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Calvinist Watchdogs

This post is meant to be both satire and yet some truth mixed in here (much like Arminianism according to watchdog Calvinists).  So take what I write here with a grain of salt.  I know that will be tough on you watchdogs out there.

Heresy hunters.  I once was one.  On one hand I believe that heresy hunters are good.  They point out errors to us and expose false teachings.  I became a heresy hunter briefly back in the 1990’s.  My main heresy I was after was the Word-Faith movement.  I would listen for key words in conversations or in sermons.  It get so bad that no one could mention “faith” around me without a flag going up.  I would spend hours talking about the heresies of the Word-Faith movement.  While I still agree that the Word-Faith movement is very bad theology and leads many astray, I no longer feel it is my duty to correct everyone’s theology around me concerning their views regarding the Word-Faith movement.  I would gladly tell someone that I disagree with the movement and would attack them by my own Bible teachings but God is bigger than the Word-Faith movement and He is able

computer-guyto correct His people through His truth (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Frankly, I wasted so much time trying to correct everyone else around me.  Instead of doing more profitable things like prayer or evangelism or even worship, I spent my time listening to Kenneth Copeland tapes (yes the 90’s) and reading books against the Word-Faith movement.  My prayer life suffered as I would be consumed in my thoughts and efforts with the Word-Faith movement while all around me where people going to hell who knew nothing of either the gospel or Benny Hinn.  I eventually grew weary with my efforts and laid down my guns for another cause.

 

Watchdogs are out there.  Whether they be Catholics, Arminians, Wesleyans, Baptists, and yes, Calvinists, they are all around us.  They watch your every deed.  They analysis your every statement.  Many of them are well-meaning (as I was above) and desire for the truth to win out.  They want to see sound doctrine taught.  The problem is that they often lack grace.  That was true of me.  I remember once going to a poor lady’s house for a youth pool party.  On her table was a book by Kenneth Hagin.  I saw that book and my blood begin to boil.  I turned to this lady who was in a conversation with another lady and pointed to the book.  I said, “Why do you have this heretic here?”  She was very young in the Lord and I begin to go off on Hagin by pointing out his errors.  She broke down into tears and told me to get out of her house.  It was a horrible scene and one I would rather not mention but I need to.  It shows my lack of grace, my lack of tact.  I meant well but I was trying to be the Holy Spirit.  Later another brother met with me and corrected me and rebuked me and my days as a heresy hunter were gone.

When correcting another person I believe we need to do several things.

1.  Is My Heart Right?  Do I Love The Other Person?

Why do I want to correct this brother or sister?  Is it that I love them or that I simply want to be a watchdog?  Am I full of pride and believe that I am free from theological error so I will correct this poor soul who is confused and wrong?  We must guard our hearts from being full of pride and thinking that we have the right to speak into another person’s life when in fact we have not earned that right and we don’t love that person and we don’t care what happens to them.

2.  Is Their Heresy That Bad?  

If you want to stir up a hornet’s nest, go onto Twitter and type something about Calvinism with the hash mark #Calvinism.  In a few minutes you’ll get one comment after another from those who have made it their “calling” to correct all.  Any attack on Calvinism or any defense of Arminianism will bring out these watchdogs.  They are relentless.  They will come after you and come after you and come after you.  They will not give up.  Usually I have to stop the debate or just don’t answer them.

And why?  Because they believe #Calvinism is the #gospel.  Despite the fact that the majority of the Christian Church has not been Calvinists, they believe that Calvinism alone is the pure gospel.  In fact, if you are not a Calvinist, you are not saved.  They don’t all hold to this but many of them do believe that Calvinism contains the truth of God therefore it should be defended against all enemies because when you attack Calvinism, you are attacking God Himself.

Now before you seek to be a watchdog, ask yourself if the heresy you want to rant against will send souls to hell?  Does Arminianism or Calvinism send people to hell?  A case can be made that any theological system could send souls to hell if that system is honored above Christ and His saving work.  Anything can become an idol and can condemn the soul to hell (1 John 5:21).  Is the heresy that I hate really that bad?  If so, preach against it and warn people but never hate the heresy without loving the person in the heresy.  Love always wins out.

3.  Remember There Are Sometimes Worst Heresies Out There.

The Calvinist watchdogs I have encountered are convinced that Calvinism is the pure gospel so Calvinism becomes the grid to judge all thins by.  Not Scripture per se but rather Calvinism or at least their branch of it.  Everything apart from Calvinism is humanism, man-centered, false teachings.  But is Arminianism the worst heresy out there?  To many of these watchdogs, it is since they believe that the entire Western church is Arminian therefore the problems of the Western church are directly linked to the error of Arminianism.

I would argue that Pelagianism plagues the Western church more than Arminianism (from the Calvinist viewpoint that is).  Most people I have met in evangelism are Pelagian or semi-Pelagians.  I have even met lost Calvinists who (incorrectly) believed that the doctrine of eternal security allowed for them to continue in their life of sin.  I have never met an Arminian (though I am sure there are lost Arminians).  I know that no matter what I write here, some watchdog Calvinists will insist that they must evangelize Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Arminians because they are all the same, all of them hate the true God.

4.  Debates Should Be Face to Face (At least normally).

Debates on blogs, message boards, Twitter or Facebook are not useful.  Why?  First, the world mocks our debates.  They see “Christians” as fighting and hating each other despite the words of Jesus in John 13:34-35.  Secondly, they are impersonal.  I don’t know if the Calvinist or the Catholic or the ______ person I am debating is hearing me correctly nor do I get to see if they are loving me for me.  All I see are words.  I don’t hear your tone.  I don’t know your motive.  I don’t get to see your heart.  All I know is that I have my books and my Bible open and I am googling my views while you are doing the same with yours.  Further, is anything really going to change?  Are you going to see my point of view?  I doubt it.  I have been an Arminian disciple of Jesus since I was saved in 1992.  I don’t plan on ever changing.  I love Arminianism.  I love the doctrines of grace as taught by Arminius.  I love our rich history.  I love that the early Church Fathers were nearly united in their beliefs on determinism (against it) and free will (for it).  I love the great men and women of God among Arminianism.  I love that Arminius himself was a man of God, that he was a kind, gentle servant of God who loved people.  He even loved the hated Anabaptists of his day and felt they should be allowed to practice their faith in freedom (in a time when many were calling for these heretics to be killed all over infant baptism vs. adult baptism).

Twitter debates are the worst.  You are only allowed 140 characters so the points are short and words are not enough.  Further, they, like all others, are not personal.  I would rather sit and talk theology with a brother who loves me but disagrees with me than to tweet with a guy in Kansas who doesn’t know me, doesn’t ever plan on knowing me personally, and just thinks I am wrong.

5.  Burn the Heretics!

Sometimes I feel that the Calvinist watchdogs would love to see heretics burn.  These men would have been those in the time of Calvin who would have been happy to hear that Servetus was to be burned at the stake.  They would love to see all enemies of Calvin destroyed.  While I am generalizing here, their lack of love shows and it seems their aim is one common goal: to banish all enemies of Calvin.

The fact is that the history of the Church has often been filled with such people.  People who hate others all in the name of Jesus.  They burn, kill, destroy, and are proud of this all in the name of the Savior.  How sad.  They want to kill Muslims or to kill Catholics or to kill Mormons or whoever all in the name of riding the world of heretics.  Both Augustine and Calvin appealed to Luke 14:23 as use of the State Church to force people into Christianity.  Thomas Aquinas said about heretics that they should, “not only to be separated from the Church, but also to be eliminated from the world by death.”  Oddly enough, even the Protestant John Foxe who wrote a book on persecution of true Christians, believed in some forms of persecution against heretics.

These are poor excuses for persecution.  I find nothing in the teachings of Jesus nor the Epistles to suggest that we should ever be violent toward those whom we disagree (see Matthew 5:10-12, 44-48; Romans 12:19-21).  Peter the Apostle said in 1 Peter 4:11-19 that we should only suffer for righteousness and he never mentions attacking others in return.  The Lord Jesus gave us an example says Peter in 1 Peter 2:21-24 of how to respond to ill-treatment.  It was never with the sword that we were to spread Christianity but with the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14-21).

I have never wanted to see a Calvinist dead.  I disagree with my Calvinist friends over many issues but I don’t want them burned or killed or even for their mouths to be stopped.  I only want for them to preach Christ (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).  I am of the opinion of Paul in Philippians 1:15-18.

Conclusion

Watchdogs are all around us.  I will receive their words and tweets as soon as I send this out into the world.  I ask watchdogs to guard their hearts.  Don’t hate others.  Don’t judge others you don’t know.  Don’t assume you are right and all others are wrong.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that an ism saves instead of Christ saves.  Don’t make your theology the basis for all truth when you are marred by sin and the world.  Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  There are fundamentals we should agree on and Arminianism and Calvinism agree on these issues.  Our battle should not be labeled a battle at all but a friendly dialogue.  I don’t enjoy arguments at all.  I would rather pray, worship, enjoy the honor of knowing Christ any day than to sit and debate Arminius and Calvin.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/21/2013 at 12:47 PM

Culture Debates and the Clash of World Views

When it comes to cultural debates, we disciples of Christ must not forget that we are dealing with more than just a difference in opinion over an issue but with an entirely different world view.  The disciple’s world view comes directly from the Bible.  It is a biblical worldview.  Our view of all of life flows from our relationship with the one true and living God.  We obey Him because we acknowledge His absolute Lordship over all things (1 John 2:3-6).  No matter what the issue may be, we view it from the perspective of the Bible.  It doesn’t matter what the issue may be, we always begin with what does Scripture say about this issue or what guidelines do the Scriptures give us about this issue.  Our primary focus is on the glory of God in all things (1 Corinthians 10:31).  Our focus is on pleasing God and giving Him glory and honor in all things.

Paul the Apostle argued this way with the Corinthians.  In 1 Corinthians Paul dealt with many various sins.  Divisions.  Sexual immorality.  Lawsuits among brethren.  Division over spiritual gifts and improper uses.  The role of women in the fellowship.  The abuse of the Lord’s Supper.  Yet he seemed to always point back to the glory of God.  What God said was what mattered.  For instance, in 1 Corinthians 6 Paul deals with the issues involving sexual immorality (we humans are still the same are we not?).  In 1 Corinthians 6:12 he quotes the Corinthians and then turns the quotes of the Corinthians around to show that our focus is not on self-pleasure but upon the Lord Jesus Christ and how we can please Him.  He ends 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 by telling the Corinthians that disciples are temples of the Holy Spirit and he ends by telling us to glorify God in our bodies which are temples of God.  The focus of Paul was clear: glorify God who alone is worthy of worship.

Cultural debates are difficult for the true disciple because we begin where unbelievers don’t and that is with the glory of God.  We begin with this and not with self-pleasure, license for sinning, or the focus on what we desire or want.  We begin with pleasing God and we remain committed to that principle throughout a civil debate.  In all things the disciple of Christ begins the question with, “Does this glorify God or not?”  and move from there.  What has God said in His Word about this?  What does our position do for the glory of Christ?

It is almost a given then that the disciple of Jesus must first deal with the non-Christian worldview that the unbeliever is expressing but don’t allow them to borrow from our worldview to prove their point.  For instance, the whole idea of fairness or equality must be based on a biblical worldview.  The unbeliever borrows from a Christian worldview to prove or disprove their point.  We should not allow them to borrow our foundations while denying the Word of God on a given issue.  The disciple should consistently question their foundation.  On what right do you have to borrow from the Christian worldview while denying the Lordship of Christ over all things in your life?  This frames the debate in a much different fashion.  It points to the lostness of the unbeliever, that they are dead in their sins apart from the life of Christ (Ephesians 2:1-3) and it shows their ignorance of what Christ has said in His Word about cultural issues or at least principles of holiness.

Never get caught up in a debate where you are put on the defensive while the unbeliever borrows from your worldview.  You can presume two things about all unbelievers.  First, they know that God exists and that He is real but they want to suppress that knowledge because of their sin (Romans 1:18).  Secondly, the unbeliever begins with a worldview that pleases self above God (Titus 1:15-16).  The disciple begins with an opposite view with the glory of God reigning supreme and a worldview that seeks to glorify God completely.

I urge you to listen to the following mp3 from Gary DeMar.  You can find the teaching here.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/28/2013 at 10:00 AM

To Calvinists Who Want To Convert Me

I don’t mind a theological discussion.  I am not a debater.  I have never had a public debate and probably never will.  I admit that I am much more in line to “debate” theology over a cup of coffee than in front of a crowd.  Much like Roger Olson (see my post on James White’s desire to debate Olson), I would not be an able debater and my opponent would no doubt appear to be the winner in a debate.

However, my point here is not to talk about debating as much to address a few Calvinists who have recently taken it upon themselves to convert me to Calvinism.  My earnest desire for them is that the same passion they have used to seek my conversion to Calvinism, I pray they would do the same for souls for the kingdom.  If they will spread the gospel with the same passion they seek to spread Calvinism, how many souls could be saved?  These Calvinists are not your passionate Paul Washer/Charles Spurgeon types.  These Calvinists are the militant, “I am right and all others are wrong” types.  For them, their conversion to Calvinism was much more important than their initial salvation since the gospel equals Calvinism and Calvinism is the gospel.  Calvinism alone, in their minds, is the answer for the world and for the Church.  Any other theology is man-centered and not God-exalting.

Here is my advice to these Calvinists.

1.  Pray for Humility

Perhaps your theology is right but your attitude stinks.  You come across not as a broken man of God but as a Pharisee who has their theology down pat.  You are not patient with anyone (2 Timothy 2:24-25).  You lack the fruit of the Spirit in your life (Galatians 5:22-23) but you feel that your knowledge of Calvinism is sufficient before God.  How sad for you.

2.  Understand that Jesus Alone Saves Sinners

John Calvin didn’t save a soul and never will.  Neither did Arminius or Wesley or Paul.  Jesus alone saves sinners (John 14:6).  Truth is not found in Calvin’s Institutes but in the person of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; Romans 9:5).  Our salvation is not based on our knowledge of Calvin or Arminius but upon Jesus and His gospel (Romans 3:22-25).

3.  Calvinism Is Not Perfect

I have never met a perfect theological system.  Every theology has holes and is not always consistent.  I am humble enough to admit that Arminianism is not perfect.  Arminius was not perfect.  He was a fallen man and like us, he was prone to error.  So was Calvin.  So was Luther.  So was Edwards, Wesley, or Whitefield.  Jesus alone was perfect (1 Peter 2:21-24).  Jesus alone must be our standard and He alone must be our salvation.  These militant Calvinists who seek my conversion believe that Calvinism is a perfect theological system unlike my dreadful Arminianism.  How ignorant.  We all see through a glass rather dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12).

4.  Most of Christianity Is Not Calvinistic

By the term “Christianity” I am not meaning truly saved.  I am speaking of those who claim Christianity including Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, etc.  Historically speaking, most of the Christian world doesn’t claim either Arminianism or Calvinism.  The Restoration Movement for example would say that they follow the Bible only.  While their theology is basically Arminian in many ways, they do reject aspects of Arminianism such as total depravity and prevenient grace.  These militant Calvinists write to me as if most of the true Church are Calvinists and if I (and all non-Calvinists) don’t accept the gospel of Calvinism then we are lost without God.

5.  The Greatest of These Is Love

My militant Calvinist evangelist, please read and meditate upon 1 Corinthians 13:13.  Read Jesus’ words in John 13:34-35 and let them sink deep within.  Read Galatians 5:13-15 and let the words of Paul fill your soul.  The greatest gift is love.  God demonstrated His love toward us (Romans 5:8-9).  1 John 4:8 says that the mark of the true follower of God is love since God is love.  Too often people who claim Christ are not marked by love but by pride, arrogance, boasting, and a lack of genuine love for others.

6.  Labor In Prayer More Than Over Your Calvinism Books

The disciples of Jesus in Luke 11:1 asked Jesus to teach them to pray.  These militant Calvinists would have asked Jesus how to convert people to Calvinism.  If these militants would labor in prayer like they labor at Twitter or Facebook or blogs trying to convert other Christians to Calvinism (and I am making an assumption here that you can be saved without being a Calvinist) then they would be known more for their prayer lives than their theology.  I have seen these militant Calvinists and when people see them coming, they run the other way.  But if they were a prayer warrior, oh how many would come to them to ask them to seek God for their needs?  How many countless hours my militant friend have you lost in your searching of Calvinism and not seeking after God?

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/09/2011 at 10:01 AM

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