Friday, January 16, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - January 16, 2009

It's been quite a week!
  • The New York Times has a less-than flattering article on Mark Driscoll, essentially painting him as an egomaniac: "Driscoll is still the one who gazes down upon Mars Hill's seven congregations most Sundays, his sermons broadcast from the main campus to jumbo-size projection screens around the city. At one suburban campus that I visited, a huge yellow cross dominated center stage -- until the projection screen unfurled and Driscoll’s face blocked the cross from view. Driscoll's New Calvinism underscores a curious fact: the doctrine of total human depravity has always had a funny way of emboldening, rather than humbling, its adherents."

  • Daniel Ross was surprised the article didn't focus more on the fact that women aren't treated the same as men at Mars Hill Church.

  • Stephen Suh, on the other hand, did focus on that. I would be surprised if Suh had even heard of Mark Driscoll before he read the Times article, but he thinks he knows enough to accuse Driscoll and Calvinists in general of being misogynists. And be sure to scroll down and read the comments comparing Driscoll to Charles Manson and Jim Jones. (What, no Hitler reference?) Pathetic.

  • You can read more commentary, both positive and negative, on the article in question here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

  • Anthony Sacramone used the Times article as a jumping-off point to rant about how bad Calvinist theology is, especially in regard to limited atonement. Stopping short of accusing us of spreading a false gospel, he admits he ended his "sojourn among the Calvinists because their view of justification is not so much 'by faith alone' as it is 'by luck alone.'"

  • Phil Johnson clarifies Calvinism. His "advice to young Calvinists is to learn theology from the historic mainstream Calvinist authors, not from blogs and discussion forums on the Internet." Read also Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

  • A question for William Birch: What is so amazing about a grace that can be resisted?

  • John Calvin persevered despite many physical ailments.

  • Lex Loizides lists some differences between John Calvin and Martin Luther.

  • Matt Perkins confesses, "I'm still an Arminian. But I'm realizing that I may have overlooked some problems in the Arminian system and I may have oversimplified the Calvinist point of view to make it look worse than it really is." I think we can all agree that people on both sides have been guilty of that.

  • Volgens "Het is dit jaar 500 jaar geleden dat de naamgever van het calvinisme, Johannes Calvijn, werd geboren. Ter gelegenheid hiervan verschijnt morgen het glossy personality-magazine Calvijn!."


Anonymous said...

"A question for William Birch: What is so amazing about a grace that can be resisted?"

Well, for starters, for God to even love any creature after he or she has offended a righteous and holy God is utterly amazing, whether one views His grace as a "regenerating grace" (i.e. Calvinism) or a "prevenient grace" which may be resisted.

So, your question is rather moot, no? That is, assuming that you actually read the short article.

"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" (Eph. 2:8 ESV). Amazing grace.

"Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain" (2 Cor. 6:1 ESV). Amazing grace which can be received in vain. Amazing grace nonetheless.

"See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God" (Heb. 12:15 ESV). Amazing grace which may not be obtained. Amazing grace nonetheless.

God bless,

Billy Birch

James Scott Bell said...

A grace that can be resisted is more amazing than a reprobation that cannot be.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for adding a link to my post on some of the differences between Luther and Calvin.

I intend to cover further issues relating to Calvin's massive influence - but will particularly enjoy showing how he was far more 'missional' than other reformers at the time, who were, quite rightly, busy contending for their own nations.

Calvin, having been banished from France was instantly engaged in multi-national missions and church planting. The upcoming posts will hopefully provide much needed correction to the idea that Calvinists are essentially unevangelistic or inclined to be fatalistic about mission.

But thanks for the link.

God bless,

Beal said...

I liked the article on Driscoll, I thought it was very generous toward him.

Anonymous said...

I had heard of Driscoll, but I'll admit that I don't pay too much attention to American Evangelicalism's novelty acts.

FWIW, I do have a Master of Divinity degree and several years of both teaching and parish ministry, though my education and experience is Wesleyan in nature rather than Calvinist.

That is to say, focused on God's love and involvement with human beings rather than mere descriptions of an inaccessible, inscrutable, unknowable and ultimately unloveable god.

Thanks for the link, though!

Lee Shelton said...

Billy, original sin puts us at enmity with God. We are dead in trespasses and sin. But God's amazing, sovereign grace cannot be resisted ultimately because whatever he decrees WILL come to pass. Period. To argue otherwise is to say that our will is more powerful than God's. No one would come to him if not for his grace.

Lee Shelton said...

Johnny, name one person who has ever tried to resist reprobation.

Lee Shelton said...

You're welcome, Stephen, and thanks for presenting only distorted caricatures of Calvinists and for implying that we worship a different god.

Jason and Vanessa said...

here is one you will have to add for next week:

Ryan says, in a reply that faith is a gift from God, calls the God we worship "puppet master God". The entire quote is:

"My neighbor doesn't believe because; A: He has never heard the good news. B: He has rejected the good news. Its not because puppet master God didn't give him the gumption to but he gave me the gumption."

taken from:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't help but notice your lack of Scripture for the philosophy you were just spouting. Could you quote some Scripture to back up what your suggesting?

"To argue otherwise is to say that our will is more powerful than God's."

Tell me: does God "will" that you sin? And if He does not want you to sin (e.g. 1 John), then is your will "more powerful than God's"?


William Birch

Lee Shelton said...

My point was that if God decrees that an individual is to be saved, that individual cannot say "No" and thereby thwart God's plan. It can't happen.

God did ordain that sin exist, otherwise it wouldn't. The fact that we were chosen in Christ "before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4) proves that the greatest sin in history, the crucifixion of God's Son, was a pre-ordained part of God's plan.

Anonymous said...

I agree. God foreordains. But how He foreordains we will certainly not agree.

Nonetheless, Eph. 1:4 does not say that God chose us "to be" in Him. The concept of "to be" belongs to "to be holy and blameless before Him." Thus Eph. 1:4 says that He chose us (who are) in Him (the phrase is locative), before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before Him.


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