Naked Calvinism: motivation and methodology

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My first true confrontation with Calvinism was in a Calvary Chapel. A young pastor who is a huge fan of John Piper was talking about the “Biblical” obligation to unconditionally support the state of Israel. He said that the Israelites should have slaughtered ALL inhabitants of Caanan during the time of Joshua. According to him, the current Palestinians are their descendants and Israel has to deal with them because they failed in the past to carry out the genocidal commands of their deity. He finally said something which literally made my blood freeze:
The modern Palestinians call themselves the descendants of the Philistines but this is an outrageous lie. If God tells us in his Word that He utterly exterminated them, He really did it!“.
He did not pronounce the last sentence with a callous indifference but with a joyful excitement.

Zionist

Later on, I met another young Calvinist pastor who told me that my refusal to accept the justification of Biblical genocides was due to my sinful pride and refusal to give to God the glory He is worthy of.
Finally, I listen to a reformed theology student teaching that God passionately hates mankind since the Fall, that everyone is heading to hell due to his or her inborn sinful nature, and that God only predestined a few people to believe in Him and get saved. He recognized that according to all human standards, such a divine behavior is utterly repugnant and even atrocious. But we cannot judge God according to our morality. And after I asked him why we are supposed to worship such a being, he just answered me: “because He is God.”

Lake-of-Fire-Bg

All of this occurred within a short time span six months ago.

After having done a lot of research on Calvinism, I realized that this kind of assertions naturally springs out of this belief system.

A specific event prompted me to start this series of posts. It was the recent assertion of the very popular Calvinist preacher John McArthur that 500 millions of charismatics are pseudo-Christians and that a great number of them have sinned against the Holy Ghost (and that they were, consequently, predetermined by God to burn in hell forever).
I see it now as my duty to show the true face of Calvinism to the world.

Here follow the methodology and some practical aspects.

1) I think it is fair to say that Calvinism cannot really exist without Biblical inerrancy. Therefore if I can show that SOME Biblical passages are incompatible with reformed theology, I will have effectively refuted it.

2) It is a common cognitive error to believe that once you have shown that something is possible, you have also shown it is not implausible. But there are many things which are logically possible but extremely unlikely.

3)  I will leave aside many Calvinist proof-texts and let my readers decide by themselves if they are plausibly interpretable within an Arminian framework or if they can’t, thereby showing the existence of contradictions within the Bible.

For example, let us say that the books of Hebrew and James are incompatible with divine determinism. This leaves two possibilities:

A) the books of Paul are not at odds with Arminianism
B) the books of Paul teach Calvinism which in turn shows that Biblical inerrancy is false.

In both cases, Calvinism is wrong or utterly implausible.

4) I will use many philosophical arguments too, even though I am well aware that this won’t move hardcore fundamentalists who hold the self-refuting view that philosophy is a folly.

5) I shall also argue that Calvinism is completely unlivable. There are no true consistent Calvinists out there (even if some are dangerously close to achieving this).

6) I am going to use extremely hard words against reformed theology but I want to be clear I (try to) love all Calvinists as my fellow human beings. Therefore I won’t tolerate personal attacks against Calvinists who are going to comment on my blog, unless they behave like assholes.

 

I’m delighted if you have discovered my blog for the very first time.

Please take a look at the mainpage (link here) to find out if there might be other things worthy of your interest.

 

Ich bin entzückt, wenn Sie für das erste Mal meinen Blog entdeckt haben.

Werfen Sie bitte auch einen Blick auf die Hauptseite (Link hier), um herauszufinden, ob es nicht andere Dinge geben könnte, die ihrem Interesse würdig sind.

 

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30 responses to “”

  1. xon-xoff says :

    “Calvinism is wrong…”

    please, do tell us how/why Calvinism is wrong; am all ears.

  2. Juan Herena says :

    This is why Orthodoxy and Catholicism have never taught pure literalism in the interpretation of the Bible. The Bible was made by the Church and not the other way around.

  3. zilch says :

    I’ll agree that Calvinism doesn’t necessarily make people nice. But I think it can be defended scripturally just as well as Arminianism: that is to say, with judicious cherry picking.

  4. jesuswithoutbaggage says :

    I have never been attracted to Calvinism, and I look forward to the development of your ideas.

  5. John Hundley says :

    Before you embark on your blog assault against a particular theological viewpoint, you might want to consider these warnings (honestly, I’m not trying to be offensive, I think it might actually help you):

    “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

    Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace ” James 3:10-18

    “For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For gwhen one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” hare you not being merely human?
    What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.” 1 Cor. 3:3-5

  6. labreuer says :

    I would caution you against painting all Calvinists with the same brush. I would especially caution you against saying that anyone who identifies as Calvinist ought to accept the worst kind of Calvinism—maybe if that person really thought about it and was forced to choose, he/she would reject Calvinism. We humans tend to be contradictory creatures; blowing up part of them that seems bad and using this to identify them is a terrible way to treat people. Imagine if God were characterize you exclusively in terms of your sinfulness.

    From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. (2 Corinthians 5:16 ESV)

    I am inclined to say that there has been a lot of bad fruit from Calvinism. On the other hand, it is probably the most systematic theology out there, almost as if attracts the systematizing kind of people. I don’t believe Arminianism has anything like the same systematic treatment. Calvinism may well have helped keep alive the belief that there does exist a unity to the Bible that can be characterized. In a similar vein, Christian fundamentalists have helped keep alive the sense the God can and does interact in the world—despite MacArthur and his crusade against charismatics and other continualists.

    Remember that we humans are terribly good at seeing the bad, and often horrible at seeing the good. There is a reason Paul urged us to occupy our minds this way:

    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 ESV)

    This doesn’t mean we oughtn’t do 2 Cor 10:1-6-type things, it merely means that we ought to have as our goal, building others up. One of the blessings Calvin likely gave us was a well-rounded form of Total Depravity, which contrasted sharply with the Catholics’ stance that the passions were corrupt but not the intellect. Most orthodox-ish Protestants hold that the whole being is corrupted—mind, soul, will, and emotions. Another way to look at this is that the Protestant claims that these four aspects of a person are more integrated than the Catholic—or the atheist—would claim. This was, in my opinion, a valuable contribution to Christian theology.

    • xon-xoff says :

      @ labreuer

      ” anyone who identifies as Calvinist ought to accept the worst kind of Calvinism…”

      so, please, which kind of Calvinism is the bad, the worse, the worst, the good, the better, and the best?

      and, how do you determine the gradations?

      cheers

      • labreuer says :

        @xon-xoff

        so, please, which kind of Calvinism is the bad, the worse, the worst, the good, the better, and the best?

        and, how do you determine the gradations?

        I’m with Jesus:

        “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20 ESV)

        What other sensible measure is there?

  7. Vinnie says :

    Your first paragraph can be very misleading.
    “My first true confrontation with Calvinism was in a Calvary Chapel. A young pastor who is a huge fan of John Piper was talking about the “Biblical” obligation to unconditionally support the state of Israel.”
    By linking John Piper to this young pastor who believes in Unconditional support of Israel, you are incorrectly, and maybe inadvertently, linking Piper to this Unconditional support belief. However, John Piper DOES NOT believe that there is a “Biblical” obligation to unconditionally support the state of Israel.
    I just thought that this particular fact should not be obfuscated.

    • Calvary Training Ministries says :

      I’ll join in with some other corrections. Although it is possible that the pastor in question had strayed into Calvinistic territory, Calvary Chapel is not Calvinist. We do as a whole believe in supporting Israel but not blindly believing everything they do is correct. They are dry bones at the moment, a secular society, but God still has a plan for them. The dry bones will live again. As for the genocide issue, I touched on this in one of today’s posts. I said:

      We ultimately falter at the issue of the children. If a people are to be judged for sin, why not spare the children? In a sense, God did, with far greater mercy than we are capable of. Judgment was actually pronounced against the people of Canaan 400 years earlier. Our morality would have brought judgment upon the adults or the adult males at that point, but spared the children. God’s intent was to wipe out the contagion of their sin entirely, but he waited until there was no more hope. No hope for man, woman or child. For four hundred years, children, and children’s children were spared.

      People often want to see a difference between the Old Testament God of vengeance and a New Testament God of grace. They are the same God, however. Even after judgment was pronounced, Canaan had 400 years of grace. We live in a similar period of grace, but judgment is coming.

      • lotharson says :

        Hello, thanks for this clarification. I knew all too well there are these differences within the Chapel.I did not meant that everyone supported this chapter or Calvin.
        I gave that as a scary example of Calvinism.

        Lovely greetings in Christ.

      • xon-xoff says :

        @ Calvary Training Ministries

        “…but God still has a plan for them.”

        please, assuming your god exists, how do you know this to be the case?

      • lotharson says :

        It is okay for people just hoping that God exists :=)

      • Calvary Training Ministries says :

        Well, assuming my God exists, He’s explained His plan. Assuming He doesn’t exist, His plan is coming together, anyway, which would necessitate that the assumption that He doesn’t exist is in error, as are those who ignore Him and His word, Take time to read. You might just experience Him for yourself.

      • labreuer says :

        @xon-xoff

        “…but God still has a plan for them.”

        please, assuming your god exists, how do you know this to be the case?

        If I may jump in: we often get to science through philosophy. See: Democritus and his Atomism. Disparaging philosophy is a very dangerous thing to do (I’m not saying you’re doing it, but many atheists do!). :-p

      • xon-xoff says :

        “He’s explained His plan.”

        does this answer my question?

        if i may please, i asked, “how do you know this to be the case?” — that is, how do you come to know that your god, whom we assumed exists, “had a plan for them[?]”

        “Assuming He doesn’t exist…”

        perhaps this is incongruous: how does one assume a person/thing/entity does not exist?

        “Take time to read.”

        is this a suggestion? if so, have i indicated by my questions that i have not read? do you assume that i have not read?

        cheers

      • xon-xoff says :

        “It is okay for people just hoping that God exists :=)”

        ok, thanks.

        i just need to understand where some of these perhaps bald assertions/claims originate.

      • xon-xoff says :

        “Disparaging philosophy is a very dangerous thing to do…”

        please, how did you arrive at this determination?

      • Calvary Training Ministries says :

        @xon-xoff re: the bald assertions, I am am writing from a Biblical perspective. Now there are plenty of churches who believe God is done with Israel. This is called Replacement Theology. One takes the promises of God regarding Israel and the plan of God regarding Israel in the end times (see much of the OT prophets as well as Revelation) and interpret those promises as having been moved over to the church. I, for one, do not subscribe to Replacement Theology. I look at those same sources that describe the promises and plans regarding Israel in the last days, and I believe them.

        As to the question of whether or not you have read. No, I assumed that you have not read the texts because otherwise, whether you agreed with me or not, you would know what I believe and why.

        Jeremiah 31:35-37, “Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.”

      • xon-xoff says :

        @

        “you would know what I believe and why.”

        how would reading the text allow me to know “what you believed and why[?]”

        you make mention of one alternative viewpoint, Replacement Theology, to which you do not subscribe. and, there are others, i think. how should i know what you believe? i prefer not to make assumptions of others’ beliefs.

        cheers

  8. michaeleeast says :

    This is horrifying.
    And shows why Biblical inerrancy is so dangerous.
    Your examples of contradictions in Biblical writings are most welcome.
    Good work!

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  1. Countering Calvinism | God is Open - May 14, 2014

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