Friday, January 25, 2008

This Week in Calvinism - January 25, 2008

  • James White vs. Dave Hunt.

  • Carla Rolfe will "no longer 'debate' the doctrines of grace," but she certainly won't shy away from them. She shares her story "in the hopes that someone out there sees that not all 'Calvinists' are created equal, and that what you may have believed about us, may not be as accurate as you thought."

  • After a long hiatus, Purgatorio is back!

  • Calvinism (and other dirty words people like to throw around).

  • Some great quotes on Calvinism.

  • Another great "Calvinist" quote.

  • Michael Horton on Joel Osteen's prosperity gospel.

  • Christianity vs. Jesusanity.
  • Friday, January 18, 2008

    This Week in Calvinism - January 18, 2008

  • Breaking news! A multitude of evangelicals gather together to discuss "concerns about the growth of Calvinism and the rise of a Willow Creek-style of non-confrontational evangelism within Southern Baptist churches." OK, there were only 15 people in attendance, but the Baptist Press apparently thought it was worth reporting. If you're expecting anything significant to come out of this meeting, don't bother. Those who view Calvinism as the enemy can't seem to make the link between a departure from the biblically sound doctrines of grace and the empty, hollow gospel of the seeker-friendly movement.

  • Timmy Brister shares his thoughts on this ground-breaking summit.

  • Having trouble refuting a Calvinist? Try the Ray Benfield approach:
    1. Take three verses that have one or two words in common -- one verse from the beginning of the Bible, one from the middle, and one from the end, each preferably from a different author -- and link them together, regardless of their respective contexts, as if they were meant to convey one, continuous thought.
    2. Follow those verses up with a bold, conclusive statement like "Christ died for all! Everyone is 'elected' into the 'book of life.' Only those denying Christ will have their names removed."
    3. Most importantly, ignore all passages (like Psalm 14:1-3, Jeremiah 13:23, Mark 7:21, John 1:12-13, John 6:44, Romans 8:7-8, Romans 9:14-16, Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 Corinthians 2:14, etc.) that refute your synergistic, free-will belief that man has the ability to choose God.
    VoilĂ ! Your Calvinist foe will hang his head in shame and slither back under the rock from whence he came.

  • Doug Wilson on a return to a more jovial Calvinism.

  • Pyromaniac Frank Turk interviews Tim Challies, who is currently touring the blogosphere to discuss his new book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment.

  • Are Calvinism and science natural enemies? This blogger moved away from a Reformed view toward an open theistic view, "becoming more and more convinced that taking science seriously as a Christian entails an open view of God. Science points us toward a God for whom randomness (or, to use a more philosophical term, contingency) is an essential ingredient in the process of creation." Of course, this doesn't coincide with scripture. God created the world, and it was good (Genesis 1). God created man (Genesis 2). Man sinned, and sin ravaged all of creation (Genesis 3). But all of this was meant to occur, because God's plan of redemption, including Christ's death on the cross, was determined long before the beginning of time (Ephesians 1:4-7, 1st Peter 1:18-20). There is no randomness in creation; God is in complete control of all things (Deuteronomy 32:39, Job 1:21-22, Isaiah 45:7, Jeremiah 31:35, Amos 3:6, James 4:14-15). To deny this is to deny the truth of scripture, and if we do that, we are saying that God isn't who he says he is. We might as well make the claim that God doesn't exist at all. Just because our finite, mortal minds cannot fully comprehend the universe in which we live doesn't mean we should ascribe our own human limitations to our almighty Creator.

  • It may be the middle of winter, but the TULIPs are blooming: "Long considered more Arminian in orientation -- emphasizing an individual's need to respond to the gospel rather than God's election in salvation -- the nation's largest Protestant denomination is grappling with doctrines of grace and election amid a seminary-led revival."
  • Salvation Is of Works...

    ...just not our works.

    John 5:36
    "But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me."

    John 19:28-30
    After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst." A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

    Acts 2:5-11
    Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians -- we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God."

    Galatians 5:19-22
    Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

    Ephesians 1:11
    In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.

    Ephesians 2:8-10
    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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    Philippians 1:6
    And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

    Philippians 2:13
    For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

    Colossians 1:28-29
    Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

    Titus 3:4-7
    But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

    Monday, January 14, 2008

    The Importance of Having a Good Eschatology

    Check out this bizarre AP story from Idaho:
      A man who believed he bore the "mark of the beast" amputated one of his hands, put it in a microwave and summoned authorities, Kootenai County sheriff's deputies say.

      The man, in his mid-20s, was calm when deputies arrived at his home in this north Idaho town Saturday afternoon, and neither he nor the severed hand bore any noticeable tattoo or other mark, sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger.
    Yet another example of the dangers of dispensationalism. :)

    Sunday, January 13, 2008

    Tiptoeing through the TULIPs - Part 4: Irresistible Grace

    Irresistible Grace
    As with just about every other teaching in Calvinist theology, the idea of a grace that cannot be resisted conflicts with our natural, fallen concept of freedom. "God wouldn't force us to love him," some argue. "He didn't create us to be robots. Wouldn't it make more sense to give us the freedom to choose?"

    Jesus says in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." This reinforces the fact that there is no one doing good or seeking after God (Psalm 14:1-3). But our depravity goes beyond a mere inability to do anything that is pleasing to our Creator. Not only do we fail to seek God, we are hostile to him (Romans 8:7).

    In one sense, we are robots in that sin has programmed us to hate God. Yes, we do what we want, but our unregenerate hearts only want that which is evil. As Martin Luther wrote, "'Free-will' is a mere empty term, and that every thing which we do, is done from necessity under the bondage of sin." The only thing that can set us free is divine grace. As we see in scripture, it is not the sheep who seek the shepherd, but the shepherd who seeks the sheep (Ezekiel 34:11-12, Luke 15:3-7).

    Irresistible grace may initially seem at odds with certain passages of scripture. For example, in Acts 7:51, Stephen accuses his listeners of always resisting the Holy Spirit. In Zechariah 7:11-12, we learn that the people "refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets." The list of examples goes on.

    As I pointed out earlier, scripture teaches that the unrepentant, unbelieving heart is hostile toward God. We resist him all the time. We are born resisting him. So, what do we mean by "irresistible grace"?

    It may help to think of it in terms of an "outward call" and an "inward call." The outward call is the general gospel call for all people, both elect and non-elect, to repent and believe. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). This call is rejected all the time, sometimes violently. Stephen was stoned to death for presenting the truth, and Christians throughout history have been martyred for the sake of the gospel.

    The inward call, however, is the irresistible pull of the Holy Spirit on the hearts of those whom God has elected for salvation. Paul tells us that "those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified" (Romans 8:30). Note his use of the past tense, as if these have already been accomplished for every believer. Those who receive the Spirit's call are justified. There is no question about it.

    The truth to be learned here is that while it is natural for fallen man to resist God, the power of the Holy Spirit can and does overcome that resistance. The creature is not more powerful than the Creator, therefore we are incapable of disrupting God's plan of salvation.

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

    Friday, January 11, 2008

    This Week in Calvinism - January 11, 2008

  • From "Jesus in Turkey," an interesting article featured in Christianity Today: "Ucal found that his Muslim neighbors are attracted to systematic approaches to religious instruction, and are also easily touched emotionally. So Ucal began approaching them with an 'emotional Calvinism.'"

  • When asked why he was no longer a Calvinist, Matt replied, "When I was a Calvinist the amount of the Bible I could read kept getting smaller and smaller; Much of the New Testament disagreed with the 5 Points. That and I was leading a horrible life; excused by predestination. What did it matter how I lived if I was one of the elect? Noting I did or did not do could have any effect on what God had determined." Anyone who really understands the doctrines of grace as they are taught in scripture knows that if a man is leading a life of sin with the attitude that he doesn't have to worry about the consequences because he is one of God's elect, then that man is demonstrating that he is lost. Scripture couldn't be more clear. Those who are truly saved will bear the fruit of that salvation (Matthew 13:1-23, Galatians 5:16-24, Philippians 1:6).

  • One blogger's feelings on Calvinism. If you are seeking to get a better grasp on the subject, is a great place to start.

  • Some consider Calvinism to be an end times apostasy.

  • Guy Arthur Thomas argues against the Calvinist doctrine of perseverance of the saints. He thinks the parable of the sower proves that some people who believe the gospel will fall away. Well, in one sense, that's true. Even the devil believes the gospel. But belief apart from repentance isn't true belief, and, as I pointed out earlier, true believers will bear fruit.
  • Friday, January 04, 2008

    This Week in Calvinism - January 4, 2008

  • I'm a Calvinist, so that means I'm a follower of men. My theology is man-made. Thomas Richards, on the other hand, follows Christ and Christ alone. He doesn't "need to look through Calvin as a sight glass to understand the Word of God." And because I "have to reject most of the Bible to believe" doctrines like election and eternal security, it's clear that I'm "on the side of the Antichrist." Just thought our regular readers should be aware of that.

  • With Calvinists and Arminians waging war in the SBC, some moderates feel like they're caught in the crossfire.

  • A gangster boxes a kangaroo.

  • T. J. Pennock starts the new year off with a bang, claiming that "Calvinism disintegrates on the rock of scripture." His reasoning? "FOR WHATSOEVER IS NOT OF FAITH IS SIN. To teach a regeneration prior to and apart from faith is both unscriptural and sinful." Faith is a gift from God (Romans 12:3, Ephesians 2:8), and if we didn't receive that gift in faith (which we couldn't have done, since we didn't have faith before it was given to us), then is the gift of faith sin? You see, T. J., you're missing one of the most basic teachings of Calvinism: God's sovereignty. He and he alone is responsible for our salvation. If we were once "dead in trespasses and sin" (Ephesians 2:1), how could we have ever exercised any kind of faith unless we had first been given life? How can a dead man have faith in anything? To say that regeneration is a result of our faith is to say that we are responsible for our own salvation. That's why you'll hear Calvinists talk about the ordo salutis, or the logical order of salvation. It focuses our attention on the One who deserves all the glory.

  • Joshua Hitchcock just started reading Laurence Vance's book The Other Side of Calvinism, and he isn't impressed. Now, I think Vance is a talented writer. I really enjoy his political commentaries. But he's no theologian, and he clearly doesn't understand Calvinism.

  • How Arminians teach their kids to resist Calvinist theology.

    Happy New Year, everyone!
  • Tuesday, January 01, 2008

    The Timelessness of Osteen's Message

    You're Good Enough, You're Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like You

    A word of encouragement for the new year from Stuart Smalley, The Secret, and, of course, Joel Osteen...

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