Pardon the dust:
I am moving to a new blog. Will resume all blogging activities @

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Calvinism: A Christianity without Jesus?

The above clip is from our friends at Calvary Chapel. The real befuddlement came from what one of the speakers said in the last 30 seconds of tape:
"Calvinism is Christianity without Jesus because they leave Jesus out of the equation. They just take certain statements of Paul and then, of course, read their own theology into it."
You should listen to the clip, but if you do not here is the summary. Chuck Smith and two other men attempt to answer a caller who asked for an exegesis of Romans 8:28-29 as she is trying to refute her friend who has become a Calvinist. The go into some of their 'proof' texts that prove election/limited atonement wrong.

For beginners, they completely misinterpreted their verses. Take Matthew 23:37 for example. Most laymen understand that the Bible must be read and interpreted by itself, that is, in its context. Reading the whole chapter of Matthew 23 one would see this passage comes in the context of a fierce rebuke of the religious leaders of the Jews. We need to note who the pronoun "you" refers to in verses 33-35. It is the killers of the prophets being described; they are the ones being laments over. One would be hard pressed to make "Jerusalem, the" be anyone other than the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus has been rebuking. Scripture is not referring to the salvation of mankind here.

Their misinterpretation of Scripture is mournful; it is incredible that these men who are leaders of such a large movement could be so simplistic. They know very little about what Calvinism is as their ignorance is hard to ignore. I was listening to the famous White Horse Inn interview with Robert Schuller not too long ago. Even though some of his statements were heretical (ie the Bible is not infallible), he did/does have an understanding of the reformed position.

I pray that the woman who called up does her own reading and praying regarding the issue. It really perturbed me when the hosts told her that she should not converse with this Calvinist friend of hers. 'Being sort of cultists, Calvinists are difficult to argue with.' How appropriate that they guide her away from having a serious theological conversation with this friend; after all, ad hominem arguments are so much easier!

Aren't Calvinists the ones who are actually saying that Jesus doesn't try to save, but saves by doing the will of the Father? The Arminian god is both weak and evil, is he not? Sacrificing his son, he wills all people to be saved, but he has made himself helpless to save all by allowing man's freewill to override his will. He is a god that who allows Satan and sinful men to override his will in salvation. Also, is Christ not the center of Pauline theology? You don't have a consistent substitutionary atonement in any other worldview. If you don't have Jesus you don't have a substitute; this is Calvinistic theology!

I think the words of Spurgeon are most appropriate here:
"The most infamous allegations have been brought against us, and sometimes, I must fear, by men who knew them to be utterly untrue: and, to this day, there are many of our opponents, who, when they run short of matter, invent and make for themselves a man of straw, call that John Calvin and then shoot all their arrows at it. We are not come here to defend your man of straw — shoot at it or burn it as you will, and, if it suit your convenience, still oppose doctrines which were never taught, and rail at fictions which, save in your own brain, were never in existence."
I honestly believe that much of the underlying troubles come from ignorance and misunderstanding. If I thought that someone believed that God just damned men for the sheer pleasure of it, without any reference to their sins and depravity and so forth, then I would get pretty uptight as well. But before I would speak out against it, I would seek to find out as much as I could, ever remembering the famous words of Oliver Cromwell to the to the synod of the Church of Scotland: "I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken."

But, as Calvinists we must also remember to be humble.
When speaking to those who do not agree with Calvinistic doctrines, it makes more sense to show them (live them out) our doctrines than beat them over the head with them, which shows zero understanding of humility or God's sovereignty.
This begins by loving those who disagree with us; by living out what we know to be truth.

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

My dedication by Chuck Smith proved not to be harmful after all :-p

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