Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Yet Another Fine Example Part Two

Chris said:

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.

I find it odd that Chris would say that I'm trying to justify what he calls sarcasm while he paints his own rhetoric as "true feelings". He then goes on to intimate that on top of being hateful, I'm now being prideful. So let me get this straight; if someone defends their theology from attack then they're being prideful? If someone defends themself against ad hominum then they're being prideful?

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...

Okay, so everything Chris says is his sincere feelings and I am wrong to judge them. Fine. But if this is the case then it is equally wrong for Chris to judge my response to him as sarcasm because I too was sincere in what I stated. So by his own standards, Chris is wrong in calling my comments sarcasm and his jab about me being prideful is equally wrong for the same reason.

I just don't understand how angels can rejoice over one lost soul receiving Christ when it was predetermined.

Well, Calvinists believe in predetermination and we don't have a problem rejoicing when we see a lost soul saved. Thus, It would seem that Chris' difficulty here is due to his theological presupposition of libertarianism. To a Calvinist, God is simply saving creatures that do not deserve anything other than damnation.

Let me ask you a question... Have you ever said something, knowing what you meant but it was misconstrued by someone else?

Here, Chris is still trying to justify Falwell's prayer that God not let anyone say no to His will. But if I have misconstrued what he meant (which I haven't since I am aware of what Falwell's soteriological stances are), so what? It is irrelevant as to what Falwell meant to say for the simple reason that what he actually said is inconsistent with his own theology. Thus, my statement that he tripped over his own tongue is still accurate.

So, in essence what you are saying is, you've never missed the will of God.

No, that is not what I'm saying. My acceptance of His word is by His grace and power and not of my own wisdom and understanding. No more, no less.

Sin is not the will of God but you do it anyway.

Was it God's will for Joseph's brothers to sell him into slavery? Was it God's will that the Assyrians plunder and destroy Israel? Was it God's will for men to crucify our Lord Jesus? If Chris says yes to any of these, then he effectively dismisses his own statement here. That is, each of these events were done according to God's will yet each of them involved sinful actions on the part of men. Reformed theology can account for this. Can Chris' theology do the same?

When you fail it is by your own consent, not God's.

Yes, but so? Who is claiming otherwise? Is Chris suggesting that we Calvinists believe that God "forces" men to choose the things that he does? If so, Chris has alot more studying to do.

What about David who was a man after God's own heart... was it God's will for him to fall?

Again, if Chris knew as much about Reformed theology as he should in order for him to successfully attack it, then he wouldn't need to ask this question.

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.

This might be what Chris thinks Romans 8:28 means but it isn't what the verse says. The verse states that "...God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose." At best, Chris' statement is an unsupported assertion regarding the meaning of the verse. Moreover, is Chris aware that this verse is one of Calvinism's prooftexts? If not, then, again, Chris has a lot more studying to do if he wishes to successfully critique Reformed theology.

It is really cocky to portray one's self as a man who just never has missed the Lord's direction for his life.

So along with "hateful" and "prideful", I'm now "cocky". Chris' ad hominum's are starting to pile up. At any rate, this latest jab at my character is based on a misunderstanding of a previous point made (see above) thus nothing more need be said here.

My only concern is that we don't miss what's really important, winning the lost no matter the cost!

While I can appreciate Chris' zeal for evangelism, is Chris really willing to "win the lost no matter the cost"? Does this include sacraficing sound doctrine? Has Chris ever heard the saying that "what you win them with is what you win them to"?

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.

What Chris is saying here is that anyone who agrees with election and reprobation is a hyper-Calvinist. But this is so ridiculously wrong that it's almost humorous. I suppose Chris got this notion from listening to men like Ergun Caner who, despite his position at Liberty University, doesn't have a clue as to who is a hyper-Calvinist and who isn't. Indeed, I suspect that Ergun Caner doesn't care one way or the other and simply uses the term to spite Calvinists. At any rate, Chris would do well to follow this link and read up on what constitutes true hyper-Calvinism.

That doctrine makes the crucifixion a sideshow.

And Chris can only make this statement by first assuming without benefit of argument that the substitutional atonement of Christ was made for all men without exception. But this is just more question begging.

Why would Christ have died if the Lamb's book of Life were already filled out?

Upon reading this, one wonders if Chris has read Revelation 13:8 and 17:8. Both these verses explicitly state that the Book of Life had been written "from the foundation of the world". Now, that certainly sounds to me like it had indeed already been filled out.

Why would God send His son to suffer at the hands of His chosen people if salvation was predetermined?

Well, simply put, God has ordained the ends along with the means to those ends. Again, if Chris had done his homework before coming here to attack Calvinism, he wouldn't be asking these kinds of questions.

My theology says, like Christ, whosoever will may come.

So does my theology. Yet again, Chris is not aware of the real issue here. The real issue is *how* and *why* men come to Christ. Throwing out the above means that Chris must first assume that because men choose to come, it must mean by default that their decision was not predetermined. But this is just more question begging.

Once you've said yes, you are eternally secure.

So just how does that work in a libertarian theology? Does Chris really believe that you have the "free-will" to get yourself in a relationship with God but afterward you don't? To put it another way, if man can choose Christ of his own "free-will", why can't man then reject Christ of his own "free-will" afterward? Does Chris really believe that before you say "yes" you have free-will but afterwards you don't?

J. Matthew's theology says only a select few may come therefore making it a club.

Chris just can't resist reiterating his rhetorical nonsense about "clubs". At any rate, John 6:44 states that only those drawn to Christ may come to him and that those same ones will be raised to life. These individuals constitute the bride of Christ. If Chris wishes to keep refering to the Son's bride as a "club" then that's fine me as I won't be the one answering for it later on.

Even though I am eternally secure, I know my sin matters because it breaks the heart of God and reaps consequences.

Chris misses the point here. That is, to those who do not hold to eternal security, Chris' sin does not matter because it doesn't determine ultimate destiny after spiritual rebirth. This is why his theology is susceptible to this criticism that he leveled earlier at Calvinism. Thus, if sin doesn't matter to Calvinists, it doesn't matter to Chris' theology for the same reason.

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?

Yet again, if Chris had studied up on Calvinism before attacking it, he would know that this just doesn't wash. As I pointed out above, God has ordained the means along with the ends. This means that the preaching of the word is an ordained method to bringing in God's elect. Thus, the preaching of the word becomes a necessity in bringing those to Christ who God has predestined for glory.

"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.

Here, Chris dodges a point I made previously about his habit of question begging. Actually, this is the second of two dodges but I'll let the first one slide in favor of time considerations. Now, Chris stated earlier that Calvinism "sucks the hope out of the old old story". But as I rightly pointed out, Chris can only say this by first assuming that his theology is correct. But the problem for him is that he is a long way from proving this. Thus, he begs the question by making such statements because he has yet to show that the "old old story" is about human autonomy.

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.

Chris here admits that his theology places obligation on grace and mercy which now causes him no end of problems. Grace is defined as "the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God." The question that Chris must answer is, how can grace be both obligated and freely given at the same time? Indeed, if grace is obligated, then God owes it to man and it is no longer freely given. Grace, then, is no longer grace.

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.

Here, Chris sidesteps the point regarding God's foreknowledge. So I'll reiterate. If God knows that Mr. Sinner is going to reject Him from the beginning of time, then history is somehow fixed. This means that when Mr. Sinner is actually born in time, he will live and die with no more than an illusory choice of where his eternal destiny lies. It cannot be any other way than what God knew it to be from the point of creation itself. It is this same dilemma that caused men such as Clark Pinnock, John Sanders, and Gregory Boyd to embrace open theism yet Chris refuses to even acknowledge the problem.

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.

Here, Chris states his intention of leaving this discussion because he simply has no time for it. Yet, Chris has commented on my blog several different times now since writing this and has even stated that he'll respond if there is anything that he would apparantly deem worthy responding to. So which is it? Will he continue this discussion or leave it? Has the restraints that his ministry places on him suddenly dissappeared or is Chris reserving an out for himself? I suppose we will have to wait and see.

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.