Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pyromaniacs- Journey to Calvinism

Here is an interesting post from the Pyromaniacs blog about believing in Calvinism. One thing that caught my eye was the movement of this guy was similar to mine in that it was a lenthgy process that took many years to grasp the idea that many of the things I already believed in (as an Arminian) were in fact what Calvinists had believed in, largely because that is how the Bible teaches these ideas, not simply because Calvin did. But Calvin did because he found they were taught in Scripture. There was an often unspoken hostility or "fear" of "Ca;vinists" that I didn't fully understand. Here is the full post.

What follows is an excerpt from one of my Shepherds' Conference seminars in
2007. You can download the entire message for free HERE. In that seminar I
argued that everyone who truly believes the gospel has already embraced the core
principles of Calvinist truth. Even the most ardent Arminian, if he is truly
evangelical, is a Calvinist when it really counts. Here's an excerpt:

My trek from Arminianism to Calvinism took more than ten years. Every time one of my arguments against Calvinist doctrines would fall, I would be forced to embrace some doctrine that I had heretofore been desperately trying to argue against.

But I never had any sense of defeat. It was more like I was resolving nagging conflicts in my own mind. Because I kept discovering that the truths at the heart of Calvinism truly are the doctrines of grace—principles that I had always affirmed: God is sovereign, Christ died for me, God loved me before I loved Him, He sought me and drew me and initiated my reconciliation while I was still His enemy. Those are all biblical truths, and I believed them even when I was a gung-ho Arminian.

Here is also where I started to understand more of the Soveriegnty of God and how I think the more Biblical position is that God is much more sovereign than I previously embraced. At least my perspective began to shift slightly as I learned more.

So embracing Calvinism was natural—and inevitable—because all I was doing was
ridding my mind of wrong ideas and faulty assumptions about human free will and
other notions like that, which are not even taught in the Bible—so that I could
wholeheartedly affirm what I really believed anyway: That God is God, and He
does all His good pleasure, and no one can make Him do otherwise, and He is in
control and in charge no matter how much noise evildoers try to make.

One of the reasons I started the shift was that I couldn't reconsile the idea that "God is a gentleman" that many say, but at the same time we would pray that God would change someone's mind and heart to accept Him. I think I realized that you couldn't have it both ways or at the least, there was something that needed to be changed in my thinking. This was part of my shift as God became BIGGER.

And not only is He in charge, He is working all things out for my good and His glory.

That's Calvinism. And if you believe those things, you have affirmed the heart of Calvinist doctrine, even if you call yourself an Arminian. Those are the basic truths of Calvinism, and if you already believe those things, you are functioning with Calvinist

There's more. If you are an authentic Christian, you know in your heart of hearts that you weren't born again because you were morally superior to your unbelieving neighbors. You were worthy of God's wrath just like them (Ephesians 2:1-3). According to Ephesians 2:4-6, it was God who quickened you and showed you a special mercy—and that is why you are a believer. You already know that in your heart. You don't really believe you summoned faith and came to Christ in your own power and by your own unaided free will. You don't actually believe you are morally superior to unbelievers. You therefore must see, somewhere in your soul, that God has given you special grace that He has not shown everyone.

...Nothing is more biblical than these doctrines that are commonly labeled Calvinism. In a way, it is a shame they have been given an extrabiblical name. Because these truths are the very essence of what Scripture teaches.

There is more to the article, but I will leave it at that for now. What do you think? Any truth there? Disagree? Something to add?



Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

D.B. said...

Thanks Steve. I left a comment on your attempt to say that baptism was necessary for salvation which I don't think the Bible teaches. Be sure to comment on the blog content next time.

Kwame E. said...

«What do you think? Any truth there? Disagree? Something to add?»

Disagree, yes, sure, and no to answer all questions.

D.B. said...

Kwame, how dare you disagree? I thought you were a part of my cult? How can I run a proper cult if one of my 3 members won't even agree with everything that is written? LOL.

If you could pick one brief one (it's a busy week, so I may not be able to respond too much), what would you say?

Kwame E. said...

«If you could pick one brief one (it's a busy week, so I may not be able to respond too much), what would you say?»

I understand why Phil Johnson wrote what he wrote. I simply don’t agree with conflating Calvinism and “the heart of Calvinist doctrine.”

D.B. said...

What would you say the difference is?

Kwame E. said...

For the sake of discussion, let the heart of Calvinism be this: God’s metaphysical and moral freedom to do as he will, which is sometimes exercised in a manner contrary to particular human will and sometimes not.

Calvinism comes with details and subdivisions, ones which do not immediately pertain to questions of sovereignty or the noetic effects of the fall of man. For instance, the idea of divine sovereignty per se does not imply that Christ died only for those whom God chose; this first idea may be a starting point toward the idea of Particular Redemption or Limited Atonement, but it does not of necessity make it to be true. After all, the mere fact of divine sovereignty allows for a number of different possibilities about the way the universe is: that Christ died to save the elect and to make the nonelect salvable, that Christ died to save the elect and to serve as a moral example to nonelect, that there are pigs which can fly, that there are trolls under the Brooklyn Bridge, etc.

Likewise, even if you start with the idea that unregenerate people are incapable of doing good or at least incapable of repentance, from this mere fact you don’t get proof that all Christians were chosen by God ages ago or at the beginning of the world. Proof of that must come from elsewhere and with additional help.

Calvinism and its heart obviously are not identical, and though it may be useful in some instances to treat one as the other you might one day find on a related basis that things have gotten out of hand when people start insisting that Calvinism is the gospel.