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.
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