Arminian Today

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When Calvinism Becomes the Issue

Dr. Roger Olson’s blog article is worth reading.  Dr. Olson writes about how Calvinism is more and more becoming like the old Fundamentalism and drawing lines in the sand over secondary issues.  They are also now making separation an issue.  In other words, the new Calvinists demand that their Calvinist brethren not only embrace Calvinism but deny fellowship to anyone not embracing Calvinism and denouncing those who are non-Calvinists or welcome non-Calvinists into their fellowship.  This is a hard-line in the sand but I too see it coming.

This is happening in some cases because some Calvinists confuse Calvinism with the gospel.  They quit Charles Spurgeon’s infamous statement that he preached the same gospel as Paul and that is Calvinism.  Calvinists believe that “the doctrines of grace” honor Christ as Lord above all other systems and in fact, all other systems are man-made, man-centered approaches to the gospel.  Only Calvinism, says some Calvinists, is the pure gospel that exalts the sovereignty of God, denies man’s part in his salvation, and makes Christ’s death on the cross effective.

Even sadder is the fact that Calvinists spend their time reading, quoting, commending, and applauding only Calvinists.  On all the new social media sites one can find Calvinists doing this on a daily basis.  Calvinists read Calvinists.  Calvinists fellowship with Calvinists.  Calvinists listen to other Calvinists preach.  Calvinists only study under Calvinist theologians.  This creates a Calvinist church that doesn’t tolerate any other views because Calvinism has all the answers.

My advice to both Arminians and Calvinists has been to read other theologians works.  And don’t just read them with an eye for error.  Obviously Scripture calls us to discernment (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).  I am not advocating blindly reading any theology book.  But I do advocate stretching yourself and reading those whom you might not fully agree.  I can safely read John MacArthur or John Piper though I know going in that I will not fully agree with all they write.  I can still learn from them.  And yet while I (and many other Arminians) take this approach toward Calvinists, I don’t feel the other side is doing this toward us.  Some might reply that there are a plethora of Calvinists books available but few Arminians (a point I do concede).  But there are Arminian works out there if you look for them.  Just this week I am reading a great new book from Dr. Vic Reasoner on inerrancy (I will post on this later).

My point in all this is that I fear Calvinism is becoming the issue.  Rather than the gospel being the issue.  The five points of Calvinism are becoming the standard for orthodoxy.  I fear a time when orthodoxy will be judged by Calvin and not by Scripture.  Further, I fear a church where only Calvinists are saved.  Anyone else, no matter what they believe, are deemed heretics.  I fear that day.  I pray it does not come.  I know some of my Calvinist brothers and sisters will say that I am being foolish here and paranoid but I do see the rise of Calvinism being a hinderance to the gospel and to fellowship and not a help.  Perhaps I am wrong but I fear I may be right.

May we all meditate on John 17:20-23; Ephesians 4:1-6.  May we remember that Jesus saves sinners (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15) and not isms.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/06/2014 at 10:38 AM

5 Responses

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  1. Thanks for suggesting the NIV College Press commentary. I now have the full NT set and find it a wonderful resource.

    Mike Bayer

    02/06/2014 at 10:54 AM

  2. Scot McKnight calls these types of Calvinists “neo-Puritans,” because this is exactly what the Puritans did: divide (and separate) and conquer.

    William Birch

    02/06/2014 at 12:28 PM

  3. I am a Calvinist (4 pt – TUIP) but I’m in full agreement with you here. I also am concerned about this Calvinist inbreeding. I have learned so much from people who have not shared my beliefs in this area–Watchman Nee, Leonard Ravenhill, and AW Tozer, etc. Some of the Calvinists I’ve been around tend to be so dismissive and contemptuous of non-Calvinists that I have a difficult time being around them. New Calvinism has some scary tendencies. I’m not sure I would be much more accepted than you would be in a situation like what you described–especially after Strange Fire.

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