Friday, September 19, 2008

This Week in Calvinism - September 19, 2008

  • In reference to Deuteronomy 29:29, "Kangaroodort" asks about Calvinists, "Isn't their entire theological system built on the foundation of eternal 'secret decrees' which are nowhere to be found in the pages of Scripture?" Talk about a straw man argument. The doctrines of grace are no secret; they are taught throughout scripture. Should I deny the Trinity simply because the Bible doesn't give us specific insight into the inner workings of an eternal God existing in three persons?

  • Jeff has begun a series of posts in which he will try to do what no one in history has been able to accomplish: refute Calvinism. He doesn't like the Calvinist view on total depravity, saying, "Calvinism insists that what man needs is an immediate revelation from God at the time that the individual hears the Gospel. The concept that is far more consistent with scripture is that Christ's teachings, example of life, and sacrificial and atoning death are themselves God's revelation to man." Sure, God is revealed in the Gospel, just as he is revealed in creation. But that has nothing to do with believing. Our hearts of stone must first be replaced with hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19-20 and 36:26-27) before we can obey His commands.

  • Steven Carr recommends Joel Beeke's new book, Living For God's Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism.

  • Tom Ascol writes, "Does Calvinism present a challenge? Without a doubt it does. If it is true, then we must acknowledge that much that is being taught in our churches today is false. If it is false, then we must acknowledge that those who believe and teach the biblical doctrines historically delineated by that nickname are misled and misleading others. We cannot have it both ways."

  • Another Tom writes, "I think it is a very good thing that we get back to theology. Whether you agree with Calvinism or not, the cause for Christ is advanced when we return to the study of theology."

5 comments:

The Militant Pacifist said...

Additionally, there is some interesting discussion (involving some Calvinists) going on over at "Spurgeon's Cigar" (http://spurgeonscigar.blogspot.com/).

You might want to check it out.

Tom said...

Lee,

Thanks for linking to my blog.

By the way, my last name is also Shelton.

arminianperspectives said...

Should I deny the Trinity simply because the Bible doesn't give us specific insight into the inner workings of an eternal God existing in three persons?

I think if anyone reads the actual post they will find that your comments concerning the Trinity are irrelevant. Imagine though if you pointed out to a JW that the Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity by showing explicitly that the Bible both affirms Christ's deity and God's unity, and him objecting because of some theological secret teaching that he asserts lurks behind those explicit statements (namely, the secret teaching that Christ is not God, etc.) which makes those statements teach essentially the opposite of what they actually say.

Also, I plainly said in the post,

Calvinists, of course, believe that they have gained insight into these secret eternal decrees by what the Bible reveals in passages which discuss depravity, election, and predestination. The obvious problem is that their understanding of these passages leads them to embrace a theology that makes “secret decrees” and “hidden” contrary intentions lurk behind so much that God has revealed (as in Jer. 13:15-17 above). Wouldn’t it be wise for them to carefully re-evaluate whether the secret should determine the revealed or whether the revealed should determine and control their theology?

...but maybe you didn't read that part.

Thanks for the link,
Ben

Lee Shelton IV said...

Seriously, Ben, what Calvinist has ever claimed to have "gained insight into these secret eternal decrees"? As with the Trinity, we cannot gain any special insight beyond what is revealed in scripture. You can call my comment irrelevant if you want, but I think it works.

And thanks for reading.

arminianperspectives said...

As with the Trinity, we cannot gain any special insight beyond what is revealed in scripture.

And that is exactly the point. What God "reveals" should comport with what is not "revealed" (and if it isn't "revealed" then how can we know anything about it?) The problem is that Calvinists render nonsense myriads of Scriptures (those that say God loves the world, desires to save all, does not desire the wicked to perish, etc.) due to a commitment to what is not revealed (i.e. "secret things").

Here is a comment I made to someone in the combox of Deut. 29:29 post that addresses your appeal to mystery:

God is indeed beyond our comprehension. There are things about God that we will never be able to fully grasp; otherwise, he wouldn’t be much of a God. All theology must grapple with mystery and that is true for Arminians as well as Calvinists. And truly, God has revealed much of what was formerly mystery (like the divine intention to include Gentiles in the chosen people of God through faith in Christ), but those mysteries comport with what God had previously revealed even though the full revelation had been hidden up to that point.

The point of the post, however, is that contradiction should never come under the umbrella of “mystery” and we should look to the things “revealed” to gain our understanding about God and his desires and intentions.

The problem is that Calvinists see a secret and often completely contradictory desire and intention of God lurking behind what God has revealed about Himself, and then change the meaning of what is revealed (often rendering it complete nonsense) for the sake of a secret eternal decree (what Walls and Dongell described as “awkward decoding”). That should give them pause and challenge them to re-evaluate the legitimacy of their hermeneutic.


God Bless,
Ben

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