Monthly Archives: April 2009

A Quiz for Your Calvinist Friends

A little quiz for your Calvinist Friends. Inspired by the ever resourceful JC Thibodaux and by a Calvinist dude named Jay Banks. Enjoy.

Genesis 25:23 The LORD said to [Rebekah], “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

Q: What was in Rebekah’s womb?

A. Two nations and two peoples.
B. One elect person and one reprobate person.
C. Don’t even try to refer to the Old Testament for your exegesis of Romans 9. Heretic.

Ezekiel 18:23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

Q: How much pleasure does the Sovereign Lord take in the death of the wicked?

A. No pleasure
B. Much pleasure
C. No revealed pleasure, but lots of secret pleasure.

Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

Q: Why didn’t Jesus gather up those in Jerusalem, when he longed to?

A. Because they were not willing.
B. This is a mystery.
C. Hello pea brain. Jesus was speaking of general chicks, not effectual chicks.

Luke 10:30-37 [The story of the good Samaritan – the priest and Levite “pass by” the traveler, the Samaritan stops and helps.]

Q: Which of these three do you think showed mercy?

A. The Samaritan. Go and do likewise.
B. The priest and the Levite showed mercy by passing by.
C. Each person showed a different kind of mercy. If all had stopped to help, the act of the Samaritan would have been diluted.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Q: God loves what?

A. The world
B. The elect.
C. His glory.

Q: Who will not perish?

A. Whoever believes in God’s only son.
B. Let me get back to you on that, I need to look up the answer on “Desiring God”.
C. Francis Schaeffer won’t perish, but his kid Franky was decreed to go off the deep end.

Acts 16:30,31 [The jailer] then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

Q: What must I do to be saved?

A. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.
B. Win the divine lottery.
C. The jailer was a Pelagian.

Romans 11:32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Q: Who does “all” refer to in this verse?

A. All
B. The elect
C. An unbiased reading of the text shows that the first all refers to everyone and the second all refers to only the elect.

1 Timothy 1:18,19 Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.

Q: Paul says that some people have done what with their faith?

A. Some have shipwrecked their faith.
B. This is a hypothetical analogy with no real world application. It is merely used by God to ensure the perseverance of the elect.
C. Nice try. Obviously the ship was never floating in the first place.

1 Timothy 2:4 [God] wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Q: Who does God want to be saved?

A. All men
B. All men, but no women.
C. God really wants all men to be saved, but only in such a way that he damns most in order to maximize his glory.

1 Peter 1:1,2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Q: How are the elect chosen?

A. According to the foreknowledge of God the Father.
B. If you were elect you would already know the answer to this question.
C. Who are you oh man to talk back to Piper?

1 John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Q: Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for what and what?

A. Our sins and also for the sins of the whole world.
B. The sins of the elect, and also for the sins of the elect.
C. The correct word is “propitiation”. You show your Arminian tendencies by quoting from the NIV. Read the ESV, heretic.

BONUS ROUND!

Revelation 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Q: Which picture best depicts the above verse?

A. B.
C.

Add up your score:
2 points for every A
1 point for every B
0 points for every C

Score:
25+ points – Congrats! You are predestined to be an Arminian
20-24 points – You read a lot of Norm Geisler.
15-19 points – Old school Calvinist
10-14 points – Neo-Reformed
0-9 points – James White is your homie.

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Filed under Arminianism, Calvinism, humor, quiz, satire

Arminian Audio Link: Roger Olson

Roger Olson has done another interview about Arminianism. He discusses theology with a couple of young Charismatic Reformed guys. Run time is 1 hour. The interview was on Jan 4th 2009. The hosts are amatures, and a little bit annoying, but are friendly and have a good spirit. They are obviously stoked to get Dr Olson on their show. They chit chat with themselves for the first 12 minutes, so you can fast forward a bit if you want to cut to the chase.

Episode Information: G3 Radio – The Clash of Calvinists and Arminians

Here is the mp3 direct link: LINK

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Frankenstein vs Calvinism

(Warning, this is pretty cheesy and is not meant to be taken seriously)

How many similarities are there between the story of Frankenstein and the theology of John Calvin? Let’s take a look…

Frankenstein – Start with completely dead corpse.
Calvinism – Check

Frankenstein – Corpse is zapped with lightning and brought to life.
Calvinism – Check

Frankenstein – Creator is self centered and has an ends justifies the means mentality.
Calvinism – Check

Frankenstein – Even after being zapped with lightning Frankenstein is still nothing more than a totally depraved monster.
Calvinism – Check

Frankenstein – Hunchbacked servant named Igor
Calvinism – Hunchback servant named Pierre

Frankenstein – “I am not a Frankenstein. I’m a Fronkensteen. Don’t give me that. I don’t believe in fate. And I won’t say it!…All right, you win. You win. I give. I’ll say it. I’ll say it. I’ll say it. DESTINY! DESTINY! NO ESCAPING THAT FOR ME! DESTINY! DESTINY! NO ESCAPING THAT FOR ME!”
Calvinism – Check

(That last one is a reference to Young Frankenstein)

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The Idiot’s Guide to the New Perspective on Paul

It is difficult to find a brief layman’s explanation of the “New Perspective on Paul” (NPP). To rectify the problem I humbly offer “The Idiot’s Guide to the New Perspective on Paul” (myself being the idiot). Comments welcome! I posted something similar to this a while back on an Arminian group discussion, so this may be a repeat for a few.

An Analogy:
Imagine a church that has the following rule: EVERYONE WHO ATTENDS THIS CHURCH MUST WEAR A SUIT. The church has the rule to keep out the bums, reasoning that bums can’t afford suits.

The people in the church know very well that wearing a suit in and of itself doesn’t make one a Christian. They simply have the requirement for the purpose of excluding others who are not like them. They want the church for themselves, and want to keeps the bums out.

In this analogy the root problem is that the Christians want to exclude others. There is nothing inherently wrong with someone wanting to wear a suit. The problem is that they are using their preference for suits as an arbitrary rule to exclude others.

New Perspective Explained:
Among Protestant circles, Paul’s writings have generally been interpreted as a criticism of legalism (the suit in the analogy). NPP argues that Paul’s writings are instead a criticism of exclusivism (keeping the bums out).

NPP points out that during Paul’s ministry the Jewish Christians were reluctant to accept Gentiles as fellow believers. The Jews often acted in ways to prevent the inclusion of others. One way that this manifested itself was by the demand that the Gentiles follow detailed adherence to the OT law. The law was used as a way of excluding others.

NPP argues that the Jewish Christians knew that salvation came by grace through faith. Or put another way, they did not believe that following the law would save them in and of itself. NPP argues that root problem was that the Jewish Christians wanted to keep Christianity exclusive to themselves. Thus, Paul’s criticism of works should be interpreted in this light.

In short, NPP proponents argue that:
1) The Jewish Christians knew that salvation was by grace through faith, and that following the law didn’t merit salvation.
2) The Jewish Christians were using the law as grounds to exclude Gentiles from fellowship.
3) Paul’s beef was with the exclusion, not with those who wanted to obey the law.

Why does this matter today?
A key component of Protestant theology is that we are saved by grace through faith, and not by works (Eph 2:8-9). During the Reformation, Luther and others appealed to Paul’s criticism of works in order to point out some of the severe abuses of the Roman Catholic church.

If Paul’s primary concern was exclusivism rather than works, some think that this could undermine the scriptural justification for the Reformation. Exclusivism is a different problem than works based salvation.

My Take:
I personally believe that NPP has some merits. But I also believe that the traditional Protestant view does as well. I think that both exclusivism and works salvation were addressed in the scope of Paul’s writing. I also believe that both of these views can co-exists along side each other without conflict, and in fact compliment each other.

How does this relate to the Arminian / Calvinist debate?
It is often the case that Arminians are more open to NPP. Calvinists tend to be more critical of it, though this is not always the case. John Piper is a strong critic of NPP, while NT Wright is a proponent. Both are Calvinists. I personally see no reason why Arminians or Calvinists must reject NPP, as it has little to say about the definition of election or the scope of the atonement. As mentioned earlier, it does touch on certain aspects of Reformational thought, however, this is not in and of itself a good reason to reject the theory.

Further reading on NPP

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Filed under New Perspective on Paul, Theology

An Account of Christian Authority Over Demons

My grandparents Bob and Lela Jackson were missionaries to Argentina (1944-46) and Swaziland (1946-51).   A few years ago, G’pa wrote an autobiography about their experiences.  The following is an account of something that happened to them while in Swaziland.

Note: the other family referred to is the Schmelzenbachs (Harmon, Beverly, Dennis, and Elmer).

After the service a feast was prepared for the 250 people, tea, sugar and sweet rolls. We ate the lunch, which we had brought along in the church sitting on the plain wooden benches. Then it was time to return to Acornhoek for the evening service. Winding our way around the tall flat topped trees, stones and huge ant hills we cautiously made our way over the dirt trail worn in the grass of the veld. Off in the distance we could hear the beating of the drums and saw a large kraal with many huts in it. Thinking it was a big weekend beer drink Harmon asked me if I would like to go over and try to get some pictures. As I did not have any of a beer drink I told him I would like to go. However, when we got there we found that it was the closing ceremony of a school for witch doctors. It had been going on all day with the students demonstrating before the old Witch doctor what they could do through the power of the demons.

Some of the missionaries had gone on ahead and did not stop. However, Harmon, Beverly, Dennis, Lela and I went over to see what we could. When Elmer came up he would not even get out of his car when he found out what it was for he had some experiences with witch doctors and demons. Jackson and Janie Philips who were riding with him did come over. Harmon asked the headman of the kraal for permission to take some pictures, which was granted.

The instructor, an old woman with the red mud of her profession done up in her hair and the gourds, bones and rattles tied around her waist and ankles was sitting on one side in front of her hut. She was observing and over seeing everything that was going on. The students were dancing around a circle to the beating of the drums and tambourines, the swishing of the vildabeast tails and the chanting as they invoked the aid of the spirits. They were dressed in all of the paraphernalia of the Ngomas or witch doctors with the same red mud in their hair. Dennis who was fifteen went around to the other side of the large group of about 75 students and observers to get some pictures from a different angle. But as he sensed the heathen darkness and felt the power of the demons he soon came running back to the rest of us.

All of us realized that we were no longer onlookers but we were now participants in a great battle between the Lord and the forces of evil. We found out later that we were all praying in almost the same words for the Lord in the name of Christ to stop the evil forces and bring the ceremony to an end.

As we prayed they began having all kinds of difficulties. As the drums beat out their steady rhythm we could tell from their chanting that they were beginning to understand their problem, “Raise us, spirits, raise us. Why is it so hard for us to work today? Help us to overcome the power that opposes us. O spirits, why are we being defeated? Help us to have the power to show to the people.”

We knew that we could not leave at that time. God was interfering in the ceremony and if we were to leave they would have claimed that the power of the demons had driven us and the power of God away. So we stayed and redoubled our prayers.

A dog which had been sleeping at the side of the circle in which the students were dancing around and chanting, suddenly got up, went over and bit one of them on the ankle. The gourd rattle tied around the ankle of another one fell off. They knew where their problems were coming from and one of the dancers came over and knelt at my feet, another at Harmon’s feet with the old head witch doctor backing them up. They were all praying to the demons to overcome us with their power. I was praying, watching and taking pictures at the same time.

Harmon said to the group of us, “Bob will pray and you will see that they will not be able to do anything more.” I was shocked for I immediately realized what a formidable task I had been given. I began to call on God in the name of Jesus Christ with all the ability I had. Dennis checked his watch for he wanted to know just how long it would take.

As I prayed, Harmon interpreted the prayer of the witch doctor who was praying at my feet. “Help us, spirits! May the age-old customs of our people overcome the power of these people that is opposing us today. I can find no opening. I can find no crack in the wall of their defense. Give me the help to show them your power. O demons, there is no way to reach them.”

The power of the Holy Spirit was our defense and we needed it desperately. Greater difficulties arose in their demonstration. They could not locate the hidden coins they were supposed to find. The drumbeaters kept loosing the beat, which they had been keeping up all day. The dancers could no longer dance to the beat of the drums. The dancers had their gourd rattles come loose and the sash and bead belt of another one fell off. As one dancer made a high jump he came down and sprained his ankle and had to limp away. Another one had the red wig he was wearing slip and almost fall off before he could grab it and put it back in place. They called for different drummers who tried different beats but all to no avail and their frustration deepened.

As they were having their difficulties I was having mine as well. The muscles in my right arm began to jerk in rhythm with the wild beating of the drums. Then my right thumb began to jerk also. I grabbed my right hand with my left and said, “I will not allow my hand and arm to jerk.” Then I cried out to the Lord in desperation, “Lord, I’ve got to have your help right now! Make these witch doctors get up and leave right now!”

Immediately the witch doctors gave up, dropped their heads in exhaustion, got up and left in utter defeat. My arm was now still. My heart was filled with praise to the Lord who was greater than all of the forces of evil. All of the witch doctors gathered in the hut for a conference, then came out and said that the Ngoma was over and politely asked us to leave, saying that they could not do anything while we were there. Dennis checked his watch again and said it had just taken five minutes for God to bring everything to a standstill although it had seemed much longer to me when I was in the midst of the battle.

Harmon Schmelzenbach asked for permission to say a word before we left, which was granted. He thanked them for allowing us to be there and take pictures. Then he told them about Jesus, the Light of the world, who came to die for us on the cross of Calvary, to give us the forgiveness of sins and the joy of salvation in our hearts. He told them that Jesus could free us from the power of the demons and the darkness they bring.

Then we all left rejoicing in the power of God which we had seen demonstrated that day as we had prayed and trusted in Him. There was no question in our minds and in theirs that the power of God was greater than the power of the demons, for “Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.” That night, back in the home of Elmer and Mary Schmelzenbach, we rejoiced as each one recalled his impressions of the occasion. We realized that we had participated in the moving of the power of God in a way we would never forget and which would always affect our lives. We did have the European service afterward in which Lela sang and Harmon preached.

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Filed under angels and demons, missions

Great Quote: Sam Jones

If I seek religion I can’t find it, and if I’ve found it I haven’t got it, and if I’ve got it I can’t lose it, and if I lose it I haven’t had it. –Sam Jones

A pithy summary of Calvinism, is it not?


(quoted in the book: A Right Conception of Sin, by Richard S. Taylor)

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Atonement Series: Moral Example

Moral Example View
The moral example theory (also called moral influence) was first proposed by Pierre Abelard. During the Reformation it was advocated by the Socinians. Today it is often advocated by liberal groups such as Unitarians.

The moral example theory states that Jesus’ life and death served as an example to humanity. Jesus’ life was meant to persuade us to love him, and to follow his example. The key to understanding this theory is to recognize that atonement is not directed toward God to satisfy His justice, rather it is directed toward man to motivate him to do the right thing.

Roger Olson writes:

God, according to Abelard, does not need to be reconciled to humanity. God already loves us. Our problem is that we do not realize this and because of our sin and ignorance live in alienating fear of God. The cross of Jesus is an act of God’s love that inspires new motive into our actions so that we see how much God loves us and we begin to love in return.(1)

Articulating the moral example theory, philosopher Hastings Rashdall wrote:

The great question for us now is, Do we believe in that love of God which Christ taught by His words, and of which His followers saw in His voluntary death a crowning manifestation? And remember that even belief in the love of God will do us no good unless it awakes answering love in ourselves — unless it adds to our hatred of the sin which separates us from God and increases our love of other men. (2)

Observe that what’s important to Rashdall is not what Jesus objectively accomplished, rather, it is what Jesus taught, what his followers saw, and the response that it brings about in us. This is what matters in moral example theory.

Adherents:
The moral example theory is commonly accepted by liberal leaning Christians. Other groups find the theory helpful as one aspect of the atonement, but inadequate in its own right.

Criticisms:

  • Doesn’t explain why Jesus had to shed his blood.
  • Neglects the exclusivity and divinity of Jesus.
  • Implies that we can obtain salvation on our own merits.

Verses Used to Advocate:

  • Then [Jesus] said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. -Luke 9:23.24
  • To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. -1 Peter 2:21

Examples in Music and Literature

  • When I Survey, (by Isaac Watts). Hymn that emphasizes the effect on the observer surveying Jesus on the cross.
  • Lord I Lift Your Name on High (by Rick Founds) “You came from heaven to earth, to show the way, from the earth to the cross, my debt to pay.” The first phrase is representative of moral example while the second is phrase is substitutionary.

(1) The Story of Christian Theology, by Roger Olson, p 328-29
(2) Principles and Precepts, by Hastings Rashdall, p126.

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