Great Follow-up Comments by David Martinez on the Recent Conversation Between James White and Austin Fischer

You can read the post at SEA here.

David does a fine job exposing White’s spurious debate tactics.  James White has truly made an art out of poisoning the well as Martinez well points out (See post below for more evidence).  And again, we see the tired old assumption that one cannot possibly disagree with Calvinism on Biblical grounds.  Why?  Because Calvinism is so obviously Biblical, of course.  So any disagreement with Calvinism must be driven by some sort of ulterior motive or disrespect for Scripture.

David also does a great job easily dispatching the horrible Calvinist prooftexting of John 17:9.  I will borrow one of White’s favorite superlative phrases and agree with Martinez in my “utter amazement” that Calvinists still try to use this passage to support Calvinism.  I’m amazed, truly and utterly amazed!

Related:

Those in Glass ivory Towers Shouldn’t Throw Stones

Five Part Series Responding to C. Michael Patton’s “The Irrationality of Calvinism” (Highlights Several Problems With Calvinist Argumentative Techniques and Fallacious Debate Tactics).

The Fallacies of Calvinist Apologetics (14 Part Series on Apologetic Fallacies Typically Employed by Calvinists Like James White)

Is God Like a Black Hole in Calvinism? Ex-Calvinist Austin Fischer Responds to John Piper

Austin Fischer Responds to John Piper About Leaving Calvinism

I think Mr. Fischer makes a valid point about how Piper’s claims do seem to plainly paint God in a way that seems at odds with Scripture and seems to threaten His aseity.

Here are a few other posts that make similar observations:

Dr. Thomas McCall Takes on John Piper And The Calvinistic View of God’s Sovereignty

Big Trouble in Little Geneva

John Piper on God Ordaining All Sin And Evil Part 1: An Arminian Response to Piper’s First “Question”

Where the New Calvinist Movement is Heading- Hyper Calvinism?

I found this comment after a post by a Calvinist at this blog:

There are three books every born again child of God should read (1) the Bible (2) The Reign of Grace by Abraham Boothe (3) An Antidote to Armianism by Christopher Ness. There is no such thing as a “Reformed Christian” because you are a christian or a non christian and if you have not been led by the Holy Spirit to a belief in the doctrines of grace (which is a being raised from the dead, not a reformation) then you believe another gospel and you are anathama.

It is comforting but not true to believe that someone can believe in free ill [sic.] and be saved

Good stuff.  First, read the Bible (refreshing).  Second, read two Calvinist works so that you can be sufficiently brainwashed into ignoring what you just read in the Bible about God’s love for the world, desire for all to be saved, the possibility of apostasy from genuine faith, etc.  Basically, all those pesky parts that blatantly contradict Calvinism.

Anyway, as long as you read those books “after” you read the Bible, you can avoid the heresy of believing in free will which would make it impossible to be saved (never mind that you have no choice about what you believe in the first place).  Oh, and if God hasn’t caused you to embrace Calvinism, you are clearly not saved.

Of course, this is just one voice among many Calvinists and might be considered rather extreme.  However, it should be noted that this is the first comment in the thread.  One would expect that at least one Calvinist would set this fellow straight on his hyper Calvinism, but  not a single one takes this hyper-Calvinist to task.  It seems that Mr. Owen is really onto something (though I disagree with his claim in his initial article that the old time Calvinists were not as anti-Arminian as the YRR movement.  That is hardly the case).  It does seem that things are trending in this direction of “non-Calvinists aren’t Christians” among Calvinists.  Hopefully, more Calvinists like Paul Owen will sound the alarm before this sort of extremism really does become the norm.

Excerpt From Austin Fischer’s New Book About Why He Left The New Calvinist “Young, Restless and Reformed” Movement

You can read the excerpt here

Here are a few interesting comments left in response to the new book,

Beakerj wrote:

Austin, as one out of church for the last 2 years due to not being able to deal with, nor yet truly dismiss ,the calvinist god, I am reading your book with bated breath. It’s not a journey I have made willingly. So far you are the only person who has ever described what it is like to have the whole Bible become linguistically unreachable & impossible when the tenets of calvinism undermine normal meanings of words like love…for this alone I am grateful, & feel less strange. I can’t figure out why this doesn’t happen for everyone. I get left with an unreachable, unknowable God who frankly scares me to death. We’ll see how I get on. I’m not hopeful but I’m still trying. [Link]

Luke Breuer wrote:

It’s fascinating that AW Tozer both said that our conception of God is the most important thing about us, and simultaneously failed to mention God’s servant-nature (in his Knowledge of the Holy), as expressed by Jesus’ coming to earth to serve and not be served, with Jesus being the “exact representation” of God, per Hebrews 1. It strikes me that truly becoming more like the Calvinist God would make you into someone not many people would want to be around. Someone who meticulously controls everything instead of delegating authority to others? Someone who thinks it is perfectly fine to use some people as a means to an end? I know that a standard response is that when we “become perfect as our father in heaven is perfect”, that this is only done in some respects; such an ‘explanation’ just seems like special pleading. [Link]

Bev Mitchell wrote:

This is a great book. I read it through in a couple of sittings. It’s honest, clear and non-argumentative. Yet you come away understanding that the author has really thoroughly considered, and walked, the Calvinist road until he decided that too many mysteries were piling up in the wrong places. He recognizes, and clearly explains, that his new position (not specifically defined) has mystery as well, but these are mysteries that he believes are more true to the whole of Scripture and, to his thinking, also more reasonable. [Link]

I haven’t read the book yet, but hope to be able to buy it soon.  It sounds great.

Thought Provoking Article on the “Young, Restless and Reformed”

The writer is not against Calvinism, but has a major problem with some of the attitudes, themes, behaviors and side effects of what has been termed the “Young, Restless and Reformed” movement.  It is certainly worth reading and considering, whether you are a Calvinist or not.

Excerpt:

People are sometimes surprised to hear me speak of the TULIP cult. What do I mean when I speak this way? By a cult, I mean a sect within the broad landscape of Christianity which takes as its operating center some principle other than Christ crucified. This is certainly the case for the Young, Restless and Reformed. It is obvious that the operating center which holds this movement together is TULIP, not the gospel of the cross. One gets the impression that their sense of identity is inseparable from their sense of superiority, and thus it is tied to their adherence to and promotion of the doctrines of grace.

It is not the name of the Lamb that is constantly on the lips of these men, but the names of Calvin (though I have found most of the YRR have actually read very little of him) and the personalities featured at Calvinist conferences, gatherings and websites. What seems to be of paramount importance to these people is the demonstration of the superiority of the arguments for TULIP and its consequences for thinking out the logic of the Christian faith. The Christian faith, in other words, finds its coherence in the “doctrines of grace,” rather than in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than glory in Christ, and see in Christ’s face the focus of divine revelation, Calvinists these days glory in the doctrines of grace, and see the focus of God’s revelation in today’s preachers of TULIP religion. And just as reflecting on Christ makes us more like Christ (2 Cor. 3:18), reflecting on these Calvinist personalities seems to shape many Christians into a far less pleasing image.

Some of these Calvinist ministries have been plagued with scandals of a sexual nature in recent days. I can’t say this surprises me. I strongly suspect it is because they are expressions of the TULIP cult. When Christianity is reduced to talking, singing, arguing, and teaching about the “doctrines of grace” and their manifold ramifications, their spiritual well is bound to run dry pretty quickly. This is simply because the TULIP cult is not the time-tested, historic Christian religion. It is no different from the Prosperity Gospel movement, although it operates on different theological principles. In both cases, you have a movement which derives its theological center from something other than Christ crucified. The Christian religion starts at Calvary and works outward from there. The Prosperity Gospel works outward from the principle of material blessing in response to human faithfulness (at best a sub-theme developed in parts of the Bible). And the TULIP cult works outward from the principles of the doctrines of grace, though not as cautiously expressed in Scripture, but as dogmatically expressed in the highly fallible writings and sermons of men who have attempted to popularize Reformed theology for the masses.

The Spirit of God is not going to be present and operative in the promotion of TULIP as the essence of the Christian religion, any more than He would ever participate in promoting the empty “gospel” of the prosperity message. Where the Spirit of God is not present, you will only find the doctrines and myths of men, and where people are being fed on such a diet of spiritual junk food, it should not shock us to see all manner of spiritual diseases and dysfunctions. It is particularly dangerous when the pious-sounding doctrines of universal human depravity, and Christ’s perfect active and passive obedience on our behalf, are distorted by unstable and untaught men, so that the gravity of sin and the necessary obligations of Christian holiness are minimized. No wonder people begin to think that it is normal for Christians to use filthy speech, to adopt the world’s view of sexuality, and to engage in heinous sex crimes. (We’re all just wretched sinners after all!) But thank God for his unconditional grace, and that perfect, imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ! Let’s sing a few cool songs about that…. (What Is Wrong With the Young, Restless and Reformed Movement? An Interpretive Essay by Dr. Paul Owen)

J.I. Packer Calls Arminianism “an intellectual sin of infirmity”

In other words, Arminians are just stupid Christians who refuse to mature intellectually.  Here is the quote:

Calvinism is the natural theology written on the heart of the new man in Christ, whereas Arminianism is an intellectual sin of infirmity, natural only in the sense in which all such sins are natural, even to the regenerate. Calvinistic thinking is the Christian being himself on the intellectual level; Arminian thinking is the Christian failing to be himself through the weakness of the flesh. Calvinism is what the Christian church has always held and taught when its mind has not been distracted by controversy and false traditions from attending to what Scripture actually says. (taken from: J.I. Packer and Arminianism)

Roger Olson rightly concludes, “So, to him, Arminianism is sin.”  And we are told that Calvinism is supposed to promote humility in its adherents!?  However, it seems to me, again and again, that Calvinism’s “natural” effect is to promote pride and smugness in those who come to embrace it.  And of course, Packer’s last sentence is demonstrably Historically false (see here for several posts on the subject).  What is truly sad and alarming is that this comes not from misguided internet Neo-Reformed types, but from a mainstream Calvinist scholar.

Baffling Comment

Someone named JW ignored the stated purpose of the X-Calvinist Corner page and wrote the following:

Congratulations to all ex-Calvinists. Now you have the right to go to hell. It’s a precious right so guard it with all of your hearts.

I am not sure what to make of it.  Is this person suggesting that leaving Calvinism sends someone to hell?  Does the comment suggest that only Calvinists are saved?  If so, this is another disturbing example of the pride and intolerance of certain Calvinists towards any theology that wasn’t invented by John Calvin.  It really turns sola fide into sola Calvinism.  I wish I could say this is the minority view among Calvinists today, but I am really starting to wonder.  It seems to typify where the Neo-Reformed movement has been heading for quite some time.  Perhaps I have misunderstood.  If so, I invite the author of this comment to explain.

Another Calvinist Who Isn’t Afraid to Tell it Like it Is

In my previous post I drew attention to a person who called Jesus the Calvinist Messiah.  As it turned out, this person was really just making fun of the way that some Calvinists tend towards elitist attitudes and equate their system of theology with the gospel itself.

But here is a guy who is quite for real.  In the following post he essentially equates anyone who believes that God has endowed His creatures with a measure of free will with demon possessed swine:

The End of Two-Thousand Arminians

That’s right, according to this guy if you do not hold to strict Calvinistic determinism then you are no better than a demon possessed pig!  Thankfully, most Calvinists would never say (and hopefully never think) such things.  Most Calvinists would consider this guy a hyper-Calvinist.  Unfortunately, it seems that more and more Calvinists (especially on the internet) are moving towards this sort of elitist and militant attitude towards all those who disagree with them.  I can’t count the times that Calvinists I have discussed my differences with have essentially questioned my salvation because I rejected their strange definition of sovereignty (exhaustive determinism).  Hopefully, more and more Calvinists will take a stand against such ungodly attitudes.  I fear that if they do not they will eventually be swept up in this same sort of thinking. 

Maybe this will eventually lead to the end of the Calvinist “resurgence”.  It has been said that Calvinist resurgences are almost always plagued with a move towards hyper-Calvinism that eventually kills the movement.  Could it be because hyper-Calvinism is the logical and consistent conclusion of exhaustive determinism?  I think so, but I am glad that so many Calvinists are willing to live with inconsistencies rather than pursue that route.  However, it seems that more and more Calvinists, in an effort to be consistent, are tending towards hyper-Calvinism.  If this leads to the demise of the movement, I can’t say that I will be overly disappointed (as much as I like being called a demon possessed pig and all).

Roger E. Olson on Scot McKnight’s “Neo-Reformed”

I appreciate and agree with everything Scot McKnight has written in his  blog postings “Who are the NeoReformed?”  (See his blog The Jesus Creed.)  He was very judicious about naming names.  Namely, naming names would only inflame the controversy and make things worse.  “If the shoe fits [someone]….”

I would like to add that many contemporary Calvinists who are feeding the “young, restless and Reformed” the fuel with which they go out and cause trouble (one of them told me I’m not even saved because I’m an Arminian!) totally misrepresent Arminianism (to say nothing of other
traditions).

Here is a quote from one Calvinist pastor’s sermon on limited atonement: “The Arminian limits the nature and value and effectiveness of the atonement so that he can say that it was accomplished even for those who die in unbelief and are condemned.  In order to say that Christ died for all men in the same way, the Arminian must limit the atonement to a powerless opportunity for men to save themselves from their terrible plight of depravity.”

Now, either this well-educated pastor knows little about classical Arminian theology or he is intentionally mispresenting it.  But in the former case he should have read at least my book Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities.  Because his statement is simply false.  It completely ignores the Arminian emphasis on prevenient grace.

One thing I find appalling but often practiced by the people Scot calls “NeoReformed” is attributing to others beliefs the others not only do not hold but explicitly deny.  When confronted the NeoReformed say “But that’s the good and necessary consequence of what they do believe.” Then they should say that and also say “But they don’t actually believe
that.”

So the followers of these highly educated leaders of the NeoReformed hear them or read them and go out thinking and saying “Arminians believe people save themselves.”  That’s poppycock and the leaders of the NeoReformed movement know it.

There’s a lot of dishonesty going on in this “Village Green” we call evangelicalism.  And frankly, as I see it, most of it is the result of NeoReformed people blatantly misrepresenting Arminianism and by that trying to marginalize Arminians (and Anabapts who basically hold the same theology).  How?  By convincing the movers and shakers of the evangelical movement that Arminianism is dangerously close to heresy.

I cannot read their hearts or minds, so I do not know whether they are misrepresenting Arminianism intentionally or not.  But I am sure they are educated enough to have checked out their representations of Arminianism to see if they are correct.  Either they haven’t done that or they are intentionally misrepresenting Arminian theology (even if only by saying only what they think Arminian theology leads to and neglecting to make clear that is not what Arminians themselves believe).

I’ve been fighting this battle, to clear the good name of Arminian theology (by showing how it different from Semi-Pelagianism) for years now with very limited success.  I find that most of the people doing the misrepresenting of Arminianism and aggressively asserting the sole theological correctness of Reformed theology (their version of it) have little or no interest in being educated about real Arminian theology. Their minds are already made up; don’t confuse them with the facts.

Every year I have a group of Calvinist pastors from a local Reformed church come to my class and speak.  One of them started out by saying “Arminianism is just Pelagianism.”  After several such unfortunate encounters I gave them copies of Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities
on the condition they read it.  To the best of my knowledge they never have.

I have received e-mails and letters from scores of “young, restless and Reformed” evangelicals thanking me for clearing up their misconceptions (which they all say they were taught by leading Reformed evangelicals) about Arminianism.  But I have not heard from a single evangelical Reformed leader saying that anything I wrote there made any difference in the way they think or speak or write about Arminian theology.

Without any doubt in my mind, the “Village Green” metaphor for evangelicalism is not a good one.  After all, the Village Green in England and then New England was simply a place where all the citizens could come together and talk about the weather or politics or business.  Evangelicalism is a loose coalition of like-minded Christians who acknowledge their differences.  It’s motto has always been “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” (See the National Association of Evangelicals web site.)  The multi-denominational tent revival is a much better metaphor for evangelicalism.

Lately, however, there’s been trouble under the revival tent.  Some folks are trying to convince the organizers and sponsors of the revival and newcomers as well that their particular theology is an essential and not a non-essential.  They are very careful how they choose their words; they usually strictly avoid the lable “heresy” for other views such as Arminianism and even open theism.  But their rhetoric is the rhetoric of exclusion: “Arminianism is profoundly mistaken” and “Arminianism is on the precipice of heresy” and “all Arminians are on their way to open theism,” etc., etc.

It’s time for evangelicalism’s leaders to stand up and say no–not to Calvinism but to those evangelical Calvinists who are causing trouble in the evangelical camp by blatantly misrepresenting other evangelicals’ beliefs and by implying, if not asserting, that their theology is the only authentic evangelical theology.

Roger E. Olson

Taken from here.

I recently had an unpleasant encounter with just such a Neo-Reformed type who was happy to call me a false teacher and question my salvation because I reject limited atonement and inevitable perseverance.  He was also happy to call me a Pelagian and impute beliefs to me that I do not hold (he said I believed in “self-sanctification” and deny the resurrection).  You can read the conversation yourself here.  This is becoming more and more of a problem on the Internet and it would be helpful if those Calvinists who know better would stand against these Neo-Reformed, lest they are content to soon find these Neo-Reformed representing the true face of (intolerant-elitist) Calvinism to the world.

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