Post Number: 1877
|Posted on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - 7:10 pm: || |
Thanks Ramone for your sensitivity in keeping the discussions on track. I figured we had probably exhausted the Calvinism discussion, but since you brought up a very important point about examining all texts with regard to formulating our theology by saying:
"Calvin taught limited atonement, but the Bible has verses which clearly speak of full atonement. Maintaining a strict and very detailed explanatory view in his case meant that he had to either ignore certain texts, or explain them in such a way as to maintain his theory. We all do this, but as I wrote in this post, I think that when we feel we must figure out a smooth & detailed explanation, we end up having to discard certain texts, and in so doing we miss out on something wonderful, even if it is paradoxical. (Again this is just an example... if you disagree on Calvin's idea, please go to that linked thread and we'll discuss it there... I don't want to carry folks off topic)."
So then I found that article linked here:
http://www.jesussaidfollowme.org/CalvinismArminianism.htm where there is a very clear examples of side by side comparison of several texts which systematically go over this doctrine of election:
Many Doctrinal Errors Interpret One Set of Verses
At the Expense of Another Set of Verses
This common interpretive error is made by both cultists and Christians. The Jehovah's Witnesses are a good example. You quote a verse about Christ's deity. Then, they reply by saying, "But, what about this other verse?" (It's as if their verse makes your verse false.) When you hear the reply, "But, what about this verse," it may be a sign of interpreting Scripture against itself.
Instead of harmonizing both verses as true, the JW's interpret one verse at the expense of another verse. In effect, one verse is true, while the other verse is false, or has no interpretation. They interpret Scripture as "either/or," when they should interpret it as "both/and."
If you have no interpretation for a verse or set of verses, that's always the wrong interpretation. It's a sign that something is wrong with your system. When a verse won't fit into your system, it's time to reconsider your system.
"If you have no interpretation for a verse or set of verses, that's always the wrong interpretation."
In each of the 2 columns below, there are several verses. Which verses are true, the ones on the left, or the ones on the right? Since the Bible is true ("inerrant,") we must interpret both sets of "seemingly contradictory" verses. How can we harmonize both sets of verses so they're both true at the same time?
Look for any verses that clearly state sinners can/can't or are able/unable to come to Christ...
Are Sinners Able, or Unable to Come to Christ?
Human Responsibility to Come to Christ
1. "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve" (Josh. 24:15)
2. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Mt. 11:28)
3. "If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God." (Jn. 7:17)
4. "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink." (Jn. 7:37)
5. "Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized" (Acts 2:38)
6. "Repent therefore and be converted" (Acts 3:19)
7. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31)
8. "but now commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30)
9. "Whoever wills, let him take the water of life freely." (Rev. 22:17)
Human Inability to Come to Christ
1. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? (No!) Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil. (Jer. 13:23)
2. "How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Mt. 12:34)
3. "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree bear good fruit." (Mt. 7:18)
4. "'Who then can be saved?' But Jesus looked at them and said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" (Mt. 19:25-26)
5. "unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (Jn. 3:3)
6. "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (Jn. 6:44)
7. "no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." (Jn. 6:65)
8. "Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word." (Jn. 8:43)
9. "They could not believe, because Isaiah said again: "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them." (Jn. 12:39-40)
10. "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." (Rom. 5:6)
11. "the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be." (Rom. 8:7)
12. "So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom. 8:8)
13. "the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2:14)
On the left, are 9 verses inviting or commanding sinners to repent, believe, and come to Christ. These verses make sinners responsible to come to Christ. Notice, the number of verses that clearly state sinners can or are able to come to Christ: 0
On the right, are 13 verses clearly stating sinners can't come to Christ. (In addition, the Bible contains 3 verses clearly showing Christians inability to do anything for Christ, without His power: Jn. 15:5; 1 Cor. 12:3; Heb. 11:6. If Christians are unable to do anything without God's ability, then how much more impotent are unregenerate sinners?)
"These are just examples. As far as limited atonement goes, Calvin did not actually spend much time on that. This doctrine was part of the response to the five points of Arminianism put forth by the Canons of Dort, and they came up with the five points of Calvinism. Calvin, himself, did not systematize his theology the way it was done after he died. The principles were taken from his writings.
But, Ramone, the doctrines of sovereign grace are so magnificent, that they are worth marveling over rather than arguing over. I think you were the one who said that we spend so much time arguing about the doctrines of grace, that not much grace is shown. You probably are right about that.
Blessings to you and your family,
Post Number: 1878
|Posted on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - 7:13 pm: || |
We were posting at the same time, but, the bottom line is that we are indeed brothers, even though we might disagree on these points.
Post Number: 172
|Posted on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - 7:13 pm: || |
As an aside, one interesting thing to realize about Paul's theology is that is largely born from his experience of God interrupting his life. Go figure, for some reason I read the Bible many years and had not seen the connection between his theology and his conversion story in Acts. It's interesting to see that Paul emphasized things born of his own experience, and Peter emphasized some other things that came from his experience, and John likewise. Philip Yancey wrote this about Paul in "What's So Amazing About Grace?"---
I notice that I just quoted Yancey a little longer than necessary because I don't want the word "grace" to be misunderstood---that is, when it says "grace", it is not talking of the argument about "sovereign grace". It's sad to miss the point of "grace" by arguing about who started it. Obviously God started it, yet we miss real grace so badly when we argue about who gets credit for it.
Paul knew better than anyone who has ever lived that grace comes undeserved, at God's initiative and not our own. Knocked flat on the ground on the way to Damascus, he never recovered from the impact of grace: the word appears no later than the second sentence in every one of his letters. As Frederick Buechner says, "Grace is the best he can wish them because grace is the best he himself ever received."
Paul harped on grace because he knew what could happen if we believe we have earned God's love. In the dark times, if perhaps we badly fail God, or if for no good reason we simply feel unloved, we would stand on shaky graound. We would fear that God might stop loving us when he discoveres the real truth about us. Paul---"the chief of sinners" he once called himself---knew beyond doubt that God loves people because of who God is, not because of who we are.
Aware of the apparent scandal of grace, Paul took pains to explain how God has made peace with human beings. Grace baffles us because it goes against the intuition everyone has that, in the face of injustice, some price must be paid. A murderer cannot simply go free. A child abuse cannot shrug and say, "I just felt like it." Anticipating these objections, Paul stressed that a price has been paid---by God himself. God gave up his own Son rather than give up on humanity.
In those earlier unanswered posts, I wrote that it is possible for us to know many things about grace, but yet not actually know real grace---it's easy for "grace" to become clinical, to become an argument:
Yes, we're passionate for God to get the credit, but we need to rest in Him and trust that one day every knee will bow and acknowledge that He is God. Every good deed will be seen to have come from His heart. Every miracle, every sign, every wonder---no one will steal His glory in the end. It's hard for us to accept this because we honestly want to defend Him, but we need to trust His glory to His hands. He will be glorified. Jesus had to go through this same struggle. He gave glory to God and He was upset when others stole it, yet in the end He didn't hang around arguing forever about it. Instead He let Himself be put on a cross and He let Himself be accused of blasphemy.
This brings me to the wonderful word "grace". As wonderful as the word 'grace' is, as wonderful as the truth about grace is, the actual substance of grace is far, far better.
It is one thing to try to convince people things about grace; it is one thing to try to get them to recognize grace (rather, we try to get them to admit that grace is like this and this). But it is far greater to actually give them grace. To live grace to them. To--in a sense--pummel them with grace, to channel it to them, to pour a river of it on them. We can know all the "truths" about grace, yet if we are not doing this, we have truly known nothing.
I remember that the authorities in His day used to command people to tell the truth with the solemn charge, "Give God the glory!" Sadly, they used this charge when confronting the man who was born blind, when they wanted him to say something bad about Jesus. They, too, seemed to be seeking "God's glory" in word, but their hearts were not interested in His glory. Christ, on the other hand, was not interested in getting peoples' words about God straight, but He wanted to get peoples' hearts. I think we need to learn to make the same distinction.
Post Number: 173
|Posted on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - 7:23 pm: || |
Thanks for your blessings, Stan! Yes, we are brothers! I stand in awe of God's grace---I think we all do, but sometimes in different ways, not in the least because our hearts and our sins are so different. We know the grace He has applied to us personally in a way that no other truly knows. In that way, truly, we are just like the apostles---while unified, they didn't always agree on some things, and they had disputes, yet God was with them, and He's with us now---two or three gathered in His name.
Post Number: 23
|Posted on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - 8:10 pm: || |
I hope this comes across as gently and yet as passionately as I intend it.
I must STRONGLY challenge your presupposition that Calvinists ignore some texts in order to maintain a belief system. True Calvinism is exactly the opposite. Every point of belief must submit to ALL of Scripture. You misunderstand the very heart of the reformation and Calvinism in particular. No true Calvinist would allow a belief system to stand if it required such! Rigorous examination of ALL Scripture is the only basis of any Calvinistic doctrine.
While counseling teachers and preachers, one of todayÝs most prominent Calvinists, John Piper, speaks clearly for every true Calvinist of any age:
ýBe rigorously textual in all your expositions and explanations and defenses of Calvinistic teachings. Make it a textual issue every time, not a logic issue or an experience issue.ţ
ýDon't ride hobbyhorses that aren't in the text. Preach exegetically, explaining and applying what is in the text. If it sounds Arminian, let it sound Arminian. Trust the text and the people will trust you to be faithful to the text.ţ
Quite simply, the basic tenet of all Calvinism is that EVERY doctrine must cohere with the reality of God. Truth can stand examination! In fact it must be examined and reexamined, again and again. We must never hold a belief that requires either the ignoring of ANY Scripture or the twisting or explaining of ANY Scripture to support a belief or doctrine.
When I first came out of Adventism I was sure Calvinism did just as you accuse it of doing. I was totally frustrated with my first debates with a loving, gentle Calvinist pastor who refused to debate. He simply stated over and over again, ýLetÝs look at what the Word says and let the Holy Spirit teach us. If we come to an Arminian conclusion, so be it.ţ He never dodged any text nor tried to convince me of any textual explanation, his firm admonition was that none was needed.
Ramone, If you are not convinced of Calvinism, and I assume by your posts that you are not, please understand that Calvinists encourage you to search the scriptures, be not swayed by any mans doctrinal argument, (Especially mine!) Hold fast to what God reveals to you.
If you find ANY ýCalvinistţ dancing around ANY text, He is, by very definition, NOT a Calvinist! We may not agree on all points, nor must we, but we must take seriously EVERY word that God has given us in the Bible. Sola Scriptura was the bedrock of the reformation and must be today as well.
If you and I are faithful to that, we will worship, and commune, and fellowship together, Glorifying Him and enjoying His presence even though we see some things differently.
It is my responsibility to study His word diligently, understanding the Word is His gift to me.
Christ said to Peter, ýBlessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.ţ
Soli Deo Gloria,
Post Number: 24
|Posted on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - 8:18 pm: || |
Ramone, I totally agree with your rejection of a "Straw Man" in any argument. We must listen to each other and respond to what the other is actually saying.
Post Number: 174
|Posted on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - 10:16 pm: || |
Forgive me for having said things so bluntly in a way that--I should've known--would be difficult for any passionate Calvinist to accept.
My statements about formulating a theology at the expense of marginalizing certain texts refer primarily to the idea of "limited atonement" (by "marginalizing", I also mean "explaining them away to mean something different than the obvious"). I quoted from some of the marginalized texts at the end of this post, but I did not provide references since they are well known (and I didn't want to break up the thought flow with many references).
I should qualify (again, with apologies) what I've written about this "dancing around a text" by saying that it is not usually a conscious decision, but rather is something that is generally unconscious. I think that all Christians (and all humans) do this in one degree or another.
This will likely offend anyone who thinks he or she does not do this, but I think it's a mature thing to recognize about oneself. I used to think that my process was all logical, or I liked to think I was completely deductive. But the fact is that I am not. The more I realize that, the better I will be off. Part of my life's journey has been recognizing these things and coming to grips with them, and then proceeding on in the best way possible.
Again, I beg your forgiveness for having stepped so abruptly over beliefs or names that were dear to you. At the same time I offer the above qualifications and stand by what I've said so far---which, in essence, is probably this: "No theological system is perfect."
Blessings in Jesus to you, Richard!
Post Number: 25
|Posted on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - 11:13 pm: || |
Ramone, I think you still misunderstand my post, and Calvinism.
I agree completely with your statement that all Christians, and all humans, "marginalize" whatever they don't understand or disagree with. That is a given! No honest Christian will disagree with that.
The point I'm making is that the very essence of Calvinism sets itself against that human tendency. Calvinism at its core recognizes the sinful human heart and its tendencies. Calvinism knows that it MUST make a conscience decision to put Scripture above all else and to open itself to complete scrutiny on all points, not just on points of doctrine, but method as well. The true Reformationist/Calvinist will NOT be offended when he is "caught" in faulty exposition, but will repent. Of course the battle of the flesh and spirit will rage, but if you understand Calvinism, you will understand it is first of all committed to truth wherever it takes us and however much "self" must die in the process.
I would never say, "I don't do that." because I know I do, but my commitment is to return as many times as I have to the cross and start again.
I was drawn to the Reformation precisely because of this. Nowhere else have I found such a determined commitment to find a clear view of Christ.
Doctrine must never be pursued for the sake of being ýright.ţ The only end of doctrine is Worship. Its only purpose is to provide a clearer view of Christ! To serve in our communion with Him!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Post Number: 177
|Posted on Thursday, July 13, 2006 - 11:23 pm: || |
I admire your creed and your courage. I'm not convinced that all Calvinists have the same focus---but then again, not all Christians have the same focus, either. Not everyone agrees on what a "true Christian" is, or a "true Calvinist", or even a "true Adventist" for that matter. I suppose, like Lewis did in writing Mere Christianity, it's probably best to take the common denominator core beliefs as the defining factors.
You said that the true Calvinist will not be offended if caught in a faulty argument... I think that's admirable, but at the same time, we are all human. I think this is why Jesus told us to wash each others' feet---by His word and His death He had "washed us" once and for all, yet He also knew that by merely "walking" in the earth, our feet would get dirty and need to be washed from time to time.
I'm sure any Calvinist believer can agree with this. But I guess I'm resistant to propping up any "-ism" as an ideal or as a kind of perfect way of living---that is, the kind of unsaid idea that "we" fall short but our "-ism" does not. Calvin was a man, but any "-ism" we make from his beliefs must begin from what he believed and hopefully not deviate either, and in that sense we can go no further than the man.
I suppose this is one reason I'm happy to have left all denominational affiliation---I feel more set free to look to Christ alone and defend Him alone (or rather, be defended by Him alone). It's all to easy to find shameful things and hypocrisies everywhere in every Christian movement and denomination (the more we try to cover them up or excuse them, the more glaring they become to the world). I like how internet author Chip Brogden talks of God's intention for us to be "reduced to Christ".
But anyway, the thing I began with was "Limited atonement" and how that view does dance around some very blunt Scriptures (or rather, it dulls the edge off of some very sharp Scriptures). The problem arises from the strict parameters which are set up to make one choose "limited" or "full"... the way of framing & carrying out the question to unnecessary details is one that will necessarily push you into one extreme or another, and both ends require dancing around some Scriptures.
Thanks again for your thoughts & your heart!
Post Number: 178
|Posted on Friday, July 14, 2006 - 7:14 am: || |
You know, after I wrote this last post and went to work, I felt like I was getting nitpicky in response to what you said Calvinism means to you. What it means to you is an utterly beautiful thing, and I don't want to argue with that. You've got a beautiful relationship with God, and I think "Calvinism" helps you meet Him --- perhaps in a way different from whatever He does with me, but maybe not that different at all. It's wonderful to know He's the same Guy between us. And I was a fool to "reply" instead of simply celebrating this awesome God we share (or rather, who has given us each other to share!).
Bless you brother, and thanks for sharing your heart so openly.
Post Number: 194
|Posted on Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - 1:00 am: || |
Lord, this has been a rocky discussion at times, but I just want to say thank You for all these brothers and sisters to share with here. Forgive me for at times caring more about the argument than about them. Thank You for calling each of us and walking beside each of us. And thank You for family together. I love You, Lord, and we all love You. Thank You for loving all of us so much. In Your name, Jesus, we praise You. Amen.
The Potter's Hand
by Darlene Zschech
Beautiful Lord, wonderful Saviour
I know for sure all of my days are held in Your hand
Crafted into Your perfect plan
You gently call me into Your presence
Guiding me by Your Holy Spirit, teach me dear Lord
To live all of my life through your eyes
I'm captured by Your holy calling
Set me apart, I know You're drawing me to Yourself
Lead me Lord, I pray
Take me, mold me, use me, fill me
I give my life to the Potter's hand
Call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me
I give my life to the Potter's hand
Post Number: 549
|Posted on Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - 9:38 am: || |
Agapetos, is your quote from Darlene Zschech a poem or a song that she has written. I know she is a singer but can't remember hearing any of her songs with these words.
Post Number: 196
|Posted on Thursday, July 20, 2006 - 1:08 am: || |
It's one of my favorite songs... I've got two versions, but don't know which album the first one came from. The other version I have is from this album: