I stumbled upon this blog while visiting the Calvinist Gadfly. It basically makes fun of the way that some Arminians debate with Calvinists. It is followed by some 45 comments, most of which consist of laughing Calvinists high five-ing each other. I have not personally known any Arminians to use the techniques that Gordan ridicules, but I am sure that there are some out there that would. I thought it might be fun to have my own list of debate tips for Calvinists based on my own experience in on-line debates. I mean no disrespect with the following tips. I believe that Calvinists, who are so quick to criticize how Arminians argue their case, should be made aware of some of their own inept and unfruitful debating tactics as well. It is all in good fun, and hopefully it may even help to un-clutter meaningful dialogue between the two theological camps in this growing debate. Since most Calvinists I have debated with seem to have a rich sense of humor, I am sure that they will not be offended by what follows. If you are, feel free to tell me all about it in the “comments” section. I look forward to the interaction.
DEBATE TIPS FOR CALVINISTS:
Got your horns tangled with an Arminian who has backed you into a theological corner? Just memorize the following tips, and you should be able to get yourself out of any debating jam…
1) If the Arminian begins making a strong case, quoting Rom. 9:20 will usually put them in their place…”Who are you O’ man to talk back to me…er, I mean…God!”
2) Always remember that God knew Calvinism would “seem” incoherent, and therefore ordained from all eternity that you should make frequent use of Deu. 29:29 whenever you find that there is no way out of a logical dilemma.
3) Whenever it is pointed out that compatibilism is no different than determinism and still leads to the conclusion that God authored sin, just say, “Stop worshipping at the alter of free will!”, and remind them that they have Romanizing tendencies. Hopefully they will be so ashamed of themselves that they will forget all about the point they were making.
4) It is helpful to make frequent use of obscure theological terms like “exegesis”, and “hermeneutics”. Most Arminians won’t even know what you are talking about and will realize that they are way out of their league in debating you.
Note: Extreme caution should be used whenever mentioning “hermeneutics” as the spelling is a bit tricky, and a knowledgeable Arminian may point out that you had better not use big words that you can’t even spell. That would be embarrassing and cause you to lose the intellectual high ground you worked so hard to establish. The main trick is to remember that “e” comes before “u”. Spell check will probably not recognize such a sophisticated word, so make sure you practice.
5) If the Arminian is starting to make some good points, rebuke him for being like a pot talking back to the Potter. If this fails to shut him up, try #1 above. If that doesn’t work, tell him you don’t have the time to waste on someone so ignorant and blinded by traditions.
6) Remind the silly Arminian that the problem with his theology is that it leaves no room for contradictions…er, I mean…mystery!
7) If the Arminian starts going with all that mushy “God is love” garbage, just remind him that the real issue is God’s sovereignty and just hatred of sinners, and “who are you O’ man to talk back to me…er, I mean…God, anyway!”
8 ) Continually remind the Arminian that when he says he is saved by faith he really means that he is saved by works (as faith is obviously just a “work” in Arminianism). He will eventually get frustrated and stop arguing with you.
9) Never let the Arminian define his beliefs. Tell him that he is confused, and if he really wants to know what he believes he should read a Reformed author’s critique of Arminianism; after all, that is the only way one can properly understand Arminian theology.
10) Tell him you don’t give a hoot about church history prior to Augustine. The Greek fathers were obviously misled, confused, and ignorant if they weren’t Calvinists. Thank God a Gnostic who converted to Catholicism wrote enough to clear up the mess those Greek fathers left us.
11) Tell em’, “John Gill said it, I believe it, that’s good enough for me”.
12) Overwhelm your opponent with long lists of Reformed writers whenever you feel the debate is slipping. For example,
“Hhmmm…let’s see, should I believe you or Spurgeon, Edwards, Owen, Gill, Perkins, Toplady, Beza, Whitefield, Frame, Hodge, Pink, Van Til, Bahnsen, Murray, Piper, MacArthur, Berkhof, Sproul, Carson, Palmer, Packer, etc.? Uhh…I think I will go with the really smart Reformed guys”
“No I can’t make sense of it, but Spurgeon, Edwards, Owen, Gill, Perkins, Toplady, Beza, Whitefield, Frame, Hodge, Pink, Van Til, Bahnsen, Murray, Piper, MacArthur, Berkhof, Sproul, Carson, Palmer, Packer etc. can’t possibly be wrong. They are certainly smarter than you.”
“The problem with you is that you are so blinded by your traditions. If you want to understand the pure word of God and break free from your man made traditions, then I suggest you read Spurgeon, Edwards, Owen, Gill, Perkins, Toplady, Beza, Whitefield, Frame, Hodge, Pink, Van Til, Bahnsen, Murray, Piper, MacArthur, Berkhof, Sproul, Carson, Palmer, Packer etc.
The reason those warning passages bother you so much is because you haven’t been sufficiently brainwashed by Reformed theology. Try reading Spurgeon, Edwards, Owen, Gill, Perkins, Toplady, Beza, Whitefield, Frame, Hodge, Pink, Van Til, Bahnsen, Murray, Piper, MacArthur, Berkhof, Sproul, Carson, Palmer, Packer, etc. If you do that, I promise you will feel better.
13) Tell them that you haven’t got time to do an exposition of the tricky verses they are mentioning, and just tell them to read some reformed commentaries if they “really are interested in how a Reformed theologian would handle that passage”; then demand answers to the questions you have posed concerning the proof texts you offered to support your position.
14) Make sure that the Arminian debater understands that if he cannot answer your questions, or make sense of your proof texts, that it proves Arminiansm is false and the Arminian is quite plainly blinded by the traditions of men. If they appeal to mystery, gently remind them that only Calvinists are allowed to do that (see #2 above).
15) When things get tough, just refer to God’s “inscrutable counsel”.
16) When dealing with “warning passages” tell them that they should certainly be taken seriously, for they are God’s way of scaring his elect into perseverance, but of course you have no need to worry about them since you know that you are eternally secure.
17) If you find yourself losing the debate just call them Pelagians or semi-Pelagians, or tell them they are closet Roman Catholics, etc. If they insist otherwise, just keep saying it until they get so frustrated that they will forget that they had you on the ropes and end correspondence.
18 ) Always be patient with those poor blinded Arminians. Try to think back to how stupid you were before you became a Calvinist and it might help you to pity them some.
19) Make sure they understand the proper meanings of “exegesis” and “eisegesis“. “Exegesis” is whatever ingenious interpretation a Calvinist can come up with to rescue his theology from a problem passage. “Eisegesis” is basically any interpretation an Arminian assigns to any passage that would seem to contradict Reformed theology, or support Arminianism.
20) Remind the poor deceived Arminian that Arminianism was condemned as heresy at Dort by a bunch of Calvinists who judged the Arminian doctrines by a bunch of Calvinistic creeds and confessions. He is probably so ignorant that he doesn’t even know this.
I think these 20 tips should sufficiently help the Calvinist debater to tackle any silly argument an Arminian can come up with. If you find that you are still having trouble just drop a comment and I will give you some more.
Good Luck and God bless.