Monthly Archives: July 2009

Interesting Links 7-25-09

British Calvinist Peter Masters criticizes the new American Calvinism. “The new Calvinism is not a resurgence but an entirely novel formula which strips the doctrine of its historic practice, and unites it with the world.” Masters is the current pastor of Charles Spurgeon’s church.

God in the Hands of Angry Calvinists. Describing the angry behavior of some Calvinists, William Birch writes that “How we view God affects how we think and act.”

New Testament Scholar Craig Bloomberg explains why he is a Calminian. He holds to middle knowledge (Molinism). HT: Robert

Nate rightly points out that you don’t have to be Calvinist to be Reformed. Both Arminians and Calvinists are Reformed. “The difference in the end is that Arminians believe God gives a resistible grace unto all men…”

Methodist Dr. Riley Case has some praise for the new Calvinism. “Evangelical United Methodists should welcome the new interest in Calvinism. When we debate Calvinists we can appeal to Scripture, and talk about truth, and discuss meaningfully matters like salvation and grace and the blood of Jesus. Those who call themselves Progressive Christians, on the other hand, are a moving target.”

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A Meal on the Moon

Today is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. It is not often told, but one of the first things Buzz Aldrin did after landing on the moon was to take communion. He originally planned to quote scripture (John 15:5 – “I am the vine and you are the branches…”). He was asked by NASA not to do this because they were involved in a legal dispute with Madelyn Murray O’Hare. So Aldrin simply asked for a moment of silence, and then privately gave thanks to God.

Here is an account of the story from Guideposts: A Meal on the Moon

Here is a more detailed account: First Communion on the Moon

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Interesting Links 7-18-09

The Albert Mohler program interviews Matt Pinson (Arminian) and Mark Dever (Calvinist) on Calvin’s 500 year legacy. They amicably address their theological differences.

Were the 18th century (largely Arminian) revival movements based on Enlightenment thought? A book entitled “Advent of Evangelism” argues that they were, and that this was bad. Colin Hansen at Christianity Today gives a critical review of the book. Scot McKnight gives his thoughts here.

Calvinist Alexandre Costa is reading the book Arminian Theology by Roger Olson. He is enjoying it and has found it to be helpful in clearing up misconceptions.

Is it possible for an Arminian to be a Christian Hedonist? John Piper says yes, even though Arminians believe in “grace plus their will”.

Ben Witherington of Asbury airs some concerns about a new M.Div. program at Indiana Wesleyan (he doesn’t mention the school name in the post). Ken Schenck from IWU responds here.

Reformed Pastor Joey Rogers enjoys James White, but sometimes find’s White style a bit much, especially when he’s debating Arminians.

Methodist instructor Donald Haynes writes about the causes of the Calvinist resurgence. “When spiritual seekers with no theological foundations bring their broken lives to this theological oracle [Calvinism], they can easily be blocked from the shining sun of God’s abiding love.”

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Essay About Calvinism by Roger Olson

[The following is an essay by Roger Olson, author of the book Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. Dr. Olson has made this available to the Society of Evangelical Arminians. William Birch has posted some interesting commentary on the background of the essay, which can be found here.]

My Biggest Problem with Calvin/Calvinism

Roger E. Olson
Professor of Theology
George W. Truett Theological Seminary
Baylor University

Above all I want to make clear that I admire and respect my Calvinist friends and colleagues. We disagree strongly about some points of theology, but I hold them in high esteem for their commitment to the authority of God’s Word and their obvious love for Jesus Christ and his church as well as for evangelism.

However, I do not admire or respect John Calvin. I have been told that he should not be held responsible for the burning of the heretic Servetus because, after all, he warned the Spanish doctor and theologian not to come to Geneva and he urged the city council to behead him rather than burn him. And, after all, Calvin was a child of his times and everyone was doing the same. Nevertheless, I still struggle with placing a man complicit in murder on a pedestal.

Furthermore, I find Calvin’s doctrine of God repulsive. It elevates God’s sovereignty over his love, leaving God’s reputation in question. What I mean is that Calvin’s all-determining, predestining deity is at best morally ambiguous and at worst morally repugnant.

Much to the chagrin of some contemporary Calvinists, Calvin clearly taught that God foreordained the fall and rendered it certain. (Institutes of the Christian Religion III:XXIII.8) He also affirmed double predestination (III:XXI.5) and displayed callous disregard for the reprobate who he admitted God compelled to obedience (disobedience). (I:XVIII.2) Calvin distinguished between two modes of God’s will—what later Calvinists have called God’s decretive and preceptive wills. (III:XXIV.17) God decrees that the sinner shall sin while at the same time commanding him not to sin and condemning him for doing what he was determined by God to do. To Calvin this all lies in the secret purposes of God into which we should not peer too deeply, but it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of anyone who regards God as above all love.

John Wesley commented on the Calvinists’ claim that God loves even the reprobate in some way. As one contemporary Calvinist put it, “God loves all people in some ways but only some people in all ways.” Wesley said that this is a love such as makes the blood run cold.

Calvin’s successor in Geneva, Theodore Beza, commented that those who find themselves suffering in the flames of hell for eternity can at least take comfort in the fact that they are there for the greater glory of God. To paraphrase Wesley, that is a glory such as sends chills down the spine. God foreordains some of his own creatures, created in his own image, to eternal hell for his own glory? Calvin may not have put it quite that bluntly, but many Calvinists have and it is a necessary extrapolation of the inner logic of consistent Calvinism. (Institutes III:XXII.11)

I have been heavily criticized by some of my Calvinist friends for saying that my biggest problem with Calvinism (by which I mean consistent divine determinism) is that it makes it difficult for me to tell the difference between God and the devil. (I am not saying Calvinists worship the devil!)

For me nothing about the Christian worldview is more important than regarding God and the devil as absolute competitors in this universe and its tragic history. God is good and desires the good of every creature. As church father Irenaeus said “The glory of God is man fully alive.” The devil is bad and desires harm for every creature. To view the devil as God’s instrument makes a mockery of the entire biblical narrative.

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Two Views of Regeneration by John Hendyx

I just ran across this little beauty: Two Views of Regeneration, by John Hendryx. I don’t know too much about Hendryx, other than that J.C. Thibodaux likes to take him to task. I see why now.

Simply put, Hendryx’s representation of Arminian Theology is about the most biased that one will ever run across. His descriptions are worthless for accurately representing what Arminians hold to. These descriptions are not even an accurate representation of Semi-Pelagianism.

Either Hendrix is uninformed, or is completely dishonest. I hope the former. He really needs to read Arminian Theology, by Roger Olson.

Ok, I’m done ranting now. Stuff like this really ticks me off. :)

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Interesting Bible Transalation Chart

I ran across this Bible translation chart. I found it helpful in visually explaining the goal of different English translations. The number in parenthesis is the grade level readability. The chart comes from Lion Track Ministries. I can’t speak to it’s accuracy.

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Six Ways Calvin is Better than Arminius

Well, today is the big 5-0-0 for Mr. John Calvin. Although he isn’t my favorite theologian, he deserves special recognition in honor of his big day. So I humbly offer six ways that Calvin is better than Arminius.

Better Name. Calvin is a great sounding name. It’s stylish enough to have its own clothing line. Arminius does not role off the tongue, and is too easily confused with a small Asian country.

Sure of Himself. Calvin knew he was right, and never changed his views. Arminius changed his theology over the years. Pretty wishy washy if you ask me.

Better Chess Player. Calvin would smoke Arminius in a game of chess. He would plan his game from beginning to end and execute it to perfection. Arminius would no doubt waste his time worrying about the pawns.

The Beard. Calvin has the way cool Z.Z. Top beard thing going. Arminius’ beard is respectable, but nothing to phone home about. As a side note: Z.Z. Top would be executed if they ever showed up in Calvin’s Geneva. And rightfully so.

Political Power. Calvin ran his own city-state with an iron fist. Arminius could hardly hold down a job at Leiden.

No Weenie Frill Collar. Calvin has a stylish fur collar. Arminius deserves a butt kicking for his collar. Enough said.

Happy Birthday John Calvin!

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