Bashing Calvinism

For those of you who checked out the Arminian article under the post “God is not obligated to love anyone,” I have a question. Now, I know there are people from both sides who just love to prove their pet doctrines right and paint the other side as wrong and God-hating, but what’s the deal? Do the people from that site and his buddy from here https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/ do nothing but bash Calvinism? Do these people have any concern that while we waste time arguing our side against other Christians, many people are sinking into hell? And they’re the ones who say that it’s up to human free will! You’d think they’d labor harder than a Calvinist instead of trying to disprove the doctrines of grace. Just a thought…

This comes from Gene Brode and you can find it here.

Mr. Brode showed up on one of Kyle’s threads at Preach Faith here, and interacted some with both Kyle and myself.  I suspect that interaction prompted Gene’s comments above.  I have had no interactions with Gene at my site but he apparently found my site and decided to offer his opinion about what I am doing here.

I can’t help but find Mr. Brode’s comments to be very puzzling.  He admonishes me to spend my time more wisely.  He tells me that I should be concerned about the lost who are on their way to hell.  I agree.  What could be more important?  I don’t generally talk about what I do but I will say that evangelism and discipleship is part of my everyday routine.  It is my full time job.  I take it very seriously.  Discussing soteriology is a hobby of mine, but I also believe that right doctrine is extremely important as well.  I think that all Christians would (or at least should) agree that sound doctrine is extremely important (1 Tim. 4:15-16; Titus 2:1).

What really puzzles me is that Gene’s words in the combox at Kyle’s site do not seem to be in harmony with his words above.  In that thread Gene tells us,

Perhaps you would spend your time more wisely by restudying the topic as taught by a Calvinist himself so that you can hear your objections plainly explained, unless of course you care nothing at all to truly understand Calvinism and prefer instead to just bash its doctrines with your presuppositions. I suggest you read Sproul’s “Chosen by God” and listen to Curt Daniel’s lectures on Calvinism (particularly the ones on God’s Sovereinty, Foreknowledge, Predestination, Objections to Predestination, The Origin of Sin, and all those from Total Depravity through Objections to Election). Even if you still disagree, these resources explain it quite clearly. You can listen here: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/histtheocalvin.html

So Gene recommends that we should spend our time reaching the lost above but in the thread tells us that we should spend our time more wisely and read tons of Calvinistic material.  He references monergism.com.  This site is very concerned with “bashing” Arminianism.  I wonder if Gene has rebuked John Hendryx for wasting so much time bashing Arminians.  JCT interacts with some of Hendryx’ Arminian bashing here and here.  I wonder if Gene has ever written to R.C. Sproul and told him what a waste of valuable time it was for him to write Chosen By God (never mind the other “Arminian bashing” books and projects Sproul has devoted countless hours to), which Gene apparently wasted valuable time reading when he should have been using that time to save the lost?

In the thread at Kyle’s site Gene said,

Since you have all the answers you want already, why wasn’t this post instead called, “A challenge to Arminians everywhere: let’s bash Calvinism!

To which I responded,

Maybe you haven’t noticed but Calvinism is dominating the internet. If you type Arminianism into a search engine you will find numerous links to Calvinist web-sites which call Arminianism heretical. Do we not have the right to challenge your system? And if we find your arguments unsatisfying can we not say so? It is not as if we have said, “I just can’t accept that because I don’t like that.” What we have said is that the answers we are getting do not really address the question and we have pointed this out and asked you to clarify, to explain yourself more. When you refuse or just repeat the same things over and over and we say you are evading the question, we are not trying to prove anything other than the fact that the question has still not been answered.

This gets to the heart of things for me and is the primary reason for the existence of this site.  Arminianism is under attack and that attack is increasing in intensity, especially on the internet.  I believe that Arminianism most closely represents Biblical truth and should therefore be defended.  I believe that Calvinism, when fully embraced, leads to unfortunate practical implications.  One of these implications is a lack of desire for evangelism (the very thing Gene seems so concerned about).  Gene even alludes to this tendency above when he says,

And they’re the ones who say that it’s up to human free will! You’d think they’d labor harder than a Calvinist instead of trying to disprove the doctrines of grace. Just a thought…

Thankfully, many Calvinists live inconsistently with the implications of their doctrines but the doctrines themselves can still lead to Christian apathy (since whatever we do is ordained by God, whether we witness or not, etc.).

Some Calvinists have complained about my screen name, “kangaroodort”, because it expresses my belief that the Synod of Dort has no real historical significance with regards to the truth of Arminianism.  It doesn’t matter to me that a bunch of Calvinists condemned Arminianism because Arminianism didn’t line up with their Calvinistic creeds and confessions (surprise, surprise!), any more than it matters to me that Catholics condemned all protestants at the Council of Trent.  Yet, some Calvinists hold up Dort as a clear testimony to the heretical nature of Arminianism.  My screen name is defensive against those who would wrongly call me a heretic.  It is not meant to be offensive in the sense of “bashing Calvinists.”  The fact is that if Calvinists want to claim that Calvinism is just a “nickname” for the gospel and that anything short of Calvinism is therefore not the gospel, then there is a need for addressing such bold attacks on Non-Calvinists.

Calvinism should then be carefully examined against the truth of Scripture to see if it truly is synonymous with the gospel.  If you want to call that “bashing” Calvinism, then so be it.  In either case, if we take time to discuss this matter and educate ourselves concerning it (as Gene has certainly done), then we need to be careful in rebuking those who also devote their time to the controversy.  We need to be very careful that we first remove the plank from our own eye before complaining about the speck in our brother’s eye, and we need to be very careful not to assume we know whether or not our brothers and sisters in the Lord are active in evangelism simply because they also devote time to defending sound doctrine.  Both are important and both ultimately benefit the kingdom of God.

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23 Responses

  1. Given the dynamic nature of communications these days, it is possible to read your blog and comment WHILE evangelizing! I do not recommend doing so if you are behind the wheel, but it sounds like these calvinists need a baptism into the technology that’s available in the 21st century!

  2. Steven,

    I think that is more than I could do at once regardless of the technology available to me. Maybe I just have ADD or something.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  3. I always find it interesting that any challenge, any question of the biblical foundation of Calvinism is seen as bashing and they rise up in indignation that someone should be so bold as to challenge the “TRUTH.” Meanwhile, there is no hesitance or Christian charity in name Arminian theology heretical and misleading of millions into their eternal perdition.

    Be blessed.

  4. I think it is strange to hear a person complain about you (of all people) bashing CAlvinism, and then turn around and recommend monergism.com, one of the most biased and polemical jokes on the internet. Now I have seen Arminians bashing Calvinists before, but not here. Clearly, he needs to understand what the concept means.

  5. Hi Ben,

    You quoted Gene who said:

    “Perhaps you would spend your time more wisely by restudying the topic as taught by a Calvinist himself so that you can hear your objections plainly explained….”

    This is something I frequently hear from Calvinist adherents – the assumption that if one rejects Calvinism it **must** be because he does not properly understand the C view. The solution is always to point us to more C resources.

    I was discussing with a guy recently who stated that he had yet to meet an Arminian who really understood Calvinism. I don’t think C’s realize how condescending this comes across as. No one likes to be told that he is an idiot. Even if it’s true. 🙂

    To all the C’s out there. In the spirit of Christian love, give us the benefit of the doubt. We’ll try to do the same for you! Please realize that some A’s do understand Calvinism. We see God first and foremost as a God of love – who desires for all to be saved. This view of God is incompatible with the C concept of God.

  6. I find it peculiar but interesting that whenever Calvinism is challenged, Arminians are immediately instructed as to what books they SHOULD be reading (Sproul, Piper, Keller, MacArthur, etc.). It’s as though we would theorhetically read those books and conclude, “Oh! I didn’t realize that. What a fool I’ve been; all this time I just didn’t understand Calvinism whatsoever!” Please.

    And then, he demonstrates that he knows NOTHING about Arminianism whatsoever by his little comment that it’s “all about free will.” Okay (?)

    My suggestion for him is to read Forlines’ “The Quest for Truth,” Picirilli’s “Faith, Grace, and Free Will,” Walls’ and Dongell’s “Why I am not a Calvinist,” and a short work on the life of Arminius by Carl Bangs wouldn’t hurt him either. But heaven forbid! How could he waste all that time! Don’t confuse me with the facts: Arminianism is heresy.

    It just never ceases to amaze me how much Arminians allegedly do not understand Calvinism ~ and then to witness this guy demonstrate how much he truly doesn’t understand Arminianism. Oh the irony!

  7. I was struck by the following statement from your new Calvinist friend …

    [i]Do these people have any concern that while we waste time arguing our side against other Christians, many people are sinking into hell? [/i]

    My reply to the dear soul would be to ask him if he really thinks his evangelical efforts actually bring salvation to anybody and what might he think would happen to those poor souls if he was disobedient to the great commission? Perhaps he is a latent synergist without realizing it.

  8. There’s a difference to be parsed between strongly, and even passionately critiquing, and “bashing.” “Bashing” implies a kind of wanton, indiscriminate snowballing of a particular viewpoint, whereas critiques and polemics are aimed at finding truth, however unpopular that makes the polemicist.

  9. I don’t see any difference between evangelizing and disproving Calvinism, because disproving Calvinism is necessary to evangelizing most of the time. Most of the people who aren’t Christians were scared away from Christ by Calvinists teaching that God is an unjust puppet master who decrees people to not believe the gospel and then punishes them for doing exactly what he decreed. The warping that Calvinist activists have done to non-Christians has to be overcome before they can become Christians.

  10. rey,

    You wrote:

    Most of the people who aren’t Christians were scared away from Christ by Calvinists teaching that God is an unjust puppet master who decrees people to not believe the gospel and then punishes them for doing exactly what he decreed.

    Maybe Calvinism is just the God ordained “means” for securing their reprobation 😉

  11. Perhaps so, because I have come to the conclusion that the only people who are so dead in sins as to be incapable of repenting are Calvinists. It is certain that Calvinists are the ones referred to in 2nd Pet 3:16 who twist all of Paul’s epistles as they do the rest of the Scriptures. Peter clearly has Romans 9 chiefly in view and interprets it as meaning that God’s longsuffering is salvation because God gives men time to repent and (as is stated in 2 Tim 2:19-21) purge themselves from iniquity by obeying the gospel and thus be changed from vessels of wrath to vessels of honor. But the Calvinists twist it into teaching that God is a puppet-master. Who can doubt that they are meant when Peter says “whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” or again “being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed”? Again, when Jude says “there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness,” who fits the bill more than Calvinists teaching total security and sin-sin-sin and still make it to heaven? Because of Calvinists he must “put [us] in remembrance” concerning “the angels which kept not their first estate,” who are consequently “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day,” lest we become Calvinists also and “turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness”! Of whom can it more properly be said that “these are spots in your feasts of charity” than those who constantly disturb churches with their fatalistic doctrines? Or again “clouds they are without water,” because they preach the putrid doctrine infant damnation rather than than the love of God “carried about of winds,” the hot winds of their puffed up minds, “trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots,” because the root is the love of God and they have denied it. “Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame,” which is their blasphemy against the loving Creator, making him out to be the author of evil and damner of infants who also (they say) decrees men to sin then punishes them for doing what he made them do, which thing is clearly shame and not glory, “wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” “And” he says “Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Who has spoken more harshly against God than Calvinists? I can think of none! “These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.” Nothing could be any more clear than that such men as accuse God of being unjust and the author of evil, who teach that God is not the author of peace but of confusion as in all the churches of Calvin, are those who lack the Spirit. If, as Paul says, “no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed,” then certainly also no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth the Father the author of sin and the damner of infants, nor declareth that God decreeth men to sin then punisheth them for doing exactly as he decreed.

  12. rey,

    Most Calvinists are dead set against living in sin and making excuses for sinfulness. Only some affirm a theology that leads to antinomianism (primarily those from DTS, etc.). Be careful not to over-generalize.

    It could be that Peter had Paul’s teaching in Romans in mind, but there is no way to be sure of that.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  13. rey,

    I noticed that you have left several comments at various posts in the last day or so. I cannot approve of some of the things you have written. I have never had a written set of rules governing this site but have always meant to write some. Your comments reminded me again of the importance of guidelines for us to follow so all who comment here are on the same page. Today I have written those guidelines. Please take the time to read them:

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/important-blog-rules/

    I will not delete any of your comments but if any future comments fail to comply with these guidelines they will be deleted and your posting privileges here may be revoked.

    Thanks and God Bless,
    Ben

  14. I saw the guidelines already. Just another example of the “hand in hand good ole boys club” type of relationship that Calvinism and Arminianism share behind the scenes just like Republicans and Democrats. Everyone in the real world sees that one side is evil and one good or at least better. But the two sides themselves see a moral equivalence between themselves, just a “slight disagreement.”

  15. that was my last comment, btw.

  16. rey,

    I am sorry you feel that way. I think it is a shame that you do not feel it is possible to point out errors in Calvinism without calling Calvinists heretics, etc. I think we will be missing out on your insight. And let me remind you that I did not say you cannot think that Calvinism is damnable heresy, only that while discussing the issue on this site you would keep that opinion to yourself.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  17. I usually do not get involved with these debates since they lead only to division. I realize division is good in the sense that it seperates the wheat from the chaff but there is a fine line we need to walk. To say that Calvinism leads to a lack of desire to evangelize I believe is to mischaracterize the system. Leonard Ravenhill, an Arminian stated that the best evangelist was Charles Spurgeon a Calvinist.

    I believe that we can both agree that Grace is a divine gift bestowed by a gracious and loving creator on a lost race. Salvation is wholly by grace through faith not of our own merit.

    I fellowship with both groups of people because we agree in grace through faith, not of our own, it is a gift of God.

    I do agree that some Calvinists are heresy hunters and disqualify any Arminian theology. The same is true of some Arminians. I have been following both sides of the arguments for years and find it sad that those who are so strongly opposed are missing out on sweet fellowship with their brothers and sisters.

    Brother Paul Washer said it best. “I can have fellowship with opposing theological views because these men recognize that men are dead in sin, and it takes a divine act of mercy to shed light into their dead souls.” (paraphrased)

    I hope I do not get flamed for this comment as it is not my desire, only to acknowledge the fact that while we have different theological frameworks from which we start ,we are in fact brothers if we hold to the basic tenants of the Christian faith.

    I also agree that some Calvinists do not know what true Arminian theology is and it has become a label to attach to those who need to study their Bible and understand the deep things of God. I as a Calvinist could not disagree more. SHould we not be presumptuous in our overcharacterization of Calvinists or Arminians? Should we not all heed the words of Paul.

    Ephesians 4:29-32

    29Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

    Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

    Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

    If we all take a minute to step back I think we will find that in regards to this debate, all of us in some form or another have been guilty.

    I will close in the words of AW Tozer, again paraphrased.

    “A young man walked into my office one day on his way to seminary and asked me a question regarding the Calvinism/Arminian debate. My response to his was simple.

    This debate has raged for hundreds of years and greater minds than yours cannot solve it so what makes you think you can?

    Instead of debating about God, go into your prayer closet with your Bible and get to know God.”

    Sola Deo Gloria,
    Jeff

  18. Jeff (Juan?),

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree with most of what you have said here. I agree that Arminians and Calvinists should be able to fellowship together in advancing the cause of Christ but our differing theologies do limit how much we can work together at times. I view Calvinists as fellow believers and I appreciate what they contribute to the work of God. Like you, I am not thrilled with “heresy hunters” from either side (if by heresy you mean damnable heresy). But sound doctrine does matter a great deal (just read 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus), and we need to actively pursue truth and endeavor to teach it.

    The fact is that either Arminianism is wrong or Calvinism is wrong. Debating and discussing these theological differences forces us to examine our presuppositions and dig into the word of God. God’s character and much more is at stake so while I agree that prayer is extremely important in all we do for God, discernment and wisdom in interpreting God’s word is also needed. I want the truth no matter where that leads and I believe the truth is very important to the One who ultimately embodies all truth.

    Spurgeon had an impressive ministry and fought against the “hyper Calvinists” who saw evangelism as a waste of time. I do believe that Calvinism as a theological system can certainly lead to a lack of zeal for evangelism. The hyper Calvinists recognized this theological implication and embraced it while men like Spurgeon either couldn’t see it or rose above the implications of their determinism, and thankfully so. Both Arminians and Calvinists often fail in evangelism for a variety of reasons (most often fear) but Arminian theology can never foster such apathy while Calvinistic theology certainly can and often does. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and may God bless you as you continue to serve Him and seek His truth,

    Ben

  19. Ben,

    Thanks for the kind words. I, like you do take great heed to what Paul admonishes young Timothy. In fact in 1Timothy 3 Paul writes

    14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:

    God was manifested in the flesh,
    Justified in the Spirit,
    Seen by angels,
    Preached among the Gentiles,
    Believed on in the world,
    Received up in glory.

    Paul calls it the church of the Living God and the pillar and groundof truth. If that falls, then everything falls. So the church is the pillar or supporter of truth. We need to then define truth. Did not Jesus pray in John 17 to Sanctify them by your truth, Your Word is truth.

    If that is the case then by the truth of God we are to be sanctified or set apart. Seperated from this world. Jesus asked the Father to keep us from the evil one, not to take us our of the world.

    What I am trying to convey and I believe that you are too, is that while we contend earnestly for the faith which we are supposed to do, let us not lose sight of the main truth that Paul calls out.

    God was manifested in the flesh,
    Justified in the Spirit,
    Seen by angels,
    Preached among the Gentiles,
    Believed on in the world,
    Received up in glory.

    With this I wish to extend the right hand of fellowship because I can converse with my Arminian friends just as well as with my Calvinistic. I have read many comments on this and the true truth blog, as well as many Calvinistic blogs that rip into each other and this is quite troubling to me. I hope my time here will be fruitful. I look forward to learning from my Arminian bretheran. I leave you with this from the pen of David.

    Psalm 133
    A Song of Ascents. Of David.
    1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
    For brethren to dwell together in unity!

    2 It is like the precious oil upon the head,
    Running down on the beard,
    The beard of Aaron,
    Running down on the edge of his garments.
    3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
    Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
    For there the LORD commanded the blessing—
    Life forevermore.

  20. Hi, did Mr Ravenhill believe that a true Christian could never lose their salvation? I f so, could you direct me to such statements/quotes? I can’t find anything in my research.
    Thankyou in advance
    F H.

  21. Fred,

    I personally do not know.

  22. Ben,

    It’s so funny to look back at this post after 5 years, especially being the topic of discussion. I wish the original post by Kyle (A Challenge to Calvinists Everywhere?) and the Reformed Evangelist discussion forum were still available to reference.

    The heart of the matter was that I was still new to Calvinism and totally clueless about what Arminians believed other than what little I’d heard about it via Calvinists. The above comment about my being a “latent synergist” made me laugh the other day! When I had originally challenged those in the conversation to read Sproul or listen to Curt Daniel, it was only because I naively thought you guys didn’t understand Calvinism. Turned out you understood it better than I did.

    I always loved sharing the gospel and hadn’t quite come to terms with the logical conclusions that can occur for Calvinism. I think Calvinists can ignore the logical implications of their system as I did, and toss them aside because there are many things we just don’t understand. My thinking was that God commands us to evangelize, so we do. He chooses whom he wants to save and tells us to pray, and however it works out is how it works out. Maybe some Calvinists realize the logical problems and ignore them, but many others miss them altogether as I had. But when I began to see them, I could no longer dismiss them. It was at that point that the typical Calvinist defenses for the system no longer satisfied me.

    Over the last couple of years as a Calvinist, prior to my questioning it, I had grown busy in life and my evangelism diminished to nothing. That may have been due to a lack of discipline on my part at first, but toward the end I succumbed to thinking that God would get it done with or without me. And so it really didn’t matter as much. That’s wrong thinking for any Christian, but it can quite logically occur within Calvinism (not just hyper-Calvinism) whereas with Arminianism I don’t think it’s much of a pitfall theologically speaking.

    Given the fact that I was so unaware and can see that now, I can see the ignorance that Calvinists have of Arminianism everywhere just in the way they speak or argue. I had read this post a few months after you originally wrote it and got all worked up. I chose not to respond because debating was really messing up my head and I was becoming livid. I really thought you guys were bashing, but I don’t have the original piece to review. I understand now the problems and I hope I can help other Calvinists see their wrong thinking in the matter with grace and love. Unfortunately sometimes though, grace and love can come across as judgmental and misunderstanding–at least when one really is convinced of one’s beliefs as I was. May the Lord give us all grace and love toward one another as we press on toward glory.

    Gene

  23. Now Dimly,

    Thanks so much for sharing this. It takes a lot of guts to admit that you were wrong about Arminianism. It takes even more guts to leave Calvinism behind for the sake of what you have come to believe is God’s truth. I admire you for that. May God help us all to seek His truth above all, no matter where it leads us.

    God Bless,
    Ben

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