Friday, May 31, 2013

This Week in Calvinism - May 31, 2013

  • An old straw man presented as a "new argument" against Calvinism.

  • Battle lines are being drawn in the Sovereign Grace Ministries controversy.

  • Remember the Calvinism Advisory Committee set up by the SBC? It has finally released its statement on the issue, entitled "Truth, Trust, and Testimony in a Time of Tension." So I guess that means the issue is settled once and for all.

  • Denny Burk writes, "This is a good statement, one that I hope that Southern Baptists will unify around." Also endorsing the statement are notable Calvinists like Mark Dever, Tom Ascol, and Al Mohler.

  • Peter Lumpkins, in a rare display of disciplined restraint, says, "I do not want to comment on the report itself before carefully reading it first." I'm sure we're all waiting with bated breath for his well-reasoned response.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Unpublished Journals from Spurgeon's Early Years

Desiring God's Tony Reinke recently interviewed Spurgeon scholar Tom Nettles, the Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Nettles is the author of the forthcoming book Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Also interviewed was theologian and author Christian George, the Jewell and Joe L. Huitt Assistant Professor of Religious Education at Oklahoma Baptist University. It was while he was studying in London a few years ago that George discovered 11 journals kept by the Prince of Preachers during the early years of his ministry. The journals contain unpublished sermons and various drawings of birds, showing Spurgeon's artistic side:

Professor George is currently transcribing Spurgeon's journals for publication.

Friday, May 24, 2013

This Week in Calvinism - May 24, 2013

  • Bob Burnett, in a typical liberal rant about how those who support people keeping more of their own money are not real Christians, writes:
    During the eighties American Calvinism morphed into a conservative political ideology with the formation of the Christian Right. James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, and others preached on political subjects and touted conservative "Christian" candidates.
    Of all the names one could associate with Calvinism, these are the ones he chooses? Maybe I need to brush up on my history.

  • Blogger Ritzhaus also confuses Calvinists with Republicans:
    I just liked The Christian Left on facebook recently and have enjoyed their perspective. Today, they reposted a blog from Frank Schaffer about how Calvinism and the right wing Republicans have combined and really no longer follow Christ. This trend in American Evangelicalism took over my old church and is a faith killer.
    I'm beginning to feel insulted that I'm automatically perceived as a Republican just because I'm a Calvinist.

  • I would agree that Romans 9 "isn't about Calvinism." In fact, I'd be willing to bet that Paul had never even heard of John Calvin.

  • If the theme of the Bible is "God's gracious plan to redeem needy sinners," then it makes sense why we see his mercy in so many messed-up families in scripture.

  • Rachel Held Evans is upset over John Piper's "abusive" theology. Following the Oklahoma tornadoes, Piper posted on Twitter:
    "Your sons and daughters were eating and a great wind struck the house, and it fell upon them, and they are dead." Job 1:19
    Apparently, people expect that when you quote a verse from scripture you are obligated to include an in-depth explanation in the same tweet. Sorry, but Twitter's 140-character limit kind of hinders one from doing that. That's why Piper followed that up with another:
    "Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped." Job 1:20
    God is worthy of worship even in the midst of tragedy. Yeah, that's abusive, all right.

  • Adam Ericksen takes it a step further, calling Piper's theology "satanic." He writes:
    John Piper calls himself a Christian, but I don't think he knows Jesus. Whenever Jesus talks about natural disasters they are just that, natural disasters. He never blames anyone for them; instead he points to them as an opportunity to show God's love. Jesus was once asked, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" He responded, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned." Then the power of God worked through Jesus to stop the accusations and heal the man.
    Come on, Adam. If you're going to quote John 9:3, can't you at least read the rest of the verse? It says, "...but that the works of God might be displayed in him." The man's blindness served a purpose. What was the purpose? That the works of God might be displayed.

  • John Piper explains the essence of those now-infamous tweets:
    When tragedy strikes my life, I find it stabilizing and hope-giving to see the stories of the sheer factuality of other's losses, especially when they endured them the way Job did. Job really grieved. He really agonized. He collapsed to the ground. He wept. He shaved his head. This was, in my mind, a pattern of what must surely happen in Oklahoma. I thought it would help. But when I saw how so many were not experiencing it that way, I took them down.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Libertarian Perspective on Romans 13

Romans 13 is often used as an appeal for Christians not to resist government. "Reformed Libertarian" C. Jay Engel has written an interesting and thoughtful post on that particular passage. Here's an excerpt:
There are four overall points that can be gathered in this passage.

1. God is sovereign and he has a plan. He can use evil to achieve the ends that he has ordained before the foundations of time. In the original context: God exists over Nero.

2. In our gospel-oriented ministry, we are not seeking to overthrow the government. When Paul wrote this he understood that it might have reached Nero's hands. It was wise of him to make sure Nero understood that there was no Christian movement to take over. All governments from the dawn of time until today, are jealous governments, always scared that someone will steal the throne. In the original context: Nero, we are not aiming for your throne.

3. Government has a mandate to submit to the higher law of God by only punishing the wicked and not the good. Anything beyond that is abuse of power. Therefore, as the absolute libertarians would advocate, it is wrong for the government to forbid the spontaneous arising of other governments. There is no mandate in scripture telling the government that it must have a monopoly on governing services. In the original context: Nero, you have a purpose; submit to it.

4. Turn the other cheek. We must practice daily Christian character. In the original context: Apply my lessons [in Romans 12] to even the government.

To conclude, from a libertarian standpoint, it is important to note that a governing entity is the means by which God has decided to carry out justice. This in no way should be assumed to be a defense of the morality of the State itself. This passage can only be assumed to be a defense of the existence of an entity that practices the pursuance of justice. God has given law. Man has rights to his life and his property because God has entrusted him with those things. And what God has given, man cannot take away. This is the law Justice consists of protecting these rights, this law. This is the only role of a governing institution.
Read the full article here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

This Week in Calvinism - May 17, 2013

  • Another Protestant crosses the Tiber. Lucas Westman begins a series of posts describing his journey from Pentecostalism to Reformed theology to Catholicism.

  • Paul Dohse makes less and less sense every time I check out his blog: "Calvinist's (sic) don't often know their right hand from their left hand because Reformed theology communicates from an entirely different metaphysical construct than the norm." Give me a good ol' anti-Calvinist rant from Roger "The God of Calvinism Is a Moral Monster" Olson any day.

  • Looking for a list of straw man arguments to refute Calvinism? Here's a list of 22 of them for a start.

  • Steve Hays of Triablogue begins a running commentary on a lecture given by Jerry Walls at Houston Baptist University entitled "What's Wrong with Calvinism?"

  • Calvinists and classical Arminians agree on imputed sin and total inability.

  • Dr. Kevin McFadden discusses how Southern Baptists should approach theological disagreements.

  • Here is a recap of recent John Piper messages from around the country.

Friday, May 10, 2013

This Week in Calvinism - May 10, 2013

  • Rev. Fred Luter, president of the SBC, is trying to unite Southern Baptists, wanting to see the denomination move beyond the Calvinism issue and join together.

  • Apparently following President Luter's advice, Ronnie Rogers of SBC Today explains what one can and cannot believe as a Calvinist in what I call his "You might not be a Calvinist if..." series (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5).

  • One woman's journey from Calvinism to "progressive Christianity."

  • Bill Holdridge shares a few thoughts on Calvinism from Pastor Doug Hileman, who sums up his thoughts this way:
    Having shackled themselves with presuppositions that have no mandate in Scripture, Calvinists have embraced a system of theology that is neat, tidy, marvelously logical, and paradoxically, quite unreasonable. They have fallen prey to the same temptation as the early Church Fathers—leading with logic rather than scripture.
    I guess that explains why no Calvinist has ever been able to defend his position using scripture.

  • Rabid anti-Calvinist Paul Dohse believes that Calvinists reject the Trinity in that we "make God the Father and the Holy Spirit lesser forms of Jesus Christ." Trust me. It makes even less sense when he explains it.

  • C. Michael Patton on doubting Calvinists.

  • Andre Fuller: Defender of the biblical gospel.

Friday, May 03, 2013

This Week in Calvinism - May 3, 2013

  • Peter Lumpkins seems thrilled to discover yet another straw man to attack in his crusade against Calvinism.

  • Does Hebrews 6:4-8 refute Calvinism? No, but some people still like to keep that passage in their arsenal.

  • Randal Rauser blasts his Calvinist critics while at the same time playing the "some of my closest friends are Calvinist theologians" card.

  • Steve Hays blasts back.

  • Jemar Tisby discusses what African-Americans bring to Reformed theology.
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