Saturday, January 27, 2007

Yet Another Fine Example

In my previous posts, I've been pointing out the lack of any real interaction and argumentation coming from those who would attack Reformed theology. Since I started blogging about ten months ago, I've had several visitors come by to take a passing shot at Calvinism. Only two of those attempted to put up actual arguments but they ended up abandoning those arguments as soon as they were challenged. Last night, a fellow named "Chris" came by and left his thoughts on a post I did months ago concerning one of Ergun Caner's bad sermons. I would characterize Chris' post as yet another fine example of what I've been talking about recently, that being an almost total bankruptcy of argumentation from non-Calvinists. So without any further ado, let's take a look at what Chris has to say.

I would have to say that you are grasping at straws to say, "Falwell tripped over his own tongue".

I beg to differ and will elaborate on this in a moment.

It was clear in Dr. Caner's sermon that it is indeed the will of our Father for us all to come to His son for salvation.

I assume that what Chris means by "us all" is that God wills each and every individual man and woman to come to Christ and it may be clear in Caner's sermon that this is what both Caner and Falwell believe but there is nothing in Caner's sermon that establishes this notion. Caner, like so many non-Calvinists, assumes his interpretation of passages like 2Peter 3:9 without bothering to demonstrate that their's is the correct interpretation over and against the Calvinistic understanding.

I believe his prayer reflected that of one who desires that the lost be saved.

Yes, but so? Falwell's desire to see lost men saved doesn't justify his remark being inconsistent with his theology. Moreover, is Chris tacitly suggesting that Calvinists do not want to see sinners saved? I hope not because this notion would be utterly ridiculous and easily refuted.

I understand his prayer as asking the Spirit of God to strongly convict the sinner so that they would repond positively to the gospel.

This may be what Chris understands Falwell to mean but this isn't what Falwell said. Falwell specifically used the phrase "do not let one person say no". This phrase is couched in a statement and not part of a request. Further, this statement is not consistent with Falwell's libertarian theology. In other words, this is something only a Calvinist can say while being consistent with his own theology. Thus, my statement about Falwell tripping over his tongue is accurate.

I am one who allows the Spirit of God to guide me through prayer and Bible study.

And herein lies the rub. In Chris' theology, man allows God to do this or that. In Chris' theology, God is sovereign only by consent from those He rules. In Chris' theology, God's rule is reduced to mere Presidency. In stark contrast, I am one who allows nothing where my God's will is concerned. In my theology, God sees fit to give me wisdom and insight into His written word. In my theology, God wills it and it is so. In my theology, God is king over His creation and His will is not dependant on mere consent.

I believe in eternal security because it is a doctrine that is clearly spoken of in the word of God not because someone I look up to told me I should.

And I too believe in "eternal security" (minus, of course, any attached libertarian notions) and for the same reasons. I would hasten to add however that I believe in the other four points of Calvinism for the same reason that I believe in "eternal security". That is, all five points of Calvinism are clearly set forth in God's revealed word. It is for this reason that I embraced Reformed theology and continue to do so even after many interactions with folks like Chris.

I do not accept the doctrine that says God has predetermined and ear marked certain souls for Hell. I believe that according to what I have read and studied.

If Chris is refering to the doctrines of election and reprobation, then I can only say that I do accept these doctrines according to what I have read and studied. It would have been helpful if Chris would have defined what he means by "ear marked certain souls for hell" and interacted with what Calvinists have to say about election and reprobation.

I wanted to establish that because it is also my take that those who consider themselves "Hyper Calvinists" appear to be very hateful.

And here is where Chris' post takes a nose dive. Who is considering themselves to be hyper-Calvinists? Not I. Nor does anyone with whom I have linked to on my site along with those who frequent my blog. In fact, I have never met a self professed hyper-Calvinist on the 'net or anywhere else. Moreover, who is being hateful? In what way? Is Chris suggesting that anyone who calls themself a Calvinist of any stripe is hateful?

I suppose you feel as if you can be because you have been preselected for Heaven and your sinful attitude doesn't really matter to God seeings that you are part of the club.

Here, Chris throws out a couple of gross but common charicatures of Reformed theology in that our sin supposedly doesn't matter and that we are part of some sort of "club". For the first, Chris apparantly doesn't realize that everyone who holds to any form of eternal security gets this criticism about how sin doesn't really matter. Thus, Chris shoots himself in the foot for bringing this up without elaborating on how it relates to Reformed theology. As for the second, I have seen this one many times. It's often times thrown out by the most bitter of non-Calvinists who have interacted with Calvinists at length but haven't gotten anywhere. I can't help but wonder if Chris realizes that what he calls a "club" is what we Calvinists call the bride of Christ.

I guess I would have to wonder; if what you say is true of God really is, then what's the purpose? I mean, why experience life; so you can try to make everybody agree with your point of view?

This one is a bit confusing. That is, I think I know what Chris is asking but what he actually states ends up as a criticism against his own theology. In his view Chris must "win" as many people to Christ as possible which is all well and good. But those who hold to Chris' theology will very often go off the deep end with how they go about "making everyone agree" to accept Christ. Gimmicks and outright shameful tactics are often employed in libertarian churches to achieve this end. In contrast, a Calvinist will preach the gospel as it is, without compromise and gimmick, and leave it in God's capable hands. We do not go to absurd lengths to "win the lost at any cost" as some would say.

You paint a very grim picture of our God and for that you should be very ashamed.

And I would say that to posit God's impotence in the face of His creation's will is a far more grim portrayal of our God than anything a Calvinist can conjure.

You people suck the hope right out of the old old story.

Of course, Chris assumes without benefit of argument that the "old old story" is one of Arminian libertarianism and autonomy. This is of course begging the question.

Your point of view makes grace and mercy a myth and the prayer of the saintly Grandmother a waste of time.

I honestly don't know what Chris is going on about in regards to "saintly Grandmothers". But I do know that Calvinism is the truest expression of grace and mercy that I have come across simply because we don't place obligation on them. That is, in Chris' theology, God is only graceful and merciful if He offers all men without exception a libertarian choice to accept or reject Him. If God does not, then God is unjust according to Chris' theology. This makes grace and mercy an obligation and thus completely empties the two terms of any real meaning.

Do the world a favor and just keep your doctrine of destruction to yourself.

Of course, Chris doesn't show how Reformed theology is a doctrine of destruction. But that's just par for the course at this point. And despite the suggestion to the contrary, I intend to keep on blogging in defense of Calvinism as long as I am able. Sorry to disappoint you Chris!

Atleast then those who are supposedly on their way to Hell without a chance can enjoy the life they are living here on earth!

As I look at Chris' closing shot, I can't help but wonder if Chris has ever thought about his libertarian views in light of God's knowledge of future events. I assume that Chris affirms the foreknowledge of God so I would ask Chris how someone whom God knew would end up in hell from eternity past would have a "chance" to not go to hell? To put it another way, let's say that before God creates the world, He foresees that John T. Sinner is going to live and die without Christ. Several thousand years later John is born. Now, does John have a real chance at changing his destiny? If yes, then Chris throws out God's knowledge of all things for the sake of human autonomy because had John went to heaven, God's knowledge would be falsified. If Chris says no, then John T. Sinner never had anything more than an illusory chance at salvation and thus Chris' own position bears the brunt of the criticism he's leveling at Calvinism. So Chris can pick his poison.

Now, I invite Chris to come back to elaborate and defend his statements and to do so without all the emotionally charged rhetoric that he has displayed thus far. Only then will we be able to have a constructive dialogue if in fact dialogue is what Chris seeks. However, I think most folks would readily agree that dialogue is not what Chris had in mind when he posted his comments to my blog.

11 comments:

Bob said...

This one takes the cake:

"Your point of view makes grace and mercy a myth and the prayer of the saintly Grandmother a waste of time."

Um, I think your point in challanging Falwell was really that as an Arminian he was the one being inconsistant with prayer. Praying that God would basically convert the will. In reality if the world was as the Arminian says then prayer for the lost is a waste of time, God's already doing everything He can...just that dang pesky free will won't "allow" Him to win.

Chris said...

I like you will be commenting in the next day or two. One thing I will comment on immediately, we could really stand to do without the sarcasm. Just because I shared my true feelings on the subject gives you no right to refer to my words as emotionally charged rhetoric. I suppose that's what I meant be your kind being hateful.

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Hi Chris,

Well, if we can do without the sarcasm then we can also do without the emotionally charged rhetoric. Dressing it up as your "true feelings" doesn't take the edge off. If you think it does, then I can simply say that my sarcasm is *my* true feelings on the subject and you shouldn't complain about it.

Now, as I said before, you are welcome to come here for a dialogue on our differences. But if you are just seeking a platform from which to rant, then please go elsewhere.

Chris said...

I do not consider this a platform to rant. I stumbled across this blog in my studies on Calvanism. This will be my final comment because it is clear that you have the gift to justify whatever you do or say, by the way which is a huge indicator of pride. My emotions aren't my true feelings in drag. My comments do reflect my sincere feelings. It's very wrong of you to judge them as anything other than just that,my sincere feelings...

"Moreover, is Chris tacitly suggesting that Calvinists do not want to see sinners saved? I hope not because this notion would be utterly ridiculous and easily refuted."

That is not what I am saying. I believe you want to see people saved. I just don't understand how angels can rejoice over one lost soul receiving Christ when it was predetermined. I am a Tarheel and love to see them win but if I knew every game was fixed, I would have a hard time celebrating.

"This may be what Chris understands Falwell to mean but this isn't what Falwell said. Falwell specifically used the phrase "do not let one person say no". This phrase is couched in a statement and not part of a request. Further, this statement is not consistent with Falwell's libertarian theology. In other words, this is something only a Calvinist can say while being consistent with his own theology. Thus, my statement about Falwell tripping over his tongue is accurate."

Let me ask you a question... Have you ever said something, knowing what you meant but it was misconstrued by someone else? If you are married, I can answe for you...yes. Falwell, me, you, and everyone else falls short of perfection. The bottom line is, his prayer was one that reflected a desire to see folks saved. Why can't you just hear that and agree together with him that they will? Does everything have to be a debate?

"And herein lies the rub. In Chris' theology, man allows God to do this or that. In Chris' theology, God is sovereign only by consent from those He rules. In Chris' theology, God's rule is reduced to mere Presidency. In stark contrast, I am one who allows nothing where my God's will is concerned. In my theology, God sees fit to give me wisdom and insight into His written word. In my theology, God wills it and it is so. In my theology, God is king over His creation and His will is not dependant on mere consent."

So, in essence what you are saying is, you've never missed the will of God. That's ridiculous. Maybe you would never want to admit to missing God but you, like everyone, have. You have sinned and will again. Sin is not the will of God but you do it anyway. When you fail it is by your own consent, not God's. J. Matthew's theology says whatever God wills just is. What about David who was a man after God's own heart... was it God's will for him to fall? The list goes on: Samson, Peter, Abraham, Jonah, etc... My point is God's will can't only be confined to the things he wants for us, i.e: "Wisdom", "Insight". His will is also that we flee from temptation. Does the fact that we sin everyday make God any less the King over His creation? NO. I know this, Rom. 8:28 says He'll take our sin and use it to fulfill His perfect plan. That doesn't mean the sin we commit is His will it means that there is provision made. It is really cocky to portray one's self as a man who just never has missed the Lord's direction for his life. "God resists the proud".

"And I too believe in "eternal security" (minus, of course, any attached libertarian notions) and for the same reasons. I would hasten to add however that I believe in the other four points of Calvinism for the same reason that I believe in "eternal security". That is, all five points of Calvinism are clearly set forth in God's revealed word. It is for this reason that I embraced Reformed theology and continue to do so even after many interactions with folks like Chris."

I applaud you for your stand just as you should applaud me for mine. You obviously have done your share of Bible study as have I. My only concern is that we don't miss what's really important, winning the lost no matter the cost!

"If Chris is refering to the doctrines of election and reprobation, then I can only say that I do accept these doctrines according to what I have read and studied. It would have been helpful if Chris would have defined what he means by "ear marked certain souls for hell" and interacted with what Calvinists have to say about election and reprobation."

It's pretty simple, "Earmarked for Hell" refers to one God created for the purpose of throwing them in a Devil's Hell. Thus my comment regarding your doctrine of destruction.

"And here is where Chris' post takes a nose dive. Who is considering themselve to be hyper-Calvinists? Not I. Nor does anyone with whom I have linked on my site along with those who frequent my blog. In fact, I have never met a self professed hyper-Calvinist on the 'net or anywhere else. Moreover, who is being hateful? In what way? Is Chris suggesting that anyone who calls themself a Calvinist of any stripe is hateful?"

I suppose the term "Hyper-Calvanist" would be a term that has been given to those who believe that some were created to populate Hell with absolutely no chance for redemption. That doctrine makes the crucifixion a sideshow. Why would Christ have died if the Lamb's book of Life were already filled out? Why would God send His son to suffer at the hands of His chosen people if salvation was predetermined? If that sounds emotional, it's because it is. The very thought of Christ leaving His throne to die for worms like you and me still makes me emotional.

"Here, Chris throws out a couple of gross but common charicatures of Reformed theology in that our sin supposedly doesn't matter and that we are part of some sort of "club". For the first, Chris apparantly doesn't realize that everyone who holds to any form of eternal security gets this criticism about how sin doesn't really matter. Thus, Chris shoots himself in the foot for bringing this up without elaborating on how it relates to Reformed theology. As for the second, I have seen this one many times. It's usally thrown out by the most bitter of non-Calvinists who have interacted with Calvinists but haven't gotten anywhere. I can't help but wonder if Chris realizes that what he calls a "club" is what we Calvinists call the bride of Christ."

J. Matthew's comments here are not valid. Let me explain... My theology says, like Christ, whosoever will may come. Once you've said yes, you are eternally secure. J. Matthew's theology says only a select few may come therefore making it a club. Even though I am eternally secure, I know my sin matters because it breaks the heart of God and reaps consequences.

"This one is a bit confusing. That is, I think I know what Chris is asking but what he actually states ends up as a critisism against his own theology. In his view Chris must "win" as many people to Christ as possible which is all well and good. But those who hold to Chris' theology will very often go off the deep end with how they go about "making everyone agree" to accept Christ. Gimmicks and outright shameful tactics are often employed in libertarian churches. In contrast, a Calvinist will preach the gospel as it is, without compromise and gimmick, and leave it in God's capable hands. We do not go to absurd lengths to "win the lost at any cost" as some would say."

Here J. Matthew has jumped the gun. Who ever said anything about shameful gimmicks and tactics? I am a pastor of a church and preach the truth in power. It is only by the preaching of the gospel that one can be saved. We might do whatever it takes to get them to church so that they might hear the gospel but once they are there we only show them Jesus. J. Matthew's theology is really a strike against the preached word because as in his own words, "In my theology, God wills it and it is so." Wouldn't this mean that all of those who were meant to be saved would just automatically come to Christ?

"And I would say that to posit God's impotence in the face of His creation's will is a far more grim portrayal of our God than anything a Calvinist can conjure."

Makes no sense.

"Of course, Chris assumes without benefit of argument that the "old old story" is one of Arminian libertarianism and autonomy. Can anyone say, "question begging"?"

Makes no sense.

"I honestly don't know what Chris is going on about in regards to "saintly Grandmothers". But I do know that Calvinism is the truest expression of grace and mercy that I have come across simply because we don't place obligation on them. That is, in Chris' theology, God is only graceful and merciful if He offers all men without exception a libertarian choice to accept or reject Him. If God does not, then God is unjust according to Chris' theology. This makes grace and mercy an obligation and thus completely empties the two terms of any real meaning."

You're exactly right about one thing. My theology does say that grace and mercy not extended to every soul defeats the purpose of grace and mercy. You just said that it's your belief that makes grace and mercy what it is! "But I do know that Calvinism is the truest expression of grace and mercy that I have come across simply because we don't place obligation on them." Grace and Mercy are precious because they are undeserved gifts from God, not because of how we view them! That is a haughty statement. I would be careful not to take credit for making the gifts of grace and mercy what they are.

"As I look at Chris' closing shot, I can't help but wonder if Chris has ever thought about his libertarian views in light of God's knowledge of future events. I assume that Chris affirms the foreknowledge of God so I would ask Chris how someone whom God knew would end up in hell from eternity past would have a "chance" to not go to hell? To put it another way, let's say that before God creates the world, He foresees that John T. Sinner is going to live and die without Christ. Several thousand years later John is born. Now, does John have a real chance at changing his destiny? If yes, then Chris throws out God's knowledge of all things for the sake of human autonomy because had John went to heaven, God's knowledge would be falsified. If Chris says no, then John T. Sinner never had anything more than an illusory chance at salvation and thus Chris' own position bears the brunt of the criticism he's leveling at Calvinism. So Chris can pick his poison."

Yes I do affirm God's foreknowledge. He is Omniscient. What I do not affirm is that it was not His choice that John T. Sinner reject His son.

I'll leave this to you and all of your friends. I have a ministry to oversee and really don't have the time you have to spend on this type of thing. I just wanted to write what I thought. Obviously there's no need to continue coming back because anything said to refute your doctrine will be made fun of and referred to as rhetoric. My prayer is that you spend the better portion of your life serving Christ outside the office. Blessings and I'll see you in glory one day.

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Hi Chris,

Since your today's response is somewhat lengthy, I'll be responding in full on a seperate blog entry within a couple of days.

J. Matthew Cleary said...

oops, I meant to say, "since your response today". My bad!

Bob said...

"I do not consider this a platform to rant. I stumbled across this blog in my studies on Calvanism. This will be my final comment because it is clear that you have the gift to justify whatever you do or say, by the way which is a huge indicator of pride. My emotions aren't my true feelings in drag. My comments do reflect my sincere feelings. It's very wrong of you to judge them as anything other than just that,my sincere feelings..."

This is just argument against the person, you call Matt names like prideful jerk and then say you're no longer going to dialogue with him after this. This jibberish about not judging and "my feelings are valid" sounds more like the non-Christian's I know.

Let me ask you a question... Have you ever said something, knowing what you meant but it was misconstrued by someone else? If you are married, I can answe for you...yes. Falwell, me, you, and everyone else falls short of perfection. The bottom line is, his prayer was one that reflected a desire to see folks saved. Why can't you just hear that and agree together with him that they will? Does everything have to be a debate?"

Matt was just pointing out the inconsistancy with Fallwell's prayer and his soteriology. What is Falwell asking God to do anyway? Isn't He already doing everything he can? What is Falwell asking for? Prayer really is a problem for the Arminian not the other way around.

Don't want to debate huh? Well maybe you should have thought of that before you come to a Calvinist's page and start ripping on his theology...

Chris said...

"What is Falwell asking God to do anyway? Isn't He already doing everything he can?"

Here is what I would call inconsistency. Your theology speaks of what God has already done which is predetermine the eternal state of each soul. Whay would you say, "Isn't He already doing???

"This is just argument against the person, you call Matt names like prideful jerk and then say you're no longer going to dialogue with him after this. This jibberish about not judging and "my feelings are valid" sounds more like the non-Christian's I know."

Go back and read sir, and I use that term lightly, I never called "Matt" or anyone else a jerk.

Hey "Matt", I believe you have a fan here in "Bob".

"Don't want to debate huh? Well maybe you should have thought of that before you come to a Calvinist's page and start ripping on his theology..."

How old are you? Bob, I wouldn't waste good time debating with you because I enjoy a challenge. I would rip you to threads in a real debate and this format does not afford the opportunity for genuine debate, just back and forth argumentative jabs.

One more thing Bob, I have never questioned Matt's faith by saying that his comments sounded like a non-Christian. As a matter of fact I told him that I'd see him in glory. Take a few years, grow up then come on back.

Blessings to you all. I will post again, if there's anything that deems a reply...

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Chris,

"Bob, I wouldn't waste good time debating with you because I enjoy a challenge. I would rip you to threads in a real debate..."

Wow. And you say that *I'm* prideful and cocky.

"I will post again, if there's anything that deems a reply..."

Well, there has been a second full reply to you on my blog for almost a week now...

"Hey "Matt", I believe you have a fan here in "Bob"."

Um, actually, I'm a fan of Bob's. See, Bob Ladwig is a Reformed blogger as well and his blog is much better than mine. You would do well to read up on what Bob posts.

chris said...

Well, there has been a second full reply to you on my blog for almost a week now...

I said IF it deems a reply...

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Chris,

"I said IF it deems a reply..."

So you're saying that a full reply by me to the points you've made previously is not itself worthy of reply? And just how do you come to that conclusion?