Sunday, July 8, 2007

Why I am not a Calvinist: Introduction

Just the other day I decided to began reading the book, Why I am not a Calvinist, written by two professors of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. Perhaps by reading this book, I will also see through the lenses of men who have had an influence on Exist Dissolve, since that is where he went to school.

I must begin by stating that by just reading the introduction of the book, I have a greater respect for these two men than most critics of Reformed Theology. Of course, their position is going to be against Calvinism, but there are a few statements that are made in the introduction that give Jerry Walls and Joseph Dongell a better rating than most critics.

They have said these things:

We have an enormous respect and appreciation for Calvin and the heritage he defined and engendered. Calvinism has for centuries represented a vital tradition of piety that is intellectual and morally serious. Calvinists have set a standard for scholarship and cultural engagement that evangelicals of other traditions can readily admire and emulate.

Moreover, many Calvinists have been zealous evangelists and missionaries and have contributed powerfully to the cause of winning the lost for Christ. In their passion for the glory of God, Calvinists have played a leading role in the renewal of worship in this generation.


This was a better change of place than, "Evangelical Calvinism is an Oxymoron," or "Calvinism kills evangelism." I am thankful that these men have recognized this important fact.

Also, when discussing the "Reformed Resurgence" as I like to call it, these men say this:

Part of Calvinism's attraction is surely that it represents a stark alternative to the superficial, seeker-sensitive theology that predominates in many churches in America. In such churches, God is often reduced to a "cosmic bellhop" whose only concern is to meet whatever needs contemporary people feel in their lives.


Surely, this is one thing that has contributed to the reformed resurgence, and I can agree with the authors.

Speaking of Calvinism, these men also say:

Calvinism is, if it is anything, serious about doctrine, passionate about the Bible, and zealous for the glory of God.

The introduction to this book has been by far the most enjoyable because of the respectable way that the represent the tradition of reformed thought. However, these critics are far from escaping critique themselves.

For the most part, these men accuarately described the five points of Calvinism. My one problem is when they speak of Irresistable Grace. Given the doctrines of unconditional election and limited atonement are true:

Then it follows naturally that the elect will not be able to resist God's Sovereign choice to save them. Those who are elect cannot fail to respond positively to God's grace.


While there is nothing in this quote that I disagree with, I would like to say that the irresistible grace does not hinge on man's ability or inability, but on man's desire. The fact that the elect are not able to choose otherwise does not matter. The don't want to choose otherwise. The don't desire to reject Christ once they have been effectually called of the Holy Spirit. They are so effectually drawn, the humbly submit to the Lordship of Christ.

Another thing I would like to comment on is their position on the atonement:

God's grace enables and encourages a positive saving response for everyone, but it does not determine a saving response for anyone.


So, God does not command anything, he just encourages. So, the Sovereign King of the universe is reduced to a divine encourager, like a little league baseball coach, cheering on humanity to make the right choice. Yeah, sure...whatever.

Listen to this, who does this sound like:

The reality is that Calvinists no less than Arminians rely on controversial philosophical judgments and assumptions. When this is not understood, contested philosophical judgments are sometimes passed off as simple biblical truth. But the less aware we are of our philosophical assumptions, the more they control our thinking.


Hmm.....I believe I know someone who has practically repeated this word for word. Perhaps this is true, or perhaps the "contested philosophical judgments are actually simple biblical truth. If so, we must submit to it, and not rebel against it with our philosophical biases.

They state their purpose in writing on page 8:

In the chapters that will follow, we will argue that Calvinism distorts the biblical picture of God and fails in other crucial ways that show its inadequacy as a theological system.


This should be good. I am ready to see their argument. Bring it on!!

13 comments:

Rhett said...

I've gotta read that book sometime. They sell it at Monergism:

http://www.monergismbooks.com/calvinist32491.html

Scribe said...

Listen to this, who does this sound like:


The reality is that Calvinists no less than Arminians rely on controversial philosophical judgments and assumptions. When this is not understood, contested philosophical judgments are sometimes passed off as simple biblical truth. But the less aware we are of our philosophical assumptions, the more they control our thinking.


Hmm...sounds like someone with an existing deviance...

Gojira said...

"Hmm...sounds like someone with an existing deviance..."

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!

That was a good one.

Scribe said...

Gojira,

I was changing my son's diaper when I thought about that one...j/k!

Exist~Dissolve said...

Hmm...sounds like someone with an existing deviance...

Or like common sense.

Rhett said...

I'm quite happy with my philosophical assumptions... They coincide with the Scripture quite nicely! :)

Exist~Dissolve said...

I'm quite happy with my philosophical assumptions... They coincide with the Scripture quite nicely! :)

Yes, none other is possible, given that your determination of epistemological coincidence with Scripture has been determined by these same philosophical presuppositions.

Good show.

Scribe said...

Or like common sense.

Nah, the former seems more plausible...

Rhett said...

"Yes, none other is possible, given that your determination of epistemological coincidence with Scripture has been determined by these same philosophical presuppositions."

And I'm sure you are totally free of any and all philosophical presuppositions, right?

Actually, Exist, when the Bible says that God "chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, (Eph 1:4,5)" I just take it at face value...

I don't sit around try to figure out a way to use finite human philosophy worm out of it's obvious implications...

Exist~Dissolve said...

And I'm sure you are totally free of any and all philosophical presuppositions, right?

Of course not. I have been completely perspicuous from moment one that I am influenced by particularly strong presuppositions. Therefore, my point is not that one should try to avoid them (which is categorically impossible), but rather that one should be completely forthright about them, being as self-critical as possible in order to avoid devolving into the self-satisfied comfortableness of all conclusions "coincidentally" matching the starting presuppositions.

Actually, Exist, when the Bible says that God "chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, (Eph 1:4,5)" I just take it at face value...

But which face? To take something at "face value" requires just as much infusion of presuppositional thought as does the exhaustive "exegesis." In fact, the former is more dangerous because the "face value" often has far too familiar of a face as one sees therein the reflection of that which one is looking to find.

I don't sit around try to figure out a way to use finite human philosophy worm out of it's obvious implications...

Yes, this is why Calvinism will never be philosophically or theologically consistent. Instead of trying to patch the necessary holes of its "obvious implications," it retreats into harsh rhetoric, circular appeals to its absurdly formulated canons, and a self-justified hermeneutic which finds in Scripture a very keen weapon for furthering its philosophical programme.

Exist~Dissolve said...

Nah, the former seems more plausible...

Yes, just like the God of Reformed theology "seems" sovereign. Unfortunately, the logical conclusion negates such a reality from attaining.

Rhett said...

"I have been completely perspicuous from moment one that I am influenced by particularly strong presuppositions."

Well then I guess we're even here. And seeing how neither one of us will come to the point of embracing the other's presuppositions; your simply wasting your time antagonizing me about it.

Kat said...

LOL LOL LOL LOL

"God's grace enables and encourages a positive saving response for everyone, but it does not determine a saving response for anyone.
So, God does not command anything, he just encourages. So, the Sovereign King of the universe is reduced to a divine encourager, like a little league baseball coach, cheering on humanity to make the right choice. Yeah, sure...whatever."

Sorry...I just think that was Totally HILARIOUS! LOL