Thursday, December 31, 2009

This Year in Calvinism - 2009

Here's a look back at some of the highlights from our This Week in Calvinism feature this past year:
  • "Arminianism in diapers," an interesting post by Paul Manata on the eternal state of infants. (1/2)

  • Every anti-Calvinist knows about Michael Servetus, but not many know about the Libertines who tried to have John Calvin killed. Here's a little history lesson, courtesy of Dr. James Galyon. (1/9)

  • Minister-turned-atheist John Loftus calls Calvinism "bulls--- ." (Yeah, I know. He's a class act.) That's quite a charge coming from someone whose own worldview does not allow for such things as right or wrong. But the real irony is that his concept of a universe sans Creator is doomed to naturalistic predeterminism. There is no way around it. In such a world even our "free-will" thoughts are nothing more than the result of chance chemical reactions and the random firing of neurons. So, human beings can't possibly be free to do what they want to do. We Calvinists at least allow for that. And yet Mr. Loftus thinks our belief system is the problem. That's know. (2/6)

  • Calvinists told to get the "L" outta here. (2/27)

  • TIME Magazine presents 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now. Number three on the list: Calvinism. (3/13)

  • Kevl uses Nicholas Cage's latest movie to expose Calvinism's "determinism" and thereby reveal the difference between Calvinism and Christianity. (4/10)

  • Joshua prefers Universalism over Arminianism and Calvinism. I guess that means God does everything for us rather than his own glory. Sorry, but we are not more important than God. (4/17)

  • Finally, after hundreds of years, someone has managed to disprove Calvinism. And he did it with only 39 verses! (4/24)

  • Getting around total depravity, the supreme sovereignty of God, and the "age of accountability" question is easy. Simply deny original sin. (5/8)

  • Calvinism is on the rise in China. (5/29)

  • The anti-Calvinist, anti-Christian "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was the anthem of the War of Northern Aggression. (6/5)

  • Eric Carpenter loves Calvinism because it is Trinity-centered. He notes, "The Calvinistic view of salvation emphasizes the involvement of all three members of the Trinity. It also emphasizes the cooperation of all three members: the Father elects those He sovereignly chooses, the Son pays for the sins of the elect, and the Spirit regenerates the hearts of the elect. All three members of the Trinity work together as One." (6/12)

  • At 500, John Calvin still holds relevance in social and theological thought. (7/10)

  • Let me get this straight: Election is based on God's foreknowledge of who will respond to the gospel, but in order to respond to the gospel those people must first be given the grace necessary to do so? Then on what basis does God choose who receives this grace? If Arminians argue that everyone receives the same amount of grace, then salvation is ultimately up to man since it hinges on his decision. If, on the other hand, only certain individuals receive this grace (or receive greater amounts of it), then Arminians are right back to square one on the election issue. (8/7)

  • Doug Wilson has an excellent post on Brian McLaren's decision to join Muslims in observing Ramadan. (8/28)

  • H. L. Mencken disliked Calvinists, but he disliked ex-Calvinists even more. (9/18)

  • Once again we read of Calvinism's implication that God is the author of sin. What I don't understand is why the Arminian is off the hook. After all, did God not create Adam knowing full well that he would sin, condemning the rest of humanity to be born into that sin? Could not God, having bestowed upon man free will, have done a better job of making not sinning more appealing? The point being, no matter how you look at it, there must have been a greater purpose for allowing Adam to sin. (9/25)

  • Two quick apologetic tips on the Trinity. (10/9)

  • John Piper addresses the question, "How willingly do people go to Hell?" (10/30)

  • When Calvinists speak of God saving those who die in infancy, is it just a matter of wanting to have our cake and eat it too? Calvinists maintain that all fallen, sinful human beings, even those with the capacity to understand, reject God. That's the concept of total depravity in a nutshell. Wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that the salvation of infants merely reinforces the fact that salvation is all of God? (11/6)

  • David angrily spouts, "Calvinists would have you believe that God blinds men's eyes to the gospel until He is content to give some faith to believe and withholds that same faith from others whom He wishes to damn! That is not the God of the Bible!" So I guess that means Paul lied when he said faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). (12/4)

  • Don't waste your Calvinism! (12/11)
Have a blessed New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Worldview Caricatures

You've probably seen variations of these floating around the blogosphere:
    The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie, who was his own father, can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.
Written, no doubt, by someone subscribing to:
    The belief that there was nothing, and nothing happened to nothing, and then nothing mysteriously exploded for no reason, creating everything, and then a bunch of everything mysteriously rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self-replicating bits, which then became dinosaurs.
The first caricature displays a lack of understanding about the belief it seeks to lampoon. The second is actually pretty accurate.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Primacy of the Word

Speaking in tongues. Healing the sick. Prophesying. Those who place great emphasis on such gifts seem to have forgotten Romans 10:17: "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." People are saved through the preaching of the gospel, not through miraculous signs and wonders.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sending the Wrong Message

Even at first glance one should see just how dangerous this kind of theology is.

Uniting Christ with the state? No thanks.

Friday, December 18, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - December 18, 2009

Eternal Death vs. Eternal Life

Hell is not temporary. It is a place of eternal punishment. Those sent there have no hope of escape, and, contrary to what some Christians believe, they are not annihilated once God has determined they have suffered sufficiently for their sins.

Revelation 20:10 says that the devil, the beast, and the false prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire where "they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." This is known as the "second death," something that has no power over believers (Revelation 20:6). "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8). There is no indication that there will ever be an end to their suffering.

Does it make sense to condemn a finite sinner to an everlasting punishment? Wouldn't that make God unjust? Such questions fail to take into consideration all of God's attributes. Yes, he is love, but he is also just and holy and eternal. And considering that it took the death of an infinitely holy and eternal God to pay the price for sin so that we might be redeemed, it stands to reason that the only just penalty for sinning against that same infinitely holy and eternal God is an infinite and eternal punishment.

Let's not complicate the issue. The choice is clear: eternal death or eternal life. We talk about Hell not to scare people into the Kingdom but to emphasize just how seriously God takes sin.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Doctrine of Hell Taught in the Old Testament

Many of those who don't believe in the existence of Hell think it is a New Testament invention, or at least a misinterpretation of Old Testament terms like "grave" and "Sheol." While it is true that the Old Testament believers did not have the benefit of seeing through the lens of the New Testament, there was an understanding of a permanent separation of the saved and the lost.

Take a look at Daniel 12:2: "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." If that doesn't teach the concept of eternal punishment, I don't know what does.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Reason for ALL Seasons

Christ our savior isn't just the reason for this season. As the Creator of the universe he is the reason for all seasons.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:1-3).

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him" (Colossians 1:15-16).

"But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world" (Hebrews 1:2).

Friday, December 11, 2009

2 Corinthians 6:14

This Week in Calvinism - December 11, 2009

  • When you try to make the argument that "EVERY person is elected in Christ," you are left grasping at straws when trying to explain why not everyone is saved. Saying that election is conditional on faith makes no sense unless you believe that faith precedes election, which is in fact impossible.

  • Hank is already up to part 15 of his five-part response to the objections to Calvinism.

  • Where'd all these Calvinists come from?

  • Now I've heard everything: "Calvinism effectively denies God the right to endow His creation (man) with the freedom of choice. Thereby Calvinism itself is denying God a sovereign right to act as HE may desire."

  • John Piper explains why Christian parents should require their unregenerate children to act like they're good.

  • Don't waste your Calvinism!

  • John Mark Reynolds breaks down the biblical writers into their respective theological camps and/or denominations. Funny stuff!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On Complaining

The next time you find yourself complaining about something trivial, try to think about what you're actually saying: "Lord, what are you thinking? I know what's good for me better than you!"

It kind of forces you to put things into perspective.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What's REALLY Hard to Understand

If I believe that "in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," what possible reason would I have for doubting what the Bible has to say about Noah and the ark, the plagues of Egypt, the exodus of the Israelites, Jonah and the whale, God taking on human form, the miracles of Jesus, his death and resurrection, Pentecost, or the coming judgment? Seriously, if I can get past Genesis 1:1, the rest is a piece of cake.

What I can't understand is why a holy, just, and sovereign God would save a wicked, damnable sinner like me.

Friday, December 04, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - December 4, 2009

  • John MacArthur concludes a five-part series entitled "The Spirit's True Work."

  • Time Challies wraps up his own five-part series, "Leadership in the Home."

  • James Anderson on Calvinism, assurance, and inerrancy.

  • David angrily spouts, "Calvinists would have you believe that God blinds men's eyes to the gospel until He is content to give some faith to believe and withholds that same faith from others whom He wishes to damn! That is not the God of the Bible!" So I guess that means Paul lied when he said faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8).

  • Seeking Disciple vs. J. I. Packer

  • The Contemporary Calvinist made it into Eric Carpenter's top ten. Thanks, Eric!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I Am an Atheist

I am an atheist when it comes to the supposed existence of an all-powerful Flying Spaghetti Monster that created everything.

It's true that the existence of FSM is something I can neither prove nor disprove 100%. After all, I am not omniscient. I don't know everything there is to know about everything. But I think I am safe in denying the existence of such a being.

For one thing, there is a lack of credible eyewitnesses. If any person has ever claimed to have seen FSM -- and I'm not aware of a single one -- that claim was never corroborated by anyone else.

There are also no authoritative written accounts of FSM making itself known to its creation, and nothing chronicling FSM's work throughout history backed up by thousands of ancient manuscripts. In fact, most of what has been written about FSM has been written by admitted nonbelievers within the last five years.

Furthermore, I know that spaghetti is a physical creation, and as such it cannot exist outside of the material realm. To conclude otherwise goes against all logic and reason.

(By the way, I would use the same arguments against the existence of the Invisible Pink Unicorn.)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

All Means All...

...and that's all all means. That's what most Arminians will argue when quoting verses like 2 Corinthians 5:14 and 1 Timothy 2:6.

But does all really mean all all the time? Let's take a look at a couple of examples:
  1. We all live on the third planet from the Sun.

  2. Let's all go out to dinner.
One of the preceding statements refers to all people everywhere, and one refers to all people of a particular group. So, yes, in these examples all really does mean all. You won't get any argument from me.

A couple more:
  1. All sunrises occur in the eastern sky because of the direction of the Earth's rotation.

  2. It's a great restaurant; I eat there all the time.
Both refer to how frequently a particular event occurs. One can be taken in a wooden, literal sense while the other should not. How we make the distinction depends on the context.

All clear? Good!
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