Skip to comments.Calvin: he’s hot, hot, hot
Posted on 06/27/2009 8:20:23 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
No, not THAT Calvin although maybe he has a birthday coming up, too.
The rock star of the moment is John Calvin, the stereotypically dour theological chaperone of Geneva (his 500th birthday is July 10). A balanced, nicely-done story by Religion News Service writer Daniel Burke maps the lawyers influence on American evangelicals, particularly Southern Baptists. But why is Calvin becoming so, er, trendy? Well, it isnt because of his clothes, his beard, or even the way he wanted to govern Geneva. It is, as Burke astutely notes in his lede, Calvins doctrine that is undergoing, excuse the expression, a renaissance among conservative Christians:
Like most 24-year-old men, Stephen Jones is keenly interested in sin. But while many of his peers enjoy their youthful indiscretions, Jones takes a more, shall we say, Puritanical stand.Absolute depravity? Double predestination? Full-scale refutation of the doctrine of free will? Who knew these would make such a comeback? Not only do Neo-Calvinist churches like Mars Hill, Seattle and Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City have large populations of young worshippers, but they are pastored by clergy, like Mark Driscoll and Tim Keller, who have become authors and media figures in their own rights.
Last weekend (June 12-15), Jones and 4,000 other young Christians packed into a convention center in Palm Springs, Calif., to hear preachers tell them that they are totally depraved, incapable of doing the right thing without a mighty hand from God, and most importantly have absolutely no control over their eternal fate
His theology is the hottest, most explosive thing being discussed right now, said Justin Taylor, 32, a self-described Calvinist, and an editorial director at Crossway, a Christian publisher in the evangelical heartland of Wheaton, Ill. What he taught is extraordinarily influential right now.
Burke notes that this surge in influence has been expressed in some innovative ways, like Facebook fan clubs and Twitter feeds. But, as he also does a good job of clearly articulating why and how this shower of Calvin-related worship, books, and church plants has brought controversy with it even among conservative Christians.
former Southern Baptist Convention President Jerry Vines said Calvinism inhibits evangelism and missionary work, which is the lifeblood of the SBC, the nations largest Protestant denomination. If Jesus died only for the elect, then whats the point of trying to reach others, said Vines, who co-organized a conference dedicated to debunking Calvinism last year.Vines question is a very good one, and there are plenty of other ones that journalists could be asking the Neo-Calvinists. What the connection between the neos and the so-called emerging churches? What about Calvins strong anti-Catholic bias? Ann Rodgers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoted Orthodox Church in America Metropolitan Jonah today as saying that Calvinism among some Anglican evangelicals was a condemned heresy posing a problem that needed to be resolved before full communion between the new Anglican Church in North America and OCA was possible.
I do believe it is possible to be a five-point Calvinist and be evangelistic and missionary-minded, Vines said. But their evangelism and missionary work is in spite of their Calvinism, and not because of it. Thats going to make some of them mad, but I do believe it.
Yes, indeed, hes very hot at the moment.
As the media begins to dig deeper (hopefully), the controversy over what Calvin really believed and how these new Calvinists are expressing it needs to get more attention. Burkes article is a great beginning. If you want a more secular perspective, with some interesting history thrown in, read the Associated Press story by Hanns Neurbourg here. In a story about one of the towering figures of the Reformation, theres remarkably little analysis of Calvins theology. But there is a lot of data on his influence on the arts, democracy, and economics much of it in revolt against the sage of Geneva, an apparently humble man who would probably not have guessed that 500 years after his birth, he would be making square so hip.
....Calvinism among some Anglican evangelicals was a condemned heresy posing a problem that needed to be resolved before full communion between the new Anglican Church in North America and [the Orthodox Church in America] was possible.
It never ceases to amaze me that pre-destination should be followed with “why bother evangelize?” Who is the mouth of God? His people. And if we do not warn the world against sin, we are silently agreeing, and silently participating.
1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head. 5 Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.’
7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for [a] his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.
10 “Son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of [b] them. How then can we live?” ‘ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’
12 “Therefore, son of man, say to your countrymen, ‘The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys, and the wickedness of the wicked man will not cause him to fall when he turns from it. The righteous man, if he sins, will not be allowed to live because of his former righteousness.’ 13 If I tell the righteous man that he will surely live, but then he trusts in his righteousness and does evil, none of the righteous things he has done will be remembered; he will die for the evil he has done. 14 And if I say to the wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ but he then turns away from his sin and does what is just and right- 15 if he gives back what he took in pledge for a loan, returns what he has stolen, follows the decrees that give life, and does no evil, he will surely live; he will not die. 16 None of the sins he has committed will be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he will surely live.
17 “Yet your countrymen say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But it is their way that is not just. 18 If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it. 19 And if a wicked man turns away from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he will live by doing so. 20 Yet, O house of Israel, you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But I will judge each of you according to his own ways.”
“No, not THAT Calvin”
Not which Calvin?
Election & Evangelism - C. H. Spurgeon
A controversialist once said, If I thought God had a chosen people, I should not preach. That is the very reason why I do preach. What would make him inactive is the mainspring of my earnestness. If the Lord had not a people to be saved, I should have little to cheer me in the ministry.
I believe that God will save his own elect, and I also believe that, if I do not preach the gospel, the blood of men will be laid at my door.
Our Saviour has bidden us to preach the gospel to every creature; he has not said, Preach it only to the elect; and though that might seem to be the most logical thing for us to do, yet, since he has not been pleased to stamp the elect in their foreheads, or to put any distinctive mark upon them, it would be an impossible task for us to perform; whereas, when we preach the gospel to every creature, the gospel makes its own division, and Christs sheep hear his voice, and follow him.
Yup, as ole Cauvin said: humanity is utterly depraved, sunk in sin, disgusting. Of course, when God said that He was pleased with His creation and saw all was good, that’s a different thing, but Cauvin knew better...
In re: God being pleased with his creation, that was noted before the Fall.
God being pleased with His creation, which was very good, does not contradict the truth that man is totally depraved.
“There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.”
But rather than end there, do consider:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
So the solution for totally depraved man is to be in Christ Jesus, and Calvinists absolutely and positively preach that.
Now, according to what I know of Calvinism...even if I do all these things, if God hasn't chosen me to BE saved, I am destined for Hell, and no matter what I do, I can NEVER be saved.
I'd like to believe I'm mistaken on this, but like I said....this is what I understand Calvinism to be.
Am I mistaken?
That is not what Calvin taught. There's a crucial difference between total depravity and utter depravity. To say that Calvin and Calvinists teach utter depravity is to bear false witness against them.
Total depravity is where every area of a person - the intellect, the will, the body, the soul, etc etc etc - is touched and tainted and twisted by the effects of the Fall, and by the effects of sin. Let me reemphasize that statement: Total depravity means every area is tainted by depravity. In terms of "doing good things", unregenerate men would do "good" things by accident, as in every case he/she does so with some ungodly desire or end in mind, never with a desire to honor or bring glory to God on His terms.
"Total depravity" doesn't teach that the effects of the Fall apply to just the will. It also affects us physically and psychologically. Reformed evangelist Francis Schaeffer applied this Biblical teaching in a very practical and encouraging way to explain how depravity goes beyond "what we can do" to "what we are". I would encourage you to read them (they are short) here and here.
Total Depravity is probably the most misunderstood tenet of Calvinism. When Calvinists speak of humans as "totally depraved," they are making an extensive, rather than an intensive statement. The effect of the fall upon man is that sin has extended to every part of his personality -- his thinking, his emotions, and his will. Not necessarily that he is intensely sinful, but that sin has extended to his entire being.
The unregenerate (unsaved) man is dead in his sins (Romans 5:12). Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural man is blind and deaf to the message of the gospel (Mark 4:11f). This is why Total Depravity has also been called "Total Inability." The man without a knowledge of God will never come to this knowledge without God's making him alive through Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5).
-- from the article The Five Points of Calvinism at Reformed.org.
"Utter depravity" wasn't my choice of phrase - it was yours. I already told you what "total depravity" means - did you read my post? Any answer to what you meant by "utter depravity" will have to come from you yourself.
I asked 2 pastors about this and they both said they would get back to me on it. I’m still waiting.
At the lowest point in my life, I was on my knees crying to God that if He had chosen to create me as a vessel of destruction, then so be it.
Has Calvin actually said this was possible? Quotes please.
Did you ask the question of Reformed pastors? Just wondering.
Would a vessel created for destruction cry out to God?
if you read Calvin you’ll see — the very idea of pre-destination and chosen means that some are elect and many are damned by God. that’s just the way it is, some win, some lose. You can ask any Reformed pastor.
Not which Calvin?
I thought it was Calvin and Hobbes. But there's a picture of Calvin Coolidge, our 30st President, to the left of the article.
John Calvin, media star, isn't the real John Calvin. He probably wouldn't appreciate being wished a "Happy Birthday" either.
If you want to read a brief explanation of what Calvinism teaches, click on the link from Alex’s post at #7.
Your biblical illiteracy is showing.
Okay, I just did read the article.
Just so you know, I am a literate, thinking person.
Despite what I read in the article, the section “Limited Atonement” continues to puzzle me. Therefore, I was NOT able to answer my continuing question: If I do everything the Bible says one must do to be saved, yet God has not CHOSEN me to be saved, then what?
You see...my thought on this is that if you are chosen to be a “vessel of destruction”, even though you desperately WANT to be saved and spend Eternity with Christ in Heaven, what is the point of living a good and quiet life down here? If you knew that no matter what you did, you’d be destined for Hell, wouldn’t you out living like a sinner? Having as much ‘fun’ as you could before you died?
I mean...if I knew I wasn’t going to make it to Heaven, no matter what I did, I’d be living like a completely depraved man. After all...I have only one destiny, so why not live it up?
To those of you who are ignorant of the doctrine of election, I’ve got a few questions.
Does God know all things?
Does God know the future of each man’s soul?
Does God know who will or won’t “choose” Him, before the “choice” is made?
It seems to me from your questions that you disagree with Unconditional Election. A vessel created for destruction does not desperately want to be saved because of Total Depravity.
Which was right then? The Bible or Calvin?
“knowing” or prescience is different from ordaining or destiny.
The Bible is right. See if you agree:
Matthew 11: 20 - 27:
Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.
And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
So here’s your question:
God foreknew Tyre and Sidon’s free choice NOT TO REPENT in the case of His non-performance of such Miracles; AND God foreknew Tyre and Sidon’s free choice TO REPENT in the case of His performance of such Miracles; AND God CHOSE not to perform these Miracles in Tyre and Sidon, a choice which had as its perfectly foreknown result the NON-Repentance of Tyre and Sidon, just as He foreknew.
True, or False?
I’m assuming you agree that God knows ALL things, including the decisions of man before they are made.
So if God creates a man, knowing that the man will not repent, He has necessarily preordained the destiny of that man’s soul. Has He not?
No. God can see all and can do all — the fact that he doesn’t and gives us free will is a miracle. God does not pre-ordain that people will go to hell.
You sound as though that makes God capricious. And you sound bitter as though you think it's unfair.
But I think it shows His great mercy. I think every human deserves His wrath, including me. But this makes all the difference:
"but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God."
Yes, you are mistaken.
If you want to get saved, ask Jesus into your heart, and believe he has risen from the dead, and confess that publicly -
you are obviously saved. All the activity above is evidence of that. No Calvinist I know would deny it!
Psalm 139:1-6 (ESV) O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
Isaiah 46:9b-11 (ESV) for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there in none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.
Romans 9:19-23 (ESV) You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will? But WHO ARE YOU O MAN, TO ANSWER BACK TO GOD? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory -
You can bow to God’s will or you can bow to man’s will but you can’t bow to both. Man’s will was corrupted by the fall, we are incapable of “choosing” to love GOd, apart from God circumcising our hearts (born again).
You might want to spend some time reading and re-reading the book of John. The words of our Lord should bring you to your knees when you realize that if you are one of His sheep, it’s because God adopted you into His family, of His own will, despite your rebellion.
You didn’t “choose” Him, He chose you to be a member of His family (1 Cor. 1:30 - An because of HIM, you are in Christ Jesus).
Thank you! I didn’t recognize who was in the picture.
So the writer of the article thought if he said “Calvin: he’s hot, hot, hot” people would automatically think of Coolidge? Odd, odd, odd.
Romans 8:28-33Reformed theology doesn't teach that anyone can come to the faith unelected by God. Nor does it teach that election and calling doesn't require a response. Nor does it teach that evangelism is pointless. Cronos is spouting against a theology he knows little about. Try reading the Canons of Dordt, they'll help in understanding at least the five Doctrines of Grace.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies;
That’s what I thought post 18 meant. And when before the Almighty feeling totally wretched, ...
I don't know why Adam's sin needed to spread to all of us. But it did. And it needed to be appeased through another man.
If every man and woman were not guilty of Adam's sin, then why did Jesus have to die?
God was appeased through the torment and bloodshed of His only beloved Son. Not a pretty sight. It was His Son who willingly gave all. I can love Him (because He first loved me and was willing to send His Son), but I certainly can't appease Him by myself. His righteous judgment has been appeased through the sacrifice of His only Son.
You see, God is holy and righteous. It's His nature. He is fearsome and terrifying. No one can look on Him and live (even Moses found it impossible and terrifying). But we can clothe ourselves with Jesus and live.