Eine kurze Einführung in den Calvinismus

English version: a short introduction to Calvinism. Feel free to comment there at any time!

Viele Menschen haben sich zurecht über die unrühmliche Behauptung des äußerst beliebten evangelikalen Predigers John Piper entrüstet, Gott würde Erdbeben verursachen, um Amerika zu bestrafen, oder

“Es ist völlig in Ordnung für Gott, Frauen und Kinder zu massakrieren, wann immer er will. Gott gibt und nimmt das Leben. Jeder der stirbt, stirbt weil Gott will, dass er stirbt. 

John PiperDennoch verdächtigen nur wenige Leute, dass dies nur der Gipfel des Eisbergs ist.

John Piper ist ein ausgesprochener Calvinist. Die reformierte Theologie oder Calvinismus ist eine Lehre, die nicht mit dem französischen Theologen Calvin begann, sondern auch in den Schriften von diversen älteren Autoren wie Luther, Zwingli, Aquinas und Alselm von Canterbury gefunden werden kann.

Der Mann, der sie in die christliche Kirche einführte war Austinus, der (ganz zufällig) auch der erste Theologe war, der die Verwendung der Folter gegen Ketzer verteidigt hat, mit all den historischen Folgen, die wir allzu gut kennen.

Eine Grundlage des Calvinismus ist der göttliche Determinismus (auch Souveränität benannt), demnach alles was geschieht (einschließlich Vergewaltigungen und Völkermorden) von Gott erwünscht und vor dem Beginn der Zeit unvermeidbar  gemacht worden ist.

john-calvin

Die andere Grundlage des Calvinismus ist das sogenannte TULIP Glaubenssystem, wobei

Völlige Verderbtheit/Unfähigkeit (Total depravity)

Aufgrund des Sündenfalls beherrscht die Sünde den ganzen Menschen, sein Denken, seine Gefühle und seinen Willen. Daher ist der natürliche Mensch nicht fähig, die Botschaft des Evangeliums zu verstehen, er ist geistlich völlig hilflos und verloren. Der Mensch kann Gottes rettende Botschaft erst verstehen, nachdem er durch den Heiligen Geist dazu befähigt wurde (Röm 5,12 LUT, Mk 4,11 LUT).

Bedingungslose Erwählung (Unconditional Election)

Dies ist Calvins Prinzip der doppelten Prädestination. Die Erwählung zum Heil vollzieht sich nach Calvin wie folgt: Gott hat die Menschen in eine Gruppe der Auserwählten und eine der Nicht-Auserwählten geteilt. Für die Auserwählten hat Gott seine Erkenntnis bestimmt und die Auferstehung vorhergesehen. Die Übrigen bleiben unwissend bezüglich Gottes und des Evangeliums. Laut Calvin sind sie von Gott verdammt auf dem Weg in die ewige Hölle. Diese Entscheidung sei noch vor der Schaffung des Universums getroffen worden und somit erst recht vor der Geburt des einzelnen Menschen sowie vor irgendwelchen Entscheidungen, die der Mensch in seinem Leben trifft. Die Gründe, warum Gott einige erwählt hat, sind unbekannt. Es ist aber offensichtlich, dass das nicht aufgrund irgendwelcher guten Werke von Seiten des Erwählten geschehen ist. Die Erwählung ist insofern nicht an irgendwelche in der Person des Erwählten liegenden Bedingungen geknüpft (Röm 9,15 LUT.21LUT).

Begrenzte Versöhnung/Sühne  (Limited Atonement)

Das ist der Glaube, dass Jesus Christus nicht gestorben ist, um alle Menschen zu retten. Sein Erlösungswerk ist nur an die auserwählten Sünder, die durch ihn gerettet sind, gerichtet (Mt 26,28 LUT, Eph 5,25 LUT).

Unwiderstehliche Gnade  (Irresistible Grace)

Gemeint ist, dass man die Gnade der Erwählung nicht ausschlagen kann. Der Mensch hat in dieser Hinsicht also keinen freien Willen, da er tot ist in seinen Vergehungen und deswegen keinerlei Macht hat, sich für Gott zu entscheiden (Eph 2,1 LUT). Nur durch den Ruf Gottes kann der Mensch geistlich wieder zum Leben erweckt werden (Eph 2,5 LUT), und somit zu Gott kommen. Jeder Mensch, den Gott erwählt hat, werde Gott erkennen. Die Erwählten können dem Ruf Gottes nicht widerstehen (Joh 6,44 LUT, Röm 8,14 LUT).

Die Beharrlichkeit der Heiligen (Perseverance of the Saints)

Die einmal Geretteten werden gerettet bleiben. Es sei unmöglich, Gottes Gnade wieder zu verlieren (Röm 8,28 LUT, Joh 6,39 LUT).

Daraus kann man schlussfolgern, dass Gott sich wünschte, dass die meisten Menschen verdammt werden und ewiglich leiden (sehr wenige Calvinisten glauben an die Vernichtung der Verdorbenen).
In zukünftigen Posten werde ich tiefergehend die logischen Implikationen der reformierten Theologie erkunden.
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Distanzierung: ich bin nicht einverstanden mit ihrer Verwendung von biblischen Passagen. Ich glaube, dass viele aus dem Kontext gerissen werden, während andere nur einige Aspekte des Calvinismus unterstützen aber gleichzeitig anderen widersprechen.

A short introduction to Calvinism

Deutsche Version: Eine kurze Einführung in den Calvinismus.

Youtube Version

Many people have been (rightly) consterned about infamous assertions of the extremely popular Evangelical preacher John Piper such as God causing earthquakes to punish America for its sins or “It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases. God gives life and he takes life. Everybody who dies, dies because God wills that they die.”

John Piper

Yet few people suspect this is only the tip of the iceberg.

John Piper is a staunch Calvinist. Also called reformed theology, Calvinism is a doctrine which did not begin with the French theologian Calvin but can be found in diverse authors such as Luther, Zwingli, Aquinas, Anselm of Canterbury and William of Ockham.   The man who introduced it to the Christian Church was Augustine, who (quite coincidentally) was also the first theologian to defend the use of torture against heretics, with all the historical consequences we know all too well.

One basis of Calvinism is divine determinism (which they call “sovereignty”) which means that every thing which happens (including rapes and genocides) has been desired and made certain by God before the very beginning of time.

john-calvin

The other basis of Calvinism is the so-called TULIP belief-system, whereby:

Total Depravity – As a result of Adam’s fall, the entire human race is affected; all humanity is dead in trespasses and sins. Man is unable to save himself (Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-18).

Unconditional Election – Because man is dead in sin, he is unable to initiate a response to God; therefore, in eternity past God elected certain people to salvation. Election and predestination are unconditional; they are not based on man’s response (Romans 8:29-30;9:11; Ephesians 1:4-6, 11-12) because man is unable to respond, nor does he want to.

Limited Atonement – Because God determined that certain ones should be saved as a result of God’s unconditional election, He determined that Christ should die for the elect alone. All whom God has elected and for whom Christ died will be saved (Matthew 1:21; John 10:11; 17:9; Acts 20:28; Romans 8:32; Ephesians 5:25).

Irresistible Grace – Those whom God elected He draws to Himself through irresistible grace. God makes man willing to come to Him. When God calls, man responds (John 6:37, 44; 10:16).

Perseverance of the Saints – The precise ones God has elected and drawn to Himself through the Holy Spirit will persevere in faith. None whom God has elected will be lost; they are eternally secure (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:3-14).

From this, it logically follows that God willed and caused most people to be damned and eternally suffer in hell (very few Calvinists believe in the Annihilation of the wicked).
In future posts, I will explore in more depth the logical aspects and implications of reformed theology.
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Disclaimer: I don’t agree with their use of these Biblical passages. I believe that many are taken out of context whereas some of them only support aspects of Calvnism  while contradicting others.

Thom Stark on Blasphemy for God’s sake

Youtube version.

 

This is the title of a provocative post written by liberal Christian scholar and writer “Thom Stark”.

He responded there to an email from a Christian struggling with ignoble things in the Old Testament.

Thom gave a definition of inspiration I am largely sympathetic to:

“And it would be that the slavery laws are wrong, and that they were written by humans who got God wrong. But we can find God throughout the pages of the Bible by using our God-given moral reasoning. Wherever there is truth, wherever there is justice and compassion, that’s where God is. That doesn’t mean those parts are really inspired by God while the other parts aren’t. The inspiration lies not in the verbatim language of scripture, but in the struggle of God’s community to know God, the struggle that’s reflected in the conflicting views throughout the Bible about who God is and what God desires. The inspiration of scripture is bigger than the words on the page; it goes deeper to the struggles of the people of God who produced them.”

It is formulated in a wonderful way and this logically means we can also find God in many non-Biblical books (a point Thom would obviously agree with).

I was less convinced by his answer to the next question.

3. If I am struggling in my faith, then how am I supposed to evangelize with confidence? In Matthew 16:15 Jesus tell us to evangelize, but it is hard to do so if I question parts of the Bible.

That question is based upon the assumption that an evangelistic message involves some claim about the inerrancy or infallibility of scripture. For me, and for most Christians, it doesn’t. Evangelism is spreading the Good News that in God’s community, justice and peace are available because of Jesus Christ. So evangelism isn’t just about preaching doctrines; evangelism is really inviting people to join a community that exists as an alternative to the unjust and violent structures offered by the world. Evangelism is an invitation to an alternative way of life made possible by the words and deeds of Jesus, and by his victory over the powers of sin (systemic injustice) and death.

I certainly agree with Thom that what he mentions are (important) aspects of the Gospel but this is by no means everything.

The Gospel is all about how people broken by their personal sins and the sins of others can find eternal life and communion with a God who is their loving Father.

Finally Thom has marvelous and very profound things to say about the concept of blasphemy.

Every time one says to a fundamentalists that the being he is worshiping is a monstrous tyrant, he often answers: “how dare you man criticize God Almighty?”.

Here is what Stark has to say:

4. Is it blasphemy to question God’s character? I question many of the laws in the Old Testament, and I am beginning to question God.

It is not blasphemy to question the character of the different portrayals of God in the Bible. That’s not the same thing as questioning God’s character. That’s just saying that the men who wrote the Bible sometimes were very wrong about God’s character. I would argue that it’s blasphemy to affirm some of the ways that God is characterized in the Bible. It’s precisely out of zeal for God’s character that so many Christians throughout history have been forced to reject certain portrayals of God in scripture. For instance, Gregory of Nyssa, one of the chief architects of the doctrine of the Trinity, rejected the idea that the tenth Egyptian plague (the slaughter of the firstborn sons of Egypt) could be an authentic, historical portrayal of God’s actions. A moral God wouldn’t kill children for the sins of their parents, much less for the sins of one man, the Pharaoh. Gregory, a very orthodox theologian, rejected the tenth plague as historical. His solution was to read it as allegory. To him the killing of the firstborn sons of Egypt was a metaphor for the Christian’s need to kill off all the beginnings of evil within ourselves. While I don’t reject his strategy, my strategy is to read the tenth plague as a condemned text—as a text that speaks to our capacity as human beings to misdirect our wrath, to punish the innocent because we’ve been somehow victimized. We all have the capacity to do that, especially as nations, and we continue to do it to this day. So I read that text as a warning—this is the wrong way to characterize God’s justice. It’s there for our instruction, but not as a positive example.

My second response to this question is simply, no, it is not blasphemous at all to question even God’s character. Job did it. And he had good reason to do it. Job never committed blasphemy, but he did call God unjust, and he did say that all the evidence showed that God wasn’t interested in doing what was right. If you want to call that blasphemy, then it’s blasphemy for God’s sake.”

I can only utter a loud “Amen!” after having read that.

Actually, we have the moral duty to defend the true perfect God against religious fundamentalists who are driving people away from Christianity by teaching atrocious non-sense.

When the Calvinist fundamentalist John Piper asserts that It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases.

we ought to condemn this egregious blasphemy with the strongest words.

Yet we should do that with love and compassion.

We should not, in a self-righteous manner, believe we are better persons than John Piper but just hope he will give up his extraordinarily morally offensive beliefs.

Actually I starkly suspect that it would be better if Piper was an atheist at peace with his moral intuitions than a fundamentalist believing that killing children in an atrocious way for the sins of their parents can be a good thing.

 

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