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How Calvinists Spread Holiday Cheer
WSJ ^ | November 18, 2011 | Aaron Belz

Posted on 11/18/2011 6:13:09 AM PST by Alex Murphy

Next Thursday, as the rest of us tuck into our turkey feasts, hundreds of needy families in Southern California will open "Boxes of Love." Delivered by several churches led by Pacific Crossroads in Santa Monica, Calif., the boxes contain ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal for six. They allow impoverished families to skip food lines and neighborhood pantries and enjoy the holiday in their own homes.

What's unusual about the Pacific Crossroads congregation—and what underpins efforts such as Boxes of Love—is its theologically conservative raison d'être. A member church of the Presbyterian Church in America, Pacific Crossroads is committed to Reformation doctrines such as total depravity (every person is born sinful) and limited atonement (salvation is available only to the elect). These beliefs are typically regarded as ugly and inhumane by American culturati. Yet the church's pastor, Rankin Wilbourne, is happy to pepper his sermons with references to Bono and "Jersey Shore," and the church has grown to around 1,500 members from 500 in three years.

[SNIP]

And so in a city more often associated with Calvin Klein, John Calvin's teachings provide a basis for hope. In his commentary on II Corinthians 8, the 16th-century Swiss theologian connected Christians' assurance of salvation with their freedom to give to the poor:

"What makes us more close-handed than we ought to be is when we look too carefully, and too far forward, in contemplating the dangers that may occur—when we are excessively cautious and careful—when we calculate too narrowly what we will require during our whole life, or, in fine, how much we lose when the smallest portion is taken away. The man that depends upon the blessing of the Lord has his mind set free from these trammels and has, at the same time, his hands opened for beneficence."

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Apologetics; Mainline Protestant; Religion & Culture; Theology
KEYWORDS: calvin; calvinism; calvinists; johncalvin; pca; presbyterian; presbyterians; truepresbyterians
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What's unusual about the Pacific Crossroads congregation—and what underpins efforts such as Boxes of Love—is its theologically conservative raison d'être. A member church of the Presbyterian Church in America, Pacific Crossroads is committed to Reformation doctrines such as total depravity (every person is born sinful) and limited atonement (salvation is available only to the elect). These beliefs are typically regarded as ugly and inhumane by American culturati....the church has grown to around 1,500 members from 500 in three years....

....in a city more often associated with Calvin Klein, John Calvin's teachings provide a basis for hope. In his commentary on II Corinthians 8, the 16th-century Swiss theologian connected Christians' assurance of salvation with their freedom to give to the poor:

"What makes us more close-handed than we ought to be is when we look too carefully, and too far forward, in contemplating the dangers that may occur—when we are excessively cautious and careful—when we calculate too narrowly what we will require during our whole life, or, in fine, how much we lose when the smallest portion is taken away. The man that depends upon the blessing of the Lord has his mind set free from these trammels and has, at the same time, his hands opened for beneficence."

1 posted on 11/18/2011 6:13:13 AM PST by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

ping for later


2 posted on 11/18/2011 6:21:09 AM PST by Springfield Reformer (Winston Churchill: No Peace Till Victory!)
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To: Alex Murphy

Presbyterian PCA (not PC-USA) Bump!


3 posted on 11/18/2011 6:21:12 AM PST by sr4402
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To: sr4402
Presbyterian PCA (not PC-USA) Bump!

The distinction will be lost on (if not deliberatedly obfuscated by) many.

4 posted on 11/18/2011 6:23:24 AM PST by Alex Murphy (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2703506/posts?page=518#518)
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To: Alex Murphy

They only think that they are choosing to deliver meals to the poor; it was predestined, they had no choice but to deliver meals. :)


5 posted on 11/18/2011 6:42:53 AM PST by fungoking (Tis a pleasure to live in the Ozarks)
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To: Alex Murphy

Why did Calvin preach “hope of salvation” when there were people predestined to Hell according to his theology?


6 posted on 11/18/2011 6:58:57 AM PST by SkyDancer ('If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate ")
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To: Alex Murphy

I was religiously liberal for a long time and always condemned Calvinism. Once I joined a conservative Presbyterian Church, however, I began to understand the practical side of Calvinism. In this post, I won’t argue the supernatural points, but just the side that helps people in this life.

One of the keys is that we are all sinners and in need of a savior. If everyone starts with that idea, people ask “how can I be a better person?” instead of “please tell me how great I am.”

Once a church rejects the idea of total depravity, it tends to descend into the minister praising the congregation. The congregation then doesn’t do anything to improve themselves and the results are usually horrendous.

Some traditional synagogues and Catholic churches teach a doctrine similar to total depravity, and therefore also get good results. Flattering the congregation is such a tempation from the pulpit, so it’s important to have doctrines that discourage that.


7 posted on 11/18/2011 7:01:47 AM PST by Our man in washington (")
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To: SkyDancer

Good question. According to Calvin, you will either go to hell or not, and nothing you think, feel or care about matters. God decided if you were going to hell before he created the world...


8 posted on 11/18/2011 7:02:49 AM PST by Mr Rogers ("they found themselves made strangers in their own country")
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To: SkyDancer
"Why did Calvin preach “hope of salvation” when there were people predestined to Hell according to his theology?"

Because even the Apostles had no idea who God's elect were. Some might have been in the audience and not realized it until the heard him speak. Are you among that group?

9 posted on 11/18/2011 7:05:30 AM PST by Dutchboy88
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To: Our man in washington

“Once a church rejects the idea of total depravity, it tends to descend into the minister praising the congregation. The congregation then doesn’t do anything to improve themselves and the results are usually horrendous.”

Not true. Total depravity says man cannot respond to God at all unless God first regenerates them, which conflicts with the command to “Repent and believe” - and “that by believing you may have life in his name.”


10 posted on 11/18/2011 7:06:45 AM PST by Mr Rogers ("they found themselves made strangers in their own country")
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To: Dutchboy88

I’m saying Calvin said that. Even Paul said it is destined for us to die then the judgment. As for me, I put myself in Yashua’s hand.


11 posted on 11/18/2011 7:10:44 AM PST by SkyDancer ('If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate ")
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To: Mr Rogers

As I wrote to dutchboy88 I’ve put myself in Yashua’s hand and there I’ll be for all eternity. Calvin or no Calvin.


12 posted on 11/18/2011 7:11:59 AM PST by SkyDancer ('If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate ")
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To: Alex Murphy

Calvinists are a blight on Christianity.


13 posted on 11/18/2011 7:14:50 AM PST by BereanBrain
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To: Mr Rogers

I’m still pretty new to Christianity, so I will just have to yield to the knowledge of others on theological points. In short, sorry if I got it wrong and I defer to your knowledge. But would you agree that the preaching of total depravity keeps a congregation from getting smug?


14 posted on 11/18/2011 7:15:38 AM PST by Our man in washington (")
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To: Alex Murphy
The distinction will be lost on (if not deliberatedly obfuscated by) many

Glad you mentioned that. The PCA believes Marriage is between one man and one woman under God (Only). That Elders and Ministers are to be Male. That Life begins at conception and that the Bible is the complete (Plenary), Authoritative and inerrant (in the original writings).

We split off the mainline Presbyterian church over the issue of giving Tithe money to communist rebels in Central and South America in 1973. But the biggest problem was denying the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. This and other problems.

I was in the PC-USA church for a couple of years until the minster ran off with the church secretary. The church wanted him back and ran off the wife!

At the same time, I was moving to Rockville Maryland and discovered Shady Grove PCA church. It was there that several elders patiently explained the five points of Calvinism, the absolute Sovereignty of God, and our foundation in the Westminster Catechisms.

It is a complete breath of fresh air in comparison to the Political Correctness in the PC-USA. The women enjoy their distinctive roles in the Women of Faith movement and they are free from gender confusions prevalent in the Liberal churches.

We are not having the homosexual issues having long ago marriage and pro-life planks solidly in the Book of Church Order.

If you are tired of the Political Correctness or otherwise, you are invited to join us at a PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) congregation: http://www.pcanet.org/

15 posted on 11/18/2011 7:16:52 AM PST by sr4402
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To: Alex Murphy

“Boxes of Love” sounds like a grand and Christ-honoring idea. I say “Go for it, and God bless you.”


16 posted on 11/18/2011 7:19:40 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o (Keeping an eye on this one.)
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To: Our man in washington

If Total Depravity is true, then it should be taught.

In a sense it IS true...no man, left alone by God, will ever seek God. It requires God to seek us first:

“7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” - Romans 5

It is a part of the amazing grace of God that God took the initiative, even after man rejected Him totally. That aspect of total depravity is true, according to scripture.

But while the Bible says we are dead in sin, it also describes us as blind, sick, lost, slaves, etc - all of which are words describing someone who, if offered healing, freedom, etc could take it.

“6The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” - Gen 4


17 posted on 11/18/2011 7:21:56 AM PST by Mr Rogers ("they found themselves made strangers in their own country")
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To: fungoking
They only think that they are choosing to deliver meals to the poor; it was predestined, they had no choice but to deliver meals. :)

In the great work, The Doctrine of Predestination by Lorraine Boettner, he describes the Calvinist viewpoint by contrasting it with the pagan idea of kismet. He points out that on a ship where someone has plunged into the briny, the ROP adherent declares says that it was their god's will the person drowns. But the Calvinist says, "perhaps it is God's will the person drowns, but also it might be God's will that I should save him. I shall try."

It is out of love and obedience to Our Father that we do good works for His creatures.

18 posted on 11/18/2011 7:22:09 AM PST by Jemian (Join the Cain Train!)
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To: SkyDancer
Why did Calvin preach “hope of salvation” when there were people predestined to Hell according to his theology?

After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit all mankind was doomed and their destiny, without God, was Hell. Do you not believe this is the case?

We also believe that mankind, through Adam and Eve's disobedience, was plunged into Spiritual death. This Spiritual death is described in detail in Romans 3, Psalm 14 and 53 (the duplicated Psalm). In reading Psalm 14 and 53 you will see that no one came to God on their own.

Thus God had to intervene or no one would have been spared the awe-full destiny by default that awaited them.

We in the PCA would ask folks to observe the use of the word "predestined" that occurs in scripture 6 times, the use of the word "adoption" which occurs 5 times and "elect" which occurs 19 times and tell us what you believe these words of Scriptures mean?

Thank you for the question.

19 posted on 11/18/2011 7:33:33 AM PST by sr4402
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To: Jemian

I’m not Calvinist but I like that thought.


20 posted on 11/18/2011 7:34:18 AM PST by perez24 (Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap.)
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To: sr4402

Well then if we’re predestined then why bother searching after Yashua? What would be the point? If say I was predestined to Hell and not know it (of course) then I would have spent my life worshiping Yashua, believing in Him and still go to Hell. That’s what Calvin preached.


21 posted on 11/18/2011 7:38:09 AM PST by SkyDancer ('If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate ")
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To: BereanBrain
Calvinists are a blight on Christianity.

Calvinists are the best destroyers of modern liberalism there is.

22 posted on 11/18/2011 7:40:34 AM PST by sr4402
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To: Jemian
I have not met a calvinist yet who didn't think that they, and all of their family, were part of the elect; it is always “others” who may not have been chosen.

Aren't good deeds suppose to be done so that the “right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing”?

Maybe only one hand can get on the Internet or read the paper.

23 posted on 11/18/2011 7:52:45 AM PST by fungoking (Tis a pleasure to live in the Ozarks)
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To: fungoking

Thought:

They are predestined to starve, so why deliver meals.

In other words: Only the elect are predestined for salvation, so don’t share the gospel, since most are predestined to hell, and those predestined for heaven, will find salvation anyway.


24 posted on 11/18/2011 7:53:14 AM PST by Yulee (Village of Albion)
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To: Mr Rogers
"Not true. Total depravity says man cannot respond to God at all unless God first regenerates them"

“This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” John 6:65

25 posted on 11/18/2011 7:58:51 AM PST by circlecity
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To: SkyDancer; sr4402
Well then if we’re predestined then why bother searching after Yashua?
"None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one."
-- Romans 3:10-12

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.
-- John 6:44

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses...
-- Colossians 2:13

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—
and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
-- Ephesians 2:4-9

Miracle Max
"Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do....go through his clothes and look for loose change."


26 posted on 11/18/2011 8:03:37 AM PST by Alex Murphy (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2703506/posts?page=518#518)
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To: Mr Rogers
"Not true. Total depravity says man cannot respond to God at all unless God first regenerates them"

“This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” John 6:65

27 posted on 11/18/2011 8:03:50 AM PST by circlecity
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To: Yulee
“In other words: Only the elect are predestined for salvation, so don’t share the gospel, since most are predestined to hell, and those predestined for heaven, will find salvation anyway.”

Sounds like a logical conclusion from the 5-point doctrine.

I guess that why my dad (55 years conservative, fundamentalist SBC preacher who dabbled with being a 5-pointer for a while early on)jokingly says that calvinism is a perfect theology for lazy preachers, no need to visit, no need to evangelize, no need for missions...God will take care of them...or not.

28 posted on 11/18/2011 8:07:24 AM PST by fungoking (Tis a pleasure to live in the Ozarks)
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To: Mr Rogers

Actually it’s according to the Bible. Read Romans Chapter 9.
Here’s an excerpt:

“Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory” (Rom 9:21-23).

Essentially God is showing two parts of His divine character:
1. His grace
2. His wrath

Some are made simply to be an instrument of his wrath, while some are instruments of his grace and mercy. It’s a VERY HARD truth to grasp for most Christians.


29 posted on 11/18/2011 8:13:57 AM PST by libdestroyer
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To: BereanBrain

Calvinists back up their beliefs with scripture.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

~Romans 8:29


30 posted on 11/18/2011 8:13:59 AM PST by libdestroyer
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To: circlecity

“This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” John 6:65”

John 6:35
And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

Jesus teaches us that man comes to him.

And how does man know to come to Christ. Christ says those that come to will him come because they are taught.

John 6:44-46
New King James Version (NKJV)

44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’[a]Therefore everyone who has heard and learned[b] from the Father comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.

Rom 1:16 teches us that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation.

Romans 1:16
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,[a] for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”[b]


31 posted on 11/18/2011 8:17:14 AM PST by swampfox101
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To: circlecity

According to God’s word, do we believe and receive life, or receive life to believe? Is saving faith ever said to come from God?


32 posted on 11/18/2011 8:20:10 AM PST by Mr Rogers ("they found themselves made strangers in their own country")
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To: libdestroyer

Romans 9-11 discusses TRIBES, and deals with the problem of the Jews. It does not discuss individuals, who are still presented as having a choice.


33 posted on 11/18/2011 8:21:57 AM PST by Mr Rogers ("they found themselves made strangers in their own country")
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To: libdestroyer

Does Romans 8:29 discuss justification, or glorification?

Those who believe ARE predestined to become like Jesus.


34 posted on 11/18/2011 8:23:28 AM PST by Mr Rogers ("they found themselves made strangers in their own country")
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To: SkyDancer
"I’m saying Calvin said that. Even Paul said it is destined for us to die then the judgment."

???

Sorry, but this is a non sequitor. You asked why would Calvin speak of the "hope of salvation" if only a few elect could respond. Now, you say, "Calvin said that." Yes, that what we are talking about. And, Paul saying a time is appointed for every man to die, then comes judgment has nothing to do with whether folks are appointed to believe, or not. Help me here.

"As for me, I put myself in Yashua’s hand."

If Calvin was correct in his understanding of what the Scriptures taught (rather than "his theology"), then you did not put yourself in Yashua's hands. Jesus drew you to Himself and He will raise you up on that day. Blessed be the Name of the Lord, for you have been chosen for rescue. Somewhat different than the semi-pelagian "At least I chose Jesus."

35 posted on 11/18/2011 8:23:55 AM PST by Dutchboy88
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To: Mr Rogers

Regeneration always preceeds faith. Just as with Adam and Eve after their sin - God had to search them out because they were hiding from him. God always makes the first move.


36 posted on 11/18/2011 8:24:10 AM PST by circlecity
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To: Dutchboy88

So then why bother if you’re predestined????


37 posted on 11/18/2011 8:25:20 AM PST by SkyDancer ('If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate ")
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To: libdestroyer
Calvinists back up their beliefs with (selective) scripture.

2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

1 Timothy 2:3-4 For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

So what here Jesus last words to his disciples? “We have already picked who are in and who is out and there isn't anything that is going to change that” or Matt 28: 18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

38 posted on 11/18/2011 8:32:19 AM PST by fungoking (Tis a pleasure to live in the Ozarks)
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To: fungoking
I cannot imagine a person saying to God, "I want forgiveness" and God saying to them, "Nope, you're of the non-elect." Always, always, if you want to be a Christian, you can be a Christian. God didn't give us some magical "elector-detector" to enable us to see who is going to heaven and who isn't. If that were so, I need to change my profession. Or at least become more focused in my approach.

As to my being sure about the rest of my family, hmmmm, I could say that you need to meet my family. I don't see into their hearts nor understand completely what has transpired between them and God. I just know what He has promised in the Word and so I can either believe Him, or not.

It is more important that each person come to God themselves. We each individually need to recognize that we ourselves don't measure up to God's standards (haven't you even once been disappointed with your behavior, so of course you, and I, don't measure up to God's standards?) and that we need forgiveness. That forgiveness is in the person and work of Jesus Christ. All a person, any person, need to is pray, "Lord Jesus, I need you. I recognize that I am a sinner in need of a savior. I open the door of my heart and receive you as Savior and Lord. Amen."

39 posted on 11/18/2011 8:35:28 AM PST by Jemian (Join the Cain Train!)
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To: SkyDancer
then I would have spent my life worshiping Yashua, believing in Him and still go to Hell.

Impossible.

If you believe on Him the Holy Spirit is active in your life; you are already seated in Heaven and nothing changes that.

40 posted on 11/18/2011 8:36:38 AM PST by Siena Dreaming
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To: fungoking

You don’t choose Calvin. Calvin chooses you. (/Calvin College joke)


41 posted on 11/18/2011 8:38:31 AM PST by magslinger (Who cares if they are"electable" if they are going to govern like Democrats? -noprogs)
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To: Jemian
I cannot imagine a person saying to God, "I want forgiveness" and God saying to them, "Nope, you're of the non-elect."

If a person truly wants forgiveness, God's spirit is at work in him/her.

42 posted on 11/18/2011 8:41:24 AM PST by Siena Dreaming
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To: Siena Dreaming

I understand that. It’s the Calvinists who don’t.


43 posted on 11/18/2011 8:44:01 AM PST by SkyDancer ('If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate ")
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To: SkyDancer

No, Calvinists say that if you believe on Him you are saved i.e. literally rescued from Hell.


44 posted on 11/18/2011 8:50:09 AM PST by Siena Dreaming
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To: Siena Dreaming

Okay, so what’s this pre-destination they keep preaching about saying God pre-destined certain people to Hell and you don’t know if you’re one of them?


45 posted on 11/18/2011 8:52:25 AM PST by SkyDancer ('If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate ")
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To: SkyDancer
and you don’t know if you’re one of them?

That's not what they say.

Assurance for the believer is part of the package. If you trust in Christ you can know you are saved.

46 posted on 11/18/2011 8:55:41 AM PST by Siena Dreaming
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To: Siena Dreaming
Predestination, in theology is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God. John Calvin interpreted biblical predestination to mean that God willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others.

So again I ask how do you know if you're one of them.

47 posted on 11/18/2011 9:00:55 AM PST by SkyDancer ('If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate ")
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To: smvoice; metmom

I thought you might like to see this thread. But maybe not.


48 posted on 11/18/2011 9:01:23 AM PST by Judith Anne (For rhe sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world.)
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To: SkyDancer
So again I ask how do you know if you're one of them.

I've already answered this.

If faith lives in your heart you are saved.

49 posted on 11/18/2011 9:07:30 AM PST by Siena Dreaming
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To: Judith Anne; metmom

Do you want us to just read it? Or discuss it and ping you? I’m never sure, but will respect your request.


50 posted on 11/18/2011 9:07:36 AM PST by smvoice ("What, compare Scripture with Scripture?..We'll have to double the Magisterium...")
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