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Posts Tagged ‘YRR

Short Thoughts on Pastor Worship

One of the reasons that Calvinism has become popular in our day probably has a lot to do with pastor worship above Bible study.  I am convinced that many of the “new” Calvinists (the so-called “young, restless, and Reformed”) are convinced of Calvinism not because they actually read Calvin or Arminius and not because they actually took the time to seriously consider Arminianism but because of pastor worship.  Calvinism has a bunch of “cool” pastors and this has caught the eye of the young.

The names of the pastors that Calvinists worship can be long.  John MacArthur.  John Piper.  RC Sproul.  James White.  Matt Chandler.  Mark Driscoll.  Tim Keller.  CJ Mahaney.  Joshua Harris.  Sam Storms.  Wayne Grudem.  Many of these men are godly men indeed and I am not attacking them.  I am attacking the worship of these men.  I often get asked to name top Arminian preachers and top Arminian theologians and we have had our John Wesley’s, our EM Bound’s, our Leonard Ravenhill’s, our Francis Asbury’s.  We have had our pastors that we elevated and we Arminians have been guilty of lifting up men as well.  Yet modern Arminianism doesn’t have the superstars that Calvinism currently has.  Perhaps that will change but for now, I am grateful that we don’t have superstar pastors.

Scripture does teach us to acknowledge godly men (see 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:7). Biblical leaders are to be servants (Matthew 20:26-27; 1 Peter 5:1-4).  Biblical leaders are not to be superstars.

In Acts 3 Peter the Apostle could have focused the attention on himself after the Lord used him to do a great healing.  Yet Peter cries out in Acts 3:12-16:

12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

The focus was clearly to be on the Lord Jesus.

In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 Paul the Apostle wrote:

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

Who is Apollos?  Who is Paul?  In our day, they would be superstars.  Yet Paul clearly wants the focus to be on God alone.  After all, it is God alone who saves!

I could name many godly men who have spoken into my life.  Some of them are godly Calvinists.  Some of them are godly Arminians.  Yet in the end my focus must be on the Lord.  Flesh will let you down (Jeremiah 17:5).  The closer I have got over the years to other godly men the more I realize that we all need Christ.  Not one of us have arrived.  We all still struggle to be like Christ.  Some of us are further up the road than others and we should rejoice in that but our focus must be on Christ.  Christ must be our gospel.  Pastors and church leaders will never save one soul.  All of them are just like us: sinners redeemed by grace.

If Arminianism does see a future growth, I pray that it will be because we proclaim Christ.  In fact, I don’t even want to make Arminians.  I want to make disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:19).  Arminius needed Jesus just as Calvin did.  Our faith is in Jesus and not in the doctrines of Arminius.  It is saving faith in Jesus that saves (Romans 5:1) and not faith in Arminius.

For my Calvinist friends, I pray that same for you.  I pray that your faith is not in Calvin or Spurgeon or MacArthur but in Jesus alone.  Jesus saves sinners and not Calvinists or Arminians (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Timothy 1:15).  Jesus redeems those who call upon His name (Romans 10:13) and not merely those who use the term Calvinist.

Our faith must not be in men for they will fail.  Our faith must be in Christ alone.  He alone is our mediator before a holy God (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  Christ alone is the one who is praying for me before the Father (Hebrews 7:25) and not Arminius.  When I die, it will not be the names of great church leaders who will rescue me from the wrath to come but the Lord Jesus (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  It is the name of Jesus that alone saves (Acts 4:12).

Let us all pray, both Arminians and Calvinists, for the name of Jesus and His gospel to be proclaimed.  Let us declare that Jesus alone and not Arminius or Calvin or Wesley or Augustine is our Savior.  In the end, every knee will bow to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Psalm 110:1; Philippians 2:5-11).  I will bow my knee now.

Seven Signs of a Caged Stage Calvinist

Let me give you seven signs that you have just encountered a cage stage Calvinist.  For those who don’t know, a cage stage Calvinist actually comes from Calvinists who are being humorous about young Calvinists who are zealous for Calvinism but lack knowledge.  They often are quick to seek to “evangelize” those outside of Calvinism and are consumed with Calvinism.  Oddly, I listened to a Calvinistic podcast the other day and a “seasoned” Calvinist was making cage stage Calvinism statements (such as saying he was lost when he was an Arminian but saved after he became a Calvinist).

So I sat down and decided to just jot down seven signs of a cage stage Calvinist.  And yes, this is satire mixed with truth.

1.  They want to know if you are a Calvinist before finding out if you a disciple of Jesus.

2.  They speak of Calvinism in terms of regeneration such as “When God opened my eyes to the doctrines of grace.”

3.  They may or may not share their faith (depending on where they are at on their studies of predestination) but they are convinced that Calvinism equals the gospel and the gospel equals Calvinism.

4.  All they read is Calvinistic works.

5.  They sum up every theological conversation with Deuteronomy 29:29.

6.  They read and re-read  and then read some more from John 6, John 10, Romans 9, and Ephesians 1.

7.  They refer to Arminians in terms of being lost such as “We are all born Arminians but born again as Calvinists.”  They will seek to convert you if you are not a Calvinist.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/27/2014 at 11:02 AM

Posted in Humor

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An Arminian Response to Mark Dever

Brother William Birch has written an excellent piece on the Arminian response to Mark Dever’s recent lecture he called, “Where did all these Calvinists come from?”  Dever bounces off the rise of Calvinism among the so-called “young, restless, and reformed” generation that has abandoned Arminianism and non-Calvinism for Calvinism.  Dever believe this, of course, is a good thing and a work of the Lord.

William shows that in reality, Calvinism is not held by the majority of Christians nor has Calvinism ever been the major view in Church History.  At times there have been seasons of revival for both Arminians and Calvinists.  I think back to John Wesley and how the Wesleyan revival spread to the United States and sparked a revival of Arminianism that would dominate the American church for the next 100 + years.  Around the turn of the century, liberalism invaded the American Methodist movement and Calvinism saw a rise again.  The Pentecostal movement spread like fire in the mid 1900’s and again Arminianism saw a rise again.  Now we are seeing the rise of Calvinism.  I have several reasons why I believe this to be so and will save them for a later post.

For now, enjoy brother Birch’s article that you can find here.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/24/2013 at 7:30 PM

If I Became A Calvinist…

From time to time I read on a Calvinist blog or a site that the logical end of Arminianism is universalism.  Therefore, so the writers imply, that if they embraced Arminianism then they would likewise embrace universalism since this is the Arminians logical end.

For me, if I were to embrace Calvinism, I would embrace hyper-Calvinism.  Hyper-Calvinism is the logical end.  If you follow TULIP correctly, the logical end has to be hyperism.  I recently even heard a Reformed Bible teacher lecturing on hyper-Calvinism and he lamented that despite the success of the “young, restless, and reformed” movement, he believed that history showed that with the rise of Calvinism also followed hyper-Calvinism as young, zealous Calvinists go beyond the bounds and take Calvinism to places that Calvin never intended the theology to go to (though I think that Calvin was not always consistent).  This Reformed teacher warned that the next movement he saw on the horizon would be a rise in hyper-Calvinism.

Now for those who don’t know what hyper-Calvinism is (as some Arminians tend to think that all Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists), hyperism is the following:

The prefix “hyper” may be used generically to refer to anything that is considered “extreme” or which goes beyond the accepted norm. There is therefore a sense in which one may refer to Calvinistic views regarded as going beyond normal Calvinism as “hyper.” This non-technical use, usually as a pejorative term, has been applied to a variety of theological positions which fall outside mainstream Calvinism:

  • that God is the source of sin and of evil
  • that men have no will of their own, and secondary causes are of no effect
  • that it is wrong to evangelize
  • that God does not command everyone to repent
  • that there is no common grace, i.e. God only cares for his elect and has nothing but hatred for the non-elect.
  • that no government is to be obeyed which does not acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord over it, or that Biblical Law is its source of authority
  • that only Calvinists are Christians

I believe that the following is actually consistent if you logically follow TULIP.  Think about it.  If you hold to total depravity as taught by Calvinism than this means that mankind is dead in their sins like a corpse and even with the grace of God, they cannot respond to His call, they cannot hear His voice.  God must regenerate them first to give them spiritual life so that He can give them the gift of faith.  Now if this is true then it follows that God must do the complete work of regeneration and this means that God is the one who has chosen whom He will save and whom He will damn.  Before you run away from that by saying that God merely passes over the non-elect, even if He does do this, He still has not chosen them and condemns them in theirs sins.  It is not their sins then that condemn them to eternal hell but the sovereign will of God (Romans 9:22).

If God then is the One who elects whom He will save and whom He will condemn, it logically follows that He sent Jesus Christ to bear the sins of the elect.  This limits the atonement to only the elect and none more.  Further, whom Jesus died for on the cross will come to Him by His irresistible grace (John 6:44) and will be saved forever (John 10:27-29).

Now I had a Bible college professor who was a Calvinist and he always said he was a TULIPER.  He added E and R for evangelism and responsibility to avoid hyper-Calvinism.

Yet hyper-Calvinism is very logical.  Very coherent.  Consider evangelism.  Consider just a bit from a hyper-Calvinist blog I follow on Acts 17:30 (a passage that both Arminians and Calvinists use to teach that God commands all to repent):

Acts 17:30 is an exhortation to idolators to turn from their idolatry in light of the holiness and coming judgement of God. “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry… Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious… Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” (vs. 16, 22, 29) The context of Paul’s sermon to the men of Athens does not expound on the glad tidings of the gospel, nor is there a directive command to believe on Christ in the hope of eternal life.

Gospel invitations are particular and not general because Jesus came to call the sick who have need of the Physician. This gospel call excludes the self-righteous. “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17) Jesus only came to preach glad tidings to the meek, the brokenhearted, the captives, them that are bound, and all that mourn… that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” (See Isaiah 61:1-3)

Now what hyper-Calvinists often vent against the most is the idea of “duty-faith.”  This is the teaching that it is the duty of unbelievers to place their faith in Christ for salvation.  They see this as a false teaching and against the gospel of Christ.  For example, this hyper-Calvinist blog post that compares the words of Charles Spurgeon (who preached against hyper-Calvinism) and his predecessor, John Gill found here.  You’ll notice that the writer pits Gill against Spurgeon time and time again.  Gill was against duty-faith.  Gill followed through on his Calvinism and he believed that whom God had elected, they will be saved.  We need not call people to repent.  God will save His elect in His time by His means.

John Gill stated this against preaching a universal gospel call:

To which I answer, that salvation is not offered at all by God, upon any condition whatsoever, to any of the sons of men, no, not to the elect: they are chosen to it, Christ has procured it for them, the gospel publishes and reveals it, and the Spirit of God applies it to them; much less to the non-elect, or to all mankind; and consequently this doctrine, or God according to it, is not chargeable with delusion and insult. When this author goes about to prove any such offers, I shall attend to them; and if he can prove them, I own, I must be obliged to think again.

He followed through.  Gill was consistent.

I applaud those Calvinists who are not consistent.  I do.  I am friends with several brothers like that.  In fact, in many ways they are Arminians in their gospel approach.  They preach as I do, that Christ shed His blood so that men can come and be saved.  They do as I do and preach the gospel to all men (Mark 16:15).  They have no thoughts about whether or not this person is elect or not.  They, like I, leave that to God.  They preach God’s salvation to the lost and allow the Spirit to do His work (John 16:8-11).  Yet they are not consistent.

Now let me state that if Arminianism leads naturally toward universalism, my question is this: which God would you rather serve? The God who loves all and desires all to be saved (or has saved if universalism were correct and the natural end of Arminianism) or the God who condemns people in their sins before time began and offers them no hope at all apart from His sovereign election?

In closing, I believe both hyper-Calvinism and universalism are wrong.  I believe they are extreme views.  If universalism is the logical end of Arminianism then I am happy to be an inconsistent Arminian as I am sure that many of my Calvinist brethren are happy to be inconsistent Calvinists.  Dr. Robertson McQuilkin always exhorted his students to “find the center of biblical tension and stay there.”  I say “amen” to that.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/24/2013 at 10:00 AM

Review of Roger Olson’s Against Calvinism

I have enjoyed the writing of Dr. Roger Olson over the years.  While I don’t always agree with him over at his blog, I do find that I agree with often in his book writings.  It seems to me that in his books, Olson has time to think out his answers and often he comes across as true to the Scriptures despite the fact that he denies inerrancy which I support.  In his book, Against Calvinism, we find that Olson is given a tall order, to talk about why he disagrees with Calvinists and why he believes that Arminianism is the best solution.  Dr. Michael Horton, a personal friend by the way of Dr. Olson, wrote For Calvinism on the other side.

Olson begins his book by laying out just what it is that he opposes.  In this case, he talks about how Calvinism is not easy to define.  While the so-called “young, restless and reformed” crowd finds their cues from the likes of men such as R.C. Sproul and John Piper, Olson points out that Reformed theology is not that easy to pinpoint.  Olson does a good job of showing the inconsistencies among the “new Reformed” in nailing down what it is that they believe.  Many in the YRR crowd want Piper to be the example of Calvinism while others want James White to be the example and still others want Michael Horton or John MacArthur or R.C. Sproul to be the example but nailing down Reformed theology is not that easy.  It’s not all cut and paste here.

What Olson opposes is the doctrine of God among the Reformed theologians.  Olson’s main argument in the book is that the character of God is misunderstood among Calvinists and leads to making God the author of sin.  Olson point-blank says, “If God is the God of Calvinism, I would not want to serve Him.”  Olson says that the God of Calvinism is a God who “renders all things certain whatsoever comes to pass” so that, in the words of Sproul, “there is no rebel molecule in the universe.”  Olson writes, “How can this not lead to the teaching that God is the direct cause of all things including sin.”  Olson points out that some Calvinists have no trouble saying that God is the author of sin including John Piper.  Yet are we prepared to tell the world that our God is a God who kills people in the Holocaust or the Rape of Nanking or the brutal Islamic killings just because He wants to?  Are we prepared to look people in the eyes and tell them that their baby who was born with his mother’s umbilical cord wrapped around his throat that suffocated him was done so by the direct hand of God?  Olson says that this is where a wrong view of the sovereignty of God leads to.  And I believe he is right.

The book goes on to address each of the so-called “five points of Calvinism” and why Olson rejects them.  I concur.  I reject all five points of Calvinism as well.  I too agree that the character of God is the main debate here.  It is not about election or predestination or the atonement.  It is about the nature and character of God.  While Arminianism freely teaches that God is sovereign, we believe that in His sovereignty God has chosen to create mankind in His image and give them limited free will.  The will is bound by sin and apart from His prevenient grace, none could be saved (Ephesians 2:8-9).  We believe that God is all-knowing and all-powerful but we believe that He is Lord of all and that while He does not cause all things, He does foreknow all things and He chooses to allow things to come to pass through man’s free agency.  In time, He will make all things right and end all sin but for now, our sovereign God allows things to come to pass and for things to continue on all while the grace of God is saving sinners who believe the gospel (Romans 10:13).

Overall, this is a good book.  Some have said that if you have read Dr. Olson’s book, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities then you’ve read Against Calvinism.  I suppose there are some things repeated here that were in his first book on Arminian theology but I believe that Arminians will find a good resource here for providing biblical and logical arguments for our view of God and why we oppose Calvinism in the first place.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/19/2012 at 11:53 AM

Who is the Blame for the Rise in Calvinism?

I have been reading Dr. Roger Olson’s book Against Calvinism and in the book he opens up by talking about the rise in Calvinism as of late.  Olson points to Calvinist leaders such as John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Paul Washer, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, and Michael Horton as leading the rise in a more militant form of Calvinism.  The so-called “young, restless, and reformed” (YRR) crowd is certainly on the rise.  Olson believes that several factors play into this.  First, Olson points to the expansion of teaching ministries such as MacArthur or Sproul that are now being broadcasted all over the world.  This has in turn led to people not just becoming Christians (which we praise God for) but also becoming Calvinists.  Secondly, the number of books that are being published by Calvinists is mind-boggling.  MacArthur, Piper, James White, and Sproul alone could fill a room with their books.  They are publishing Calvinist book at a rate that Arminians are not.  Third, the deadness of the evangelical church and for that matter, Arminian churches as well has led people who are hungry for truth to embrace Calvinism as Calvinistic churches are boldly preaching Calvinism and doctrine in general.

That last point is the one I want to address here.  I believe the greatest reason that Calvinism has seen a rise in the past few years is the deadness of the Arminian church.  How many Arminian churches have given way to pragmatism?  How many historic Arminian churches such as the Assemblies of God, the Church of the Nazarene, or even the conservative Methodist churches have turned to “seeker church” and postmodern forms of “doing” church and have cast aside sound doctrine?  How many people sitting in Arminian churches can articulate their faith?  So few can despite 1 Peter 3:15.  So few Bible teachers in Arminian churches are teaching sound doctrine.  So few quote Arminius.  So few quote great Arminian theologians such as Richard Watson, John Wesley, John Fletcher, or Adam Clarke.  So few know the proud history of the Arminian church that led the Arminian church to dominate the Western Church for nearly 200 years.  So few know the stories of great Arminian missionaries such as Francis Asbury who rode up and down the United States seeking to preach the gospel to those in the wilderness and spiritual darkness.

Where are the great Arminians who will lead the Arminian church?  Where are the great Arminian theologians who embrace the Word of God as inerrant and infallible and will lead the Arminian church to study the Bible and proclaim its truths to the nation?  Where are the great Arminian preachers such as E.M. Bounds, A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, Samuel Chadwick, or even D.L. Moody?  Where are the fired up Arminians who love God, love His Son, love His Word, and will sacrifice all to see souls set free from sin through the gospel?  Where are the Asburys?  Where are the Clarkes?  Where are the Wesleys?

The reality is that the blame for the rise in the YRR movement is at the feet of us Arminians.  We have failed to disciple our people.  While Calvinists gather in their churches to pray, worship, and study the great doctrines of the faith including Calvinism, we Arminians are too busy preaching goofy sermon series’ on “is there an app for that.”  Calvinists are passionate about Calvinism while Arminians seem to be passionate about building programs and pointless endeavors.  Where is theology being preached and taught?  Sadly, while Calvinists get the credit for a David Platt; Arminians get the credit for a Joel Osteen (despite the obvious that he is not an Arminian but a semi-Pelagian as is most of the evangelical church).

I ask you to pray with me for the Lord to change the Arminian church.  For the sake of the gospel, we need a revival of sound doctrine!  How can we claim to follow Jesus if we fail to proclaim Him theologically (John 8:31-32)?  How can we point people to the salvation of our God if we don’t even know our God (John 17:3)?  We must pray for the Holy Spirit to put it in the hearts of Arminian Bible teachers to boldly preach doctrine and avoid goofy sermons that are meant to entertain and not edify or instruct.  We need a touch from God.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/29/2011 at 6:19 PM

Posted in church

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