Friday, February 22, 2008
The Trouble with Calvinists
OK. That title was a hook to get people to read this. I don't really have a problem with Calvinists. In particular, Baptist-Calvinists. In fact, I am one. I'm a genuine, convince, consistent, 5-point Baptist-Calvinist. I believe in:
Total Depravity--We are born sinners, and totally unable to do anything to save ourselves apart from God's work on us.
Unconditional Election--I believe that God chooses us not on the basis of any foreseen goodness in us, but out of His mere pleasure. He does not choose us based on our supposed advantages such as ethnic background or socioeconomic status, but rather He chooses anyone, anywhere, out of His mere pleasure.
Limited Atonement--I prefer the more accurate term "particular redemption." I believe that on the cross Jesus did more than make salvation available, but that he actually secured the salvation of everyone who would believe.
Irresistible Grace--Once again, I prefer the term "effectual calling." But I believe that God is strong enough that he overcomes any resistance that those who he chooses can put up. God speaks through His word, and spiritually dead sinners come to life and are enabled to believe. It is like a blind man who is healed by God from his blindness--there is no way on earth that the man would then resist the healing that he has just received. In the same way, when God saves a person, he reaches down to a spiritually dead, rebellious sinner, and changes his heart so that he wants to please God.
Perseverance of the Saints--I believe that all who God saves have been brought from death into eternal life and true Christians will persevere until the end.
Like I said, I am a Baptist-Calvinist. But is there something true to the title of this blog entry? Well, I purposefully titled it the "trouble with Calvinists" not with "Calvinism." I affirm all 5 points of Calvinism, but there may be trouble with some of my brethren who share this commitment with me. I will just give two things that I see as a common temptation that some (and I don't even think that this is the case with most or even a lot) Calvinists have:
1) There may be a temptation among some to break fellowship with other true believers, who have a genuine desire to be Biblical, who do not see things the same way we do.
2) There also may be a temptation for young pastors who embrace Calvinism to push too fast to change there churches--and this may end up blowing up in the face of the young pastor, as well as giving a bad taste for Calvinism to those in the church.
I must say three things in response to these two temptations:
1) These temptations are not limited to Calvinists. Some (and probably not most and maybe not even a lot) non-Calvinists are very antagonistic toward Calvinists and might push to break fellowship. Also, young non-Calvinists also have a problem some times with trying to change their church too quickly. So clearly these issues are not so much about Calvinists but about the personal temperament of the person who holds the doctrine.
2) I would encourage my Calvinist brothers to seek common ground and foster brotherly love with those who disagree on one or more points of Calvinism but who clearly desire to follow the Bible.
3) I also encourage my Calvinist brethren to be patient as you teach your people. It is highly unlikely that a young convinced Calvinists who holds to the regulative principle (as I do) and to a biblical pattern of plural-elder congregationalism (as I do) can go into a church and make any kind of progress until he first spends years and maybe even decades laboring to show his people that he loves them.
With all that said, I'm sure that I might get a few comments from both sides. I don't know what to expect. Will I get attacks--maybe, but I've spoken what I believe to be true.
God bless you all, and may He help us all to work toward preaching the biblical gospel so that we might see men and women be brought out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
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