Tag Archive for 'calvinism'

Spurgeon on Wesley

Spurgeon on Why You Should Read Wesley on the Christian Life – Justin Taylor

This goes along with another post on this blog:
Stuff On Calvinism | Scripture Zealot blog
which has some links to other things related to being a nice Calvinist.

I’ve not written one bad word about Arminians on this blog. Although I write about many things from a Reformed point of view, this blog isn’t about apologetics for the Reformed faith. When people come here hating on Calvinism, they are way out of line. Arminianism is probably the closest thing there is to Calvinism, as far as I know. When it comes to prosperity preachers or other false teachers, I will write some negative things about them once or twice a year, and often regret it. Not because I went too far, but because I just don’t like dealing with the backlash, and that’s not what this blog is about.

I will write about things critical of evangelicalism, of which I’m a part of. I’m writing this as sort of a preamble for a series I’ll be writing on things Christians say that aren’t Biblical or don’t make any sense. But mainly I found the article linked to at the top of the post and it reminded me of other links I have found that are similar. So I guess I kind of went off track there. Sorry. I think something sparkly caught my attention.

Also see:
A Conversation with My Favorite Wesleyan Theologian – Justin Taylor – on why Calvinists shouldn’t be the enemy of Arminians either

Stuff On Calvinism

Most of this has to do with–Be Nice! The other theme is myths about Calvinism. I’d prefer to say I’m Reformed, although Calvinism is a subset that I suppose I adhere more closely to.

On being nice: I don’t even want to hear about those who aren’t and who feel that heaven will be filled with Calvinists or all seminary professors should be Calvinists etc. It makes me mad, but I suppose I can’t ignore that they are out there.

As far as the myths, like putting God in a box–I don’t even know what that means–since Calvinists embrace mystery, and many people who aren’t try to use human logic to tie up the loose ends. As far as I’m concerned, that’s “putting God in a box.” That’s probably as far as I’ll go as far as speaking negatively about non-Calvinists, not including certain individuals who many feel are leading people astray. Which I probably won’t be doing any more of. No promises though.

My main objective is to know and love God, and my beliefs happen to line up with Calvinism for the most part. There are people who regularly go after Calvinists and the sad thing is, they’re either going after a minority of people or even people who don’t exist! So let’s be nice, unless someone is leading people astray.

Quote of the Day: Limited Atonement (Warning: Calvinist Content)

I’ve been wondering why the Calvinist doctrine of Limited Atonement is important. I had just the answers I was looking for in Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism which I reviewed. Here is part of just one:

It slanders God’s justice. Did Christ satisfy God’s justice for everyone? Did Christ take the punishment due to everybody? If he did, how can God punish anyone? Is it justice to punish one person for the sins of another and later to punish the initial offender again? As Augustus Toplady said,

God cannot payment twice demand;
Once at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.

God can’t and won’t demand payment twice. Double punishment is injustice.

–Joel Beeke, Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism

Some others are:

  • It slanders God’s power (by being dependent on people and their free will)
  • It disables the deity of Christ (because he didn’t succeed–I can see non-Calvinists really getting steamed now)
  • It undermines the unity of the Trinity (in that Christ died for more than God decreed)

There are just as many more but I’m tired of typing. I’m glad I looked into it further. I’m certain I’m not a ‘Four Point Calvinist’.

Young, Restless, Reformed, and Frustrated

Another ranty, possibly unfocused post without a clear point to it.

There are the stereotypical (having some truth) old Calvinists like John MacArthur, recently slinging his guns, and the stereotypical ‘New’, or ‘Young, Restless and Reformed’, who got shot at. (Let’s say Calvinist and Reformed are synonymous.) Then there are those in between, which is where I am, but don’t yet know where on the spectrum I lie. It probably doesn’t matter a whole lot, as long as I’m headed in the right direction. But it sure can be frustrating and I would like to briefly write about some things I’m wrestling with, especially near the end of the post.

Erik Raymond knows first hand what it’s like to be in MacArthur’s sights, even if it’s indirectly, and he isn’t the type MacArthur is referring to. We’ve both learned so much from John MacArthur. MacArthur and John Piper (another one who is getting a little weird) were instrumental in the beginning of my path to learning so much about God’s sovereignty at a very difficult time in my life. It has been life changing to start to really learn about God’s character as revealed in the Bible.

John MacArthur referenced Erik Raymond (the very first link in the post, unfortunately), who has a blog called Ordinary Pastor (the link is his ‘rebuttal’ of sorts, which is excellent), formerly Irish Calvinist. This was very unfair and I doubt MacArthur went on his computer (if he has one–seriously, he might not, which is OK) and sought out this link himself. MacArthur’s ministry, Grace To You, has now issued a followup to MacArthur’s blog post. He said he did it out of love but he never seems to say that the first time.

Among the old guard there are also sometimes things like this:

In recent church history, earth-toned paisley ties fell off the necks of pastors and were replaced by mock turtlenecks and open-collared shirts of every color in the rainbow.

Open-collared shirts–God help us! I have always hated suits and ties. Why do some people think pastors and churchgoers have to look like corporate executives when we’re supposed to be separate from the world? Some of you will vehemently disagree and say that we should respect God by what we wear when hearing His Word. I still hate dress clothes.

On the other hand: I didn’t come from Arminianism to Calvinism quickly or easily  by listening to a few sermons by “famous” pastors or by reading some blog posts. It was with kicking and screaming (in my head). Although it was without having read Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, which should probably be a prerequisite, I have read quite extensively, including a couple of overview type books, too many articles and posts to count, and I especially have a knowledge and liking of the Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession. I have the Institutes in my possession and will read them most likely next year. I also went back and read more about Arminianism from good sources, which means material not written by Calvinists, just to make sure I knew both as best I could. I’ve read completely through the Bible, sometimes even trying to see things from the Arminian perspective, but the extent of God’s sovereignty, among many other aspects of God’s character, and doctrine that happens to line up with Calvinism, just keep coming through everywhere. So I know I am a Calvinist.

I’m also not into the stereotypical (which is in the minority, I hope) Young, Restless and Reformed style of boasting about drinking beer, watching MMA (because I’m a real man who believes in a Jesus who could ‘take me’ and not one with flowing blonde hair who always speaks soothingly), and just wanting to be  ‘other’ than the typical evangelical. I’m not going to comment on those things at this point. I’m not saying they’re wrong or I do or don’t participate or believe those things. What I’m saying is I’m not constantly talking about it to brag about how different or manly I am. I used to think this way about some other things and it’s very arrogant. I think this is what John MacArthur was trying to get at in his abrasive way.

So I’m not into suits and ties, at all, I don’t like the stodgy old guard, I don’t shun everything new, I don’t like the ESV, and I think the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is kind of creepy even though I’m a complementarian of sorts. And as mentioned in the last paragraph I’m also not into the stereotypical young, [N]ew Calvinist thang. (Do they say that anymore?) So I don’t know exactly what kind of Calvinist I am. And you may notice, I’m not even talking doctrinal stuff, although that is a big factor I’m just not writing about here.

This has been my quandary for a while: I feel like if I didn’t read blogs and material from unproven sources on the webternet, I might be in a better position to just learn, without all the labels and infighting and outfighting and all the peripheral stuff. On the other hand, I have learned a lot from blogs and very much appreciate my blogging friends. It’s lonely being someone who likes to read a lot, studying theology, knowing the difference between a Calvinist and Arminian etc. My blogging friends can help fill that void a little.

Just between us, because it can sound arrogant, here is a great quote on that, found in a comment on a blog post:

jangulat says:
May 22, 2011 at 6:46 pm
Nathan, oftentimes the path to greater learning is a lonely one. We humans are generarally content to possess a breadth of knowlege a mile wide [that’s pretty wide though] and an inch deep.

Dig only slightly deeper and the crowd thins out dramatically.
You are apparently past digging and now mining. Hence, your travel companions on the path you’ve chosen will likely be few and far between.

So I’m not about to leave my friends. But when you get on that interwebz machine, even if you’re at a legitimate place of higher learning, it often takes you to the places that suck you in and you don’t realize you just wasted time until after you’ve wasted it (like this blog post?).

So I will keep on trying to keep in step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25), trying to figure out which blogs to follow and which to not, try to spend less time on the internet in general–which I’ve improved on–and more time reading proven authors, including the inspired ones, and try to keep my eyes on things above.

I’m not intending to teach or tell people what to do with any authority, but I want to add some value to this post by listing some things I think are important. I hope I’m not embarrassed about this five years from now. Take it for what it’s worth.

  • As I’m learning in Genesis right now, God’s purposes will be done no matter how much we think we may mess things up. We don’t need to defend God for how people act other than to let people know who God really is. We need to let people think what they will. Many people hate God and hate Christians and this is how it will always be. (Matthew 10:22)
  • If you want to be a Calvinist, make sure to know what it is. Make sure you also know what Arminianism, Open Theism and Universalism are, especially if you want to defend your views. People are misrepresenting each other all the time and it’s maddening to see. I’m not an apologist for Calvinism so I don’t get into that very much. If you’re not very sure about what something is, don’t say anything about it. (This is also why I don’t talk much about politics and economics.)
  • Don’t pester those who are solid Christians by trying to convert them to Calvinism unless they have an interest. They’re already Christians! They are in God’s hands now whether you like it or not. (Rom 14:8)
  • Lift up Christ, not Calvin. We are a Christians first. If I’m thinking about Calvinism more than Christ and basic Biblical doctrine, I’ve gone off the path.
  • If you are a hyper-Calvinist, stop it right now. (Two links there)
  • When interacting with other Calvinists, bear with one another. (Colossians 3:13) Realize that we have freedom in Christ, to a point, and not quibble about a beer or open-collared shirts unless alcoholism or addiction to open-collared shirts is involved. There are all kinds at many different levels of maturity. It’s hard enough for Christians to be united. Can we at least as Calvinists show some love towards each other in addition to all kinds of believers? (Galatians 6:10) I’ll try my best to bear with those who don’t like open-colored shirts.
  • My only hero is Jesus. The rest are too flawed.

This is not directed in any way towards my blogging friends and those who have blogs devoted to Calvinism. The good ones have been very helpful to me and the people have been great in backing me up here and helping me along. If you disagree with any of this, feel free to continue sharpening in the comments. (Proverbs 27:17)

Colossians 3:1-3 NRSV
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3 for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Also see:

Calvinist Myths

From Reformed Quotations:

A.W. Pink: “Now people say that is what election means, that God has spread the gospel feast and some poor sinners conscious of their deep need come to the Lord and say, “Have mercy upon me,” and the Lord says, “No, you are not among My elect.”

Now, my friends, that is not the teaching of this Book, nor anything like that. That is absolutely a false representation of God’s truth.

Now then, here is the Truth…

–A.W. Pink, Compel them to come in! (video 6:24 in length)

Myths About Calvinism – Tim Challies interviews Dr. Ken Stewart, the author of Ten Myths About Calvinism: Recovering the Breadth of the Reformed Tradition.

Followup on Mark Driscoll’s New Versus Old Calvinism

I wrote about Mark Driscoll’s New Calvinism a couple of weeks ago. I’m still rather mystified. Many of the Old Calvinists are actually New ones. You can go to The Resurgence and find all the posts on the New Calvinists that he’s written about since then (which may be of interest to some of you), most of which are Old New Calvinists. So I’m wondering who the Old (but not Old New) Calvinists are.

Most of the stuff I wrote about is null and void now but as I said, there was no context to go on.

Somebody clue us in here.

I’m a relatively young New Calvinist and hope to eventually be an Old New Calvinist but not a plain Old Calvinist. Or just a respectable Reformed guy.

Mark Driscoll’s “New Calvinism”

The blogs are starting to be lit up by Time Magazine’s listing of the ‘New Calvinism’ as the third biggest idea that is changing the world right now.

Mark Driscoll capitalized on this right away with a post on New Calvinism Versus Old Calvinism which really annoyed me. “Old” Calvinism is portrayed negatively and I think erroneously.

I have mixed feelings about Mr. Driscoll and don’t need to comment on them here (and why would anyone care). I’m only addressing his post/article here because his blog doesn’t have comments enabled.

The short version is: Did Driscoll’s Calvinist hero, Charles Spurgeon exhibit any of the negative qualities of an Old Calvinist? The answer is a definite no.

To address each point to the best of my ability realizing that I’m not the best historian or expert on Calvinism:

Old Calvinism was fundamental or liberal and separated from or syncretized with culture. New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.

I don’t know about Calvin, but I know that Spurgeon smoked cigars, didn’t shy away from alcohol (although he was before the prohibition) and often preached in a theater to help people feel more comfortable in hearing his message. I suppose though this could be seen as syncretized. Is Mark Driscoll not syncretized with the culture? What’s the middle point between syncretized and separated?

The Puritans, who are almost always mis-characterized, contributed significantly to culture in a positive way.

I’m still not sure exactly what missional means other than being a hip and trendy term, but Calvin’s sermons were very evangelistic and he himself traveled to Brazil on a missionary journey against the advice of his friends. Spurgeon, George Whitefield and Jonathon Edwards heralded great revivals.

Old Calvinism fled from the cities. New Calvinism is flooding into cities.

I don’t know what this means.

Old Calvinism was cessationistic and fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. New Calvinism is continuationist and joyful in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

From what I’ve read, Spurgeon had the gift of healing and there were charismatic elements to his ministry. I wouldn’t doubt that Calvinists in general are cessationists but this certainly isn’t across the board or anything dogmatic as far as I know (correct me if I’m wrong). John Piper is charismatic but he’s probably considered an old New Calvinist being mentioned in the Time Magazine article.

The Holy Spirit played a vital role in Calvinist theology but I would gather that he’s talking about a charismatic type of power here. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never thought of Calvinists as being “fearful” of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in a negative way. See The Holy Spirit and Good Works in Reformed Theology (not fully relevant but I thought I’d provide the link)

Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them.

Again with Spurgeon and others like Whitefield, they had dear friends who weren’t Calvinists. See Spurgeon: A Defense of Calvinism (and Arminians)

I would say that there are many new or hyper-Calvinists who exhibit more of the tendencies of the “Old Calvinists” so that’s why I’m annoyed and confused by this.

I may be taking this out of context, but there is no context to go on in his short article. I’m not going to make any assumptions as to why he wrote this because I don’t know what his motives are and I can’t read his mind. I tried but I think my WiFi is interfering with the signal.

Again, I’m not addressing Driscoll himself in general here or meaning to slam him, I just felt like writing my thoughts on this.

Update: Mark Driscoll posted More Thoughts on Time Magazine and New Calvinism.

More Updates:

Book Review: Living For God’s Glory

Living for God's GloryLiving for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism by Joel R. Beeke with contributions from: Sinclair B. Ferguson, James Grier, Michael A. G. Haykin, Nelson Kloosterman, Ray Lanning, Robert Oliver, Ray Pennings, Derek W. H. Thomas

Joel Beeke says, “The target audience for this book is laypeople and ministers who are interested in learning the basics of Calvinism. I hope it also will serve as a stimulating summary and refresher course for those who are already avid Calvinists, much as Steven J. Lawson’s The Expository Genius of John Calvin from Reformation Trust excites those of us who are already familiar with much of its content. I have worked hard to keep this book simple, clear, and non-technical, in the hope that you might hand it to others to help them understand how you think as a Calvinist.”

I felt this was the case except the chapter on philosophy can be a more difficult read for those of us not well versed on the subject.

While John Calvin – A Heart for Devotion Doctrine & Doxology, also from Reformation Trust and reviewed here, is about John Calvin himself and a brief introduction to his theology, this book is less about Calvin himself and more about Calvinism from the beginnings of the Reformation through the time of the Puritans both in Europe and after they arrived in the U.S. It’s longer and more thorough than the previous mentioned book but is still introductory.

Included in this history are the Reformed canons, confessions and catechisms. There is a lengthy treatment of these documents which may be of interest to some who are unfamiliar with their content and origins.

Other notable figures from Martin Luther (including an explanation of the differences between Lutheranism and Calvinism) to Jonathan Edwards are mentioned in the book.

Although the acronym TULIP wasn’t developed until the 1900’s, the Canons of Dort contain a response to the Remonstrance of 1610, a response to Calvinism by forty-three of Arminius’ followers. “The canons were structured to correspond with the five articles of the 1610 Remonstrance” which correspond to the contents of TULIP but in a different order. This is covered quite a bit in the book. Therefore, this book isn’t an objective look at Calvinism as compared to other areas of theology and Arminianism is talked about negatively and even called “heretical” (or at least referring to what Arminius’ followers had to say) which is going too far. Just when I thought there may have been too much time spent refuting Arminian theology, the book moved on from there.

The book doesn’t dwell too much on TULIP though, as Calvinism is much more than that:

“It is important to note that the five points do not summarize all of Calvinism; that would be a truncated view of the Reformed faith. One of the aims of this book is to show the panoramic grandeur of the Reformed faith’s worldview.”

The book also covers the popular 5 Solas–Scripture alone (sola Scriptura), grace alone (sola gratia), faith alone (sola fide), Christ alone (solus Christus), and the glory of God alone (soli Deo gloria).

A couple of ancillary benefits to this book are the extensive citations and bibliographies at the end of each chapter and an introduction to the history and theology of the Puritans who carried on the Reformed tradition.

Other than listing some of the current denominations that are Reformed, I would like to have seen the history go even farther–past the Puritan era–but that may have been beyond the size and scope of the book.

This book is very readable, enjoyable and educational. I highly recommend it.

Hardcover: 414 pages
Publisher: Reformation Trust Publishing
Publication Date: September 12, 2008
ISBN-10: 1567691056
ISBN-13: 978-1567691054

Buy it from:

Spurgeon: A Defense of Calvinism (and Arminians)

In a sermon by C. H. Spurgeon popularly titled A Defense of Calvinism, Spurgeon also speaks highly of his Arminian friends. There are some quotable quotes in this message that those who are Reformed (of which I am one) often rightly use, but I thought I would point out another quote that may get overlooked:

There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer—I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. But far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none but Calvinistic Christians within her walls, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views. Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him that, while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley. The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one ‘of whom the world was not worthy.’ I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ as their Saviour, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist in or out of Heaven.

Of which I agree. It pains me when people say otherwise.

I hope this isn’t taken the wrong way. It’s a note of love towards my Arminian friends. If it sounds condescending in any way, which I imagine to some it could, that’s not how the posting of this quote was intended or understood by me.

Arminianism Explained

I have mentioned in the past and have been noticing to a great degree lately that Calvinists and Arminians almost always misrepresent each other in the blogosphere. As Gordon Fee says,

Before you can say, ‘I disagree,’ you must be able to say, ‘I understand.’

As far as I can tell, 98% of people in each group misrepresent the position(s) of the other. And on top of that, the majority of Calvinists don’t really know what classical Calvinism is and haven’t read much of Calvin himself. I would guess the same might go for some who would call themselves Arminians. In addition, Arminianism is very different from Semi-Pelagianism or Pelagianism.

I also don’t believe it’s the job of the Calvinist to convert other Christians to Calvinism. We are to proclaim Christ and the basic sound doctrine clearly laid out in Scripture. There is a place for debate and some are gifted in presenting the case of Calvinism or Arminianism to a contemporary audience for the education of the listener or reader.

I think it’s important for us Calvinists to learn not only what Calvinism really is but also to understand what Arminianism is to dispel any misconceptions we may have and understand their position may not be as different from ours as we may have thought.

I came across this paper and thought I would pass it on:

This deals with the difference between Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism but also speaks pretty fairly of Calvinism. It’s interesting to read about how some Calvinists like John MacArthur may misrepresent Arminianism (which I’ve heard myself) but R.C. Sproul seems to have a better grasp of what it really is.

Also of interest is how Arminius admired Calvin’s writings:

Next to the study of the Scriptures which I earnestly inculcate, I exhort my pupils to peruse Calvin’s Commentaries, which I extol in loftier terms than Helmich himself [a Dutch divine, 1551-1608]; for I affirm that he excels beyond comparison . . . in the interpretation of Scripture, and that his commentaries ought to be more highly valued than all that is handed down to us by the library of the fathers; so that I acknowledge him to have possessed above most others, or rather above all other men, what may be called an eminent spirit of prophecy . . . His Institutes ought to be studied after the [Heidelberg] Catechism, as containing a fuller explanation, but with discrimination . . . , like the writings of all men.

I’ve started to read more of Calvin and will have a book review coming up within a week.

Calvinism and Arminianism

Here are some posts related to a passage that doesn’t usually come up in comparisons.
Luke slips in predestination… – He Is Sufficient
Acts 13:48 – “Appointed” or “Disposed?” – I follow Christ
Acts 13:48: Arminian? Calvinistic? – Connecting
Acts 13:48 An Exegetical Study – Love Acceptance Forgiveness

For books related to this subject:
Arminianism and Calvinism Books: A Starter List

Arminian Perspectives
Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Arminian – Roger E. Olson

Psalm 139:16 TNIV
your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Acts 13:48 HCSB
When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the message of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Romans 8:29 HCSB
For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.

Romans 9:14-16 HCSB
What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! For He tells Moses: I will show mercy to whom I show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it does not depend on human will or effort, but on God who shows mercy.
and also:
Romans 10:9-10 HCSB
if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation.

Ephesians 1:11 HCSB
In Him we were also made His inheritance, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will,

2 Timothy 1:9 HCSB
who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.

How these two sides of God’s truth—His sovereignty in choosing us (Rom. 9) and our responsibility to confess and believe (Rom. 10)—reconcile is impossible for us to understand fully. But Scripture declares both perspectives of salvation to be true (John 1:12-13). It’s our duty to acknowledge both and joyfully accept them by faith.

–John MacArthur

1 Timothy 2:4 HCSB
who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Peter 3:9 HCSB
The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

Ezekiel 33:11 HCSB
Tell them: As I live”-the declaration of the Lord God-“I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked person should turn from his way and live. Repent, repent of your evil ways! Why will you die, house of Israel?