Monthly Archives: December 2008

Stuff Young Calvinists Like (Satire)

[Update: If you enjoy this post, check out the following as well: Stuff Liberal Christians Like]

The following is an attempt at satire about stuff young Calvinists like. The idea came from this blog (which is funny but crass). Hopefully you will find this in good taste. :)

In most cases there is an obvious Arminian corollary. These are listed in italics.

The ESV translation: Young Calvinists (YCs) love the ESV. In certain circles its use is mandatory. The translation can easily be identified by the prominent circle on the front and/or on the binder. Since every YC uses the ESV, the “circle” has the nice side benefit of allowing them to easily identify each other when in unfamiliar environments.

The easiest way to explain why the ESV is preferred is by pointing out out the problems with all other Bible translations. The KJV is archaic. The NKJV is too much like the KJV. No one uses the NASB. The NIV and NLT are thought for thought translations (bad). The Living and The Message are paraphrases (really bad). The NRSV and TNIV use gender neutral language (really really bad). Special note: people who prefer the NRSV are invariably liberal (keep in mind that “liberal” and “Arminian” are synonymous term in the Calvinist mind). When in the presence of YCs it is wise to avoid all reference to the NRSV for reasons of safety.

The ESV is generally the only permitted translation for Calvinists; however, there is one notable exception: The NASB is considered acceptable if one is buying a MacArthur study Bible. In all other cases the NASB should be avoided in order to maintain conformity. It is a matter of great consternation among YCs that there is currently no ESV MacArthur study Bible.

Arminian Corollary: All Arminians use the NIV. If you catch an Arminian using a translation other than the NIV, this indicates that he intends to convert to another branch of Christianity. You can determine what branch based on the translation used. A few years ago there was an Arminian movement to migrate to the TNIV. This was singlehandedly shot down by James

Mars Hill Church:
YCs like Mars Hill because it is contemporary, hip, and Reformed. The first rule when discussing Mars Hill is to be aware that there are actually two of them. One is very cool. One is evil. To mix them up is a sign of terrible ignorance and is considered almost as bad as reading the NRSV. The cool Mars Hill is pastored by Mark Driscoll, and is located in Seattle. The evil Mars Hill is located near Grand Rapids. It is pastored by Rob Bell (The Emergent who produces the NOOMA series). It is excessively irritating to YCs that there is a successful Emergent mega-church in Mecca (Grand Rapids).

Arminian Corollary: Arminians like the evil Mars Hill.

All YCs drink alcohol. Other Christians drink too, but alcohol has special significance among YCs. Most of them grew up in churches where drinking was frowned upon. Since YCs are invariably fundamentalists, it is important for them to be able to point to something that indisputably proves that they have thrown off the legalistic chains of their youth. Alcohol fills the role nicely.

Arminian Corollary: Young Arminians drink too, and for the same reasons.

Old Theologians:
YCs love old theologians. Their favorites include: Edwards, Owen, and Spurgeon (primarily because their works are written in English). All YCs own works from old theologians. They love to display them in their library. A special note of precaution here: It is better to not ask the YC specific questions about the classic works that he owns. This can create an embarrassing moment, because there is a good chance that he hasn’t read them. This is not intentional. When the YC bought the works he fully intended to read them, but then realized that wading through Owen and Edwards is quite difficult. Though rare, it is worse to ask a question to a YC who has actually read the classics. In that case you will get more than you bargained for, such as a dissertation on the merits of John Owen’s insight into penal substitution theory. It is always safer to merely notice the YC’s large library, and to comment on his excellent tastes.

Arminian Corollary: Arminians don’t know the names of any old theologians. If you ask an Arminian to name one, he will say “Billy Graham”. Like YCs, Arminians rarely read the books that they own.

John Piper:
John Piper is the “holy grail” of Calvinist authors. YCs own all of his books. In many cases his work is actually preferred over scripture (of course you will never get a YC to admit this). Unlike “old theologians”, YCs actually read Piper. In fact it is common to find YCs who have memorized large portions of his work. If you attempt to argue with a YC, there is a 100% chance that he will refer you to something written by Piper. If you have a good friendship with a YC, you have an excellent chance of receiving a Piper book for Christmas.

There is no Arminian corollary to John Piper. Arminians do own and memorize the “Left Behind” books.

Caedmon’s Call:
Caedmon’s Call is the preferred music group for all YCs. This is not because Caedmon’s Call has particularly outstanding music, but because the lyrics of their songs are discernibly Calvinist in nature. If you have a good friendship with a YC and don’t get a Piper book for Christmas, it is near certain that you will receive a Cadmon’s Call CD instead.

LACRAE: Caedmon’s call is very 08. Lacrae is now the preferred artist for all YCs. This is not because he has particularly outstanding music, but because the lyrics of his songs are discernibly Calvinist in nature. For white YC’s he is also the only rap artist that they can name, although they’ll be offended if you point this out. And no, DC Talk doesn’t count. If you have a good friendship with a YC and don’t get a Piper book for Christmas, it is near certain that you will receive a Lacrae CD instead.

Arminian Corollary: Arminians like Michael W Smith, because he sings about love and endorses books like “The Shack”. White Arminians can’t name any rap artists.

Second Generation Calvinists: Second generation Calvinists are highly esteemed because there are so few of them. Most children of Calvinists become either non-Calvinists (the Schaeffer route) or hyper-Calvinists (the Sproul route). If you happen to be a level headed second generation Calvinist, there are lots of YCs who want to pepper you with questions about how exciting it must have been growing up in a Reformed Church. You get extra points if you are from Michigan, have a Dutch sounding last name, or have spent time at L’Abri. If you happen to be a Calvinist of South African descent, you present a special situation. In this case the YC still desires to question you; however, he will be very discreet about it when in the presence of minorities.

There are no second generation Arminians. They invariably become liberal, or convert to another branch of Christianity.

The Word “Reformed”: YCs actually hate to be called Calvinists, due to the negative connotations associated with the word. They instead prefer to use the word “Reformed”. The term is less recognized, and when in mixed company it allows the YC to maintain the illusion that he is on the sly. If someone comments in passing that he enjoys “Reformed Theology”, this is code to tell you that he is a Calvinist. This is quite similar to a Mormon casually mentioning where he served his mission, and it is done with identical motives. The YC will be closely watching your response. Appropriate responses include: “That’s cool, what is your favorite John Piper book?” or “I am a huge fan of Caedmon’s Call.” If you ask what Reformed theology is, you will immediately be put on the YC’s list of Arminians to convert.

Arminian Corollary: Arminians hate to be called fundamentalist. They will spend 10 minutes explaining to you why they are not fundamentalist, even though they are. Arminians also will never admit that they are Arminians.

The Five Solas:
Among educated brethren YCs refer to themselves as adherents of the five solas. YCs prefer not to use the term TULIP. However, references to TULIP become necessary when indoctrinating non-Calvinists, as the unique distinctives of Calvinism are not readily apparent from the five solas. YCs always say the solas in the original Latin. This makes them feel smarter. When a YC is losing an argument, he will often shout out “SOLI DEO GLORIA!” YCs rarely refer to “sola fide” or “solus Christus” because they sound too Arminian. Much like the word “Reformed”, YCs frequently refer to the solas as part of an elaborate code language in an attempt to vet out other Christian’s knowledge of Calvinism.

Arminian Corollary: Arminians agree with the five solas, but usually don’t know what they are. Arminians sometimes refer to themselves as adherents of John 3:16, and will often hold entire conferences based on the verse.

Small Groups:
All YCs attend a small group. While small groups are by no means unique to Calvinism, YCs have particular reasons for attending them. Calvinist small groups have much in common with military boot camps. They are intended to indoctrinate and promote conformity. In mixed denominations where Calvinism is taught on the sly, small groups present the unique opportunity to indoctrinate with minimal oversight. It is also the desire of every YC to work for Desiring God or Crossway. Since this is not always a realistic goal, it is considered an acceptable fall back to lead a small group.

Arminian Corollary: Arminians host small groups primarily as a motivation to clean up their messy house. They rarely discuss theology, unless a YC has infiltrated the group. Typically the purpose of Arminian small groups is to discuss politics, watch football, and eat food.


Filed under Arminianism, Calvinism, satire

Why I Became an Arminian

This is a personal post that deals with my journey as an Arminian.

I became a Christian at a young age. I remember going to a church service, being convicted of sin, and going down to the altar to pray with my dad. I asked Jesus to forgive me and to come into my heart. He did. I remember the experience. I felt forgiveness, peace, and the personal love of Jesus. This brought me great joy. I was around the age of 4 or 5 when this took place.

I grew up in a Christian family. My parents were committed church goers. If the church doors were open, we were there. My family attended the Nazarene church. Growing up, I did not realize that my denomination was “Arminian”. But, I was learning Arminian concepts. John 3:16 was the first verse memorized. In Sunday school we sang “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children”. I grew up believing that Jesus loves every person, that he wants each person to be saved, and that it is genuinely possible for anyone to become a believer. To this day, I believe that these distinctives are the heart of Arminian theology.

Until several years ago, I was largely ignorant of Calvinist theology. I knew that Calvinists placed a lot of importance on predestination. I also knew that they believed that a Christian could not lose his salvation. I thought that “eternal security” was the defining characteristic of Calvinism, thus, in my mind every Baptist was a Calvinist. I was blissfully unaware of the TULIP. I was also unaware of the Calvinistic concept of exhaustive determinism.

There were three events that piqued my interest in Calvinism. They all took place around the same time.

1) I attended Sunday school class where we went through a book by John Piper.
2) I started memorizing scripture, and ran into Romans 9.
3) My brother became a Calvinist, and began to try to convince me and other family members of its merits.

In the Sunday school class we studied the book “The Dangerous Duty of Delight” by John Piper. The discussions were lively. At the time I had never read Piper, and didn’t know that he was a Calvinist. However, I knew that I didn’t care for his book. Initially I couldn’t put my finger on the reason why. In retrospect, I think it was my “stink detector” going off. I didn’t really know what Calvinism was, but was still able to detect something amiss in Piper’s writing.

To this day, I don’t enjoy Piper’s work. No doubt he is a godly man with spiritual insight. However, his deterministic theology is in focus in all of his writings. This turns me off. When I read his writings I know that he is using Biblical terms in a way that is quite different from the way I understand them, and the way they have usually been interpreted historically. As a result, I find it difficult to appreciate his work (As a side note, I don’t find this to be true of all Calvinist authors.).

Around the same time as the Sunday school class, I began to memorize scripture. There was a man at our church who had memorized huge chunks of the Bible. He said that anyone could memorize large passages, and encouraged me to do so. I decided to give it a try. Over the course of several months I memorized Romans 8 and 12 – two of my favorite chapters. When I had 8 and 12 down, I decided to work on the chapters in between.

When I dug into Romans 9, it bothered me. What I read in Romans 9 did not sound like the God that I had heard about growing up, or had read about elsewhere in the Bible. A God who hates Esau before he was born? A God who hardens hearts, and creates objects of wrath? And to top it off, He tells us not to talk back and question his motives. What did this mean? What kind of God was this? Fortunately, I didn’t start or stop at Romans 9 (as I fear many Calvinist “converts” do).

When I read Romans 10, it seemed to me to flat out contradict Romans 9. There I read that that the same Lord is Lord of all. He richly blesses all who call on him. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Romans 9 created a lot cognitive dissonance for me. I didn’t understand how it fit in with Romans 10, or with other passages that seemed to contradict it. As I began to research the issue, I found that there were some viable Arminan interpretations of Romans 9. They made a lot of sense to me. I now enjoy Romans 9. Understood in context, it is a refreshing passage (My thoughts on Romans 9 can be found here).

As they say, sometimes life happens in threes. Around the time these other events were going on, my brother became a Calvinist. At the time I was still unaware of the distinctives of Calvinism. I just figured that he had bought into the “eternal security” thing. This didn’t really worry me. I had always respected my brother’s views and insight. He was (and is) a kind, patient, and reflective person. If he thought eternal security was true, that was fine with me. Maybe it was true.

But, to be sure, I decided to read up on Calvinism – both pro and con. What I read about it bothered me. I discovered that there was much more to Calvinism than “eternal security”. There was this thing called TULIP. TULIP contradicted what I knew to be true – that God loves the world (John 3:16), that Jesus died for all (1 Tim 2:4-6), and that God does not desire for anyone to perish (2 Pet 3:9). These were all biblical concepts that Calvinism rejected. I did not believe in a God who damned people before they were born for “His glory”. It was at that time that I realized that Calvinism was more than simply a minor variance in theology.

When I read Calvinist authors, I did not find their criticisms of Arminianism to be accurate. They said things like: Arminians deny the sovereignty of God. Arminians believe in a works salvation. Arminians are man-centered. Arminians don’t believe in the sinful nature. Arminians worship free will. Arminians are liberal. I knew from personal experience that none of these criticisms were legitimate (As a side note: Roger Olson’s book addresses many of these myths.).

Later on my brother convinced my sister and her husband of the merits of Calvinism. Both of their families broke fellowship with the churches that they had been attending, and began attending Calvinist churches. Unfortunately theology is now a matter of division in our family. I have learned to agree to disagree with my brother. I have not discussed the issue much with my sister. We are neither likely to change opinions, and I feel that addressing the matter would only strain our relationship. To my brother and sister: if you happen to read this, I hope you both know that I love you dearly, and accept you as fellow believers.

I have found that my experiences are not unique. Calvinism is in a period of resurgence. Thankfully, there are many godly Calvinists who are followers of Jesus. My brother and sister are among them. However, I also believe that Calvinist theology damages the body of Christ. Calvinism is a distortion of the Gospel. It misrepresents the character of God. It is something that needs to be addressed, checked, and opposed. For this reason I am now dedicated to to promoting Arminian theology.


Filed under about, Arminianism, Calvinism

According to Scripture, Jesus Died For …

According to scripture, Jesus died for …

Us all (Isaiah 53:6)
His people (Matthew 1:21)
All who are weary (Matthew 11:28)
Many (Matthew 20:28)
His people (Luke 1:68)
All the people (Luke 2:10)
The lost (Luke 19:10)
All who receive him (John 1:12)
The world (John 1:29)
Everyone who believes (John 3:15)
The world (John 3:16)
The world (John 3:17)
Whoever believes (John 3:18)
Whoever believes (John 3:36)
The world (John 4:42)
Whoever hears and believes (John 5:24)
The world (John 6:33)
He who comes and believes (John 6:35)
He who believes (John 6:47)
The world (John 6:51)
The sheep (John 10:7)
The sheep (John 10:11)
The sheep (John 10:15)
My sheep (John 10:27)
He who believes (John 11:25)
The Jewish nation (John 11:51)
The scattered children of God (John 11:52)
His friends (John 15:13)
Everyone who calls on the Lord (Acts 2:21)
The Church of God (Acts 20:28)
The ungodly (Romans 5:6)
Sinners (Romans 5:8)
God’s enemies (Romans 5:10)
Many (Romans 5:15)
All Men (Romans 5:18)
Your brother (Romans 14:15)
The weak brother (1 Corinthians 8:11)
All (2 Corinthians 5:14)
All (2 Corintihans 5:15)
The world (2 Cor 5:19)
Paul (Galations 2:20)
The Church (Ephesians 5:25)
All men (1 Timothy 2:6)
All men, especially those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10)
All men (Titus 2:11)
Everyone (Hebrews 2:9)
Many people (Hebrews 9:28)
The unrighteous (1 Peter 3:18)
False prophets (2 Peter 2:1)
Us, and the whole world (1 John 2:2)
The world (1 John 4:14)


Filed under limited atonement