Blog

Calvinists, Let's Calm Down

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.)

130 Responses to “Calvinists, Let's Calm Down”

  1. I think I get it: Humility is the key!

  2. Lisa Robinson May 15, 2009 at 12:53 am

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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. =)

  7. Lisa Robinson May 15, 2009 at 6:05 am

    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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. “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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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. :)

  23. “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).

  24. 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?

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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!

  30. 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”

  31. Lisa Robinson May 15, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    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.

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

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

  34. 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.

  35. Lisa Robinson May 15, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.)

  47. Lisa Robinson May 16, 2009 at 10:43 am

    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.

  48. Lisa, I appreciate your thoughts on this.

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

  50. 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.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. ‘Oh, that the loftiness of my Calvinistic brothers and sisters would be humbled’ : Church Leader Links - May 15, 2009

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

  2. Word of Caution – don’t read that book? « Inquiring Minds - May 16, 2009

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

  3. I Never Worry About It « Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth - May 17, 2009

    […] 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 […]

  4. Calvinists, Let - May 18, 2009

    […] […]

  5. Help for Conspiracy Theorists… « who am i? - October 1, 2009

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

Leave a Reply