Monday, February 21, 2011

Calvinism goes to the dogs

Sometimes when you play too rough with the Calvinists, in pointing out the obvious flaws of their theology, such as their ridiculous concept of John 3:16 in that it means, "For God so loved the world of the elect," or how obvious of a contradiction it is to affirm that God is the "ordainer of evil" but not the "author of sin," or simply by labeling a Calvinist as a "double-talking, logic-dodger," the Calvinist will notoriously retreat into the niceties of Calvinism, such as by claiming that they merely believe in the "Doctrines of Grace." Now doesn't that sound nice? One thing about Calvinists is that they are pretty good at slick marketing, not preferring the title of "Calvinist," but instead favoring the concocted title of "Reformed Theology" and the "Doctrines of Grace." It's almost humorous when a Calvinist is pinned down, that they trot out the badge and shield of the man-made term, "We believe in the Doctrines of Grace!" Yes, "Halt! We believe in something good!" But do they realize that it spells out an acronym of DOG? The slick marketers over at "Calvinism Headquarters" really dropped the ball on this one, or perhaps it's God's inside joke that Calvinism is a dog. Really, at best, the DOG is the doctrines of "Limited Grace" (i.e. Limited Atonement), while at worst the doctrines of a Caste System, and Calvinist do not like their theology compared to a Caste System at all, but that's really what it is. And really, regarding the latter, nowhere is it found among the prophets or apostles the expression of gratitude in thanking God over having been chosen to be born into an upper caste of Election. Instead, Christian gratitude is expressed in giving thanks to God for the gift of His Son, Jesus. What prophet or apostle ever said, "Thank you God for allowing me to be born into the upper caste of Election instead of the lower caste of non-elect Reprobates!" Where's that in Scripture?

Calvinist, John MacArthur, states: “We are chosen unto salvation. We are chosen to belong to Him. When you look at your salvation, then thank God. Thank God! Because you are a Christian because He chose you. I don’t understand the mystery of that. That’s just what the word of God teaches. That is the most humbling doctrine in all of Scripture. I take no credit, not even credit for my faith. It all came from Him. He chose me. He selected people to be made holy in order to be with Him forever. Why he selected me, I will never know. I’m no better than anyone else. I’m worse than many. But He chose me.” (Understanding Election)

But that's just what a Calvinist reasons. Notice the following:

Luke 18:9-14 states:And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.” But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.’”

The Calvinist prescribing to the DOG could say with the Pharisees, "Yes, thank you God for letting me be born as a priviledged member of the Upper Caste of God's eternally elect sheep, instead of being born into the Lower Caste of God's non-elect eternal Reprobates."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What does the Gospel include?

1st Corinthians 15:1-5 states: "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve."

Can you identify the elements of Paul's definition of the Gospel? First of all, Paul states that it's something which they "received" and were "saved." He adds that Jesus was "buried" and that He was "raised on the third day." Do you notice anything else significant about his definition? Notice that Paul adds that his Gospel message to the formerly lost Corinthians had included mentioning that "Christ died for our sins." "Oh," but the Calvinist says, "Paul is speaking to Christians." But regardless of who he is speaking to, Paul is defining what the Gospel comprised, back when he had spoken it to them when they were lost. And notice that Paul didn't say, "Christ died for sin." Of course, Jesus did die for sin. But Paul makes it personal.

Unless there are many Gospels, which no Calvinist espouses, Paul defined what the ONE Gospel included, which is the fact that "Christ died for our sins." Now that doesn't mean, "just my sin." To be clear, "our sins" means your sins and mine, speaker + audience. That's the impact of "our." It is a mutual inclusion. I'm trying to make this as plain as possible. Paul's Gospel obliterates Limited Atonement. Paul told lost people that Jesus died for them. Paul recalls that this was the Gospel when he had preached to them.

One Calvinist responds: "First Corinthians was written by a Christian, namely Paul, to Christians. So Christ died for 'OUR' sins means 'OUR.' Not theirs, don't add to the gospel."

"Our sins" is inclusive. It means your sins and mine. The speaker includes himself together with the lost audience that he had preached the Gospel to, and who received it and were saved. Is this really Calculus? Is this really hard to understand? Or is the problem, not necessary a factor of intelligence, but of cultic indoctrination, which refuses to see the light? You could tell a cultist that 1+1=2, but they will try to argue that it somehow really means 1.5 or 3. It's like you cannot make it simple or plain enough, and that's because logic and reason are not the problem. A culticly indoctrinated person can reconcile anything, such as spinning John 3:16 to mean, "For God so loved the world of the elect." For that person, no amount of logic will work. Their mind is shot. They cannot engage in reason. They will only engage in spin and obfuscation.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Arminius & the Doctrines of Grace

The impression that one might get of the Calvinist's "Doctrines of Grace" is that it is graceful, or has the appearance of being kind. The problem is that it is really the Doctrines of "Limited" Grace, or worse yet, something that Jacob Arminius had described:

Jacob Arminius stated: "It represents God as decreeing something for a particular end [or purpose] which neither is nor can be good...", in that "...God wishes to subject his creature to misery..." which is "...repugnant to the Goodness of God...", such that "...he wills the greatest evil to his creatures, and that from all eternity he has preordained that evil for them, or predetermined to impart it to them, even before he resolved to bestow upon them any portion of good...", which in other words, " was preordained that man should be formed vicious and should commit sin, that is, that he should neither know God, love, worship, nor serve him...." (Arminius Speaks, pp.40-42)

(This will tie in nicely to the next Blog series on "Why I am NOT a Calvinist," in which I will cite dozens of reasons and their corresponding explanations, and also what I feel would make the Calvinist's own list as to why they are not Arminians, and my corresponding thoughts.)

Most Calvinists that I know, speak of coming into a belief in the "Doctrines of Grace" as something which they entered "kicking and screaming." (I do not care for that title since it implies a monopoly on grace. Calvinists excel at marketing. Calvinists own the term "Reformed" as well. They also own Sovereignty, Providence, Predestination, ect.) That bothers me because Arminians teach all those things as well, though from a different perspective, which Arminians feel is a more biblical perspective, though Calvinists disagree, but the point is that although many have BECOME Calvinists kicking and screaming, Arminius instead had LEFT Calvinism kicking and screaming. Arminius spoke highly of John Calvin and his Institutes, although I don't think that he had the same opinion of other Calvinists of his day, especially of the mindset of Beza. But the point is that the Calvinist concept of God predeterming evil, appears to have been a powerful motivation for Jacob Arminius to abandon his Calvinism, and of course I believe that is a good thing, but what is the one major concern whenever someone leaves one particular theology? Holdover Theology. You see this sometimes when a person leaves the Jehovah's Witnesses, and has a skewed understanding of the divine nature of Christ. So as I read and study Arminius' writings in Arminius Speaks, the one thing that I will be cautious to look for, is to beware of theological baggage or holdover theology.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Calvinism & Satanism

I'm not saying that the two are identical, but there's something that I ran across that had me thinking about it, and I want to share with you a particular quote by R.C. Sproul. (My next two posts will address a list of reasons of, "Why I am NOT a Calvinist" and then followed with a book review of "Arminius Speaks" by editor, John Wagner.

R.C. Sproul writes: "The Calvinist view of predestination teaches that God actively intervenes in the lives of the elect to make absolutely sure that they are saved. Of course the rest are invited to Christ and given an 'opportunity' to be saved if they want to. But Calvinism assumes that without the intervention of God no one will ever want Christ. Left to themselves, no one will ever choose Christ." (Chosen By God, p.34)

Wouldn't Satan agree, and build on to that by adding, "...and they will surely curse You to Your face." I would imagine God's response to R.C. Sproul would be the same response that He gave to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job?" (Job 1:8; 2:3) It seems that R.C. Sproul is perpetuating Satan's contention against God. I realize that he's coming at it from a different angle, but it still seems to be the same basic point that Satan raised, in that God is unwanted and undesired. Obviously, Job didn't feel that way, and I don't either, and Sproul doesn't either, but Sproul merely attributes that to an irresistible, spiritual brainwashing, not of his own choosing, and worse yet, the opposite of what his choosing would otherwise be. Satan needs to admit that he's wrong, and Sproul needs to stop agreeing with him!

Now I want to clear some things up. 1) I disagree with R.C. Sproul's definition of the elect. I believe that the elect are the elect "in Christ" meaning actual Christians, exclusively (meaning, not the perceived would-be's, but the actuals). 2) How can someone be given the "opportunity" (his words) to be saved, if Jesus never died for them? In other words, "Repent because...oh wait. Nevermind. I don't know for sure that Jesus died for you. Instead..."Repent!...just in case Jesus died for you." Is this the "opportunity" and invitation that R.C. Sproul had in mind? R.C. Sproul needs to explain how you can offer someone a Savior that never died for them. That's why some Calvinists insist that the Gospel is not an "offer" but a command, which only those who are born into the alleged, elected Upper Caste will receive. 3) If Satan believed that Irresistible Grace was real, then why did he challenge God by saying concerning Job, "If You put forth Your hand and touch all that he has" (Job 1:11) and "put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, he will curse You to Your face" (Job 2:5)? Because if Satan believed that Irresistible Grace was real, then his real challenge should have been, "Put forth your hand and remove the Irresistible Grace..." Now if Irresistible Grace is real, and if Satan didn't know it, then Augustine must have really burst his bubble! In reality, though, Determinism is Satan's product, as taught to Socrates and perpetuated by the Platonists, Neo-Platonists, Gnostics and Augustinian Predestinationists.

R.C. Sproul adds: "Non-Reformed views of predestination assume that every fallen person is left with the capacity to choose Christ. Man is not viewed as being so fallen that it requires the direct intervention of God to the degree that Calvinism asserts." (Chosen by God, p.34)

The last phrase is key, in which Sproul has Irresistible Grace in mind. Obviously, Arminianism does view man as being "fallen" and requiring the "intervention of God." That's called "Prevenient Grace," and it appears in many forms, whether you're talking about the faith producing, power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16, 10:17), or the individual goading of the Holy Spirit upon the unregenerate heart of Saul of Tarsus. (Acts 26:14) But the point that I wanted to make is that Sproul is discounting Prevenient Grace as something that man is "left with," rather than something that man is being "given." Yes, God intervenes, since God is giving something to enable him, rather than simply leaving man helpless and hopeless, as Common Grace might imply. Once you view Prevenient Grace as something positive that God does to enable man to receive His free gift of grace, you'll no longer see man as being "left" (as in, left behind), as Sproul had characterized it. This makes sense because Sproul doesn't believe in Prevenient Grace, period. He said so: "The $64,000 question is, 'Does the Bible teach such a doctrine of Prevenient grace? If so, where?" (Chosen by God, p.125) The odd thing is that, not only is it all over Scripture, as I've cited just a few verses already, the fact is that he too must believe in Prevenient Grace, since he affirms the preceding grace of "Irresistible Grace." Prevenient Grace is simply the divine intervention of God that precedes and enables people to receive the invitation of the free gift of Christ, primarily by taking the blinders off, so that man can see the truth, both of himself and of God, and the reality of where he stands before God. The issue isn't whether Prevenient Grace is taught in the Bible, but how Calvinists believe it differently from Arminians, in terms that the former believes that it is an irresistible preceding grace, whereas the latter believes that it is resistible. But that there is a preceding grace, neither side disagrees.

Next up is the "Why I am NOT a Calvinist" post. SEA helped put together a list of reasons why not to be a Calvinist, and I want to share it.