Friday, August 31, 2012

This Week in Calvinism - August 31, 2012

  • If "all" means "all" all the time without exception, and God wants "all" men to be saved, but not "all" men are, then we can only conclude that God doesn't get what he wants. Right?

  • Roger Olson writes, "I cannot accept, even with chagrin, Calvinism that says God foreordains and renders certain specific sins. That inexorably, ineluctably, inescapably makes God the author of sin and evil. That sullies God's character OR makes sin not really sin. You have to choose. There's no way around it." Dr. Olson, does that include the greatest sin of all, the murder of God's Son? I might be going out on a limb here, but scripture seems to imply that the crucifixion was foreordained.

  • Relax, folks. The SBC's advisory committee on Calvinism meets this week. I'm sure the whole issue will be resolved in short order once and for all.

  • Where did New Calvinism come from?

  • Two years ago, a group of Baptist leaders published a substantial critique of Calvinism entitled Whosoever Will. This summer, Calvinists responded with Whomever He Wills.

  • Romans 4:6-8 is apparently "a knock-out blow to Calvinism." I'm not sure I can follow the reasoning here, but maybe you can.

  • Stephen Richardson, chair of the Biblical Studies Department and associate professor at Pacific Christian College of Ministry and Biblical Studies, believes that God's relationship with us "is a partnership in which God honors our humanity enough to value our free embrace of his Son and the resulting wholesome fellowship." This freedom to choose has some challenging implications. He says, "I must wrestle with the conclusion that God has taken risks in creating a being in his image and does not always get what he desires." So, God can't always get what he wants. Is that taken from scripture or a Rolling Stones song?

Time to Change Witnessing Tactics

(via xkcd)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

An Anti-Calvinist's Idea of Consistent Calvinism

Kerrigan Skelly has posted many videos on YouTube in an attempt to refute Calvinism. His latest is a lengthy, 32-minute video from a 2010 Daytona Beach spring break outreach during which he encountered "one of the most consistent Calvinists I have ever met." He posted it as a warning of Calvinism taken to its logical extreme.

During the course of this interaction, the foul-mouthed "Calvinist" in question does seem to know a little bit about Reformed theology. He even throws out the names of John Piper and Paul Washer. But this man most definitely seems to fit the bill of what we would call a "cage stage Calvinist."

Naturally, Mr. Skelly assumes this man exemplifies Calvinism: "He's the one who claimed to be a Calvinist. It's obvious he is, but he's still living in a wicked, sinful life. And that's consistent Calvinism to me."

Case closed, I guess. Well, you be the judge.

(WARNING: contains quite a bit of NSFW language)

The alleged "Calvinist" is certainly in the wrong, but there was another troubling thing that jumped out at me. At the 23:10 mark we hear our drunk "Calvinist" friend say, "You are a sinner. Admit it." What is the only biblical response to that question for a Christian? "Yes, I am. A sinner saved by grace." However, the person with the camera says, "I'm not a sinner, I'm a saint. I stopped sinning." I just don't see how that squares with 1 John 1:8: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

While Mr. Skelly seems to think this video shows us consistent Calvinism, perhaps what we're actually witnessing is consistent synergism. Rather than presenting the truth in love, these street preachers seem to take a "Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah! You're going to Hell and I'm not!" approach.

I could be wrong. Maybe my own bias is clouding my judgment. But if anyone thinks he has a reason to boast, isn't it the one who believes he had a part in his own salvation?

Friday, August 24, 2012

This Week in Calvinism - August 24, 2012

  • Is the God of Calvinism a moral monster?

  • According to Dr. Tom Nettles, "Calvinism should still occupy the place of universal adherence in Baptist life." Dr. Rick Patrick takes issue with that.

  • It's nice to know some Christians have fewer problems "with the role of the pope or Mary in the Roman Catholic Church" than they do with Calvinism.

  • Dave Hunt continues to spew his hatred of Calvinists:
    Could someone who believes this false gospel of Calvinism be truly saved? Fortunately, many Calvinists (you among them) were saved before becoming Calvinists. They now malign God by saying that He is pleased to damn multitudes though He could save all—and that He predestines multitudes to the Lake of Fire before they are even born. But having believed the gospel before becoming Calvinists, they "shall not come into condemnation, but [have] passed from death unto life" (Jn:5:24). Those who only know the false gospel of Calvinism are not saved, while those who are saved and ought to know better but teach these heresies will be judged for doing so.
  • It seems the problem some people have with The Gospel Project is that it doesn't teach that there is a responsibility on God's part to love us.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lame Church Sign

Church sign I passed by yesterday: "Hang in there! Even Moses was a basket case!" Um...Ok.

Friday, August 17, 2012

This Week in Calvinism - August 17, 2012

  • John Pierce is baffled by the debate over Calvinism in the SBC. He finds it odd that Southern Baptists are willing to accept diversity on essential issues like salvation, but not on issues like women in the pastoral ministry.

  • A "Calvinist" pastor has an affair with a 16-year-old girl. That disproves the doctrine of perseverance of the saints, so therefore Calvinism is wrong. Now that is what I call unshakable logic.

  • Robert Arakaki, a Calvinist-turned-Orthodox, plucks the TULIP. As he explains, "(1) Calvinism relies on a faulty reading of Scripture, (2) it deviates from the historic Christian Faith as defined by the Ecumenical Councils and the Church Fathers, (3) its understanding of God's sovereignty leads to the denial of the possibility of love, and (4) it leads to a defective Christology and a distorted understanding of the Trinity."

  • What are some grave weaknesses of Calvinism? Well, for starters, it "eliminates the concept of moral responsibility," it's "intrinsically anti-missional," and it's "the fastest road to universalism in Christianity."

  • Worried about Calvinism causing more division in the SBC? Don't be. There's now a top-notch advisory team devoted to coming up with a strategic plan to bring everyone together.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jesus Didn't Teach That Homosexuality Is Wrong

We've all heard that tired, old argument: "Jesus never said anything about homosexuality being a sin." The conclusion, then, is that homosexuality is OK. Unfortunately, that kind of logic doesn't hold together when applied to other areas of life.

In math, we learned that 2+2=4. We never had to learn that 2+2=5 is wrong. Once we knew the correct answer, we could therefore assume that any answer other than 4 was incorrect. Just because we weren't taught explicitly that 2+2=5 is wrong didn't mean it was acceptable. We would have certainly had it marked wrong on a test, and no amount of arguing would have changed the teacher's mind.

When approached regarding the issue of marriage, Jesus simply recalled the words of Moses in Genesis 2:24: "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 19:4-6).

Jesus taught us what marriage is, so there really wasn't any need to teach us what marriage is not. If that's the case, then we can safely assume that whatever doesn't match up with his description of marriage is wrong.

Friday, August 10, 2012

This Week in Calvinism - August 10, 2012

  • Couldn't attend the Kentucky Baptist Convention's conference "Calvinism: Concerned, Curious, Confused?" Jared Moore has posted all the videos.

  • Denny Burk has the audio.

  • Joe Heschmeyer thinks the Calvinist doctrine of perseverance of the saints conflicts with the view that the Roman Catholic Church is apostate. After all, how can Calvinists believe that none will fall away but at the same time believe that "the visible Church that Jesus Christ founded" has slipped into idolatry? Isn't Mr. Heschmeyer aware that the church is comprised of both the visible and invisible?

  • Mark A. Rathel presents the seventh in a series of 12 articles on how Southern Baptists understand the doctrine of salvation. This one is on the Calvinist view on total depravity. Turns out some professing Calvinists believe "that humans receive a potential imputation of Adamic guilt" (emphasis mine). Is that really an accepted view in Calvinism?

  • Austin DeArmond is writing a series of posts on the myths and caricatures of Calvinism.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Did God Really Say? Yes, But This Is What He Meant...

Are you tired of having to defend the biblical account of creation, especially in light of the undeniable irrefutable solid pretty good generally accepted scientific evidence in support of evolution? Well, there's a new Bible translation just for you:
At last: a Bible you can read without being led astray by teaching of young-earth creationism. The New Compromise Version! This Bible combines readability with the best scholarship of modern uniformitarian geology and evolutionary biology. Now you don't have to cross out all the parts of the Bible contradicted by modern science.
Here are a few sample passages:
And there was evening, and there was morning—the first eon.
—Genesis 1:5

And God said, "Let lights in the vault of the sky appear to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let lights appear in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God caused the two great lights to appear as the cloud cover slowly dissipated—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He had also made the stars back in the First Eon long before the Earth. God allowed them to appear in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth eon.
—Genesis 1:14–19

Then after as many years as the number of grains of sand, God said, "Let us make man in our image." So God took one of the animals that had arisen over these ages, which looked like a man but was not, and God breathed His spirit into this creature so that it was changed into a man. In like manner God took a female hominid and made a companion for Adam. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth." And it was so. And from this first pair, and from so many others like them, came all the people of the earth.
—Genesis 1:26–28

Be conformed to this world and be transformed by the renewal of your mind towards secular academic thinking.
—Romans 12:2

Imbibe modern philosophy, and make sure you follow the tradition of men according to the rudiments of the world, and accordingly judge the teachings of Christ.
—Colossians 2:8
Check it out!

All-Reformed Radio, All the Time

Ligonier Ministries introduces RefNet (short for Reformation Network), 24-hour internet radio dedicated to the historic Christian faith. Along with teaching and sermons from the likes of R. C. Sproul, Alistair Begg, and John Piper, it also features audiobooks, scripture reading, music, news, and more. It's available as an app for your mobile device, but you can also listen online through the RefNet web site.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Criticism for God-Honoring Athletes

First, it was the outrage expressed at Chick-fil-A for trying to run a God-honoring business. Now, we're hearing criticism for Olympians who try to honor God with their athletic performance.

Salon columnist Mary Elizabeth Williams is uncomfortable with the faith expressed by U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas. She writes:
As a Christian myself (albeit one of those really freaky papist kinds), I've often wondered what it is about Christians like Douglas that unnerves me so. The closest I've been able to figure it is that Douglas and her ilk seem to espouse a faith based on what is commonly referred to as "The God of Parking Spaces." It's the deity that grants wishes to those who ask nicely. Douglas is a girl who has described God as the figure who's "waking me up every morning and keeping me safe in the gym every day." She told People Thursday, "I was on the bus and it was raining and I thought, 'It's going to be a great day.' My mom used to tell me when I was little, 'When it rains, it's God's manifestation, a big day's waiting to happen.' I texted my mom, 'It's raining. You know what that means.'" It means that Russian girl is going down, I guess.
Her reaction isn't all that surprising. Tune in to any football game and you're sure to see a player drop to one knee or point to the sky after a touchdown. You don't usually see that kind of behavior after a fumble or an interception.

But perhaps Ms. Williams is being unfair. I happen to think Gabby Douglas is sincere. By giving the glory to God, she wants to turn the attention away form herself and onto the One who gave her athletic talent in the first place. I also think that had Douglas not won a medal at all, she would still have given God the glory. The only difference is that, since the media is easily distracted by shiny objects, she would have been doing it off-camera, and Ms. Williams would have had to come up with another topic for her column.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Williams and her ilk may be uncomfortable with that, but many Christians take it to heart, and that includes Christian athletes as well.

Friday, August 03, 2012

This Week in Calvinism - August 3, 2012

  • Calvinistic Cartoons presents the new Arminian translation of the Bible.

  • Dave Hunt: repeater of fully refuted fables.

  • A prayer for humble Calvinism.

  • Jared Moore will be live-blogging the Kentucky Baptist Convention's "Calvinism: Concerned, Curious, Confused?" conference starting Saturday, August 4.

  • A brief biography of Charles Spurgeon.

  • Is the sinner's will truly free? As Randy Seiver reminds us, "It is impossible for a person to choose that for which he has absolutely no desire and to which he is utterly averse."

  • For a little humor to round out your week, watch this video of two brothers getting into a fist fight over Calvinism...without even realizing they're fighting over Calvinism.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Machen on the Necessity of Christian Schools

In a 1933 lecture entitled "The Necessity of the Christian School," Dr. J. Gresham Machen summed up the evils of a secular, tax-funded, government-controlled education:
Thoughtful people, even many who are not Christians, have become impressed with the shortcomings of our secularized schools. We have provided technical education, which may make the youth of our country better able to make use of the advances of natural science; but natural science, with its command over the physical world, is not all that there is in human life. There are also the moral interests of mankind; and without cultivation of these moral interests a technically trained man is only given more power to do harm. By this purely secular, non-moral and non-religious, training we produce not a real human being but a horrible Frankenstein, and we are beginning to shrink back from the product of our own hands.
Throwing in a little Bible teaching here and there won't cut it. Christian schools are necessary because our faith envelopes everything we do, say, and think:
It is this profound Christian permeation of every human activity, no matter how secular the world may regard it as being, which is brought about by the Christian school and the Christian school alone. I do not want to be guilty of exaggerations at this point. A Christian boy or girl can learn mathematics, for example, from a teacher who is not a Christian; and truth is truth however learned. But while truth is truth however learned, the bearings of truth, the meaning of truth, the purpose of truth, even in the sphere of mathematics, seem entirely different to the Christian from that which they seem to the non-Christian; and that is why a truly Christian education is possible only when Christian conviction underlies not a part, but all, of the curriculum of the school. True learning and true piety go hand in hand, and Christianity embraces the whole of life -- those are great central convictions that underlie the Christian school.

I believe that the Christian school deserves to have a good report from those who are without; I believe that even those of our fellow citizens who are not Christians may, if they really love human freedom and the noble traditions of our people, be induced to defend the Christian school against the assaults of its adversaries and to cherish it as a true bulwark of the State. But for Christian people its appeal is far deeper. I can see little consistency in a type of Christian activity which preaches the gospel on the street corners and at the ends of the earth, but neglects the children of the covenant by abandoning them to a cold and unbelieving secularism. If, indeed, the Christian school were in any sort of competition with the Christian family, if it were trying to do what the home ought to do, then I could never favor it. But one of its marked characteristics, in sharp distinction from the secular education of today, is that it exalts the family as a blessed divine institution and treats the scholars in its classes as children of the covenant to be brought up above all things in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
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