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What The Economist Gets Wrong About Calvinist Baptists
Patheos / Get Religion ^ | July 10, 2013 | Joe Carter

Posted on 07/12/2013 8:38:23 AM PDT by Alex Murphy

Today is the 504th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin (July 10, 1509) — and the 497th anniversary of misunderstanding Calvinists.

To commemorate the event, let’s look at a recent notable example provided by The Economist. The article is out-datedly titled, “Dippers divided” and the subhead is “Where evangelicals disagree.” Where evangelicals disagree, apparently, is on whether to maintain,

the “theocon” alliance in American politics between Catholics and evangelicals, who have set aside their doctrinal differences (over the Virgin Mary, for example) to take a joint stand against abortion and in favour of the traditional family.

What could be causing the rift between Catholics and evangelicals. According to The Economist, the alleged culprit is Calvinists in the Southern Baptist denomination.

. . . the effectiveness of the Catholic-evangelical axis may be compromised by a deepening ideological fissure within the evangelical camp; or more specifically within America’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, which has about 16m members.

Broadly speaking, the difference is over whether Jesus Christ died to save mankind as a whole, or sacrificed himself only for a particular group of human beings, the elect, whom God had chosen in advance. The latter view is associated with John Calvin, the French reformer of the 16th century; critics find it too fatalistic, and inconsistent with the idea of a loving God. Taken to its logical extreme, some say, Calvinism can lead to an introverted, exclusive mindset: if most of humanity is irrevocably damned, what’s the point of engaging with the world?

Who is this “some” who “say?” Probably the same “some” who claim that premillennial dispensationalists (who are rarely, if ever, Calvinists) also believe that if most of humanity is irrevocably damned (see: the Left Behind novels), there is no point of engaging with the world. Of course, these same groups — Calvinists and dispensationalists — are frequently portrayed as also wanting to create a theocracy in America, so who knows what to believe. The “some” have a tendency to “say” contradictory things.

The Economist adds,

The perceived leader of the Calvinist camp is Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He has helped to ensure that many of the young Baptist ministers now starting their careers have a Calvinist way of thinking. In many cases they are out of their step with their flock, and that can lead to stormy pastoral situations.

Change the opening “The” to an “A” and that paragraph is mostly right — predicated on the “Calvinist way of thinking” being actual way Calvinists think and not the caricature presented earlier. A few more paragraphs detail some of the controversy over Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention. The reporting on the controversy is rather uncontroversial, until they slip in the F-word:

Neither party will have the slightest truck with liberal ideas. But even among fundamentalists, there can be hard arguments over what the fundamentals are.

So now the opposite of theologicaly liberal is “fundamentalist” rather than, say, theologically conservative? Ugh. You already know what we at GetReligion think of that term so I’ll let that slide without further comment. Now back to the Calvinism:

Will the outcome of this argument make a difference to anybody outside the world of Baptist theology? Yes, because as well as being hard-line over salvation, the Calvinists oppose any blurring of the boundaries between Christian denominations. So there are limits to their willingness to co-operate with higher-church Christians. “The Calvinists have a very anti-Catholic theological stand,” I was told by David Key, director of Baptist studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.

Mr Mohler, for example, responded to the general excitement over the election of Pope Francis by recalling that evangelicals utterly rejected the Catholic idea that the pope was Christ’s vicar on earth. In another statement, he said that Catholics and evangelicals might still agree on sexual and reproductive issues, but he also stressed that evangelicals could not accept the validity of the pope’s office.

Let’s examine some of the many confusions in those two short paragraphs. First, Calvinists do not oppose “any blurring of the boundaries between Christian denominations” because Calvinism is not a denomination. Calvinism is a theological system that crosses numerous denominational boundaries; you can be a Calvinist and be a member of a “low-church” denomination (e.g., Southern Baptist) or you can be a Calvinist and a “higher-church Christian” (e.g., Anglicans). Second, the limits to Calvinists willingness to co-operate with Catholics is almost purely on a theological level. But this is a trait shared by all Protestants. That’s why we’re called Protestants.

The Economist assumes that disagreements about theological matters (e.g., the validity of the pope’s office) will cause conservative Calvinist evangelicals to refuse to work with conservative Catholics on social and political issues. Obviously, they are unaware that this is the exact opposite of what most Calvinist evangelicals believe.

Within evangelicalism, the use of the term ‘co-belligerence’ was popularized by the Calvinist intellectual Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer, whose influence on evangelical politics is incalculable, emphasized the importance of activism that leads neither to compromise nor separatism because of theological differences. As Schaeffer once wrote, “A co-belligerent is a person with whom I do not agree on all sorts of vital issues, but who, for whatever reasons of their own, is on the same side in a fight for some specific issue of public justice.”

Indeed, this view is not only shared by many evangelicals, it is the exact same position taken by Dr. Mohler. Here is Mohler’s own words:

. . . with the cultural challenges now before us, Evangelicals, Roman Catholics, and the Orthodox should stand without embarrassment as co-belligerents in the culture war. The last persons on earth to have an honest disagreement may also be the last on earth to recognize transcendent truth and moral principles—even the sanctity of human life itself.

This quote is from an essay Mohler published in the the ecumenical(!) journal Touchstone titled “Standing Together, Standing Apart: Cultural Co-belligerence Without Theological Compromise.” The date: July 2003.

Francis Schaeffer, the godfather of the Religious Right, wrote about co-belligerence 33 years. Albert Mohler, the “perceived leader of the Calvinist camp”, wrote about co-belligerence 10 years ago. For Calvinists, the concept of working together with Catholics goes back more than 400 years (Calvin himself worked with the French Catholic Inquisition on the Michael Servetus heresy trial). In other words, Calvinism is likely to have the exact opposite effect that The Economist seems to think it will have.

This is an embarrassing unforced error by one of the world’s most esteemed newspapers.* But other journalists can learn from their mistake and can avoid such shame-inducing gaffes by using a technique that has worked for four centuries: When you want to know what Calvinists think, ask them.

*For historical reasons The Economist refers to itself as a newspaper. Since Carter’s Rule of Religious Labels states that “Use a religious label a person would use to describe themselves and avoid using ones they would not,” I figure a similar principles should apply to publications.


TOPICS: Evangelical Christian; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Theology
KEYWORDS: bapthists; calvinism; christianity; protestantism; theology
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...Calvinists do not oppose “any blurring of the boundaries between Christian denominations” because Calvinism is not a denomination. Calvinism is a theological system that crosses numerous denominational boundaries; you can be a Calvinist and be a member of a “low-church” denomination (e.g., Southern Baptist) or you can be a Calvinist and a “higher-church Christian” (e.g., Anglicans). Second, the limits to Calvinists willingness to co-operate with Catholics is almost purely on a theological level. But this is a trait shared by all Protestants. That’s why we’re called Protestants.

The Economist assumes that disagreements about theological matters (e.g., the validity of the pope’s office) will cause conservative Calvinist evangelicals to refuse to work with conservative Catholics on social and political issues. Obviously, they are unaware that this is the exact opposite of what most Calvinist evangelicals believe.

Within evangelicalism, the use of the term ‘co-belligerence’ was popularized by the Calvinist intellectual Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer, whose influence on evangelical politics is incalculable, emphasized the importance of activism that leads neither to compromise nor separatism because of theological differences. As Schaeffer once wrote, “A co-belligerent is a person with whom I do not agree on all sorts of vital issues, but who, for whatever reasons of their own, is on the same side in a fight for some specific issue of public justice”....Francis Schaeffer, the godfather of the Religious Right, wrote about co-belligerence 33 years. Albert Mohler, the “perceived leader of the Calvinist camp”, wrote about co-belligerence 10 years ago. For Calvinists, the concept of working together with Catholics goes back more than 400 years. In other words, Calvinism is likely to have the exact opposite effect that The Economist seems to think it will have.

1 posted on 07/12/2013 8:38:23 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

This article is fine. The reviewer is misunderstanding it.

It is ENTIRELY true that critics of Calvinist Southern Baptists say that the Calvinist Southern Baptists are fatalistic (only a few saved, why bother?).

That is demonstrably true.

These critics, however, are mistaken. The reviewer of the original Economist article is making the mistake of reviewing the author of the article as if the author were engaged in the debate itself, rather than reporting on the debate.

So the Economist article is actually very accurate.

It is the combatants that the Economist article is reporting on who are making mistakes...namely...in mischaracterizing the end results of the Calvinist engagement with the culture.

Incidentally....and I side with the Calvinist Southern Baptists....Calvinists make the same mistake all too often. They (er, we) say things like, well if the pre-dispensationalists are right, then, why bother reforming the culture? They (we) then mischaracterize all evangelicals as just trying to get as many into the life raft as possible.

While this has been PART of the pre-dispensational legacy, speaking broadly, it is absolutely NOT part of the legacy of the most recent and most engaged pre-dispensationalists.

Look at the life and work of Jerry Falwell and Tim LaHaye and the many that they inspired. They are DEEPLY engaged in the culture. We Calvinists might say, well, that is in spite of their theological convictions. That is likely not fair at all. They are smart enough to know the full implications of their theology...yet...their theology led them to engage the culture in a way as deep as any Calvinist would ever hope for.

So.

The point being...and this is the point of the Economist article...”our” side of the ledger (conservatives) contain many opportunities for alliance across theological convictions.

It also contains a LOT of potential for misunderstanding among those who are in these alliances. The fault lines identified by the article are real.

Yet, the exceptions are also very real and a full treatment of this phenomenon would give consideration and an account for those exceptions, as well. (ie, what changed with Falwell? Why was he so great in engaging the culture?).

And finally....the Economist author is quite correct. Al Mohler IS the titular head of the Calvinist Southern Baptists. He wasn’t elected and he doesn’t have an official jersey or anything. But....when he speaks, we listen.


2 posted on 07/12/2013 8:54:20 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: ConservativeDude

BFL


3 posted on 07/12/2013 8:56:58 AM PDT by .45 Long Colt
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To: .45 Long Colt

?


4 posted on 07/12/2013 8:58:04 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: .45 Long Colt

Is that a rude reply? BFL?

If so...why?


5 posted on 07/12/2013 9:00:02 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: ConservativeDude; .45 Long Colt
Is that a rude reply? BFL? If so...why?

BFL means bump for later.

6 posted on 07/12/2013 9:08:18 AM PDT by Alex Murphy ("...Someone handed the keys to the Forum to the OPC and its sympathizers...")
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To: ConservativeDude
"When he (Mohler) speaks..." some of us "listen," yawn and dismiss his leaning but as you state, he does speak for some.

Too bad, he has such a large following but many of us SBC'ers still do NOT accept Calvin's exclusive "elect" even Calvin himself, before his death, backed away from the totally exclusive elect, but that is rarely, if ever, mentioned.

7 posted on 07/12/2013 9:10:11 AM PDT by zerosix (Native Sunflower)
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To: Alex Murphy

thanks.

I am often very nervous when dealing with topics that deal with Reformed Christianity. We are a very touchy group and our tempers flare up easily. I try to do my best to control myself (so long as it depends on me, trying to live at peace with all people.....). But I know these are baracuda-infested waters.

obviously the intended abbreviation of BFL here is very benign.....


8 posted on 07/12/2013 9:17:28 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: ConservativeDude

BFL = Bookmark For Later... cuz someone doesn’t have the time to read the article right now.


9 posted on 07/12/2013 9:18:31 AM PDT by Boogieman
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To: zerosix

Calvin’s exclusive “elect” even Calvin himself, before his death, backed away from the totally exclusive elect, but that is rarely, if ever, mentioned.”

Really?

That’s interesting. I’ve never heard that. Do you have a source on that? Calvin’s even partial recant?


10 posted on 07/12/2013 9:19:00 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: Alex Murphy
Me thinks that someone is engaging in hopeful projection.

This Calvinist will march alongside of Catholics, Orthodox, Methodists, Lutherans, Pentacostals and anyone else under the blood of Christ, just so long as our goal is to be salt and light to the world. Our intramural differences are of no account compared to our struggle against the Prince of this world.

11 posted on 07/12/2013 9:33:35 AM PDT by jboot (It can happen here because it IS happening here.)
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To: ConservativeDude
I do have it but need some time to look it up where I had put it.

Had this conversation with another Pres. SBC Seminary, who pointed it out to me after we were discussing my former denomination, Presbyterian (also very pro Calvinist view) and later Calvin writings.

I'll punch this to my "save" spot as I need some time to gather up the information - for later.

12 posted on 07/12/2013 9:37:47 AM PDT by zerosix (Native Sunflower)
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To: jboot
This Calvinist will march alongside of Catholics, Orthodox, Methodists, Lutherans, Pentacostals and anyone else under the blood of Christ, just so long as our goal is to be salt and light to the world. Our intramural differences are of no account compared to our struggle against the Prince of this world.

Amen!

13 posted on 07/12/2013 9:39:12 AM PDT by Alex Murphy ("...Someone handed the keys to the Forum to the OPC and its sympathizers...")
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To: ConservativeDude

I thought it meant bump for later. No?. I’m part of the Calvinist wing of the SBC. Wanted to read and respond when I have time.


14 posted on 07/12/2013 10:39:29 AM PDT by .45 Long Colt
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To: .45 Long Colt

You are correct, and I just didn’t know. Apologies...


15 posted on 07/12/2013 10:42:02 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: jboot

I’m with R.C. Sproul and John MacArthur, I won’t stand with Catholics because we do not hold to the same gospel. Otherwise, I fully agree.


16 posted on 07/12/2013 10:42:34 AM PDT by .45 Long Colt
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To: ConservativeDude

No problem. I’m accustomed to being bombed for my beliefs, so I totally understand.


17 posted on 07/12/2013 10:43:44 AM PDT by .45 Long Colt
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To: .45 Long Colt

Yes, I think all of us Reformed types have that same fear...of course we dish it out, also...So that is sort of the spirit I approached this thread with!!! I was figuring a fight would erupt any moment!!!


18 posted on 07/12/2013 10:47:23 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: jboot

The catholics are the only ones on your list that add unbiblical dogma like Mariology and works theology to their creed. I stand with them on political issues like abortion (however I do not on social justice) but find it sometimes difficult to particicipate in worship because of extra biblical elements.


19 posted on 07/12/2013 10:54:50 AM PDT by what's up
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To: ConservativeDude

what protestant think the Pope is Gods “vicar?”

where do I find the terms Pope and Vicar in the Bible?


20 posted on 07/12/2013 10:57:25 AM PDT by GeronL
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To: ConservativeDude

James White always talks about “cage-stage Calvinist,” those new to Calvinism who are over-zealous and looking for a debate. Well, I’m long past that, but even so I encounter many who misunderstand and misstate what we believe that I am always wary and ready to try to set the record straight. Over time I’ve discovered that most who bash us have no understanding of what we actually believe. Most are so wedded to their tradition they refuse to even try to learn anything new and the truth angers them mightily. It’s quite frustrating.

However, I got involved in some Bible debate here a year or two ago and gave a heavily Calvinistic analysis. Later an older lady emailed me and said that what I had said really shook her. She was a lifelong Southern Baptist and she said no one had ever explained the Bible as I had. She asked a variety of questions about grace and asked me to point her to some resources. The last time I heard from her she was steadily studying. That lady, and others like her, are why I bother.


21 posted on 07/12/2013 11:01:33 AM PDT by .45 Long Colt
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To: what's up

Not to mention were are still under the various anathemas of Trent.


22 posted on 07/12/2013 11:04:01 AM PDT by .45 Long Colt
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To: .45 Long Colt

That’s extremely well said, every word of it.

And there are many testimonies out there similar to the one of the lady who you inspired to study!!!


23 posted on 07/12/2013 11:07:36 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: .45 Long Colt

I hate my typos. I am just no good typing on an IPod.


24 posted on 07/12/2013 11:28:32 AM PDT by .45 Long Colt
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To: zerosix

I am a life-long SBC’er and am not Calvinist. The problem I’m seeing with this growing movement within the denomination is that it is splitting churches and causing all kinds of dissension.

It reminds me of the pentecostal “speaking in tongues” movement during the 1970’s and 80’s in it’s producing friction and division within the body.

I see Calvinism as having an extreme view of the doctrine of sovereignty - but that’s just me.

The underlying cause of the friction is this idea that God’s sovereignty means that He personally chooses who will be saved and who won’t. That Jesus only died for the “elect” and not the whole world.

Related to this “sovereignty” issue is the idea of the total inability of man to respond to God’s act of grace toward us - that we cannot respond without God personally intervening and “causing” us to believe - or, in popular terms, that man has no “free-will” to respond - only God can give man the faith to believe as he has no ability in himself, because of his total depravity, to respond/accept to the things of God. Calvinists seem to believe that if man can respond, on his own, to God’s offer of salvation that that somehow takes away from God’s sovereignty and God’s glory. I don’t get how our having the ability reach out and grab onto the life rope that God has thrown to us in anyway takes away from God’s glory and sovereignty. But, that’s just me.

In addition, there seems to be a new “militancy” for some Calvinists to force the issue of sovereignty, of total inability, and of no free-will.

I think most Christians are willing to work with other Christians who have differing views as long as either party doesn’t try to “evangelize” the other into their way of thinking. But, as I said, it seems like there is a new aggressiveness on the part of SOME Calvinists to convert everyone to their point of view.

In my own church we have had to deal with the issue somewhat. There are very dear and sincere Christian friends I have where we vehemently disagree on Calvinism. We’ve just had to let it go and not discuss it anymore. We just decided to serve Christ as best we can and reach out to the lost - THAT, after all, is our primary mission - right?


25 posted on 07/12/2013 11:33:10 AM PDT by rusty schucklefurd
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To: .45 Long Colt; what's up
We must all hang together or we will surely hang separately.

To be brutally honest, I've heard more gravely serious error coming from mainline Protestant pulpits than I have from Catholic sources. I'd feel much more comfortable with someone who thinks that Christ is physically present in the elements of communion and who prays to Mary than I would with someone who isn't willing to admit that Christ is anything more than a wonderful concept imagined by men and who prays to a "god conscienceness" within himself.

26 posted on 07/12/2013 11:39:26 AM PDT by jboot (It can happen here because it IS happening here.)
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To: rusty schucklefurd

I’m sitting in a coffee shop waiting on my wife while she shops. She should be back any second so I can’t really respond. But I have a question for you. Did you know our denomination was founded by Calvinists? Did you know that 100 years ago Calvinism was the dominant Southern Baptist view? We lost it as liberalism and other issues rose within the ranks.

I took Baptist History in college ( Southern Baptist University) so I knew of our Calvinist history and it always bothered me. It was one of the reasons I finally decided to study for myself. I had a hard time reconciling what I was hearing from our pulpits with what I knew of our history. I felt like our preachers were bashing our ancestors, often in ignorance. Another thing, I grew up hearing Spurgeon quoted. He too was a Calvinist and a baptist.

Now, it doesn’t matter if mama, daddy, our founders, or Spurgeon believed it, if it doesn’t square with the a Bible I’m not believing it. Alas, once I studied Calvinism, what it really is, not the caricatures and strawmen I had heard from preachers, I was knocked out. It radically changed my life and the lives of my family.

Spurgeon said, “I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines that are called by nickname Calvinism, but which are truly and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus.”


27 posted on 07/12/2013 11:47:44 AM PDT by .45 Long Colt
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To: .45 Long Colt

re: “But I have a question for you. Did you know our denomination was founded by Calvinists? Did you know that 100 years ago Calvinism was the dominant Southern Baptist view? We lost it as liberalism and other issues rose within the ranks.”

To be honest, I did not not know, until recently, how Calvinistic our denomination was in its past. I can honestly say that I never heard the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, as enumerated by them, until I was in my teenage years (late 60’s). I also never heard the doctrine of total depravity and the total inability of man, as enumerated by Calvinists, until about 10 years ago.

I have discovered that I am not an Armenian either. My problem with Calvinism, or what some call “hyper-Calvinism”, is that I believe that it ultimately makes God responsible for evil. I cannot get around the idea that God would create people for eternal damnation. I cannot believe that everything I do, good or bad, is all pre-programed by God, that in essence, we are robots. I cannot get my mind around the idea that we have no ability to respond to God’s love and mercy.

Look, we are not going to change each other’s minds about this. We need to focus on serving Christ where He’s placed us and share His love as best we can. I don’t want to argue because that’s all it will accomplish - argument. The reason I even responded to this thread was because of my familiarity with the Southern Baptist Convention.

I’ve only seen dissension, arguing, and churches splitting over Calvinism in the last 15 years. And the sad part of it is that there are sincere, committed Christians on all sides of this issue. Why argue about it? Let’s just get on with reaching the lost. Why argue about how we all get there?

I believe God is sovereign, I believe that He works all things to His purpose. I believe that without His entering human history as God Incarnate in Jesus Christ, His life, death, burial, and resurrection from the dead to redeem us - without that we humans are lost for all eternity. I believe that we cannot, by our own merit or righteous acts, can save ourselves, we cannot remove the guilt of our sin.

I do believe that God has given us the ability to accept Him or reject Him. Adam had a choice, Eve had a choice, we all have a choice. Without free will the Bible, good, evil, love, service, sacrifice of oneself, cowardice - none of those things have any meaning without free will.

I believe when we accept God’s grace offered through Christ, we have nothing to brag or boast about - the salvation offered we could not produce ourselves - that was God’s unmerited mercy toward us. But, I believe that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, not just for a select few and that His mercy is available to all who will receive Him - that God desires that none be lost, He desires that all will come to a saving knowledge in Jesus Christ. I believe His Holy Spirit is working in the lives of all people, convicting them of their sin, and that His drawing and call to Himself is available to all - but, we must reject or receive. Therefore none will be without excuse.

I do not believe that there are some infants destined for hell or unborn children killed in the womb destined for hell by God. I just cannot believe that about God’s character.

Ok, that’s all. I didn’t mean to go on and meant to stop about ten paragraphs ago. I vented.

My question to you is, as a Calvinist, how do you KNOW that you are one of His? Maybe you just think you are because after all nothing you do, according to Calvinism, has anything to do with your salvation. Just because you think you believe in God and in His Son, in His offer of salvation - is that what saves you? No, because nothing you think about it has anything to do with your salvation - God alone decides who gets to be in the club - not your thoughts, not your words or what you say - no, it is God’s choice alone.


28 posted on 07/12/2013 1:06:19 PM PDT by rusty schucklefurd
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To: jboot

I had much the same view for years, but once I went through a course on Catholicism i understood that they preach another gospel, which is why the split that came from the Reformation was necessary. Yes, they believe many orthodox things, but they change the core of the gospel itself. And that’s what makes Roman Catholicism so pernicious. Any faith that denies we are saved by grace through faith alone in Christ alone does not teach the gospel. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Agreed on the horrors coming from the Mainlines.


29 posted on 07/12/2013 1:08:42 PM PDT by .45 Long Colt
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To: rusty schucklefurd

I’ll respond more later, but Calvinism leads to assurance, real assurance.

Below is a little portion of a paper on evil. There is much more than this that can be said, but it gets you started. Once I understood sovereignty and Calvinism, evil was much less troubling to me than it was when I held to free will.

Last thing, I too swore I would never change my mind. I learned that if God wants to teach me something, I’m learning it : )

Clarifying the issue

There are two errors that must be avoided concerning the problem of evil. The first error would be to believe that God is the source of evil. This terrible error would blame God for evil and hold that evil was produced by God out of His own nature. The second error would be to believe that evil occurred apart from God’s sovereign plan. This position would hold that evil entered the universe because God was helpless to prevent it, and thus it overthrew the purposes of God. The position the Scriptures seem to teach is that mankind is to be blamed for and is the source of evil, while nonetheless the entrance of evil into the universe was ordained by God as part of God’s plan from the beginning. God could have prevented evil from entering into the universe had He desired to, but chose not to prevent it for wise and holy reasons.

Let’s probe this issue a little further. God is not the author of evil because He created the universe good. In its original state, there was nothing evil or sinful in the universe. Evil first entered God’s creation as a result of the disobedience of the angels who rebelled. Evil then entered the physical universe and human race as a result of mankind’s sin in Adam. God is not the source of evil or sin; evil is a result of the disobedience of God’s creatures. For these reasons, God cannot be blamed for the existence of evil—all responsibility for the presence of sin and evil in the human race falls upon mankind. All responsibility for the presence of evil in the spiritual realm falls upon the angels who rebelled.

But in order to have the full picture, we cannot stop here and conclude that God was powerless to prevent evil. Since God is sovereign and He “works out everything in conformity with the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11), none of His purposes can be thwarted (Job 42:2). Therefore we must conclude that evil did not occur apart from the purpose and plan of God. The ultimate reason that evil occurred is because God planned it, not because His creatures are able to overthrow His plans. These two truths we must hold together even if we cannot fully understand how they fit: man is responsible, yet God is absolutely sovereign and controls all things.

Last of all it is necessary to understand that evil is not permanent. It was defeated at the cross and will be quarantined in hell for eternity at the final judgement. Then God will create a new heavens and new earth where only righteousness and purity will dwell forever.


30 posted on 07/12/2013 1:20:21 PM PDT by .45 Long Colt
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To: .45 Long Colt

Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.


31 posted on 07/12/2013 1:54:56 PM PDT by .45 Long Colt
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To: .45 Long Colt

re: “I’ll respond more later,. . .”

There is no need to .45 Long Colt. I will not ever see the Calvinist point of view. It makes no logical sense to me. I’ve heard the Calvinist response for responsibility for evil, but it doesn’t logically follow, at least to me. If God is totally sovereign, in the Calvinist view, then every act, whether good or bad, it was ordained by God first.

If there is no ability to act on one’s own volition, there is no way to “rebel” against God, either by angels or man, because every thought, every act, every single thing that happens was ordained by God (in the Calvinist view).

Therefore, God is the source of evil. I don’t believe that, but I see no other way around it and keep the Calvinist view of sovereignty.


32 posted on 07/12/2013 2:06:57 PM PDT by rusty schucklefurd
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To: jboot
I'd feel much more comfortable with someone who thinks that Christ is physically present in the elements of communion and who prays to Mary than I would with someone who isn't willing to admit that Christ is anything more than a wonderful concept imagined by men and who prays to a "god conscienceness" within himself.

Not me.

Both are equally pernicious IMO. The difference being that the dogma which has been issued by the Catholic church at large is heresy whereas that of the mainline churches still adheres to biblical truths albeit disobeyed by many who live under it.

And the "concept" and "God-consciousness" are found in plenty in the Catholic churches as well so there's really no difference there.

33 posted on 07/12/2013 2:23:11 PM PDT by what's up
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To: rusty schucklefurd
If there is no ability to act on one’s own volition, there is no way to “rebel” against God, either by angels or man, because every thought, every act, every single thing that happens was ordained by God (in the Calvinist view).

Actually, one's choice or volition will always be rebellion toward God. We do not have power to be righteous.

It's God's mercy that shines the light of truth and compels one to respond to His irresistible grace.

34 posted on 07/12/2013 2:26:23 PM PDT by what's up
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To: rusty schucklefurd
I cannot get around the idea that God would create people for eternal damnation.

He does not.

All of us are under sin and it is of our own choosing. Our free choice mechanism will always choose rebellion. We are less than deity, so imperfect and, thus, hopeless sinners.

Adam had a choice, Eve had a choice, we all have a choice.

You must work through the story of Jacob and Esau. It is clear that it was all God's election...Jacob was a thorough scoundrel in himself. This is why Paul uses the story as an example in Romans...to show God's sovereignty. Also Abraham. Abraham in no way chose God. God elected him.

35 posted on 07/12/2013 2:32:44 PM PDT by what's up
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To: rusty schucklefurd

I’m not going to try to change your mind on the 5 points, but whether Arminian or Calvinist or somewhere In between you have to come to terms with the verse i quoted in my last post.

Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

God is either fully sovereign over all things, including evil, as His word declares, or He’s not Sovereign and He’s not really God.

Last verses I will leave with, which state clearly we are not born again of our own will.

“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13)

“For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” ( Romans 9:15-16)

Blessings to you!


36 posted on 07/12/2013 2:38:31 PM PDT by .45 Long Colt
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To: rusty schucklefurd
Just because you think you believe in God and in His Son, in His offer of salvation - is that what saves you? No

It's not about only "thinking" you believe as though it's something you've conjured up.

It's about truly believing.

The same way you believe the sun will come up tomorrow...if you believe Jesus has taken your sins you have been blessed with salvation. Calvinism is in effect for mainly this purpose...assurance for the saved. Its primary purpose was never condemnation for the lost though it's often twisted out of shape to distort that.

And BTW it's not your belief that saves you. It is Christ. The belief (faith) in Him and what He has done is the proof that you are a child of God.

37 posted on 07/12/2013 2:41:04 PM PDT by what's up
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To: ConservativeDude

“That is demonstrably true.”


What part of the Reformation, all the way up to the Great Awakening’s Calvinist Preachers, is demonstratively “only a few are saved, so why bother doing anything?”


38 posted on 07/12/2013 2:48:41 PM PDT by Greetings_Puny_Humans
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To: what's up

re: “Actually, one’s choice or volition will always be rebellion toward God. We do not have power to be righteous.”

Yes, in the Calvinist view - God ordained man to sin. Man has not free will to do anything other than what God ordained, so therefore God is the source of evil.


39 posted on 07/12/2013 3:02:40 PM PDT by rusty schucklefurd
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To: what's up

re: “All of us are under sin and it is of our own choosing. Our free choice mechanism will always choose rebellion.”

Yes because God has ordained our every action to be thus. We have no free choice to rebel, we rebel because God has sovereignly chosen us to do so.


40 posted on 07/12/2013 3:04:49 PM PDT by rusty schucklefurd
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To: rusty schucklefurd

“In addition, there seems to be a new “militancy” for some Calvinists to force the issue of sovereignty, of total inability, and of no free-will.”


It is a good militancy, since the issue is so important. Just a few days ago I was reading a ridiculous book called “Sound Doctrine” by a Pentecostal man from Denmark, and also watching his videos and reading what his fans say. In the end, it came down to everyone being able to perform in the gift of healing (despite the scripture that ways “do all have the gift of healing? do all speak in tongues? do all prophecy?), and that the operation of spiritual gifts is a “fruit of the spirit” that depends on your personal submission and holiness. If you are not performing great miracles, or getting your cancer healed, there is something wrong with you. “If your soul is prospering, so will your health.”

It’s a great deal of trash, don’t you think? Obviously kin to the prosperity Gospel.

On a blog I frequent, from one of my favorite Christian authors (Karen Hancock), she was talking about a recent upheaval in her church as they all came out of an erroneous doctrine called ‘Rebound.’ Formerly, in error, their pastor used to teach that with every sin you commit, you lose the Holy Spirit, and therefore must repent in order to be refilled. Hence, “to rebound.”

All of this strikes me as a natural consequence of misunderstanding the origin of salvation; and if only they had known the true origin, they would not have characterized holiness or obedience as necessary for salvation, as the Catholics do, but instead would have understood it as the natural consequence of salvation instead.

Joh_15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

If we are chosen by Christ, and not the other way around, then it follows that we are also chosen (ordained) for the purpose of “bringing forth fruit” to God, and fruit that “should remain.” What work of man can “remain” if it is not the work of God? Nothing that man does can last, and “all our righteousness are as filthy rags.” Thus, we must conclude that it is God who “works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure,” as the scripture testifies.

This is an extremely different world view, and properly understood, removes self-righteousness and the Roman error completely from the equation.


41 posted on 07/12/2013 3:07:27 PM PDT by Greetings_Puny_Humans
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To: ConservativeDude

Oops, ignore the previous post, as I misunderstood your meaning. My apologies.


42 posted on 07/12/2013 3:08:36 PM PDT by Greetings_Puny_Humans
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To: rusty schucklefurd
We have no free choice to rebel, we rebel because God has sovereignly chosen us to do so.

We rebel because anything other than deity will.

Only God is perfect. All others will rebel against perfect holiness.

43 posted on 07/12/2013 3:14:19 PM PDT by what's up
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To: rusty schucklefurd
Man has not free will to do anything other than what God ordained, so therefore God is the source of evil

No, God cannot be a source of evil. He is perfect holiness.

God allows evil...for example He allowed Satan to test Job. But Job's testing resulted in a further revelation of God's perfection to the detriment of Satan.

44 posted on 07/12/2013 3:18:17 PM PDT by what's up
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To: what's up

re: “And BTW it’s not your belief that saves you. It is Christ. The belief (faith) in Him and what He has done is the proof that you are a child of God.”

Yes, according to Calvinism, there is nothing you do that saves you. It is all God’s choosing.

Your saying you believe does not save you, your thinking you believe does not save you, your belief that you believe in God’s Word does not save you. God chooses by His will who will be saved. The problem is - you don’t really know whether you are saved or not because you have nothing to do with salvation.

Sooo, how do you KNOW that you REALLY believe? Maybe you’re in the club and maybe you’re not.

I believe God’s Word is the source of our security. God promised that if we accept/believe/place our faith in His Son, and receive Him into our heart as our Lord and Master, then He would save us - we become one of His children, born not of human flesh, born not by our power or ability because we are helpless to save ourselves by our own righteousness, no, we are saved by the reliability of God’s Word, by the graciousness of His Will that all men should come to the saving knowledge of God (even though all won’t by their unbelief).

We rely on the absolute surety and promises of God. It is God’s promises in His Word we rely on, not our emotion, not our thoughts, not some vague hope that we have been “chosen”.

If we have nothing to do with receiving, through free will, God’s gracious gift of salvation to us, then you ultimately have no assurance whether you are saved or not, because any measure you use to determine whether you really believe is from within your own mind. And, we know that the mind of man is flawed so maybe you just think you’re saved. You wanting to be saved or thinking you are saved is irrelevant in the Calvinist view. If you’re chosen you’re in. If not you aren’t.

If unborn infants are already chosen to heaven or hell by God’s sovereign choice (according to Calvinisms view), then what makes you think you personally know whether you are saved or not?


45 posted on 07/12/2013 3:29:43 PM PDT by rusty schucklefurd
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To: what's up

re: “No, God cannot be a source of evil. He is perfect holiness.”

I agree, but the Calvinist’s view of God’s sovereignty does not allow for that. God has foreordained everything that happens. You sin and are a sinner because that’s all according to God’s sovereign will. God is ultimately the source of sin and evil because no one acts with a free will - only He has that ability.

Adam and Eve had no choice but to eat that fruit - it was ordained by God. Satan rebelled because God ordained that he do so. God created Adam, Eve, Satan, therefore God is the source of sin and evil. I don’t believe that, but logically if you follow Calvinism’s teachings that’s where we end up.

Look, what’s up, I know you love the Lord. I know you believe in Him and are just trying to live in accordance with His Word. I know you want to serve Him and I do too, although I fail many, many times. So, why don’t we just love our Lord and serve Him as best we can. We must answer to Him as His servants.

You don’t have to keep responding. I will not to you anymore if it is in regard to Calvinism. Let’s just let our disagreement be laid at our Lord’s feet and go on with our lives in service to Him. God bless you as you walk with Him.


46 posted on 07/12/2013 3:40:41 PM PDT by rusty schucklefurd
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To: rusty schucklefurd; All

“If God is totally sovereign, in the Calvinist view, then every act, whether good or bad, it was ordained by God first.”


While it is true that God “before of old ordained [some men] to this condemnation” (Jud 1:4), appointing them that they should stumble at the Word of God (1 Pe 2:8), this does not mean that God is the direct cause of their evil nature. Men, by nature, are already evil. All God need do is pass them by. But while He passes them by in salvation, He does not leave them alone to do whatever they like regardless of His plans. He “fits them to their destruction,” to “make known the riches of His glory” to the vessels of mercy, and His hatred against sin in the vessels of wrath (Rom 9). When it comes to their sins, He, in some cases, allows them to sin through permission, they acting according to their evil nature already, fitted according to God’s purpose, and in other cases moves through a hardening of their heart, as in Pharaoh, or “giving them over to a reprobate mind,” as the homosexuals, or in sending “strong delusion that they may believe a lie,” as the children of the anti-Christ shall be. God orders all the events in history, according to His own will and purpose, so that “all things work together for good to them that love God, who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8). Some call this fate, the founders called it Providence.

It is also necessary to define what we mean when we talk of these things. “Free Will” is not a thing that exists, since the scripture only speaks of the will as being in bondage to sin, or else freed from sin by Jesus Christ. If the will by necessity of its nature moves towards evil things, it certainly is not a ‘free will.’ It is a will under the bondage of Satan. At the same time, however, we can say that this will is “free,” in that it desires and freely wills to do evil. And we can say that the “will” of the natural man is unable to seek God or know anything of God, per Romans 3, out of his “free will,” since if the man does not want to believe in God, then his desire to disbelieve cannot suddenly transform into a will to believe against his will, unless some other force or agent works upon Him.

Certainly he has the power to choose God, and the power to do this or that, and it is very easy to believe if we are just talking about capability. We can say that Jesus had the “power” to sin, but it is impossible for him to sin because His entire will is against it. A sane man, under normal circumstances, has the power to kill himself. But if he does not want to kill himself, he certainly won’t do it against his will.

Unfortunately, the problem is that no one wants to not kill themselves, “there are none who seek after God, they are all gone astray,” says Paul, “there are none good, no, not one.” This is why faith cannot come from flesh and blood, but most come from above:

Mat_16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Joh 6:64-65 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. (65) And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.


47 posted on 07/12/2013 3:46:42 PM PDT by Greetings_Puny_Humans
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To: rusty schucklefurd
The problem is - you don’t really know whether you are saved or not because you have nothing to do with salvation.

So only one's action determines whether one knows something or not? No, one can know many things without having anything to do with them.

WWI really happened even though I wasn't there to "know" it.

Sooo, how do you KNOW that you REALLY believe?

Faith is in your heart. And as you read the Bible consistently and honestly (in context) the reality of salvation becomes more and more solid. As long as you don't cherry-pick scripture but read it in context you become more aware of God's initiative throughout both Old and New Testaments. Assurance is the result. If salvation is dependent on one's choice, one can choose one's way out of it. This is not true if it is God who has adopted us rather than the other way around.

not some vague hope that we have been “chosen”.

It's not a vague hope. If a believer reads Ephesians ch. 1 one will be convinced that one's faith is real, not vague. This assures us that God chose us before the beginning of time (Eph 1:4). He may have timed it so that one exercised choice (and remember it is not the experience of all believers to experience "choice"...many have believed without any action at all on their part), but as one moves forward and continues in a knowledge of scripture (not just philosophical conjecture) one sees that God moved circustances so that the choice was because of His irresistible grace initiated by Him.

It is God’s promises in His Word we rely on

Amen. And the Holy Spirit will witness that these are for us.

Note: My personal experience was that I did not choose to believe. Experiences led me to gradually believe more and more with no action on my part. I have exercised "choice" to follow certain courses God laid before me in life...but I did not exercise "choice" to believe in my salvation.

48 posted on 07/12/2013 4:15:00 PM PDT by what's up
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To: rusty schucklefurd
I agree, but the Calvinist’s view of God’s sovereignty does not allow for that.

Actually, it does.

I might allow my child to toy with the disobedience he is set on it just so he learns a lesson he would never learn by me just saying "no" all the time. I am in command of the agenda but he needs to get burned to learn the right course.

It doesn't mean that I am the origin of the temptation or evil he is toying with. It means I'm allowing it so he can be shown what's right in the end.

So, why don’t we just love our Lord and serve Him as best we can

Amen! And over the years I have learned that better works come from me as I rest easy knowing He has chosen me. He will keep me rather from me having to strive to make sure I am making the right choices to earn salvation. Not trying to be preachy...just real.

I know you love the Lord too. God bless.

49 posted on 07/12/2013 4:23:29 PM PDT by what's up
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To: rusty schucklefurd

I left an SBC church over the issue of Calvinism. I asked if we could sing, “Jesus loves you, this I know!” or needed to sing, “Jesus loves some, are you one?”. I couldn’t get an answer, so I left.

http://evangelicalarminians.org/


50 posted on 07/12/2013 4:30:00 PM PDT by Mr Rogers (Liberals are like locusts...)
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