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Twelve Myths About Arminianism

This is a post from C. Michael Patton over at the Parchment and Pen blog.  This is from 2013 but still very useful for today.  What we need from both Arminians and Calvinists is to understand the other.  We need to stop building straw men and stay true to the gospel.  The world is in desperate need of the gospel and we spend our time arguing over theological points.  May we wake up from our stupor, preach the gospel to the lost, and debate our theological positions only after the work for souls is done..

You can find the post here.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/23/2015 at 5:28 PM

If I Pastored A Calvinist Church, I Would Resign

Dr. Roger Olsen recently wrote on what he called “stealth Calvinism” where pastors have been taking church positions (mainly in Baptist churches but others as well) but not telling the church that they were Reformed only later to introduce Calvinism through both the pulpit and by leadership.  I have witnessed this myself at two Baptist churches.  Both of them were Southern Baptist and both elected pastors whom did not tell their congregations that they were Reformed Baptists.  They simply affirmed the SBC statement of faith and moved on.  Later, however, they begin to teach classes on theology in which they introduced and indoctrinated the church into Calvinism.  They appointed various pastors (such as youth pastor and music leader) who likewise were trained at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville which is a Calvinist seminary.  The church slowly but surely became a Reformed Baptist church though never leaving the SBC.

Some Calvinists I know don’t have a problem with this.  After all, the SBC embraces both Calvinists and non-Calvinists (though they are truly Arminians but refuse to be labeled Arminians over fear of rejection) and many evangelical denominations such as the Assemblies of God are seeing a rise in Calvinistic pastors and leaders.  One Calvinist brother pointed out that Dr. John MacArthur took over Grace Community Church in 1969 and it was largely a Methodist leaning church with strong Arminian ties.  MacArthur broke those ties and today Grace Community Church is a bastion of Calvinism.

What I don’t appreciate about all this is that it seems to me to be lying.  If I were pastoring a Calvinist church, I would resign because I am not a Calvinist and don’t agree with Calvinism.  It is unfair and lying to try to pretend that I am Reformed in my theology.  I am not even close to being a Calvinist.  Could I preach the gospel in a Calvinist church?  Certainly.  But could I openly try to be a leader in a Calvinist church?  I could not and I would not.  I will not hide who I am nor will I hide my Arminianism.  It is part of me and comes out in my teaching all the time.

Honesty is the best policy.  If you are honest, tell the church you are attending your theological views.  Tell them that you are not in agreement with them on this issue or that.  Don’t hide who you are.  I once had a friend who would not get ordained in a church because he rejected a core doctrine of that church.  He was told to just agree to the doctrinal statement on paper but preach what you like.  He could not do this and feel he was being honest before God.

If the church I was going to pastor was clearly a Calvinistic church or even leaned toward Calvinism, I would inform them that I was an Arminian and go with that.  If they still wanted me to come, that is another issue.  I once had a large Baptist church call me about being their youth pastor (this was when I was younger and was in full-time youth ministry).  I talked to the pastor for a few minutes but informed him that I was not a Baptist, was an Arminian, and could not come to his church and hold to some of his doctrines (particularly the doctrine of eternal security).  He was gracious toward me and we parted ways though I prayed with him before he ended the call, that God would lead the church to the man they needed. (Ironically they selected a charismatic Baptist who didn’t tell them he was charismatic and led the youth group into the charismatic movement).

We need honesty from leaders.  After all, Hebrews 13:7 says that we are to “consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”  Could I ask someone to imitate my faith if in fact I was not being honest about my faith?  Leaders are to be “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2) and lying is not above reproach.  Not fully revealing who you are is not “above reproach.”  Telling people what they want to hear just so you get a job and then introducing what you truly believe later on is not “above reproach.”

I don’t doubt that some pastors feel they cannot resign.  Where can they go?  I still say that honesty and a pure heart before God is more important than your position.  Where is your faith in God?  Where is your faith that if you are honest before the Lord and honest before people that He may not bless you?  Faithfulness to God is more important that a paycheck that you are lying to collect.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/11/2014 at 12:48 AM

8 Signs of Hyper-grace Churches

Here is an article written by Joseph Mattera on eight signs of hyper-grace churches.  I don’t agree with all his points but I do think he is hitting on a subject that the Church needs to address and that is that sloppy preaching will lead to sloppy lives.  When we preach a soft gospel (which is not the biblical gospel at all) we are doing much damage.  We are creating many false converts to Christianity who do not know the gospel nor true repentance.  Instead, we are creating church goers who do not fear God, honor and adore Christ, nor comprehend the greatness of God in the gospel.  Further, hyper-grace churches lack in true evangelism, true prayer, and preaching on sin or holiness or even true grace.

The hyper-grace movement is just as dangerous as the prosperity gospel message in that it wrongly views God as a God who ignores sin.

May we remain faithful to the grace of God that saves us (Titus 2:11-12).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/01/2013 at 12:20 AM

What Unites IFB Churches?

I read this blog post and I wanted to briefly comment on it.  I agree with the author that it is true that the IFB (Independent Fundamentalist Baptist) are not a denomination.  Unlike say the Southern Baptist who are based out of Nashville or the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) who are based out of Greenville, SC, the IFB has no central headquarters.  You’ll find no central church in the IFB that leads the group.  You’ll find no president or bishop who is the leader of the IFB.  In that regard, he is correct.

The author also notes that the IFB is diverse.  I would agree with this.  For example, the brethren at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary would not agree with the KJV-only position of the author but they would identify themselves as IFB.  It seems in the IFB that while there is diversity, they usually unite around certain ministries that are alike.  In some cases, those in one corner would bash those in the other corner for not holding to what they hold.  In this case, many IFB evangelists and preachers would bash DBTS for “being liberal on the KJV Bible.”  IFB folks at Pensacola Christian College would claim that IFB folks at Bob Jones University and DBTS are liberals.

My point is that IFB folks typically unite around a few churches or a few evangelists that they agree with.  In the past you would have a group of IFB pastors who would all unite around Jack Hyles or around John Rice or around Bob Jones.  This is still true today.  IFB’s are not united because I believe of the spirit that they present: one of a fighting fundamentalist.  Someone said a fundamentalist is an evangelical who is mad about something.  Perhaps this is true.

From my point of view, the IFB is often divided over ridiculous issues such as whether a 17th century Bible translation is the inerrant Word of God, the length of a man’s hair, whether rock music can be used by God or not, whether you should own a TV (yes I personally heard an IFB evangelist say that no true Christian would ever own a TV).  This tendencies, to fight over pointless issues has led to the IFB’s being viewed out of suspicion and often not taken seriously.

Let me close by saying that I have met many godly IFB people.  I know of several IFB preachers who love God, love His Word, and love to see people saved.  While we would disagree over the KJV Bible, they don’t make it an issue of salvation.  Further, they are dedicated to reaching people with the gospel.  So I want to be fair here and not paint all IFB people as bizarre or divisive. They are not.  Many of them love the Lord and do want to honor Him.  DBTS is a great example.  Godly leaders, expository preaching, evangelism, a heart for prayer – all this is found at DBTS.  So please understand my heart here and don’t believe that I view all IFB preachers or churches as what I described above.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/06/2013 at 9:35 AM

Posted in church, Theologial Issues

Tagged with ,

Does Arminianism Deny the Providence of God?

Here is an excellent article from the Examining Calvinism blog on the Arminian view of the providence of God.  Arminius wrote the following about divine providence:

I consider Divine Providence to be “that solicitous, continued, and universally present inspection and oversight of God, according to which he exercises a general care over the whole world, but evinces a particular concern for all his [intelligent] creatures without any exception, with the design of preserving and governing them in their own essence, qualities, actions, and passions, in a manner that is at once worthy of himself and suitable to them, to the praise of his name and the salvation of believers. In this definition of Divine Providence, I by no means deprive it of any particle of those properties which agree with it or belong to it; but I declare that it preserves, regulates, governs and directs all things and that nothing in the world happens fortuitously or by chance. Beside this, I place in subjection to Divine Providence both the free-will and even the actions of a rational creature, so that nothing can be done without the will of God, not even any of those things which are done in opposition to it; only we must observe a distinction between good actions and evil ones, by saying, that “God both wills and performs good acts,” but that “He only freely permits those which are evil.” Still farther than this, I very readily grant, that even all actions whatever, concerning evil, that can possibly be devised or invented, may be attributed to Divine Providence Employing solely one caution, “not to conclude from this concession that God is the cause of sin.” This I have testified with sufficient clearness, in a certain disputation concerning the Righteousness and Efficacy of Divine Providence concerning things that are evil, which was discussed at Leyden on two different occasions, as a divinity-act, at which I presided. In that disputation, I endeavoured to ascribe to God whatever actions concerning sin I could possibly conclude from the scriptures to belong to him; and I proceeded to such a length in my attempt, that some persons thought proper on that account to charge me with having made God the author of sin. The same serious allegation has likewise been often produced against me, from the pulpit, in the city of Amsterdam, on account of those very theses; but with what show of justice such a charge was made, may be evident to any one, from the contents of my written answer to those Thirty-one Articles formerly mentioned, which have been falsely imputed to me, and of which this was one.

You can the find the post here.

The Invitation System

I have several problems with the invitation system.  I remember when I first was saved and the church I was attending regularly did an invitation at the end of the service.  It was the typical “every head bowed, every eye closed” and then the preacher would exhort people to repent and to “ask Jesus into your heart today.”  We would cheer if a person actually got up out of their seat to meet with the preacher down front to “get saved” by saying the sinner’s prayer.

Then I began to read John Wesley.  I was struck by the fact that John Wesley saw thousands of souls converted to Christ yet he never gave an altar call.  Not once in my reading of Wesley did I find mentioned the “sinner’s prayer” or the “every head bowed, every eye closed” approach to evangelism.  I found Wesley exhorting sinners to turn to Christ, to repent of their sins, to place their total faith in Christ alone to save them but I found nothing like what I was seeing in our church.  I began to question the invitation system.  I began to see the system as man-made and based on the tactics of 19-th century evangelists rather than the Word of God. I began to see that baptism had been replaced with the sinner’s prayer and when a person was declared saved.  I saw that the system downplayed the sovereignty of God in salvation for the tactics and manipulations of men.  

Finally, in a debate with an International Church of Christ guy, I had to wrestle with the Bible over the issue.  The ICOC guy challenged me to show him in the Bible where a person ever “prayed to receive Christ.”  He challenged me to study the sinner’s prayer and its history along with the Bible to see what is the correct way to call sinners to repentance.  I began to see that Jesus nor the Apostles in Acts ever did an altar call, none led people in a sinner’s prayer, and all called people to repent and believe the gospel and demonstrate their obedience to Christ though baptism by immersion in water.  

In this post, Dr. James Rasbeary writes about why churches should have an invitation system.  A couple of points about this post.  First, I found his articles to be pragmatic.  As one pastor told me when I asked him why he did an invitation system if in fact it was not biblical, “Because it works” was his reply.  This same man admitted to me that baptism was the proper response to the gospel but he then said, “But the sinner’s prayer is so much faster and easier.”  Notice the pragmatism.  It just works.  We have been doing it this way so long and God uses it.  This is the normal reply for those who defend the practice.

Secondly, I don’t deny that God does call us to make a decision.  As the author points out, all through the Scriptures God calls us to repent, to turn from our sins, to come and drink, etc.  but we must not take to mean that we should call people “down front” as part of that call.  Wesley would call sinners to do all these things but he rightfully knew that God alone saves the lost.  Wesley did not ignore the fact that the Holy Spirit was the one who converts the sinner.  A sinner can come under conviction but unless the Holy Spirit is doing His work, the sinner’s conviction will be temporal.  The Spirit of God alone converts the sinner (John 3:3-7).  The Spirit of God takes the sinner and regenerates them (Ezekiel 36:25-27; Titus 3:5-7).  Our duty as a witnesses for Jesus Christ is to proclaim His gospel and the Spirit of God does the rest (Acts 1:8).  

Lastly, in reply to the use of Acts 2:37-38, I would add that the response to the Jews was baptism (v. 41).  How many meetings have I sat in where people “came down front to get right with God” and then 20 or 30 were said to be saved.  Where was their baptism?  Did I miss it?  Did they usher them to the tank that fast and plunge them under?  All through Acts, baptism was seen as the time when people confessed Jesus as Lord (see Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12, 36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:14-15, 30-34; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16).  No doubt a person is justified by faith (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9) but let us not downplay the role baptism plays in confessing Jesus as Lord.

In closing, I don’t doubt that God is sovereign in salvation.  Some of you reading this may have been saved through the flawed invitation system.  God is graceful and good.  He often uses us despite us and in spite of us.  That said, we should still strive to be biblical in our evangelism and in our teaching about salvation.  I don’t doubt that Dr. Rasbeary means well in his approach.  I simply don’t agree with the approach nor with the conclusions.  While I would not make a war over this issue, after witnessing to many people who “prayed the prayer” or “went down front at that church”, I am convinced that so many fail to grasp what it means to truly repent of our sins and look to Christ alone to save us.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/24/2013 at 10:29 AM

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