Friday, February 29, 2008

This Week in Calvinism - February 29, 2008

  • 10 "myths" about Arminian theology.

  • Clearing up common misconceptions about Calvinism.

  • Cory Tucholski on the most controversial letter in TULIP.

  • Keith Throop addresses the question: What is a Reformed Baptist?

  • T.J. Pennock continues to paint a false picture of Calvinism. He uses quotes about "Calvin's Orwellian theocracy" in Geneva to demonstrate why we should be wary of Calvinism. That's quite a leap. If anything, 16th century Geneva demonstrates the dangers of theonomy, not the doctrines of grace.
  • Friday, February 22, 2008

    Faith Is Not Blind

    Is there anything that can persuade you not to believe in God? Many Christians might respond, "No! Absolutely not! There is nothing anyone can possibly say that will make me change my mind!"

    Well, what if someone had proof that the resurrection was a hoax? We might have to conclude as Paul did: "For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied" (1 Corinthians 15:16-19).

    Blind faith really isn't faith at all. It's important to know not only what you believe, but why you believe it.

    This Week in Calvinism - February 22, 2008

  • TBNN reports that anti-Calvinist posters have been popping up all over campus at Pensacola Christian College.

  • Dmitry Chernikov, one of my favorite columnists at LewRockwell.com, is finding himself sympathetic to the Calvinism of A. A. Hodge.

  • Pastor Jerry Beaver preaches a sermon entitled "Debunking Calvinism." Of course, he can't debunk it, so he takes a page out of the Ergun Caner playbook and equates Calvinism with hyper-Calvinism. He then tries to tear down Calvinist heroes. He implies that Charles Spurgeon wasn't really all that Calvinistic because he was criticized by other Calvinists for instituting the altar call (which isn't true). He belittles Augustine's doctrinal teachings because Augustine believed in infant baptism. He leaves his congregation with the wrong impression that John Piper also supports infant baptism. He even dredges up the old "Calvin killed Servetus" argument, and if Calvin thought it was OK to execute someone for not believing in the Trinity, then how can we trust what Calvin taught in other areas? Well, if Pastor Beaver thinks it's OK to preach on subjects about which he knows nothing, then how can he be trusted to faithfully preach the Word?

  • Gordan Runyan of the Reformed Mafia rolls out Part 2 of his review of Frank Page's book, Trouble With the TULIP.

  • To his credit, Ken Schenck only hates Calvinism, not the Calvinist.

  • Michael Horton of the White Horse Inn addresses the issue of moralistic preaching, which often involves ignoring the main point of Old Testament stories: "Given the moralistic expectations often assumed, it is no wonder that people find the Old Testament boring and much of the New Testament incomprehensible." He adds that "instead of drawing a straight line of application from the narrative to us, which typically moralizes or allegorizes these stories, we are taught by Jesus himself to understand these passages in light of their place in the unfolding drama of redemption that leads to Christ. Moralistic preaching, the bane of conservatives and liberals alike, assumes that we're not really helpless sinners that need to be rescued, but decent folks who just need a few good examples, exhortations, and instructions."
  • Thursday, February 21, 2008

    The Futility of Post-Modernism as Seen on TV

    The various TV networks present us with the futility of post-modernism 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But every once in a while it's intentional. The following is a scene from E.R.:Post-modernism can't begin to answer the question, "How can I find forgiveness?" The Bible, on the other hand...: "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).

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    Do You Fear God for No Reason?

    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.

    - John Lennon


    Satan once asked, "Does Job fear God for no reason?" (Job 1:9) Jason Robertson thinks it's an important question: "Would you serve God if there were no blessings attached? What if God were to show you no mercy? What if there were no heaven? What if there were no hell? Would you still serve God?"

    To be honest, no, I wouldn't. If there were no blessings, no mercy, no heaven, and no hell, then how could God be holy? How could he be just? How could he demonstrate his love? His wrath? Why would anyone need saving if there wasn't punishment for sin? What hope would there be without eternal life? Would God even be God at all?

    In the kind of world John Lennon imagined, there would be no need for a Savior or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In such a world, I would be incapable of serving God.

    Monday, February 18, 2008

    Why Parents Need to Parent

    Proverbs 9:10 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight." Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." What happens when such precepts are ignored? We end up with stories like this:
      He's an 8-year-old boy who wants to attend second grade here in the Douglas County Public Schools, but with an unusual stipulation: He wants to go to class as a girl.

      That means wearing girls' clothing if he likes, being addressed by his teacher with a girl's name, and using the school's two unisex, family bathrooms instead of the boys' room.

      School district officials are preparing to accommodate the transgender child and his family, but not without public fuss.

      Other parents at the school have gone public with their objections, citing concerns about exposing their own children to the sensitive subjects of sex and gender identification, and questioning the wisdom of the school's accommodation of the boy.

      "I don't think a [second-grader] does have the rationale to decide this life-altering choice," said Dave M., who told Denver's KUSA-TV that his daughter will be in the same class as the transgendered boy.
    Kids can't get a driver's license until they're 16. They can't vote until they're 18. We make them wait until they're 21 before they can drink. But a child of eight is capable of deciding which gender he would like to be?

    The implication in Proverbs is that young children really do lack the rationale to make life-altering choices. That's why it is important for mothers and fathers to do their jobs as parents and, well, parent.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008

    Discerning God's Will

    "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2).

    If our adoption experience has taught me anything, it is to be more discerning about God's will for our lives. Today, I got to thinking: When we Christians pray for guidance in our decision-making process, what exactly are we praying for? Are we expecting a sign? Are we waiting for God to speak to us? Are we asking for a feeling of peace? Are we looking for something that hasn't already been revealed in scripture?

    No. Well, at least we shouldn't be.

    Contrary to what some are teaching, we shouldn't be listening to some inner voice. We should be listening to God's voice in scripture.

    Pastor John Piper has this to say:
      The Bible does not tell you which person to marry, or which car to drive, or whether to own a home, where you take your vacation, what cell-phone plan to buy, or which brand of orange juice to drink. Or a thousand other choices you must make.

      What is necessary is that we have a renewed mind, that is so shaped and so governed by the revealed will of God in the Bible, that we see and assess all relevant factors with the mind of Christ, and discern what God is calling us to do. This is very different from constantly trying to hear God's voice saying do this and do that. People who try to lead their lives by hearing voices are not in sync with Romans 12:2.

      There is a world of difference between praying and laboring for a renewed mind that discerns how to apply God's Word, on the one hand, and the habit of asking God to give you new revelation of what to do, on the other hand. Divination does not require transformation. God's aim is a new mind, a new way of thinking and judging, not just new information. His aim is that we be transformed, sanctified, freed by the truth of his revealed Word (John 8:32; 17:17).
    That is my prayer.

    Friday, February 15, 2008

    This Week in Calvinism - February 15, 2008

  • Phil Johnson, in the latest installment of his series on total depravity, tackles the question: How can we be held responsible for our own inability?

  • In memory of St. Francis de Sales, beatified and canonized by the Catholic church for his fight against Calvinism.

  • "Reformed Baptist" is not an oxymoron.

  • David, the "Thirsty Theologian," explains why he is a Calvinist.

  • The Southern Baptist Convention needs a new president. Al Mohler has dropped out of the running, so SBC Outpost has a suggestion: "The best we can tell, is that Frank Cox would be a Mohler without the Calvinism. If you think things were going just fine before Frank Page was elected, and you don’t like Calvinism, and want to see more missions giving and going, Frank Cox is your man."
  • Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    Hagee Clarifies His Heretical Position

    John Hagee doesn't want his unbiblical teaching to be labeled heresy, so he has posted an open letter in hopes of providing some sort of clarification about what he believes:
      I am writing to share with you some important news pertaining to my latest book In Defense of Israel. It has come to my attention that my choice of language and some of the interpretation being given that language in Chapter Ten has caused some confusion and actually led some readers to question whether I believe that Jesus is the Messiah. If people are reaching such a conclusion, then I have clearly failed to communicate my views as well as I should have.
    Now, I haven't thoroughly combed the blogosphere to see what everyone else has been saying about this, but I never claimed that Hagee himself denies that Jesus is the Messiah. My problem was with this statement: "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?" You can see why Hagee would want to cover his tracks.

    What he really meant was that while Jesus came as the suffering Messiah, he never claimed to be the reigning Messiah, and that's the one for whom the Jews were waiting. Unfortunately for Hagee, this feeble attempt at backpedaling is just as unbiblical as his original assertion.

    Those Jews who rejected Christ as Messiah were without excuse. If all of the Old Testament prophets weren't enough, they had the example of foreigners worshiping the infant Jesus as the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2). More importantly, Christ himself proclaimed his divine kingship:
      So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?" Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world -- to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." (John 18:33-37)
    And if there was still any confusion, they had Peter's sermon at Pentecost:
      Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

      "The Lord said to my Lord,
      Sit at my right hand,
      until I make your enemies your footstool."

      Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. (Acts 2:29-36)
    In the book of Hebrews, they were reminded that Christ, in his role as priest-king, was already reigning:
      For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. (Hebrews 7:26-8:2)
    If anyone failed to recognize Jesus as the suffering and reigning Messiah, it certainly wasn't due to a lack of communication on Christ's part.

    Friday, February 08, 2008

    This Week in Calvinism - February 8, 2008

  • Coming March 1, 2008: a Calvinism Forum at Liberty University.

  • Bob Hayton presents the best of his blog from 2007.

  • Does Calvinism lead to radical skepticism? Kyle thinks so. He believes Calvinists want everyone to "accept their system no matter how immoral or illogical it makes God look because Scripture teaches it." He concludes that "Calvinism is self-defeating, unlivable, and most of all unbiblical." One reason he gives is that "even our rational faculties, according to Reformed theologians, have been ruined by the noetic effects of sin. Therefore, we must simply believe Scripture even though it both seems immoral, and irrational." First of all, the straw man argument that Calvinism makes God out to be immoral or illogical is absurd. I could just as easily say that a theological system based on the premise that God created certain people with the full foreknowledge that those people will exercise their "free will," never accept Christ, and end up in hell, is immoral and illogical. Secondly, Calvinism is intrinsically God-centered. God receives all the glory because he is the one in control of his own creation. That's the God we read about in scripture.

  • I have heard a lot of criticism about Calvinism, but blaming it for the war in Iraq? That's a new one. (By the way, the illegal, unconstitutional, immoral invasion of Iraq has more to do with dispensational premillennialism than it does with Calvinism. Just ask John Hagee.)

  • With Part III, Sam Nunnally wraps up his series entitled "Come on, Just How Bad Is Calvinism?" (Part I, Part II) Nunnally thinks Calvinism is really bad and that it gives Christianity a bad name. "Christians loose (sic) the respect of others when we say things like the accidental death of a two year old can do more for Jesus than that child's life could have. We see more popularized versions of this idea in congregational prayers that end all requests with 'if it be thy will ...'" No Calvinist I know will claim to be able to say exactly why God would take a two-year-old. Like anyone else, we cry over the loss of a loved one and grieve along with those who suffer. All we can say with certainty is that the Creator knows more than the creature. After all, God's will is infinitely superior to our own. When it comes to the bad things that happen in this world, we must realize that they are the result of sin. But even the entrance of sin into the world was ordained, as it's ultimate and inevitable destruction brings glory to a just and holy God. The only alternative is to believe that God was powerless to stop sin from entering into the world and that he remains powerless to keep bad things from happening. So, is that the kind of God we want to trust with the salvation and security of our eternal souls? The very hope we have as Christians depends on God's sovereignty over everything.

  • A little background on John Davenant, an influential figure in church history.

  • N. T. Wright fans will appreciate this new perspective on Moses.

  • J. Brian McKillop discusses the logic of both Calvinism and Arminianism. (Yes, believe it or not, even Arminians can be consistent in their theology.)
  • Wednesday, February 06, 2008

    Christian Students Want a Warmongering President

    That's the impression I got when I attended my precinct caucus last night.

    Caucuses all over the state of Minnesota reported record turn-outs, and ours was no exception. The first thing I noticed upon arriving was the large number of young voters. A great many of them were from my alma mater, Northwestern College, in St. Paul.

    One of these enthusiastic students was called up onto the stage during the general assembly. "Why are you here?" the woman holding the microphone asked. "To vote for Mitt Romney," the young man stated. Loud cheers erupted from his fellow students.

    Although it wasn't very evident last night, Mike "I Won't Engage in Negative Campaigning, but if I Did, This is What I Would Say" Huckabee also seems to be popular with Christian students. Huckabee, as you may recall, preached at John "The Heretic" Hagee's church back in December. Most recently, it was Janet Huckabee on the campaign trail, addressing the Northwestern student body during a chapel service last week to promote her husband's candidacy.

    One would think that a truly consistent, conservative Christian like Ron Paul would be a favorite among students at a school that is supposedly dedicated to the faithful teaching and study of scripture, yet he is virtually ignored. "Sure, Ron Paul is the only candidate who actually follows the Romans 13 command to submit to the governing authority of the land, i.e. the Constitution, but we're evangelical dispensationalists. We don't care if our president is a hypocritical pastor or a devout member of the largest cult in America, just as long as he gives us the war we need to usher in the end times prophecies foretold by Tim LaHaye in his Left Behind books."

    OK, I know, that's a bit over the top. Unfortunately, I can't think of a better explanation at the moment.

    Friday, February 01, 2008

    This Week in Calvinism - February 1, 2008

  • Matthew, the "Dyspraxic Fundamentalist," sees Calvinists as swindlers who con people into believing the doctrines of grace, which, as we all know, "are bare of any true biblical foundation." Yes, we realize that Calvinism is offensive at first to all new believers -- not like the gospel, which they accepted readily without any hesitation. The trick is to beat them into submission by making them feel guilty about not subjecting themselves humbly to the teaching of scripture.

  • In light of Ephesians 2:1, I'm surprised T. J. Pinnock has a problem with the concept of regeneration preceding conversion -- unless, of course, it's possible for a dead man to have faith.

  • Yet another misconception about Calvinism.

  • Roman Catholicism preaches a different gospel.

  • A common charge against Calvinism is that it kills evangelism. As Terry Delaney points out, it is through evangelism (i.e., the preaching and hearing of the Word) by which God saves the elect. God not only ordains the end, he also ordains the means.
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