My heart is heavy within me. My soul is vexed. Oh, that the loftiness of my Calvinistic brothers and sisters would be humbled. Oh, that they would represent the spirit which our theology demands. But such is not often found.

I have written on this before, but I feel I must lodge my complaint once again.

I see less Christ-like character in many Calvinistic brethren than I do in just about any other tradition in Christianity.

Maybe it is the internet. Yeah, that must be it. The “Internet Calvinists.” The more I read online, the more my countenance is lowered in shame. I don’t find this type of stuff anywhere else. Who are these “Internet Calvinists”? They need to calm down.

Quick notice: Calvinists: Don’t send me any more emails talking about the “heresy” of Arminianism. I don’t get excited. Don’t forward me any more videos that dramatize the departure of Arminian theology. I won’t ride that bus. If you do, with sadness, I will just delete them. Not because of the message telling me “Ten Reasons Arminians Have a Different Gospel,” but because the message you give when you forward this kind of stuff.

Calm down. Back up. Take ten. Find an Arminian friend and see if they don’t love the same Lord.

“Are you saying, Michael, that the distinctions don’t matter? Are you saying that we should just focus on other things and act apathetic toward these issues?” Not at all. Stay passionate. I will. But there is a difference between the passionate disagreement among brothers and the same among enemies.

Two of my best friends growing up were Jason and Jerrett (they still are). They are twins. When we were kids, all of us guys used to love to watch these two fight (sadistic, I know). They would get into these fist fights that would last for 30 minutes at a time. We would watch cheering them on. Once, one of us did something really stupid. The fight had gotten a little out of control so one of us jumped in to try to break it up. You know what happened? They both turned on us! As mad as they might be at each other, they were not about to let the other get into danger from anyone other than themselves!

It was fun. But the point is that in the end their fights weren’t going to separate the two – ever! They were brothers and nothing could change their loyalty. They would never really hurt each other because their fights had a perspective and a respect that you could misunderstand only to your own peril.

Calvinists, Arminians are our brothers. When we fight, let us treat them as brothers, not like terrorists from another country.

Are Arminians wrong? This is what we believe, but the seriousness of their departure should not be overstated. We treat each other with great respect, knowing their love for Christ and the image of God they bear.

James 3:8-11
“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?”

The rhetoric that is out there is embarrassing. I am sick of having to explain over and over again what Calvinism is not before I get to what it is. “No, we are not arrogant.” (At least we are not supposed to be.) “No we don’t think we are better than others.” (How could we? Don’t we promote the doctrines of grace? Do we even know what grace means?) And, most importantly, “No, we don’t think Arminians are going to hell.” If you do, then you are way out of line.

With all our differences, don’t forget how much Calvinist and Arminians agree upon. If Christ is at the center of your theology, you will know what I am talking about. If Calvin is your hub, then, I must say, I have less in common with you than I do them.

I know, I know: there are plenty of Arminians out there who are on a crusade to boil us in oil. I am not worried about that right now. I am worried about us.

I have also noticed lately that some of the most (formally) gracious Arminians are beginning to change, showing a deep antagonism for those whom they have tried to respect. I see them lashing out uncharacteristically. I will not name any names, but I have three of these gentlemen in mind. I have to wonder, though, whether we are to blame for this. Can we be held accountable due to our arrogance and damning rhetoric? We will see.

Calvinists, let’s act according to what we believe. Let’s calm down.

(Where did this come from? Just got another one of those emails.)

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C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger.

Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminar (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I’m a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminar (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    132 replies to "Calvinists, Let's Calm Down"

    • Leslie

      I think I get it: Humility is the key!

    • Lisa Robinson

      Leslie, absolutely. I think it was S. Lewis Johnson that said something to the affect of whether you believe in unconditional election or conditional election, it will not change who will eventually come to Christ.

    • Michael

      I am strongly in the historical Arminian camp. I find this blog refreshing and is quite frankly it is my favorite blog to read because it is the only Calvinist blog I feel I can read without being told I’m going to hell or deceived by the devil, etc. I may disagree with you on Calvinism, but I tend to agree with 95% of the rest of the stuff you write. I love the concern for the truth and orthodoxy that you have without having to bash people over the head. My problem has never been with Calvinism, but I have a deep problem with some of those who claim to represent Calvinism or broader Reformed Theology and the statements and actions they take. I’ve basically been told by some people the John MacArthur is the pinnacle of Christianity and if you don’t agree with him your in danger of hell. This is absurd.

      I think part of the reason (some) Arminian’s are beginning to lash out is that Calvinists have been so loud with their bullhorns and websites coming down hard on anyone who disagrees with them. We are all human and tolerance and patience has a limit with everyone. I think there is also this reaction to say “they don’t represent me” to those who are outside the faith. It may not be proper, it may not be Christlike, it may not be done in a spirit of brotherhood (although its really hard to treat as a brother someone who considers you a heretic damned to hell), but it is human. I feel it myself. Its like the kid who is constantly picked on on the playground and finally cold clocks the bully.

    • Stan Hankins

      The main difference between Bible believers and Arminians is that Bible believers, ( sometimes referred to as Calvinists) believe in the sovereignty of God, and arminians hope in luck or mans ability. Far from hating these people I feel extrememly sorry for them. Let me give you an example. For bible believing Christians, when hard times come or a tragedy strikes, we have a sure word from God that He is in full control. ( Read the first chapter of Job) But when the same thing happens to arminians who doubt that God is in control, they must wonder, “What have I done wrong? Have I lost my salvation? Has God forgotten me or am I just having a run of bad luck? Oh woe is me!! That is a horrible way to live.
      Lets stop calling bible believers Calvinists and just say that they believe what God says.

      ” God’s favorite doctrine is His sovereignty, and if you were God, it would be your favorite too”
      J.I. Packer

      • Lance

        Did you not read the article?

    • Stan Hankins

      One more thing. Have you guys ever heard this from an arminian?

      “Oh, you guys think “once saved always saved” You think you can just go out and do anything you want!!

      I have found arminians to be far more argumentive than bible believers.

    • Geoff

      Stan, I would have to disagree with you. Once saved always saved does not entail running out and doing whatever you want. If you believe in once saved always saved you can just as well believe that living obediently to God’s will is a result and witness of the very fact that you are saved. Basically the once saved always saved mentality will produce good works that God purposes for those that have been bought with a price and are no longer their own. Once saved always saved love God by showing it in obedience to Him for saving them for eternity. Do Calvinists and Arminians still sin? Yes, because even though we are both saved, if we love Jesus we exist in “bodies of death” until we get our new ones. I for one can’t wait to get my new one so that I will no longer struggle with the burden of sin and it’s war with my spirit. God bless ya brotherman. =)

    • Lisa Robinson

      Stan, no offense, but I think its statements like that get those in the Arminian camp riled and quite frankly demonstrate the type of animosity that CMP is referencing. Arminians are indeed Bible believers and place trust in God just as much as a Calvinist. Their difference in interpretation leads to how much was caused by God. And the statement spouted by an Arminian “once saved always saved means you can do what you want” is not indicative of an informed Arminian but an immature and Biblically illiterate saint who takes the Arminian position to extremes.

      Personally, I have found hostility in both camps, which is not an Arminian vs. Calvinist thing but a sin thing. I think it’s interesting when each are intent on telling the other that they are not being Biblically correct, when both are not by not demonstrating love towards one another.

    • terri

      Stan,

      I think you’ve got it backwards…wouldn’t a Calvinist wonder why God had purposely caused something terrible to happen to them, and thereby question why God was displeased with them?

      I’d much rather be Arminian and believe that God doesn’t purpose bad things to happen, but gives me strength to come through those bad things.

      It’s all in how you’re looking at it.

    • Martin Pitcher

      Thank you Michael. I will even add a hearty amen to the post. I would recommend that folks read The Forgotten Spurgeon. It will give they some insight into the history of this debate. I deal with both camps frequently and have developed some life-long friendships with both. It isn’t that hard.

    • EricW

      I’m not sure that Arminians will appreciate or welcome pity and condescension and stereotyping and generalizing and being regarded as Bible-disbelievers any more than the arrogrance and hatefulness CMP is complaining about.

    • Jonathan

      Re: Stan’s comments

      Lisa has already pointed out the danger of labeling one’s own position the “biblical” one, which can hardly fail to be perceived as arrogance by someone who has diligently and prayerfully studied the Word of God and arrived at a different conclusion.

      In recent years, I have become much more circumspect in making statements about what “real Christians” or “Bible-believing Christians” believe. Some doctrines are worthy of that sort of statement (e.g., the existence of God, the divinity of Christ, the resurrection), but many others are not.

      I think people make such statements out of a desire to motivate belief in these doctrines, with the idea apparently being that if one is told “Biblical Christians must believe X”, that the desire to be a “Biblical Christian” will overcome lack of belief in X. But I think that is a dangerous approach with much potential to backfire.

      I see this especially in regards to our children. If we make the equation that “real Christians” believe X, and one day my daughter finds herself incapable of believing X, I think she will be very likely to conclude “I cannot (or do not) believe X, therefore, I am not a Christian.”

      (I wonder how much of the much-discussed propensity for young people raised in Christian homes to fall away from faith when they leave home is due to this effect.)

      Let us be very careful, then, to only treat as essential those things which truly are essential. Let each be convinced in his or her mind of doctrines which do not fall into that category, but let us not insult or despise those who have come to a different conclusion.

    • EricW

      This talk about what the Bible teaches and how you can’t be a real Christian unless you believe this, etc., reminds me of the scene in The Frisco Kid between Gene Wilder (Avram the rabbi) and the Indian Chief re: the Indians’ need for rain:

      Chief Gray Cloud: [in reference to Avram’s god] What does he do?

      Avram: He… He can do anything!

      Chief Gray Cloud: Then why can’t he make rain?

      Avram: Because he doesn’t make rain. He gives us strength when we’re suffering. He gives us compassion when all that we feel is hatred. He gives us courage when we’re searching around blindly like little mice in the darkness… but He does not make rain!

      [Thunder and lightning begin, followed by a downpour]

      Avram: Of course… sometimes, just like that, he’ll change His mind.

    • Barrett

      Thanks Michael. As one who was there at a time, I have had to reevaluate my purpose for arguing. Still not got it down well, but it’s better.

      Re: your illustration of the two brothers, you may appreciate this tie-in. I immediately thought of Wolverine – having finally seen it last night – when Logan was fighting Wade. He’s about to be decapitated, then he’s rescued by Victor. Victor’s line is great, something along the lines of “No one is allowed to kill you but me.” Probably not the best application, but it does kinda illustrate what you said (plus, it ties in comics, so it automatically is better than a real life illustration!)

      Thanks for your ministry.

    • dac

      But heretics need to be burned! Right?

      That Love thing – vastly overrated. Doesn’t apply when dealing with anyone who disagrees with me down to the last jot and tittle.

      Best to set them on fire.

    • Jonathan

      As Emo Phillips said:

      I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said “Stop! don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!” He said, “Like what?” I said, “Well…are you religious or atheist?” He said, “Religious.” I said, “Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?” He said, “Christian.” I said, “Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me too! Are you episcopalian or baptist?” He said, “Baptist!” I said,”Wow! Me too! Are you baptist church of god or baptist church of the lord?” He said, “Baptist church of god!” I said, “Me too! Are you original baptist church of god, or are you reformed baptist church of god?” He said,”Reformed Baptist church of god!” I said, “Me too! Are you reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic scum”, and pushed him off.

    • Wonders for Oyarsa

      Hi Michael,

      I suppose you can count me as one of those “arminains” (are high-church Anglicans, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox “arminian” by the way?) becoming more and more antagonistic, thanks largely to interacting with Calvinists on the internet. It’s frustrating to me, in that I don’t WANT to loathe Calvinism – I spend my formative years at a PCA school growing up, and the best man at my wedding is a Calvinist.

      I do think there is a good bit of variation within Calvinism. There is some Calvinism that is a little more conversant with the Church Fathers and more grounded in Christian tradition. For instance, the WCF made it clear that God’s ordaining all that comes to pass must not imply that he is the author of sin – but some Calvinists seem to have no trouble essentially saying that he is. There is a consistency that points in the direction of God’s glory as contingent on the existence of evil, or of evil flowing from the wellspring of God’s attributes – and there is a sober and grounded theological instinct that causes some to reign this in. If a simple consistency leads to blasphemy, some of the older Calvinists seemed to have enough sense to cling rather to mystery.

      And here, Michael, I want to say what is for me the elephant in the living room. Forgive me for my polemic impertinence. But one of the core theological principles is that we become like what we worship. If one worships a God whose sovereign exercise of will is the most important thing about him, to whom any means (including evil) are justified for the sake of his own glory, why does it surprise you that the person becomes domineering, bombastic, implacably argumentative, and the sort for whom no stick is too bad to beat up his opponent? It seems to me precisely where there are restraints on some of these theological tendencies toward evil and the use of suffering, that there is a tendency toward more civility.

    • This is why I have come to realise that discussions on this issue always lead one of two brick walls:

      (1) Either the person who is a Calvinist is looking for a fight and so embitters the Arminan/non-Calvinist and dialogue ends up like a car crash e.g. “You believe you saved yourself, etc.”

      (2) …or the Arminian/non-Calvinist comes looking for an intellectual brawl, says things to intentionally provoke a response and then the conversation still ends up like a car crash

      Should we discuss these things? I love to! But maybe – just maybe – there are practical things we can do when we do.

      1. Know the viewpoint of the other side
      2. Understand that you will never truly convince the other person first time round
      3. Keep it Scriptural
      4. “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”

      I might add, in conclusion, that such fighting feeds those who are anti-theological education, anti-teaching hermeneutics, etc. since they point and say, “See all of that bull? That’s why theology and doctrine doesn’t matter!”, which itself is a foolish and speculative notion which doesn’t need any more impetus in modern evan-jelly-calism.

    • CMWoodall

      Our beloved Dr. John D. Hannah always said that there is often more common grace in unbelievers than special grace in believers.

      I am certain he was thinking of the internet-tulip-lapsarians.

    • Kara Kittle

      Douglas,
      Then there are those like me who are not anti-intellectual or ant-theological or even anti-hermeneutic. What I myself am is someone who believes if you hold to a certain school of thought, investigate it thoroughly before presenting it. And don’t present it with the attitude you are going to be untouched by people who don’t agree.

      If the Bible says we are always to have a quick answer for the hope that lies within it, that means when we are asked we have that answer. We are going to be accountable for every idle word.

      But think of this, if some people can’t handle disagreements with Arminians or Calvinists for that matter, how are they going to handle it when a muslim demands from them the proof of why they believe. You can’t just say because some man a long time told you so, you have to know why today you believe it. And from the many discussions I have had with muslims, Jews and atheists, I can say that they don’t care about John Calvin or Zwingli or any other church leader. What they do care about is how do you justify your belief today.

      That is why I think theology needs to be a study of the Bible, pure and simple, not doctrinal ideas thrown in, because then it no longer becomes theology, it becomes church doctrine.

      But we must get the most fundamental knowledge and that is the practical application of what we have learned. We don’t just read to know, we read to live.

    • Vance

      “Are you saying, Michael, that the distinctions don’t matter?”

      I know you answer that “no”, believing that the distinctions do matter, but I would say they do not.

      At least not with anything like the passion even you still endorse (and you are the most sensible Calvinist I have met). As you say, Arminians are going to heaven. That is the end game, the final result, the Big Issue.

      With that perspective, all of this is angels on the heads of pins stuff. We are ultimately disputing a very tiny, esoteric bit of “how God works” and I can guarantee one very simple truth:

      We ALL have it wrong. Period. End of story.

      We are trying to describe “God Things” with pathetic, human words and concepts and the absolute BEST we can hope for is to come up with a conceptual analogy that vaguely resembles what REALLY happens when God saves us.

      So, to argue which of our WRONG theories is more like what really happens is just silly. To be dogmatic about it is hubristic. To belittle and attack others about it is the absolute SOUL of un-Christlike behavior.

      Rant off.

    • C Michael Patton

      Vance, I would say that Christianity is about more than just getting to heaven.

      Also, I would say that distinctions matter to the degree that the many many biblical passages and Apostolic testimony concerning these issues matter. We have to hold them to their relative importance, which, while significant, do not compare to other issues.

    • C Michael Patton

      BTW: The bible does not mention anything about angels on the head of a pin, but it does say quit a bit about the issues involved here. 🙂

    • Vance

      “BTW: The bible does not mention anything about angels on the head of a pin, but it does say quit a bit about the issues involved here.”

      Very true, but it does not say any of it clearly enough to be sufficiently confident for “passion”. We have to recognize and start from the point that both positions are almost assuredly wrong, and at best, one is slightly LESS WRONG than the other.

      And, yes, there is much more than getting to heaven, but think about it. The Calvinist/Arminian debate is about HOW, exactly, God handles the salvation process. So, it is about the *process* of salvation, and yet we all agree that both Arminians and Calvinists are saved! The debate is over the mechanics of a process when we all agree about the end product of that process, which makes very little sense to me.

      It is an academic discussion at best.

      There are, indeed, real issues about Christian living, worshiping God and handling our duties while here on earth, to be sure. But I don’t see those issues really at odds between Arminians and Calvinists (unless you want to drag in the strawman extremists).

    • Garrett

      I couldn’t agree more with what Michael is saying, more times than I’d like to recall I have had to take a break from talking with a fellow Christian because they had decided they had discovered The Truth concerning some secondary issue and had discovered that I did not agree with them. It pains me when fellowship is lost because we can’t maintain civility among ourselves, how then can we reach the lost?

    • Kara,

      I wasn’t writing about you. I grew up Charismatic – and not the JP Moreland/Wayne Grudem/Craig Keener type, but the ones who were anti-doctrine, never discussed these issues and it shipwrecked my faith when I came into contact with JWs, Mormons, etc. When I speak of anti-theology, anti-doctrinal people, I am speaking from the perspective I grew up in.

      God used several theologically astute people – including the TTP program – to straighten me out and help me rediscover the true God of the Bible and to discover that when He spoke in His Word, he didn’t muffle them – he wanted to be understood.

    • Kara Kittle

      Douglas,
      I don’t even know Wayne Grudem or Craig Keener..lol. I never read anything by those men. I think I have some other books but they never held my interest.

    • Craig S. Keener wrote one of the finest background commentaries on the New Testament in The Bible Background Commentary: The New Testament. Wayne Grudem has written what is arguably one of the best texts on Bible doctrine in the last 100 years – and both of them are Charismatics and in Grudem’s case, he argues flat out for the Charismatic movement in what I consider to be the most cordial yet firm approach ever.

      I cite them in distinction to those who seem to think that doctrine is pure evil and to be avoided like the plague.

    • […] ‘Oh, that the loftiness of my Calvinistic brothers and sisters would be humbled’ C. Michael Patton […]

    • Chris Skiles

      Vance, I definitely have strong differnces with you on some of the ponts that you made, however, I’m responding to something you said that was really profound and I DO agree with you on this. When you said,
      ” We are trying to describe “God Things” with pathetic, human words and concepts and the absolute BEST we can hope for is to come up with a conceptual analogy that vaguely resembles what REALLY happens when God saves us.”

      I think this should humble both Calvinists (myself) and Arminians when we discuss these issues regarding the doctrine of Election.

      In regards to the arrogance of many Calvinists, It simply is unacceptable. Those of us who hold to Calvinist views should be the last ones to be arrogant.

      The Bible does gives us some clues as to how this all works and yet when we try to super disect all of the details that I believe are just not clearly explained in scripture(think lapsarianism–supra at el)we simply begin to speculate and that can be very dangerous.

    • Vance

      Chris, CMP will tell you upon long acquaintance that the one thing I am dogmatic about is NOT being dogmatic! :0) Or, better, the areas upon which I think dogmatism is called for is a much smaller circle on the target.

      I do agree that the Bible gives us clues about some things and very clear answers about other things and we *should* be attempting to puzzle out the difficult issues. But when we are puzzling out those things which God chose to present with some obscurity (and the Calvinist/Arminian issues I believe fall into this category), I think we need to hold our opinions loosely and tentatively.

      God, for some reason, chose to leave much to discuss and think about. If you sat Paul and James down in a room while they were both on earth and asked them to discuss these (and other) issues, they would be going round and round and I believe they would end up having to “agree to disagree”. Of course, knowing Paul, he would be convinced HE was right! :0)

      And they were the one’s given the job of writing this stuff down!

    • Robert Jimenez

      Michael,

      I am glad that you wrote this. I use your material to teach the theology courses at my church and I have been teaching through Salvation this semester. Now I am an Arminian and a Charismatic as you well know, and that is the position of my church. I have had to stop and spend further time explaining what we mean by faith, and spend more time helping our students properly understand our position, but I have made every effort to present the Calvinist position as you teach it in your power point. As I did not want to misrepresent your views.

      I also make it clear that I don’t have a bone to pick with any Calvinist, and I make it clear to the class that the material that we use for all of our theology courses were written by a Calvinist. I tell them that you are a fine example of one and consider you a brother and friend. I let them know how you have influenced my thinking to teach theology in an Irenic manner. As a matter of fact I plan on reading to my class this recent posting next time we meet.

      We are Christians first, we would all benefit to remind ourselves of what Paul wrote in Philippians chapter 2 “…have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had…” Sometime we just think to highly of ourselves and our conclusions. We are family, like it or not. I heard a preacher once say, “you can pick and choose your friends but you are stuck with your family”

    • Lisa Robinson

      Doug, the one thing I absolutely love about Grudem’s book is his balance and fairness on divergent positions. He presents it in a way that really makes you examine the passages for yourself and see where you fall. Nor does he set up a strawman to affirm his positions. You may not agree with all of his conclusions (I don’t), but he does set up the process for considering different positions quite nicely. I think we all can learn from his treatment on how to consider opposing viewpoints.

    • I cut my teeth on reading systematic theology with Grudem and I am very thankful I did.

    • Wm Tanksley

      Mr. Patton, thank you for the regular reminders. I need them.

    • Robert Jimenez

      Lisa, I know that you are conversing with Doug, but I think that Grudem is not as balanced as it seems. I read and reread his position on Salvation and although he is not mean spirited, or does not make any false accusations towards those of Arminian persuasion. I find his position on Salvation highly Calvinistic, and barely makes a good argument for Arminism.

      If I were new to the topic I would have walked away from his book thinking that Calvinism was the correct position, one would not walk away thinking otherwise. I don’t think that is being fair and balance of divergent positions.

      The book that I have read so far that presents various opposing theological positions, in way that all divergent positions are presented fair and balanced with some actual passion is by none other than Gregory Boyd “Across the Spectrum, understanding issues in Evangelical Theology“. I only wish Grudem’s book was written a similar fashion. I wish there were more books like this.

      BTW: I do use Grudem’s book as our text book for the theology courses that I teach at my church.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Robert, thanks for that. I think I was looking at it more from a cessationist vs. continuationist perspective than that of soteriology. I was particularly thinking of his chapter on Baptism In and Filling with the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you are correct on the other.

      I’ll definitely check out that book you recommended. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was on the suggested reading list for my Intro to Theology class last fall.

    • mbaker

      Lisa,

      The only problem with Boyd’s book is that he is an admitted Open Theist. So I would urge caution in that respect alone.

    • Robert Jimenez

      mbaker, and why is that a problem? Have you even read the book? That is one of the most narrow minded remarks I have read at this blog in a long time.

      I think she is a big girl and intelligent enough to respect Boyd and still respectfully disagree with him on his particular view.

    • mbaker

      Robert,

      Sorry you consider me narrow minded for stating a known fact about Gregory Boyd. Nevertheless, from those who come from a Calvinist perspective, (which I don’t), his belief would be on the extreme opposite of the spectrum. Open Theists do not believe in the sovereignty of God regarding election, or in His fully knowing the future.

      I am quite familiar with Dr. Boyd’s teachings, as I have personally joined in dialogue with him regarding them directly on another blog. That is the basis from which I form my own opinion.

      If you still wish to take that as narrow minded, please feel free.

    • Robert Jimenez

      mbaker,

      I consider that you stating “…I would urge caution” as being narrow minded. Why? So if one’s belief’s are different that is reason to urge caution? Should I also caution Lisa to not read N.T. Wright because he does not write from a Calvinist perspective? I just found your “I would be caution” statement a bit odd, and the only way to describe it was “narrow minded”.

      My intent was not to offend, just found it odd that one would say that. I have not read Boyd’s books on Open Theism (and I am well aware of his position) but I have read Sanders (The God who Risks), and I would not urge anyone to be caution regarding his books, especially someone like Lisa (have you read her stuff? she is pretty sharp). Sanders has a lot of great things to say, and if one is convince by his presentation then so be it.

      Why should I take any caution about reading and understanding various positions? Might I dare be convinced otherwise? I read and love the stuff that CMP writes, but he has failed to convince me of being a Calvinist? Should I warn my students not to visit his site, and to take caution because he is not Arminian?

      Those sorts of statements just don’t sit well with me. But hey you can continue to caution anyone you like regarding Boyd. I do apologize, but I just don’t get it. Peace.

    • mbaker

      Robert,

      I was simply expressing an opinion based on what I know of Dr. Boyd’s theolgocial beliefs, which if you know anything at all about him, you know that they are not considered orthodox by most theologians.

      I think anytime you jump on someone and call them narrow minded without first finding out the basis for their beliefs, you are guilty of the same thing.

      However, I take no offense, simply because there was none intended on my part.

      I would just say that If you have not read Dr. Boyd’s books on Open Theism, I would suggest you do before recommending any of his other works.

      God bless.

    • Robert Jimenez

      mbaker, I have read plenty of Boyd’s works on his blog and I am well acquainted with his position. Knowing what i know about Dr. Boyd, I have no problems recommending any of his books. Anyhow, it feels like there is no further point in this dialog.

      What was this original posting about? Oh yeah “I see less Christ-like character in many Calvinistic brethren than I do in just about any other tradition in Christianity.” Ok, I better ease up and be Christ like, I do apologize if I offended you as that was not my intent, just a misunderstanding on my behalf. Peace.

    • cheryl u

      I would like to inject my two cents worth into this conversation. To me it only seems reasonable that when a book is recommended that is written by someone that it is not considered orthodox to “urge caution”. Lisa may not need that word of caution. But on an open blog like this, who knows who may be reading it that would need not know Dr. Boyd’s position on open theism or understand that it is not considered orthodox by most.

      When we are warned over and over in Scripture about the importance of having correct doctrine, it seems irresponsible to me to wholeheartedly recommend the book of someone that is believed to be unorthodox by many without at least a word of caution on the subject.

    • scott

      Thank you for your post Michael, this has been my concern for some time. I have often said that a gracious and humble Calvinist is like Bigfoot, they should be out there but I haven’t seen one yet.

    • […] you want to read the postings check them out here.  Scroll to the bottom and work your way up to you see my first […]

    • Robert Jimenez

      mbaker, Cherly,

      If you all want to continue this dialog feel free to hop over to my blog and we can continue. I just blogged on “Caution don’t read that book! Say What?” I really don’t want to derail this post any further, we are way off topic.

      Just click on my name and it will take you to my blog.

    • mbaker

      Wow, he sure demonstrated the reason for subject of this post, didn’t he? I’m pretty shocked that he would feel so free to express his opinion and call someone else narrow minded because they merely urged caution to others who perhaps didn’t know about Dr. Boyd’s unorthodox stands.

      He must really get hot under the collar when he reads book reviews from apologists.

      Oh well, onward and upward. Sorry if we got the post off topic, but you’re right Michael, it’s good for folks to just learn to calm down.

    • Nick

      Hi Michael. Tis I. The resident Smallville authority. (Yes Michael. The title is rightly mine….)

      I was so pleased to read this. I consider myself an Arminian although the debate is one I really don’t engage a lot of time in. I’m more of an apologetics junkie. Reading this blog was a breath of fresh air as I’ve seen the people you talk about.

      There are a number of Calvinists that treat me and others like we’re second-rate Christians. I love listening to a lot of them when they talk about other topics, but because of the obsession, when they talk about Calvinism, I just tune out. I love James White when he talks about Mormonism and the KJV onlyism, etc., but when Calvinism starts up, I get irritated to no end. I would think that for some people defending Calvin is more important than defending Christ.

      Where I debate on TheologyWeb, we have had people who seem to not know there are other topics of discussion going on besides Calvinism vs. Arminianism and it’s largely the Calvinists. I think many of them spend every waking moment wondering how they can deal with Arminians. I kept hoping that they would wander into other areas because I would love to see their thoughts on other topics, but no. It’s only Calvinism.

      Meanwhile, I have some excellent friends there who are Calvinists and this is how often we discuss the issue. We never do. It just doesn’t matter. I try to make it a point to focus on Mere Christianity.

      I also wish there would be another title given to Calvinism besides “The doctrines of grace.” I’m an Arminian and I believe in grace. Is it because I don’t believe in Calvinism that I should be seen as one who does not teach a doctrine of grace?

      Also, should I be seen as one who wishes to encroach on the sovereignty of God and take away his glory. (Really. Do Calvinists really think that’s the goal of us Arminians? We want to steal glory from God and give it to man? Do you consider what you’re saying about us if you say such?) I can say “To God alone be the glory” just as much as any Calvinist.

      Okay Michael. That’s my rant but reading this blog, I wish more Calvinists were like this. I am not your enemy and you are not mine. I have a saying that I am willing to discuss matters of differentiation with people until we reach the point where they no longer desire fellowship. I would rather cease an argument and keep a brother or sister than win an argument and lose a brother or sister.

      Thanks Michael.

      (Now bow before the Smallville master.)

    • Lisa Robinson

      If I might interject here, I think Robert has a point and I don’t see him representing the subject of this post at all. And I also believe that Cheryl and Mbaker have a good point too. One thing that my profs at DTS stress, especially the ones in the Theological Studies dept, is the only way to understand other positions is to read works by proponents of that position, not for the purposes of creating a strawman, but to really understand where the other side is coming from. There’s nothing worse, or more ignorant, that for people to disregard a position that they have not thoroughly investigated. Arminians should read Calvin’s Institutes and Luther’s Bondage of the Will. Calvinists should read Olson’s Arminian Theology and the Boyd’s book that Robert is recommending. In fact, in my short tenure at seminary I’ve noticed that reading lists on the syllabi will contain works that the professor does not agree with. I have had to do 3 papers thus far on works that don’t represent historic orthodoxy.

      In Robert’s defense, I was poking around on his blog last night and was quite impressed with his resource links. Sure there were sites promoting Arminianism but also sites from a Calvinist orientation, including one of the DTS prof study notes (which I use on a regular basis). Kudos Robert.

      On the other hand, Cheryl and Mbaker have a point in that promoting a book might be construed as promoting the position. For a person with insufficient discernment, that could be problematic. I would definitely encourage the conversation to continue on Robert’s blog.

    • Robert Jimenez

      Lisa, I appreciate your thoughts on this.

    • Nick

      Yep. You should know the other side well enough to defend it.

    • Norm Eddy

      Michael,
      You are spot on with your comments regarding the vitriolic war being waged between Calvinists and Arminians in the www blogosphere. My experience sees it equally bad on both sides but that is not a really important distinction. If two skunks are in a spraying contest, the degree of their individual stench doesn’t really matter. The whole area just stinks!
      We all need to look for higher ground here and return to dialogue instead of rage. The Apostle Paul, someone I respect even more than Calvin, says in I Cor. 13, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. . . love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,”
      We’ve got way too many noisy gongs and clanging cymbals out there on both sides.

    • Michael L.

      I really wanted to jump in on this, but I’m glad I waited. Is there room for a “Calminian” ?

      Basically whether I am saved thanks to God’s election leading me here, bringing people into my life and thus allowing me to worship Him; or whether I somehow made decisions that now are bringing me a lot closer to Him by making a conscious decision on my own trusting Christ… does it really matter ?

      I for one am starting to realize only very recently that I can now fully answer “Yes” to the question on whether I am saved. And it took me something like 10 years to get there. I always, and still on occasion as you may have read, refer to Matthew 7 that it ultimately is God who will judge, but I am more and more confident in Christ.

      That is I think the mark of a true believer, not whether it ultimately came to pass on His terms, or somehow on us accepting Him.

      I know this sounds simple, and I fully realize I enjoy the intellectual discussion around it, but once it becomes vitriolic, accusatory or anything less than loving, we missed the boat.

      “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity”, R.Meldenius

      Even though that’s not a Scripture quote, I think it does quite nicely fit in this matter. If you’d like a Scripture passage, I would suggest perhaps Deut 29:29. I don’t think the “How” of salvation, in which I imply the matter of election, is clearly revealed in Scripture. On occasion, it’s clear God picked people (Abraham, the apostles, Saul, etc).. on others, perhaps they accepted Him (some passages in Acts, etc).

      So let’s discourse, let’s discuss, but above all let’s love and respect.

      May His peace be with you and the Spirit bring you wisdom in all your conversations.

      In Him
      Mick

    • Char

      I am a mean calvinist. Problem with the appellation is that it means something different to everyone who uses it. In an increasingly emotive climate, this sort of polarization is inevitable. While we do need to recover civility, I think this includes the banishment of victimization response or dyspeptic reaction to disagreement to the outer ring of darkness, as well as the flaming rhetoric. Some of us get just as tired of passive aggressiveness.

      I am noticing this on some blogs-disagreement with those outside the Reformed faith is being shut down. You can no longer even discuss it without having comments deleted or being accused of imperiousness. Holding Reformed doctrine is imperious these days. People are convinced before you even interact that you are “one of those”. I think that while we may admit some blame for putting a chip on someone’s shoulder, the one with the chip must take some also.

      Some Calvinists are idiots sure. Some *people* are idiots. That’s just the way things are. I find that the net result of the idiocy is that everyone wants us to apologize for what we believe these days-yet I don’t think it is honest to do so. I’m really not sorry for believing as I do.

    • vangelicmonk

      Five or six years ago I would have been like the little brother feeling joy and satisfaction that his other brother got whoppin’ after both of them had been acting wrongly. Back then I was seriously hostile toward Calvinists. How could I not…I lost my bestfriend/girlfriend over the issue. Bitterness entered in.

      I have grown SOOO much since then and God had worked on my heart. Now I kinda feel bad for Calvinists in this post when they have to deal with this issue still (while many Arminians cause problems as well).

      I have probably become more Arminian and less moderate Reformed since that time, but my love and respect for fellow Calvinist brothers has grown more. I appreciate so much their part in the body of Christ and the richness and scholarly value they add to to the Corporate body in Christ.

      That being said I think that the pride of Knowledge is a temptation that will not go away anytime soon. This seems to be a sin that entraps many Calvinists. However, I think the pride of Love is also a sin that can enter Arminian camps. We love the sinner and mankind as Christ does, but those Calvinists don’t…is a thought process that is not healthy either. Both sides have good orthodoxy and orthopraxis for the most part.

      My distinctives are an important part of my faith and add richness to the core beliefs that we all hold to. But my battle is not against my fellow saints. It is a spiritual battle that plays it self out in the realm of truth challenges today. But that battle is more evident today in our battle against those hostile to apathetic against the church today. I wish to put on my spiritual armor to battle the devil rather than turn against my brother standing next to me. However, if my brother standing next to me is attacking me, sometimes I have no choice but to take upon two battles. Are we being divided an conquered?

    • JJoe

      I have got to ask exactly how this debate brings the Kingdom closer, how it helps us to love God and neighbor.

      Rather than being in the world making it a more Christ-like place, we sit on computers and debate one another.

      Calvinists, the individuals in the Armenian camp you are debating are either in the elect or not, so why do you care?

      Armenians, why do you care if a Calvinist believes that God is making you blog, or that He has destined you to heaven or hell?

      None of you will ever know the answer until it is too late to blog about it.

      You’re simply engaging in an intellectual exercise that does not make disciples, does not help the least of these and does not matter one iota in the overall scheme of God’s plan for humanity.

      I’m sorry, that’s just my $0.02. I am engaged in self-examination as to why I spend time on religious blogs. I am coming to the conclusion that it is my ego, pure and simple, and there is nothing God-like about it.

    • C Michael Patton

      Joe,

      I will concede some things, but it is very difficult to concede that doctrine does not matter. It would be like saying, “What does it matter what your wife says? What does it matter if you know her name? What does it matter if you know what she does? What does it matter what she looks like? What does it matter what her personality is? She does not really care whether you know about her in particulars (even though she tries to tell you about herself all the time). All she cares about is that you love her.

      This is the cause of many a counseling session. Knowing about is parallel to knowing. You can’t really have one without the other. If God has told us something, we should listen.

      People are simply trying to know God.

      What we need to avoid is BOTH apathy and arrogence. I would say that your post leans toward apathy because of the difficulties in knowing and the uncertianty that is often involved. It is understandable, but I would certianly say that we should try not to go there.

      Also, I try to remind myself that non-essential does not mean non-important. Otherwise we would just white-out 90% of Scripture.

    • Lisa Robinson

      I think Michael raises a good point about people just trying to know God better. I think this debate can be seen as people following men rather than God, that Calvinists defend Calvin and Arminians defend Arminius. While that is probably true of some, the meat of the matter is that we are trying to make sense of what the Bible is saying and defend Scripture. The systemization of Scripture of those who have gone before should not be disregarded for God does work through man. But the goal is to know God better and understand what He, not Calvin or Arminius, have communicated.

    • Michael L.

      Char
      I do agree that the discussion needs to continue. I’m sorry if you’re being shut down somewhere else. And I’m definitely not trying to be passive aggressive (if the comments were even addressed to me at all).

      CMP
      People are simply trying to know God
      Absolutely true.. but when it goes at the cost of a fellow believer, are we trying to know God or are we trying as JJoe put it, trying to stroke our ego ?

      Also, I try to remind myself that non-essential does not mean non-important. Otherwise we would just white-out 90% of Scripture

      True again, but is the Calvinistic/Arminian topic important enough to cause others run away from our faith ? Or is one of those, “Here’s two positions Christianity has struggled with for several hundred year and we don’t really know the answer”.

      I vote for the latter. Either one of those can speak to the majesty of God. Neither one of those denounces the sacrificial atonement. As we long as we agree that “the main thing remains the main thing” (eg. I would pose the Nicaean Creed), we should have liberty and charity in our discussions.

      In Him
      Mick

    • C Michael Patton

      Michael, exactly, and thus this post!

    • Nick Norelli

      How strange that there is another Smallville authority named Nick…

      Great post Michael. I’ve done well to avoid the Calvinist-Arminian rhetoric that used to plague me when I frequented internet chat rooms. The other day I was telling a friend about a Paul Washer sermon where he got passionate and started shouting once he talked about so-called Christians living sloppy. My friend said, “If he gets like that then how much longer do you think he’ll stay a Calvinist.” I could have laughed and agreed but I took a moment to explain that Calvinists don’t believe that grace is a license to sin (and I say that as an unabashed Arminian).

    • Nick

      Ah but Nick Norelli, the difference is I have no competition in this area…..

    • Kara Kittle

      JJoe,
      I for one never classified myself as Arminian until I came to the blog site. I had never heard of it applied in my church at all. I studied both when I heard it and determined that I believe in Arminianism according to the definitions presented. But after a lot more study and searching I seem to be leaning more toward Christian Zionism. That may be political but what isn’t nowadays.

      It hurts me when people say they have never seen the widespread bigotry, it is there, and on both sides. But to hide your head in the sand and pretend just keeps it worse. It grieves me that I see people who are damaged and doctrines keep them damaged. I have seen from personal experience just the hurt heaped onto people in the name of doctrine.

      I have seen people so overwhelmed by the guilt and sin in their lives and go to church weeping and crying and instead of the people telling them that Jesus can change them they are told they have all the salvation they need. That is the problem I have because I have had to go in the middle of the night to the mental facility to speak to someone who was a victim of election theology.

      When we recognize just what Jesus came to do and as His representatives of grace and love then we can reach out to the hurting. It is trite and condescending to say to someone who is torn up that it is ok as it is because God determined them to be like they are, torn up. Remember the people of Nineveh? They didn’t know their right hand from their left and Jonah said no he did not want to go because he just didn’t feel like they were worthy of being saved. God was very quick to show Jonah just what He meant.

    • Michael

      Just my couple cents on the issue of when a book deserves caution. I don’t think I would ever caution someone over the “ideas” presented in a book no matter how much I disagree with them. People must be allowed to come to their own conclusions. This of course doesn’t mean that I won’t challenge their conclusions. What I would caution people about is books that I know contain factual inaccuracies or are so biased in their choice of facts as to be deceptive. Another one would be books that present something that is pure speculation or something with very little evidence as fact.

    • Char

      Michael L, my comment was not directed to anyone specifically in this thread. Just a generality, as I believe the OP was.

      J Joe, I could turn your question back on you and ask why do you care if people discuss theology? I do not expect everyone to like the same things I do-that makes the world interesting. Shouldn’t we all extend such a courtesy to one another?

      Kara Kittle, I am trying to figure out what you are talking about in your last comment. What does “they have all the salvation they need” mean? Sola Fide? Imputation? THAT is meant to be depressing? I have both seen and experienced the exact opposite. It is the belief that I still need to do something to gain God’s favour that is depressing. Pietism is depressing-if you’re honest anyway. Law is depressing. They are depressing because I can’t do it. To tell a person Christ has already purchased their acceptance and given them his righteousness so that they need no more is not depressing. How can it be?

      One thing however-some doctrines are problematic or damaging, which may make them suspect, but I wouldn’t judge every doctrine only by how mentally unstable people may react to it. Rather I would judge it by how it adheres to scripture. And after all, the Christian life is one of having Christ’s sufferings flow into our lives. Frankly, this stinks sometimes.

    • Kara,

      I really believe that you have a problem of doctrine and it is grossly unfortunate. The NT is replete with references to doctrine – what do we do, throw them out?

      Doctrine is not the problem – people are. If people cannot suck it up and be adult about their disagreement, it’s not the doctrine’s fault – it’s the meathead’s fault. It seems pretty clear to me that you are either anti-doctrine or just don’t see the point, which is your prerogatives.

      Comments like these however are not wise at all:

      It grieves me that I see people who are damaged and doctrines keep them damaged. I have seen from personal experience just the hurt heaped onto people in the name of doctrine. – So have I. I was a Pentecostal and almost had a nervous breakdown because I believed you could lose your salvation.

      That is the problem I have because I have had to go in the middle of the night to the mental facility to speak to someone who was a victim of election theology. – No, they were a victim of some unstable moron using the Biblical concept of election wrongly. Again – not the doctrine’s fault, but the meathead who caused that person to lose it.

      Our brother clearly called those of us who are called Calvinists to a higher standard. I personally think that you need to come to that high standard and actually learn what it is that you are so opposed to, because when you rail on Calvinism, I really don’t recognise the “Calvinism” of which you speak, and you provided one right here:

      It is trite and condescending to say to someone who is torn up that it is ok as it is because God determined them to be like they are, torn up.

      Who in their right mind would say that, Calvinist or otherwise. Frankly, the broadbrush comments are unbecoming and betray your ignorance.

    • cheryl u

      Kara,

      You obviously have a love for people and a great heart of compassion for the hurting. Those are wonderful qualities to have. Jesus can be seen in our love for others and He is certainly very pleased when His love shines through us.

      I would, however, like to add to what Douglas said above and just remind you that doctrine is, after all, God’s idea. He inspried the writer’s of Scripture to speak of it and of it’s importance many times. It is hard to know from the things you say sometimes exactly what you do believe about doctrine other than all of your comments on the subject tend to be very negative.

      I would just like to appeal to you as a fellow Sister in Christ, to stop and take another look. Please don’t let the way doctrine has been used by some to cause you to think in a very negative way about something the Lord has given us that is for our instruction and our protection.

    • Raphael

      I’m a Calvinist with Arminian sympathies (meaning while I disagree with them, I know where they are coming from and I understand their position…the rest of my family has an Arminian viewpoint).

      I remember one occasion on TheologyWeb where a hyper-Calvinist was going on an extended rant about Arminians, and John Wesley in particular. I responded with a quote from Spurgeon that I think is most apt:

      Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him that, while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley. The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one “of whom the world was not worthy.” I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ as their Saviour, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist in or out of Heaven.

    • Kara Kittle

      Cheryl,
      Thank you for being so kind in your blog posts. I did make the point in my comment that all denominations have their innate problem, but when we are referring to doctrines we must know which ones are of God and which are not. I am saying not all come from God. But I did say both sides just so people would not think I am picking on one side or the other.

      God does allow for doctrines to exist because there are so many viewpoints and understandings. There were many in Jesus’ day. There were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Epicurians and many others, so we can see the idea of doctrines have always been around. But by that same token, when we agree to live under and identify with a particular doctrine we must investigate it to see where it lines up with what God teaches us in His word. And I like to look at it like this:

      1:Does it allow the teaching of Jesus primarily?
      2:Does it include or exclude on the basis of Jesus’ teaching?
      3:Does it bring us closer in relationship or take us away from?
      4:Does it have the power to impact and change society for the better?

      I am not anti-doctrine, but the approved doctrine that Paul taught was one Lord, one faith, one baptism. There were not some saved by Peter and not some saved by Paul, we are saved by Jesus Christ. But in that identification comes accountability and responsibility. That is what I try to present in my posts. As much as I am Arminian and must take accountability for why I believe the way I do, I believe that other people of doctrines must do so as well and if they aren’t willing to do so then we can suspect.

      It’s not so much a matter of interpretation, but how that interpretation touches every part of our lives. And how that interpretation touches those around us. What is the purpose of having the Living Christ indwelling in us, then don’t take His words to heart? The Bible says “and they were astonished at His doctrine, speaking as one with authority”. We should be as well, looking into it to see what He said. Living by what He said.

      Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. Should He not also be the author and finisher of our doctrine? I am not aiming this at Calvinists or Arminians because we both have missed the mark.

    • Ken

      A Born Again Christian and an Arminian for more than 20 years, I am Reformed in my faith for more than 7 years, i.e. embracing Orthodoxy, the Five Solas and the Doctrines of Grace), I say. . . Amen! I am one of those who did doubt of my salvation in Jesus Christ before understanding and embracing Reformed teachings. Now, having grown, my salvation is yet sweeter. I am thankful for those who were (and still are) patient with me.

      Even should our fellowship with our Arminian friend(s) seem to be strenuous, shouldn’t we understand, hold to, and practice 2 Tim 2:24 – 26?

      “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

      A little closer:

      • kind to everyone
      • able to teach
      • patiently enduring evil
      • correcting his opponents with gentleness

      My prayer is that my Brothers and Sisters will escape the rising disturbing trend wherein many who THINK they are suffering for the cause of Christ and His Gospel ARE ACTUALLY only suffering for their own misconduct and rude behavior.

      Matthew 22:36 – 40

      Blessings!

    • Ken

      A Born Again Christian and an Arminian for more than 20 years, I am Reformed in my faith for more than 7 years, i.e. embracing Orthodoxy, the Five Solas and the Doctrines of Grace, I say. . . Amen! I did not doubt of my salvation in Jesus Christ before understanding or embracing Reformed teachings. Now, having grown and with an expanded understanding, my salvation is yet sweeter. I am thankful for those who were (and still are) patient with me.

      Even should our fellowship with our Arminian friend(s) seem to be strenuous, shouldn’t we understand, hold to, and practice 2 Tim 2:24 – 26?

      “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

      A little closer:

      • kind to everyone
      • able to teach
      • patiently enduring evil
      • correcting his opponents with gentleness

      My prayer is that my Brothers and Sisters will escape the rising disturbing trend wherein many who THINK they are suffering for the cause of Christ and His Gospel ARE ACTUALLY only suffering for their own misconduct and rude behavior.

      Matthew 22:36 – 40

      Blessings!

    • […] a comment from my favorite young Calvinist Douglas K. Adu-Boahen on the Parchment & Pen blog.  He said:  “I was a Pentecostal and almost had a nervous breakdown because I believed you could lose […]

    • A. M. Mallett

      Thank you very much for this post.

    • Calvinists, Let

      […] […]

    • John C.T.

      G. Boyd has had to continually correct misapprehensions, misunderstandings and misrepresentations of his views. He does believe that God is completely sovereign over the future and can bring about any event that he desires and that is consistent with his character. There is no doubt in Boyd’s mind that God can and will bring about what He intends to occur / be done. He also believes that God knows everything there is to know about the future.

      As has been correctly noted by other scholars, almost every argument against Boyd’s views can be made against the various traditional Arminian views. Where Boyd’s views differ is in the scope of what counts as what type of knowledge. He argues that since the future has not yet happened, it cannot be known in the same way as the past, and that there is not one settled future that will without a doubt occur. Though I have done quite a bit of reading on the topic of will and choice, I have not yet arrived at an understanding that would exclude Boyd’s views (though I’m quite settled that TULIP Calvinism is incorrect).

      I also think that Boyd deals with other views fairly. The same cannot be said for some of his vociferous opponents, such as Bruce Ware. I lost respect for Ware as a scholar after reading some of his work opposing open theism. Ware did not appear to understand Boyd’s arguments, constructed straw men, etc. He certainly does not demonstrate the same level of mental ability as Boyd and other theologians. I’m not saying he’s an idiot, he is smart, but if theology and biblical studies was basketball then Ware would make a pro team but not be a Michael Jordon or Lebron James.

      Regards,
      John

    • rey

      “I see less Christ-like character in many Calvinistic brethren than I do in just about any other tradition in Christianity.”

      That’s obvious, since Calvinism isn’t at all about following the example of Christ, but is about claiming that people are saved primarily by inflexible predestination and secondarily by the death of Jesus. Even so, due to the P of TULIP, once saved always saved, Christ is merely seen as a divine whipping boy who died so we can go on in sin and still be saved by predestination.

      Christ as teacher is totally missing, as is the obvious biblical teaching that a true inward change made by a man’s free choice is necessary to salvation. (of course these are missing since they are the opposite of Calvinism).

      What’s more, whereas in Hebrews 11:6 the Bible says “without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him,” Calvinism denies that anyone even can seek God. How then can a Calvinistic faith ever please God? The Calvinist believes that God exists, but not that God rewards those who diligently seek him. Will God be pleased by this sort of half-faith? I think not.

    • Cadis

      rey,

      your not helping calm down the Calvinists.

    • C Michael Patton

      rey, now I take it back. This post is about you! 😉

      Seriously though. That is kind of an odd way to respond considering what this post is about, don’t ya think.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • In the spirit of this post, Rey, please actually read what Calvinists have written, not the strawman which seems to halting what could be a pleasant and godly discussion.

    • rey

      “rey, your not helping calm down the Calvinists.”

      What could possibly calm Calvinists down more than leaving their silly demon worship that makes them attack the gospel night and day and be unable to sleep unless they turned some poor Christian away from Christ to agnosticism?

    • Pray tell, which demon do we worship, rey? You sound like a fool to be honest with your assertions. Some of the most evangelistic people in history were CALVINISTS – Whitefield, Spurgeon, Edwards, Brainerd, Judson, etc. – so I really don’t get your comments about Calvinists WANTING to turn people from Christ to agnosticism.

      By the way, Calvinists get the idea that no-one seeks after God from Romans 3, y’know – “There is none who seek after God…” People will only seek God after the blindness over their eyes is removed by God’s grace.

    • Robert Jimenez

      Rey, I am not a Calvinist and I don’t appreciate your comments. “silly demon worship”, really? Is that really what you meant?

      Makes no sense to me. Hopefully you will come back with some humility and restate yourself.

    • Nick

      Rey. I’m not a Calvinist either and I made sure to save the email about your comments to respond. Let’s state the honest facts.

      There are a lot of Calvinists out there that are high and lofty in their doctrine and are quite honestly, jerks. I don’t think that’s because of their Calvinism. I think that a lot of them are like that beforehand and when they become Calvinists, they just mold that into the system without really changing their personality as they should.

      There are a lot of Arminians who are hyper-legalists who will condemn me to Hell in July when I go see the new Harry Potter movie and be insistent that I lost my salvation. There are many out there that have you walking on eggshells where if you have any doubt of your salvation, well that’s proof you didn’t have it to begin with. I think it’s the same deal. These people had personalities of that type and then when they became Arminians, they molded it to that.

      On the other hand, there are some Calvinists out there who are far more devoted than I to Christ and some Arminians who are far more devoted. There are a lot of people I disagree with ideologically who I realize care more about Christ than I do and God help me with that.

      I would never charge my Calvinistic brethren of demon-worship. Now I can tell even those who I think more devoted than I why I think they’re wrong and I should. Personal devotion to the Lord does not equal infallability. Someone can be really devoted to the Lord, be orthodox, and other than that have terrible doctrine. C.S. Lewis talked about seeing the old lady in church and realizing she doesn’t understand the deep side of theology as you do, but be careful because as far as holiness is concerned, you’re not worthy to tie her shoelaces.

      As an Arminian, I do not like what I am seeing from you. This is not the style of Arminianism vs. Calvinism debate. You’ve seemingly made it into an orthodoxy vs. heresy debate. This is an in-house debate. Don’t make it anything more.

    • Raphael

      As always, very nicely said Nick.

    • Cadis

      rey,

      “unless they turned some poor Christian away from Christ to agnosticism?”

      If you are refering to Bart Ehrman and my comments about him and the connection those comments had to the teaching of the security of the believer, well I googled it….. Bart Ehrman was not a Calvinist. You will have to come up with a new theory as to what happened to him because Calvinism did not turn him agnostic.

      http://blog.beliefnet.com/blogalogue/2008/04/why-suffering-is-gods-problem.html

      Fundamentalism/ inerrancy did not turn him agnostic either. Now he does admit that he believed in free will 🙂 ,.. ???

    • rey

      I am not referring to Bart Ehrman. What I am referring to is that Calvinists can’t stand it if anyone believes that God is merciful and just, or that God is a loving Father (as in the parable of the prodigal son) who allows his children to err but longs for them to return. The Calvinists, however, sees such goodness as weakness, and the only way for God to be strong in his view is for God to cause evil, to make the prodigal prodigal on purpose. Unless you believe that God is the absolute cause of evil, the Calvinist is not satisfied and will stop at nothing until he either makes you twice the child of hell that he is, or turns you away from God. And it is true of all of them, even those who play nice. Their act will only last long enough to set you up in their Satanic trap. An although Ehrman may not have been a Calvinist, I am sure that it was Calvinists that made him lose his faith, since he says he lost his faith due to the “problem of evil.” In other words, the Calvinists wouldn’t shut their Satan worshiping mouths and let him enjoy the joy of his salvation…oh no, they had to convince him that God is the cause of evil, and they eventually convinced him that there is no way for God to exist and not be the cause of evil, and therefore, he became an agnostic. It is not by being a Calvinist that one becomes an agnostic but by being assaulted by Calvinists. Calvinists certainly believe in a god, but their god is Satan.

    • rey,

      As your brother in the Lord Jesus Christ, I beg you: Please stop with these divisive and unnecessary comments.

      The Calvinists, however, sees such goodness as weakness, and the only way for God to be strong in his view is for God to cause evil, to make the prodigal prodigal on purpose.

      What? Calvinists have long defended the idea that God is NOT the author of sin, neither does he make people sin like some puppet-master.

      Unless you believe that God is the absolute cause of evil, the Calvinist is not satisfied and will stop at nothing until he either makes you twice the child of hell that he is, or turns you away from God. And it is true of all of them, even those who play nice. Their act will only last long enough to set you up in their Satanic trap.

      ??? I mean, c’mon. Have you met a Mormon missionary? JW pioneer? Yeah, thought so…

      An although Ehrman may not have been a Calvinist, I am sure that it was Calvinists that made him lose his faith, since he says he lost his faith due to the “problem of evil.” In other words, the Calvinists wouldn’t shut their Satan worshiping mouths and let him enjoy the joy of his salvation…oh no, they had to convince him that God is the cause of evil, and they eventually convinced him that there is no way for God to exist and not be the cause of evil, and therefore, he became an agnostic. It is not by being a Calvinist that one becomes an agnostic but by being assaulted by Calvinists. Calvinists certainly believe in a god, but their god is Satan.

      And millions of kids believe in a fat Caucasian men, dressed in red, who drops presents and owns a cosmic motorcade of reindeer with a name of Santa Claus(!?) You magically were there when Ehrman renounced his faith? You saw the Satanist Calvinists, Institutes in hand, cajoling him to accept God as the author of evil. You saw them pick and pick at his salvation until he couldn’t take it.

      Gimme a break, dude.

    • John C.T.

      Rey’s behaviour counts as “troll” behaviour, that is, posting obnoxious comments that bait others to reply in a similar fashion. The best way to deal with trolls is to ignore them. I will not respond to his comments, and I suggest that others ignore him as well.

      The Calvinist / Arminian discussions here are normally much more interesting and fun because they occur irenically and without the sarcasm and mocking that occurs on a number of other sites. I’d like to keep it that way.

      Regards,
      John

    • I hear that.

    • rey

      Calvinists and Arminians aren’t much different, really. In the end, they both believe God to be the author of evil. This is why they debate for fun rather than truth, for neither one is a Christian but only someone playing church and destroying many souls in the process. To them it is all about intellectualism and praise from men. That’s why the Arminian cannot really oppose Calvinism, for he craves the praise of the Calvinist. He gets as close to Calvinism as he can so the Calvinist will praise him as intellectual. But at the same time he makes God vomit.

    • John C.T.

      In rereading the posts, I think that Raphael on 17 May 2009 at 3:48 pm had the last really good one on the topic raise by CMP. I don’t think there is much else to do with CMP’s lede other than agreeing with him. Any suggestions? We could continue with one of the previous Calvinist / Arminian posts.

      Regards,
      John

    • Lisa Robinson

      Yeah John, I agree. In the end we are Christians trying to make sense of the Scriptural basis for our faith – faith seeking understanding. I do indeed think that honors God when we seek to learn what He has handed down rather than rest in contentment of ignorance. Wasn’t that the passion behind Calvin, Arminius and Wesley and countless other? Seeking to learn about God on His terms. In the end, we may not agree but honor one another as servants of Christ, seeking His heart in all things.

    • Rey Reynoso

      Uh, just for those who know me (Rey) on Theologica and in my blog, the rey above is not me.

    • Rey Reynoso

      (I sometimes sign my name as Rey on this site, so I wanted to disambiguate)

    • Char

      Rey and Rey and whatever other Rey-alities are in there,

      This satanist would like you to pass the popcorn.

    • Wes

      Interesting post… I agree with the premise, but wonder about the ultimate ability of dialogue between the positions. I’m sure both sides might say the same thing, but all too often the discussion moves from explanation to debate to anger. I’m not certain how seriously to take “rey” in the comments above, but I’ve certainly seen efforts at honest discussion met by diatribes like rey’s.

      Is it possible that the differences between the viewpoints are both

      -so important that both sides ought to understand the others clearly, and “be fully convinced in their own minds” and

      -so fundamentally different that it is difficult to be laborers together in much of ministry – after all, “how can two men walk together except they be agreed?”

      I agree with you that we should certainly be charitable to all, and I am not in the camp that assigns all arminians to hell(!). How do we, though, practically be charitable about – or even tolerant of – viewpoints that we hold as fundamental, serious error?

    • cheryl u

      “How do we, though, practically be charitable about – or even tolerant of – viewpoints that we hold as fundamental, serious error?”

      Good question, Wes, one that I have seriously wondered about in many areas of difference Christians may have with each other.

    • cheryl u

      I should probably clarify my last comment. I have come from a church situation in the past where I simply could not continue to walk together with the people there because of extreme differences in doctrine and practice. Those differences could be talked about charitably, but they were so fundamental that I could not walk together with them anymore. That doesn’t mean they were not fellow Christians. (It wasn’t a Calvinism/Arminianism debate by the way.)

    • Wes

      Cheryl,

      I understand your point. Using Calvinism/Arminianism as an example, our understanding of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility will at least in some fashion inform our philosophy of ministry (for example, in evangelism). I can believe that God works through both a “Wesley” and a “Whitefield” but the manner of proclamation – and perhaps even the methodology employed may be very different. Other areas could be used as examples as well (for example, “worship” methodology).

      I’m a little jealous of your situation if the circumstance you faced was discussed charitably. My experience has been that “the party in power” tends to marginalize – or even demonize – the minority view… all too often without even getting to the substance of the issue.

      Perhaps that’s part of the frustration among at least some of those holding a reformed position within Evangelicalism these days. Wrongly expressed, perhaps, but frustration at being dismissed on the basis of “tone” alone… sadly, it’s easy to dismiss people for how they are talking and avoid discussion about what they are saying.

      My experience is that one is in danger of drawing this objection regardless of tone – because holding an opinion firmly in any manner is increasingly viewed as intolerant and arrogant. But if you honestly believe that God has spoken clearly on an issue – even Calvinism (!) – it isn’t arrogant to hold to it firmly. It would be arrogant to call unclear and debatable what God has made clear. That mindset, though, is toxic and maddening to our culture today, regardless of how charitably it is expressed.

    • Garrett

      Wes and cheryl u,

      Charismatic vs non, young-earth vs old, premillennialism, postmillennialism or amillennialism, republican vs democrat, etc. so many things that can divide us.

      How indeed! By being humble, realizing that we may be wrong! If it is not a “burn in hell” issue than we need to get a hold of our pride and throw it down before the throne! If these issues were crystal clear then there would be no division in our ranks. But they are NOT, there are good men and women of faith on each side and so we must first heed the Father who tells us, “And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” Are we being kind? Are we humble? Do we treat each other with love and respect even when we disagree?

      Can it work? Absolutely! I have friends and co-workers in the Kingdom’s work on the opposite side from me on each of the issues I listed above. I am sure that they are wrong just as they are equally sure that I am but I’m going to keep listening to them and looking for flaws in my arguments and in theirs.

      As to the quote from Amos 3:3, I think that if you read the whole passage it becomes clear that what the two men need to agree on before they can walk together is on obedience to the Lord.

    • cheryl u

      Garrett,

      It is quite difficult, if not utterly impossible, to walk hand in hand with people not only in ministry but in worship, etc. when your understanding of Scriputure and resulting practice are fundamentally different in many areas. When you understand a lot of what is going on to be truly unBiblical, how can you join in with it in good conscience? If you have never experienced a situation like this, I don’t think there is any way to grasp the depth of the problem that can be involved. I am not talking about minor differences here–I am talking about very major ones.

    • #John1453

      Good points, Cheryl, Garrett and Wes. I think that another relevant factor is the degree to which relevant communities are convinced. Take the deity and resurrection of Christ. All orthodox christians (R. Catholic, E. Orthodox, anabaptist, reformed, pentecostal, etc.) are convinced of this. So our personal conviction in this area can be expressed firmly and securely.

      However, infant baptism (for example) is an area where the church at large has not arrived at firm conviction of one solution. So even though one can be personally firmly convinced, one should bear that conviction more tentatively than the former case (Christ’s deity), that is, with the realization that one could be wrong and a fellow Christian right. So, for example, I am firmly convinced that TULIP Calvinism is wrong, and I do try to persuade others to my view, but I recognize that mature Christians over the last few hundred years have followed the other view, so I try to be more open and accepting than I would be in relation to a discussion of the deity of Christ. If you say Christ is not God, well then you are flat out wrong. If you say that God has determined the number and identities of the elect, well, I do have to admit that there are some points in your favour even though I’m still convinced I’m correct.

      In some areas, such as science, the church is not the relevant community where there is no biblical position (e.g., there is no biblical position on the nature of gravity). In such cases one holds one’s personal convictions with a degree of firmness that relates to the degree of firmness that is possible within the scientific community (there is no disagreement on the relationship of volume to mass and density). Where there is a biblically relevant position (the material world is not all there is; humans did not evolve from lower apes) then the church is part of the relevant community.

      As I wrote the above, I thought it made some sense, but I’m not sure now. Anyway, those were my reflections upon reading your posts.

      Regards,
      #John

    • Garrett

      cheryl u,

      I didn’t see your “I should probably clarify my last comment.” post, I should refresh the web page more often.

      I understand what you saying, extreme differences in doctrine and practice do make attending a church impossible. I have visited my very charismatic friend’s church and I could not attend his church and call it my home. He’s visited my church as well and feels the same way. My point is that he is still my friend, a dear one at that and we are able to work together in a para-church missions organization. A non-Christian looking “in at us” would not see a division on our view that it is Christ alone that saves but would certainly see a difference in style of worship and an internal debate on the “gifts of the Spirit”.

      Another friend and I co-taught a class on Genesis, we took turns presenting very different viewpoints on the proper interpretation of Genesis 1 & 2. We disagreed then and are still arguing about it. Again, I hope that a non-Christian attending the class would not see a division between us on the important issues but an internal argument that took nothing away from Christ and His redeeming message of Grace.

      Both these friendships have been difficult at times but love easily won is cheap.

    • Wes

      Garrett,

      I appreciate the spirit of your comment and the experience you’ve had. I was also commenting the circumstance where one is criticized for holding a position firmly *at all*. The flipside of the problem Michael is discussing – holding a doctrinal position as a weapon of sorts – is vilifying the person who holds a position… and that is equally or perhaps even more problematic in my mind.

    • Nick

      Or you could just come to TheologyWeb and see how Calvinists, Arminians, Preterists, Futurists, Old-Earthers, Young-Earthers, etc. work side by side every day.

    • Rey Reynoso

      What is TheologyWeb?

    • Nick

      It’s a forum where I debate. I have friends on all sides of each issue there and when it comes to evangelism and worship, we’ve done it all and we’ve had no problem.

    • Rey Reynoso

      Ah, okay. We do the same thing over at Theologica but the split doesn’t seem to be along the lines of Calvinism vs. Arminianis or those other things. Our splits are along different lines, and probably comes down to worldview accent.

    • Chris de Vidal

      I’m surprised no one has mentioned John 13:35, my favorite verse on this subject: “By this, all people will know you are [Jesus’] disciples, if you have love for one another.”

      Read C.J. Mahaney’s Humility and the gospel of John, then apply the doctrine of total depravity both to those who disagree with you AND yourself 🙂

    • Brian Eckes

      I think it all boils down to love. If you do not have love, you have NOTHING. So, keeping that in mind, if you argue for the sake of arguing, or for the sake of trying to be self-righteous (puffing yourself up), then you have NOTHING. Zilch. Just your own self-glory.

      Yet, if you have love when you speak about doctrine and biblical issues, then you have actual substance and it will, through the Holy-Spirit, make a difference and matter somewhere down the road. Hopefully it will glorify God rather than the speaker.

      In my life of 36 years, I think the slow, slow sanctification process of the Holy Spirit’s refinement has tempered my spirit, attitude and viewpoints to be more like Jesus’ (yet at times I am still so very far from being Christ-like).

      For once you truly believe and have the Holy Spirit, you have the mind of Christ. It is our human pride that needs pruning, and God is sure to continue pruning till the end, thank Him.

    • I see your point and I appreciate it. However, you last paragraph is where I am. I see more of the ungracious, arrorgant people on the Arminian side than I do the Calvinist side. Thanks, brotherm, for the remonder, though.

    • Tim James

      I’m not a scholar and therefore can’t use clever words (so apologies to those whom love them and the intellectual clarity they give to those who understand them).

      I don’t believe that this subject is over rated in the sense that believers should be satisfied as much as possible from knowing God and the Truth He has revealed. The right approach to scripture and making our emotions and self bow to the authority of scripture is a difficult life long process. The thing is that we all know very little as of “now” in comparison to what we will know “then” when we are in the presence of God. The important thing is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I often sin by not giving all the glory to God and I am convicted of such sin which leads to repentance. I am constantly reminded of how feeble my mind is and how weak I am. Does my lack of knowledge or weakness put my salvation in jeopardy?

      Even with the Holy Spirit working on me, I do what I ought not and don’t do what I should. It is this reality of my own state that leads me to understand that I would deny Christ tomorrow if it wasn’t for Him and the grace afforded to me. I also know that I was born evil and would never have chosen Christ were it not for the fact that He called me with an irresistible call exactly as God had desired before I was even born. Sometimes our feeble four dimensional earth bound minds cannot fully comprehend the ways of God. The way to salvation has been revealed but the exact mechanics of this re-birth and indwelling of God is still a complete mystery. It blows my mind every time I consider how awesome God is and what He’s done with salvation.

      We all know from scripture that there will be wheat and tares, and that some will have utterly deceived themselves and only find out right at the end. Do we really know who these are and should we not work through our salvation with fear and trembling? Should we fight with those whom in our eyes are less enlightened than ourselves, or patiently preach truth in love? There’s a lot I don’t know and a lot I’ve probably misinterpreted, but this will not undo God’s purpose and will not destroy my salvation but in fact, when revealed to me, will only draw me closer to God in complete wonder about His mercy and grace as He deals patiently with this pile of dust. This humility and the desire to love others as we love ourselves should temper our attitudes and approach no matter how right we are. What is sometimes depicted does not look like brotherly love at all. I’m not suggesting that we should abandon truth nor the seeking of it, only that the presentation is a little more humble and graceful.

    • Fred Wilson

      Thank you for a reasonable Post. I too have seen and been on both sides of this issue and find that reasoning with others is so much better then argueing or “bashing”. Fred

    • Lou Martuneac

      Michael:

      I was just pasing by, saw this article, read it and appreciated its content and tone. That is coming from one (me) who rejects all five points of Calvinism, but I do so charitably.

      On a side note I thought I’d link you to the recent article by Peter Masters from the Metroplitan Tabernacle’s Sword & Trowel.

      The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness
      from Sword & Trowel 2009, No. 1 by Dr Peter Masters

      You and your guests may find it a compelling read.

      Kind regards,

      LM

    • Greg

      Brother Patton,

      Thank you for this article. I have seen too much bickering on Christian websites concerning the Calvin/Arminian centuries-old debate. While I believe debate is healthy, some of what I see would make “spitting cobras” envious. I grew up in a Calvinist tradition, and, while I see merits in Calvinist doctrine, I am not sold on it. You might say I am a reluctant Arminian, at this point.

      My principle problem with Calvinism is the problem of apostasy. To say that apostasy is not something a true Christian can commit seems contrary to the Scriptures. And, unless I misunderstand the definition of apostasy, I would go as far as to say that only a believer could commit it. Unlike most Arminians, though, I believe that if one does commit apostasy, then, according to Heb. 6, there is no turning back.

      The reason I believe that apostasy is a sin that could be committed by true Christians is because of 2Thessalonians. Paul explained that the Return would not occur until the apostasy “falling away” had taken place. That is a rather odd statement to make if apostasy is impossible for the Christian to commit. Having said that, I don’t relish the Arminian view because I do believe in the sovereignty of God. As you state often in TTP, I hold this position with tension. God bless you in the work you do.

    • abbey

      people, people, why all of this? arminian, calvinist, let us remember how big God is. let us remember that we are discussing the Being that created the entire universe. Can we really say we know without a doubt exactly the way He runs this place? and then judge others who dont agree? God created us intelligent, but our minds are finite, His is infinite. Who are we to say we know where the line is between His divine will (sovereignty) and our free will (His gift to us, which does not in any way say He is no longer sovereign, because He chose to give it). Both arminian and calvinist views are backed up by scripture, and to isolate them on one side is to place God in a box. Instead, let us focus on seeking the character of God, and pray to be transformed more and more into a person that is a beautiful representation of Christ. Jesus’ command was to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Is this love, to judge our brothers and sisters who have faith in God but have different views on a topic i feel is impossible for us to fully understand? How sad. God keep us humble.

    • abbey

      P.S. tim james, your comment was wonderful. I fully agree.

    • Wes Wetherell

      Abbey,

      With all due respect, I don’t think you can simply duck the question under the guise of “humility” – they are in many ways mutually contradictory and you simply can’t say that a systematic understanding of the Scripture somehow “puts God in a box.” Perhaps the better approach is to recognize that, while guided by our understanding of Scripture we ought earnestly contend for the faith as we understand it, we also ought to do so with at least as much charity as we are directed by Scripture to deal with an erring brother. The Scriptures simply are not contradictory on these matters – we may disagree, but understanding what God has made clear is important.

    • […] Calvinists, Let’s Calm Down […]

    • theoparadox

      Are we STILL fighting over Arminianism and Calvinism??? No wonder people in our culture think Christians are stupid. We don’t know when to stop banging out head against a wall. Paul’s warning to the Galatians, that they would bite and devour one another, has been fulfilled in our midst.

      The wise thing to do is to assume you don’t have all the answers, then STUDY the Bible, STUDY the Church Fathers, STUDY the Reformation, STUDY Calvinism, STUDY Arminianism, STUDY other theological perspectives, take a position that seems to fit the Biblical message, and then KEEP STUDYING SCRIPTURE and adapting the viewpoint as dictated by Scripture. In the process, it would be wise to ask questions of people who take a different view, maybe even banter back and forth a bit to get more understanding. But to argue with them? To get belligerent and disrespectful? To waste time trying to convince people who don’t want to be convinced? To make war in the camp unnecessarily? No wonder people in our culture think Christians have no brains and nothing to offer!

      This entire situation is ample proof of total depravity. The last time I checked, both Calvinists and classical Arminians hold to it. Let’s go for common ground, and let’s work together for the glory of God.

      I was a hard core Arminian (practially Pelagian) at one time, then I went mainstream Arminian. For several years I begrudgingly sat under a very gracious Calvinist pastor – often refuting his words in my mind and occasionally trying to pick a theological fight with him. He never argued with me, but I eventually realized that I was closer to his view than I was to the extreme Arminian view I once held. I saw that very-balanced-Arminians and very-balanced-Calvinist are nearly in agreement – they mainly disagree on emphasis. After that, I became a Calvinist very easily by accepting God’s sovereignty over man’s freedom, a Romans 9 experience if you will. Suddenly I realized that when I was a balanced Arminian, I was only one notch away from Calvinism the whole time. Nowadays I find that I am attacked more harshly by unbalanced Calvinists than by Arminians.

      But I have found many wonderful, humble, moderate and Biblically-balanced Calvinists who are quietly blogging away. You don’t notice them because they aren’t loudly banging their heads against a brick wall.

    • rey jacobs

      “This entire situation [disagreement between Calvinists and Arminians] is ample proof of total depravity.” (theoparadox)

      If that’s so, then it is proof that both Calvinists and Arminians are unregenerate.

      “The last time I checked, both Calvinists and classical Arminians hold to it.” (theoparadox)

      But that’s not all there is. Calvinists and classical Arminians are the same thing, except the classical Arminians are better at PR. Their beliefs really boil down to the same thing. And, as you noted, both are unregenerate.

      “Let’s go for common ground, and let’s work together for the glory of God.” (theoparadox)

      Lets reject both Calvinism and classical Arminianism (which are the same thing with a slightly different public face) because that’s the only way to glorify God.

    • theoparadox

      Rey,

      I don’t think I’ve ever before read a response to something I’ve written in which I disagreed with every single word of the response. I’ve never experienced so much lack of common ground, not even in discussions with ultra-liberal Christians and atheists. But, for the record, I disagree with every single word you’ve written here (other than the parts where you quoted me, of course).

      I didn’t remotely imply that Calvinists or Arminians are unregenerate – though all true believers were at one time.

      Calvinists and Arminians aren’t the same thing. And I didn’t say they were both unregenerate, you did.

      Rejecting Biblical doctrine, however it may be labeled, is not a legitimate means of glorifying God.

      I recommend Curt Daniel’s 75 lectures on the history and theology of Calvinism – they will give you an accurate picture of what Calvinism is and isn’t – and also demonstrate how Calvinism differs from Arminianism. You can find them at monergism.com. I say this as respectfully as I can: educate yourself on these matters and then let’s talk again . . .

      Derek

    • #John1453

      It is incorrect to stereotype and characterize all discussions about Calvinism and Arminianism as “fights”, and fights that are so bad that they are unChristian and depraved. There are many discussions of those two perspectives that are carried out in a fair and irenic, though vigorous and committed, manner. Most of the discussion of those viewpoints that happens on CMP’s blog is of that nature, and I find it useful for learning and understanding and formulating one’s own view.

      regards,
      #John

    • theoparadox

      John,

      I fully agree with you, and I left plenty of room for the sort of discussion you are talking about. The trouble comes when we get all bent out of shape and take it personally that someone “refuses” to agree with our view. The heated and vigorous discussion in which this doesn’t happen can be very helpful, as you’ve noted, and I participate in these kinds of discussions on a regular basis. You’re right in saying there is a difference between discussing and fighting. My point is the same as that of CMP: let’s quit fighting and continue the discussion.

      I stand by my remark that “fighting” amongst true believers IS good evidence of total depravity. That’s not to say the ones fighting aren’t saved, but rather that indwelling sin is obviously still at work. It’s at work in me, too, brother – though perhaps in different areas.

      Blessings,
      Derek

    • Chris de Vidal

      Does not the doctrine of total depravity teach that you, yes you, reading this comment, are wicked in heart, even now?

      “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Timothy 1:15 ESV)

      Doesn’t it teach that Arminians are also debased and wicked at heart, and we need to be patient with them?

      “…the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth…” (2 Timothy 2:24-25 ESV)

      (I love how that verse not only informs the discussion between Calvinists and Arminians, but it also itself lends itself toward Calvinism.) 🙂

      Therefore, if you know that you are wicked and likely not to obey John 13:35, and your hearers are not as well, humble yourself.

      “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…” (1 Peter 5:6 ESV)

    • Dear Bro Patton and Friends in Christ,

      I agree that LOVE of God that poured by the Holt Spirit in our hearts should reign in dealing the false doctrine and the heretics. If we can’t love them as a brothers and sisters let us love them as enemies – meaning let us still kind and compassionate to them. When they are hungry and thirsty let is feed them and give them water. Let us follow the example of Christ.

      The Love of Christ in us cannot compromise with sinful acts and sinful principle of doctrines as described in 1 Cor 13:4-8. Open rebuke is better than secret love. There are still believers of Christ are still ignorance of the truth of salvation. Many erred in true Christian living. But let us remember that we can’t open and change the hearts of the sinner. Only God can do that. Our duties is to open our mouth to preach/teach the truth boldly without compromise, exalting Christ and bring more glories to His feet. It is what I did as local Missionary in our islands. I am a strong Calvinist preacher but I am sure I am balance and biblical and love of Mission work, preaching the gospel to the lost.

      In Christ,

      Bro. Ronald D. Jacutin, Sr.
      P.O. Box 81802
      8000 Davao City
      Philippines

    • Derek

      Kudos,

      This posts was a breath of fresh air.

      From one who leans heavily to the Arminian worldview I find it difficult to respect writers like Sproul who says that Arminians are “barely saved”, or J.I. Packer who calls all Arminians “Anti-Christians” and countless others such as Guy Waters and John Piper who call Arminians “Semi-Pelagians”.

      It’s nice to read a Calvinist who blogs the grace they preach.

    • Veronica

      Very good blog. I agree that Calvinists say they subscribe to the doctrine of grace, but they don’t really seem to live it. Are we not all completely UNdeserving of Christ and His love and grace? and are we not all deserving of hell? I mean seriously.
      I suppose you would say I’m a calvinist (I really, really REALLY hate using that term. Cause I don’t totally agree with Calvanism ALL the time…) and my church is Arminian. I love them and they love me. However there are two things that bug me to no end.
      1. is that when I’ve tried to explain my belief they either a) get extremely defensive and mean or b) they never talk to me ever again. (Seriously, I still go to the same church and now they won’t even look at me.)
      And 2. I am disturbed by the fact that people in my Arminain church (and maybe this happens else where. My church is Nazarene) are always saying “I/we follow John Weasley.” Aren’t we supposed to be following Jesus? Not men? I have never claimed to follow John Calvin. Because he’s a fallable(spelling?) MAN!
      So I’m not so much disturbed by their doctrine as I am by the fact that they say they follow men and not God. :/ I mean, I still love them…
      I like your blog, even if I disagree with a lot of things you’ve said. ha ha. BUt I very much liked this blog.
      Sincerely,
      Veronica

    • rey

      Since Calvinists claim that “the world” in John 3:16 means “the elect” why don’t they try these on for size:

      (2 Tim 4:10) “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present elect”

      Col 2:20 “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the elect, why, as though living in the elect, are ye subject to” man-made-decrees

      Col 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the elect, and not after Christ.”

      Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the elect-rulers of the darkness of this elect, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

      2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the elect worketh death.” How true that is!!!! For the elect of Calvinism never repent, instead saying “I’m elect! I’m once saved always saved!”

    • David the Maronite

      First of all, I am a Maronite Catholic (one of the eastern rites of the Roman Catholic Church), so I guess that makes me doubly damned in the eyes of most Calvinists – a Catholic AND a believer in free will!
      However, that isn’t why I’m writing here…
      I have always tried to be open-minded to what other Christians believe (if they are Trinitarian and hold to the Articles of the historic Creeds)…that used to include Calvinists. Then the insults from the Calvinists began, the horrid condemnations, the arrogance. The final straw came when a very kind and sweet man, a deacon in the Russian Orthodox church and my friend, was told by a Calvinist (who has a fairly extensive website from Canada) that his (my friend’s) wife and child were killed in a car wreck because they were not Calvinists. This was said in a chatroom and the room just went silent in shock. People were horrified at the audacity…and from then on we simply allowed no Calvinists ever. That is still my attitude in chatrooms and in life. They have been so horrid, I simply now reject them outright. Sad how hatred causes hatred.

    • Craig

      I have had many conversations with Calvinists, both in person and in online forums. They have been mostly rude and prideful. I have even lost a few friends because, in their words I “refused to be corrected!”

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