. By standing there and doing nothing as that little girl burned to death, I would be just as culpable as if I had started the fire in the first place. And that's really what we humans care about, isn't it, deciding who's to blame in tragic situations?

    So, here's the question I have for you Arminians: If a sovereign, loving, all-powerful God neither ordains nor causes bad things to happen, but simply stands by and allows them to happen, then how does he escape responsibility for the pain and suffering of those involved? (Keep in mind that the "bad things" being talked about here can refer to everything from the stubbing of one's toe to the eternal damnation of one's soul.)

    I submit that you cannot answer that question without betraying your own Arminian worldview. You cannot answer it without resorting to the same theological gymnastics you accuse Calvinists of performing. And you certainly cannot answer it if you have a problem conceiving of a truly sovereign God who works all things for his ultimate glory.

    Monday, September 10, 2007

    Calvinism and God's Omniscience

    I recently ran across a post by an Arminian who believes that God's omniscience is a reason to reject Calvinism. He writes, "If the only way for God to know the future is to foreordain the choices and actions of his creatures, then God is not omniscient nor has the ability to be." There appears to be a hint of logic in that statement, but it falls apart under close examination.

    As Creator of all things, God is, by definition, the Creator of everything that has been known, is known, and will be known. And as Creator, he is either sovereign over all creation or he isn't. I believe he is, and herein lies the nature of God's omniscience.

    If something is foreknown to take place, then it must be foreordained. Otherwise there is the possibility that it might not happen. Put simply, God sees not just a particular future event, but everything leading up to that event. We can logically conclude that if the path is not already determined for a particular event to take place, then it cannot be foreseen, and there would exist the possibility that God could be wrong -- and that is an impossibility.

    The only way around this dilemma is to admit that God does "foreordain the choices and actions of his creatures" in such a way that he is able to bring about all that he foresees. But that cannot be reconciled with Arminian free will.

    If anything, God's omniscience is yet another reason to embrace Calvinism!

    Friday, September 07, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - September 7, 2007

  • Al Mohler remembers Dr. D. James Kennedy.

  • The Pyromaniacs set fire to emergent theology and raise an important issue regarding this movement that seeks to "redefine Scripture itself": If everyone has been wrong about the Bible for the last 2,000 years, "it makes you wonder not only why God wrote the Book, but why He made such a poor job of it."

  • This Arminian once embraced a form of hyper-Calvinism, but ended up rejecting Calvinism altogether once he began "taking the simple statements found in Scripture at face value." This seems typical of those who reject Calvinism. When they are confronted with apparently conflicting passages (e.g., the Gospels vs. Romans), there is no attempt to reconcile them; they just pick the interpretation that makes them feel better.

  • The Desiring God Blog has completed a four-part series on God's sovereignty over sin. The posts were comprised of excerpts from John Frame's book The Doctrine of God. Check them out: Part 1: Does God Author Sin?, Part 2: Does God Cause Sin?, Part 3: Does God Permit Sin?, Part 4: The Author-Story Model.

  • In addition to rejecting the "bogus doctrine" of predestination, this disgruntled blogger would like you to also reject the "personhood and diety (sic) of the Holy Spirit." Naturally, there isn't any appeal to scripture. That would undermine his personal vendetta against Matt Slick and the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry.

  • Michael Lewis addresses the question of "human responsibility in light of the sovereignty of God and his electing purpose."

  • Tominthebox News Network reports that Pope Benedict XVI has declared that "Protestant blogs are not 'real' blogs" -- a direct attack on the Reformed doctrine of sola blogda.

  • Remember Roger Olson's rant against the Calvinist response (John Piper's in particular) to the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis? Here is one blogger's observation regarding Olson's denial of God's sovereignty: "It is only when God does something that goes against our own expectations that we start to hear suggestions that God couldn't possibly be responsible for those things."

  • To this blogger, "the idea of monergism vs. synergism isn't whether or not God is sovereign, but whether or not God is, at all times, exercising complete control over every minute detail of human existence." He says he is "leaning toward monergism," but admits that he loves Roger Olson and is "intrigued by" and "sympathetic to" universalism.

  • A former Arminian talks about his "conversion to the doctrines of grace."
  • Wednesday, September 05, 2007

    Dr. D. James Kennedy Passes Away

    From Christian News Wire:
      Dr. D. James Kennedy, founder and senior pastor for 48 years of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., passed away peacefully in his sleep at approximately 2:15 a.m. at his home with his wife and daughter by his bedside, following complications from a cardiac event last December. He was 76. Dates and times for a public viewing and funeral and private interment will be released when available.

      "There are all kinds of wonderful things I could say about my dad," said daughter Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy. "But one that stands out is his fine example. He 'walked the walk' and 'practiced what he preached.' His work for Christ is lasting -- it will go on and on and make a difference for eternity."

      Dr. Kennedy, who is survived by Anne, his wife of 51 years, and his daughter Jennifer, preached his last sermon from the pulpit of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church on Christmas Eve Sunday 2006. He suffered a cardiac arrest four days later on Dec. 28, and has since been unable to return to the pulpit. The church announced his retirement on Aug. 26, beginning a process to choose his successor, and had planned a tribute worship service honoring the extensive ministry of Dr. Kennedy on Sept. 23.

    God Hates False Gospels

    Broadcaster Louis Theroux gives us a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the blasphemous Fred Phelps and his brainwashed congregation. In Part 6, Theroux sums it up perfectly when he notes that "this ministry is human-focused rather than God-focused."

    Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

    "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-9).

    Friday, August 31, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - August 31, 2007

  • Exactly how does the doctrine of total depravity help your marriage? David Wayne, who has been married for 20 years, explains.

  • Steven Melvin McCalip has written an essay that draws a parallel between Calvinists who believe God elects certain people unto salvation and Jews who believed that no Gentile could be saved. Believe me, it makes even less sense after reading it. But, really, what would make sense coming from a King James Only Trinity-denier?

  • The Calvinism debate that never was.

  • Sean Babu warns his readers: "Beware of any theology that has difficulty with John 3:16 and any book that requires many pages to explain what it 'really means.'" First of all, no Calvinist I know has difficulty with John 3:16. Secondly, its meaning can be summed up in a single sentence (courtesy of Phil Johnson): "By redeeming a remnant, Christ saves humanity from utter destruction." Get it? Got it? Good!

  • Matt Paulson and Kelly Powers discuss the question "Does regeneration precede belief in Jesus?" I was surprised to see that Matt (the Calvinist) doesn't think so. After all, we read in scripture that God's people must receive a divine heart transplant in order to be able to obey God (Ezekiel 11:19-20). The Bible also teaches that man is dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1). How can a dead man believe? In the Calvinist view of ordo salutis, regeneration most certainly precedes belief.

  • Here's irony for you. Last week, Michael McDowell shared a sermon he preached on eternal security, in which he declared, "Salvation is a gift, by grace, and through faith. It is not of works, so in this case it is impossible to earn it yourself, and also to lose it yourself." But next month he intends to "take on the heresy of Calvinism." Calvinism, as you all know, is a doctrine which teaches that salvation is a gift, by grace, and through faith. It is not of works, so in this case it is impossible to earn it yourself, and also to lose it yourself.

  • "CanJAmerican" J. Brian McKillop reflects on the historical importance of Calvinism in his own life as well as in the life of the church.

  • Spurgeon on Calvinism and brainwashing.
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