Friday, May 30, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - May 30, 2014

  • Steve Hays responds to Roger Olson's question, "Do Arminians and Calvinists worship the same God?"

  • Zach Hoag used to be a Calvinist. "But when the intellectual high wore off," he writes, "I was faced with an inhumane theology that shut good, Christian people out of the kingdom and created church environments of drastic unhealth and dysfunction."

  • Isaac Watts: the Calvinist.

  • Bob Robinson thinks "these New Calvinists should not be called 'Neo-Calvinists,' but rather 'Neo-Puriatans.'"

Friday, May 23, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - May 23, 2014

  • Four misconceptions about Calvinism.

  • Jonathan Merritt sees some troubling trends in the "Calvinist revival," such as isolationism, tribalism, and egotism.

  • Despite the fact that Roger Olson believes "consistent Calvinism turns God into a monster and makes it difficult to tell the difference between God and the devil," and despite the fact that he said he would not worship God if it was proven that "the God of consistent, five point Calvinism is the one true God over all," he still believes that Calvinists and Arminians worship the same God.

  • In the SBC, Calvinism is on the rise while baptisms and church membership are declining. Do we blame Calvinism?

  • Red-letter Christian Jenny Rae Armstrong asks a "big question" of both Calvinists and non-Calvinists: "How does our concept of God impact our beliefs about authority, submission, and how God has called people to live in relationship with one another?"

  • John Piper introduces us to his latest book, one that "may be the one most different from all the others. It is less about the God we see and more about how to see him."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The "full gospel"?

Healing, miracles, moving, teaching, AND prosperity? This church has it all!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Common Problems in Modern Preaching

From topical sermons with too little law and gospel, to theological lectures that fail to connect with listeners, Andrew Webb discusses some common problems in modern preaching, both in reformed and non-reformed circles.

Friday, May 16, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - May 16, 2014

  • Author Marilynne Robinson discusses guns, gay marriage, and Calvinism. Is it really surprising that one who writes fiction for a living would have such a weak grasp of the truth of scripture?

  • Biola senior Nate Lauffer writes:
    Either we give up 2 Thessalonians, our familiar moral reasoning, or unconditional particular election. I'm not giving up the first two. So then, unconditional particular election has to go and Calvinism is false.
    He reasons that scripture wouldn't command us to do something we aren't capable of doing. Of course, there's that whole depravity thing, but he doesn't address that.

  • Kellen Kriswell of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa offers some advice for card-carrying New Calvinists.

  • Shane Kastler explains why Calvinism is not fatalism.

  • At 4:00 pm (PDT) today, you can tune in live for a special Friday edition of The Dividing Line. Dr. James White will be interviewing Dr. Michael Brown about his new book Can You Be Gay and Christian?

  • Tim Challies asks, "Whatever happened to evening services?"

Monday, May 12, 2014

Our Community Is Hosting a "Conversation" on Race

It seems the city in which I live has a human rights commission. Who knew? On May 22, they're holding a "conversation" on the topic "White People Facing Race: Uncovering the Myths That Keep Racism in Place." According to the city's web site, "This will be a safe place for participants of all races to explore their personal and societal views on race and gain an understanding of where those views come from."

This is such a vital and important conversation that space is limited to 25 people. And the discussion was developed by someone with a Ph.D. who has written a lot about "white privilege," so I'm sure it will be entirely objective and unbiased. Those who take part "will learn about the myths that entrench racism in our society. These myths include Meritocracy; Manifest Destiny; White Racelessness; Monoculture; and White Moral Elevation." I'm not sure what there is to talk about when they seem to have already zeroed in on the problem, but, hey, it can't hurt to sit around and chat for an hour or so.

I'm half-tempted to show up with my entire family...

That ought to break the ice and get the conversation rolling.

On the issue of race, I would start at the very beginning, when human beings were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Regardless of color or ethnicity, we are all part of the same creation.

From there, I would point out the real problem: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Racism is selfishness. Racism is pride. Racism is sin, pure and simple.

Once we recognize what's wrong, we can understand the remedy: "For God so love the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). The solution to racial problems can only be found in the person and work of Jesus Christ: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).

One creation. One problem. One solution. And no Ph.D. required.

Friday, May 09, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - May 9, 2014

  • An Arminian lists five reasons to remain a Calvinist.

  • The Associated Baptist Press reports that Al Mohler believes in the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement. This is news to the ABP?

  • "This Week in Calvinism" just wouldn't be complete without some comment from Roger Olson. Here, he rails against Mohler's defense of limited atonement:
    I believe that limited atonement is more of a dividing line than Mohler claims. Perhaps in this case he is more generous than I am. I don't reject someone who believes as he does as a heretic, but I would have real trouble preaching the "gospel" alongside them. ...

    ... I believe that belief in limited, "definite," "particular" atonement is a "deep deviation" from historical Christian orthodoxy, a doctrine that makes God monstrous and unworthy of worship, unbiblical, and a serious threat to the gospel and evangelism.
    But at least he still considers Calvinists to be Christians.

  • Does Calvinism thwart evangelism? No.

  • Dr. Eric Hankins closes out his four-part response to Dr. Nathan Finn's essay "On the 'Traditionalist Statement': Some Friendly Observations from a Calvinistic Southern Baptist." According to Dr. Hankins:
    The coherence of Calvinism is the coherence of determinism. ... We are not troubled by the claims of Calvinism because we don't understand them. We are troubled by the claims because we do.
    (Also read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

  • You can believe Calvinism without wearing it on your sleeve. Clayton Milano writes:
    Calvinism stopped becoming a belief to be taught and instead became a worldview to be embraced. The truth is that I am more of a Calvinist today than I was nine years ago. It is my worldview. It is so biblically self evident that I no longer find a need to argue for it. I am living out of it rather than preaching it.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Woman's Abortion Video Celebrates Child Sacrifice

For my wife and I, YouTube was a site for sharing with friends and family the joy of becoming parents through adoption. For Emily Letts, it was a site for sharing her first snuff film. I'm sorry. That was a bit harsh. It was a site for sharing the sacrifice of her child on the altar of convenience in her pursuit of consequence-free sex.

According to filmmaker and author Jennifer Baumgardner (no, I have never heard of her either), Emily's video was "totally moving, simple, and philosophically powerful." So much so that it won a Judge's Choice award in the First Abortion Stigma Busting Video Competition.

"I just want to share my story," Emily says in the video, "to show women that there is such thing (sic) as a positive abortion story." Positive for whom, exactly? The one who makes it out of the abortion mill alive, of course.

The video is extremely graphic. No, it doesn't show the actual murder—the pro-aborts aren't that stupid—but it does expose the raw wickedness of abortion and those who support it.

If you choose not to watch it, I will sum it up for you. Once the horrific procedure is completed, Emily sighs, "Yeah. Cool. I feel good." And then, as she is wheeled out of the execution room, "I'm done! Yay!" The epitome of grace and class.

She saves the best for last. A month-and-a-half after murdering her child, Emily looks into the camera and says, "I don't feel like a bad person. I don't feel sad. I feel in awe of the fact that I can make a baby. I can make a life."

And there you have it. Emily knows exactly what she did in that room. She sacrificed her child to the spirit of the age, and she's proud of it.

"They served their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood. Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds" (Psalm 106:36-39).

Friday, May 02, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - May 2, 2014

  • Al Mohler explains why Christians should support the death penalty, at least in principle.

  • Roger Olson, in response to Mohler, writes, "I find it interesting that Mohler claims that the Bible and Christianity (as he understands it) definitely defends capital punishment when a broad range of evangelical Christian ethicists oppose it." Well, I find it interesting that the Bible supports a great many things that a broad range of professing Christians oppose.

    Olson makes sure to get in a dig against Calvinism, too: "Oh, silly me. Mohler is a Calvinist. He would surely say something to the effect that if God had any use for the person he wouldn't allow the state to execute him (or her)." Classy as ever, Dr. Olson.

  • My response to Roger Olson:
    Dr. Olson, perhaps you could point out where the Bible prescribes "sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole and solitary confinement for violent inmates." If not, what is the justification for saying that it is perfectly fine to take someone's liberty, just not his life? And what if that person is killed while in prison but later found innocent? How is your position more just and moral?

    You may also want to address the issue of arming police officers. By giving agents of the state a gun, you are essentially giving them the power to execute others without even the benefit of a jury trial. We have seen that power abused all too often under the guise of enforcing the law. Surely a consistent death penalty opponent would support an unarmed police force.
    It's always wise to think through one's own position before attacking someone else's.

  • Doug Sayers asks, "How can salvation be 'all of grace' and yet require a condition, which must be met by the sinner alone?" Well, where does scripture say that the sinner alone is capable of meeting such a condition?

  • Micah Burke of responds. Quite thoroughly, I might add.

  • David Anson Brown writes:
    Modern Calvinism has detrimentally accelerated the regression and lack of individual participation in the Christian Church by redefining Fundamental Christianity to the point that the onetime Fundamental Christianity that did agree with and practice Biblical concepts no longer exists. Today modern Calvinism is presenting concepts that are both extra biblical [i.e. Calvin's Institutes] an unattainable [i.e. individual justification through individual obedience to elders and leaders]. In other words Christianity that at one time was well summarized and practiced in the Church Creeds and in the Church Professions of Faith and in the Church Doctrines has been redefined by the Calvinist movement into something that is only in appearance doctrinal but in reality is not really a true Christianity.
    I long for the day when critics of Calvinism begin to have some sort of grasp on exactly what it is they're criticizing.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Addressing Two Terrible Arguments Against Homeschooling

Even before we had kids, my wife and I were discussing homeschooling with a friend. "As Christians, we're supposed to be salt and light," our friend argued. "I almost think it's a sin not to send your kids to public school."

I don't think I've ever heard a more ignorant argument against homeschooling in my life. By that reasoning, one could say we need more Christians working at strip clubs and abortion mills. After all, those places could use a little salt and light as well.

On his blog, Matt Walsh addressed two terrible arguments against homeschooling presented in an email from a reader. The first was similar to our friend's: "If we don't help the system, the system will not work."

Walsh responded:
Is this really a priority for parents? When my wife and I make a decision for our family, should we stop first and ask, "wait, but will this help the system?"

Would you REALLY put the welfare of 'the system' over that of your own children?

I'd hope that you wouldn't, and I'd hope that this line of logic is unique to you, but I know that it isn't. I've heard it before. I've heard it so often, in fact, that I'm starting to think I'm the strange one for having absolutely no desire to make my children martyrs for some bureaucratic machine.

You know what my kids need me to be? A parent. Their dad. Not a cog in the system, not a member of the community, not a loyal townsperson in the village, not a 'team player.'

Sure, I'll tell them not to litter and I'll make sure they play nice with the other kids in the neighborhood, but when it comes to making choices about something as serious as their education, I don't frankly care how our decision effects the community. Does that make me callous? I don't know. I think it just makes me a man with priorities.

Would the school system be helped if my family 'participated' in it? Maybe, and I'm sure the circus would be helped if you went on stage and stuck your head in a lion's mouth. But you won't sacrifice your scalp to the Ringling Brothers, and I won't sacrifice my kids' brains to public school. I guess we're even.
The second argument was just as ridiculous as the first: "It's most important for kids to learn the academic fundamentals, but learning proper socialization is very important as well. Public school gives young people the chance to become well adjusted adults."

Walsh's response:
Expecting your kid to learn 'social skills' from public school, is like sending him to live with chimpanzees so that he'll learn proper table manners.

'Socialization' — in the public school context — means that your child will simply absorb behavioral cues from her peers. She learns to socialize by aping her friends, who are themselves only copying other girls. She learns to repress the parts of her that don't fit in, and put on an exterior designed to help her fade into the collective. I'm not theorizing here, this IS the social process in public school.

It's also competitive; your social status depends on your ability to cut your peers down, until your can easily step on them and elevate yourself.

Expressing your ideas, showing vulnerability, communicating your deepest thoughts and feelings — these are all fervently discouraged. Kids are tasked with expressing not their own thoughts, but sufficiently imitating the thoughts and views of the peer collective. Children who can't keep up, or who have no desire to keep up, will either have to be the most self-assured human beings on the planet (which is unlikely, since they haven't been given the tools to develop that self-assurance), or they'll become bitter, self-conscious, and depressed.

There is nothing positive about any of this. Nobody is better for it. Nobody benefits. The psychological damage can be lasting, maybe even permanent. Again, this is not my theory. This is just the way it works. How could you be so oblivious, Dan?

Now, homeschool socialization is different. Here, a child learns his social skills from his parents. He is oriented by adults, not other children. He matures, and grows, and is provided a safe environment to, as the phrase goes, be himself. Despite common perception, I don't think most homeschool kids are locked in a tower like Rapunzel, and forbidden from human contact. They have friends, they play sports, they emerge into society and interact with people.

The only difference is how they learn to interact. The public school kid learns to interact based on how his peers carry on in the hallways and at the lunch table, whereas the homeschool kids learns to interact based on the guidance of his parents.

Who has a better foundation for becoming a well adjusted adult?
Anyone with an interest in homeschooling, either for or against, will want to read the entire post.
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