Monday, July 03, 2006

Anti-Calvinism At It's Worst

Every Calvinist who has spent any time trying to witness to others the truth of the doctrines of grace has experienced what can only be called "anti-Calvinism". Anti-Calvinism can be characterized by sheer hatred of the doctrines of grace and the willingness to attack them by any means neccessary. Every logical fallacy from ad hominem to outright dishonesty can and will be employed by anti-Calvinists in order to gain any percieved ground in their holy war against what is so plainly taught in scripture. The single most shameful fact in this is that the typical anti-Calvinist is a professing Christian. These professing Christians will drop every standard of holiness, civility, and honesty in order to paint Calvinism in the worst light possible. Nothing can be more saddening than to watch a brother act like a trial lawyer, skillfully sowing the seeds of doubt to get his guilty client off the hook.

Now, I occasionally visit one of those web boards where folks can post on various topics related to and about Christian doctrine and I ran across one such anti-Calvinist named Bill Johnston. I attempted a dialogue with Bill because he seemed sincere and willing to openly discuss issues related to the doctrines of grace. Unfortunatly, Bill turned out to be one of the worst anti-Calvinists that I've ran across. What makes Bill such a bad anti-Calvinist is the fact that he knows very little about Calvinism and has admitted such. In fact, Bill makes Dennis Clough look scholarly. Below are some of Bill's statements from the aforementioned web board and my comments concerning them. I believe it's worth calling attention to this sort of behavior due to the fact that so many professing Christians will engage in it. It is my hope that at least one non-Calvinist out there will read this and evaluate if his/her argumentation is any better. note: these quotes do not appear in chronological order.

No, you chose to believe God is unjust by providing salvation for some, but not for others. You've been lied to, pal!

Bill says that Calvinists believe God to be unjust. Of course, we don't and Bill has been told this but Bill doesn't care. Bill believes that if God doesn't give all men since the time of Christ a chance to "get saved" then God is unjust. When I confronted Bill about those who lived in the new world and Australia during and immediatly after the time of Christ, and how they might have recieved the gospel, his response was one of those "All I know is..." statements. Bill still hasn't faced this issue squarely.

But, I don't suppose you guys witness to anyone, since you don't know who is chosen and who isn't, right?

Here, Bill muses that Calvinists do not witness to folks because we don't know who the elect are. Bill has been corrected on this as well but he has refused to listen. At any rate, Calvinists witness to any and all precisely because we don't know who the elect are. Calvinists believe that preaching is the means to God's ends in bringing His elect to His Son. In other words, we believe that God ordains the means along with the ends. Thus, preaching to all is in complete harmony with Calvinistic theology.

Jesus told us to go preach the Gospel to everybody, so it's obvious He didn't believe like you do. Thank God

Yes, Jesus told us to preach to all men. As stated above, Calvinists affirm this. But notice how Bill doesn't attempt a demonstration of just how the great commission contradicts anything in Calvinistic theology. Bill relies almost entirely on assertive argumentation and, at times, outright dishonesty.

It's also funny to hear folks like yourself claim that not all are chosen for salvation, but somehow all the people that claim this have been chosen

Kinda like how when the Christian witnesses to the lost, all the while believing that he himself is going to heaven while the person he is witnessing to is headed for hell, right? Oh, and never mind that Christians are referred to as "the chosen" many times in scripture.

That's always funny to me! Are there any in your group that have been chosen to go to hell?

What's funny is that this statement is no different than suggesting that a Christian is hell-bound. Further, this question is loaded and designed to mock Calvinism. It demonstrates unequivically that Bill is not serious about any of the issues surrounding the doctrines of grace. Since he cannot hope to refute Calvinism with such argumentation, what reason is there for him to act in this manner outside of sheer spite?

I've never heard such a crock of cr*ap in all my life that God created some people to go to hell, which obviously means you believe it is God's will for some folks to burn forever!

Aside from the fact that Bill is having to censure himself, this question bears just as much on his own position. For instance, Bill believes that God had perfect knowledge of all future things. This means that God knew that the majority of mankind would reject Him and end up in hell. But God chose to create anyway knowing these people would live and die without ever having hope that things would turn out different. If they did, then God's knowledge would be imperfect. So can Bill explain why God created men who had no hope of salvation? Would Bill even acknowledge the problem beyond "All I know is..."?

Bill takes his argumentation to new lows with these next two statements...

That's right, because I refuse to see things from the devil's point of view!

What? Now, why would I want to allow the devil to decieve me into believing like you?

The first statement was in response to me pointing out that he is attacking a belief system that he knows little about. Again I ask, what is to be gained in this kind of argumentation? It cannot be a concern for truth because there is no demonstration of truth in either of these statements. Again, I can only conclude that what is driving Bill at this point is pure spite.

This is classic cultism that claims "we are all saved, but God appointed some from outside our little group to go to hell....but, none of us of course because we are all saved!"

You tell those calvin cult followers!

Here in these two quotes, Bill resorts to calling Calvinists "cultists" (nevermind the fact that he doesn't bother to show just why). Since cults lie outside of what's accepted as Christianity, I can only conclude that Bill's opinion of Calvinists is that they are not Christians. Now, if Calvinists who believe this about non-Calvinists are called "hyper-Calvinists", why can't Bill be called a "hyper-Arminian"? At any rate, belief in predestination does not qualify anyone for cult status anymore than does believing that musical instruments are not acceptable for worship.

calvinism is nothing more than a pimple on the butt of the Body of Christ. One that needs to be popped!

This one I'll let stand without commentary as it says more than I could hope to about Bill's argumentation.

If you truly believe God fixed things so some people don't have any way of getting saved, then you serve a mean, ugly, evil god!

Only at death will any of us know for certain if we were right in accepting or rejecting Calvinism. If Bill is wrong in rejecting it, then he will one day stand before God to give an account for what he has said about Him publically all the while professing to be His child.

So, what is a "Calvinist" believe anyway? Can you name off a few points of exactly what they believe?

I don't follow calvin, or armin, or any other such foolishness. I simply read what God says and believe it.

Here, in these final two quotes, Bill displays his lack of knowledge concering this ancient debate. He asks what a Calvinist believes from, oddly enough, a non-Calvinist. The problem here is obvious. Instead of interacting with Calvinists about their beliefs, he chooses to ask a non-Calvinist for information while continuing to belittle and attack Calvinists. He further says that he does not follow Calvin or Armin (Armin?). Anyway, there is certainly nothing wrong with ignorance. We are all ignorant of a great many things. The problems begin when one tries to attack something that he doesn't understand. This axiom has been shown to be true too many times to count. Bill has been told that he doesn't understand Calvinism but that doesn't seem to matter to him. What little Bill knows, he hates. And as of this writing, Bill is still at it with no more knowledge than when he first started making the kinds of statements quoted above. As a professing Christian, Bill is supposed to be a lover of truth no matter what that truth might be. To know the truth requires a willingness to investigate. Bill lacks this quality and I believe that only God can give it to him. For the sake of those who frequent that particuliar message board, may it be soon. And for the Calvinists who frequent this blog, may your contact with anti-Calvinists such as Bill be few and far between!

16 comments:

Bulldawgy said...

For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

Has this fellow read that?

J. Matthew Cleary said...

bulldawgy,

I don't know if he has or not. Those quotes make you wonder don't they?

moG said...

Unfortunately Bill exhibits typical Arminian animosity for theology that declares God to be sovereign,holy and just and man without anything meritorious toward his salvation.

J. Matthew Cleary said...

moG,

Yeah, and we're supposed to be the nasty ones. I have had my salvation questioned by four different non-Calvinists for no other reason than I dared to disagree with their presuppositions of Libertarianism and foreknowledge. Go figure!

Michael said...

How old is this person? I can't imagine he is too far removed from high school. I am not trying to be mean. I'm serious. Perhaps he doesn't know much about critical thinking or logic?

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Michael,

My impression of Bill is that he is middle-aged. He doesn't appear to be a stupid (for lack of a better word) individual, but perhaps you are right in that he has not often engaged in critical thinking and logic, at least, in regards to theology. His interaction with me may be his first real encounter with a 5-point Calvinist. This would place many of his comments in the "knee-jerk" category I think. Still, this would not excuse his behavior as a professing Christian especially considering that an ally of his rebuked his behavior. His response was dismissive.

Anonymous said...

All the author has done is try and show that Bill's religious beliefs are as sadist and hateful as his own.

J. Matthew Cleary said...

All the anonymous commenter has done is to provide a comment devoid of any substance and relevance.

Anonymous said...

Why would God create someone knowing that they were going to hell?

Anonymous said...

It appears that this Bill Johnston is simply ignorant of what he is arguing.

Is this really the sort of person one wants to argue with or even use as a proof that "anti-calvinism" is even existent?

Mog, to say that this Bill is a "typical arminian" is as ignorant as bill's babble.

I think that with Calvinism the prevailing orthodoxy of today, Calvinists might want to worry about evangelizing rather than taking every oppertunity to discredit the Arminian beleif. What use is all this dogmatism when the average human being has a slim chance of hearing he gospel?

Anonymous said...

As a person who does not consider himself Calvinist, it disappoints me that this gentleman named Bill has acted so childishly and ignorantly.

He certainly wins no one to the "anti-Calvinist" side by his remarks.

SamRobinson said...

I'm sort of thinking that you made 'Bill' up. The curiosity in his 'last two lines' is completely out of line with his knee-jerk attacks.

Anyway. Back to the term paper. I was trying to find the publishing information for Nicholas Tyacke's "Anti-Calvinists" (real scholarship on the English church) and this came up!

Anonymous said...

I find this gratuitous attempt to portray those who dissent against Calvinism as crass & stupid as highly offensive. Calvinism has more holes than Swiss Cheese and there are a zillion objections to it ranging from "Calvin did not live an exemplary life, and therefore did not practice what he preached. Even his death by Crab Lice betrays his True Beliefs." to "Calvinism has implications that no man can competantly do any of the steps needed to publish the Bible (Translating, typesetting, printing, etc.) because Total Depravity prevents Man from furthering the cause of his own Salvation, as the printing of a Bible certainly would.".

Anyway, nice attempt to DEMONIZE Armenians. Also, I find that your assumption that Calvinism anf Armineanism are Polar Opposites offensive and incorrect. Actually, Armeanism is but a compromise position between Calvinism and Orthodoxy.

Anonymous said...

I can tell when someone has not read any part of Calvin's Institutes, like I have, much less compare what Calvin says the Book of Romans says to what the Book of Romans actually said. John Calvin has shown illiteracy by his singular ability of misconstrue colons and semicolons. Further, I find laughable the verbage about personal attacks against John Calvin when John Calvin himself made a personal attack about St. John Chrysostom's inability to understand Scripture.

I would add that Calvinophobia is not irrational, but instead is a revulsion against Calvinism based upon a knowlegeable conscience-based revulsion resulting from the reading of Calvin's Institutes. against Next time you defend Calvinism, at least read John Calvin's book.

Anonymous said...

Wow! This reminds me of what Paul scolded the Corinthians for. Substitute Calvinism for Paul or Appollos and Arminiasm for the other. "Rightly dividing the word" is one thing, but Jesus said that the world would know us for our love or one another.

Craig Bland said...

A couple of things trouble me about this conversation. First thing, why does any Christian call themselves disciples of anyone other thsn Christ. Is this not in direct contradiction to what Paul taught us? Secondly, except God told you specifically that you by name are one of the elect then how do you know you are one of them? If He Himself has not told you then how do you know He wont say "well good try buddy but I dont see your name here".