Friday, April 27, 2007

All Too Typical Exchange

The following is an exchange I had several months ago with a long-time poster over at Zola Levitt's message boards. This exchange began due to some rather interesting statements made by an individual who calls herself "Littlesooz" (the very same Littlesooz that made this insightful statement). The exchange starts out well enough but as the reader will notice, Littlesooz becomes more and more defensive until she finally just shuts down. To me, this exchange highlights the problem that far too many professing Christians are not willing to honestly and accurately interact with opposing viewpoints and when called on it, will resort to personal attack. This brief exchange begins here and can be viewed by simply scrolling down thru the various posts.



I wish to address some of the things that you have stated in this thread and in another over in the debates section. You are a long-time member here and people seem to like and respect you. This means that things you say could carry weight with others here and some of the things you are saying in regards to Calvinism are simply not accurate. So, my interest here is to curtail any misconceptions of what I believe from spreading. For instance, this statement...

I totally reject the Calvinistic view of Limited Atonement and so cannot go along with Mog's view that certain babies are chosen to die in their sin and go to Hell.

...does not represent Calvinism en toto, nor does it represent moG's views or mine. The doctrine of Limited Atonement does not necessitate that all babies automatically go to hell. Many Calvinists hold the view that those who die in infancy have Christ's atonement applied to them. Moreover, this issue has more to do with the doctrine of Original Sin than it does with the purpose and extent of the atonement. Thus, you are attacking the wrong doctrine.

And this statement:

Tron, it speaks of nonsense to me. Any teaching where one needs a degree in theology to understand is a nonsense also.

I personally have no degree in theology but I understand Calvinism just fine. All one has to do in order to understand Calvinism is to read what Calvinists say about what they believe. One does not do what you have done here, namely, getting their definitions of what Calvinists believe from people who are strongly opposed to Calvinism such as D.A. Waite. For example, if someone were to criticize your belief in the Trinity, and used a non-trinitarian's arguments and definitions to prove their points, you would vigorously object, would you not? But this is precisely what you have done. Waite gives two mischaracterized definitions of Limited Atonement and proceeds to criticize the doctrine. The problem is that the one that's labeled "mixed-up", is the view that most Calvinists with whom I am familiar believe in, including myself. Calvinists believe that since Christ is deity, His sacrifice has unlimited value. If God had so chosen, He could have redeemed the whole of mankind 100 times over. The issue is over the *intent* and *purpose* of Christ's atonement. Waite is merely muddying the waters with his presentation. Also, this goes into your statements in the debates section that were indirctly pointed to me. That is, you seem to be basing your knowledge and opinions of Calvinism on the writings of men such as Dave Hunt and D.A. Waite. This is fundamentally no different than a juror rendering a guilty verdict based solely on the prosecutor's presentation. Surely, you see the inconsistency in this.

Also, in regards to your request for a definition of double predestination, when non-Calvinists go to critique "double predestination", they are actually referring to a notion called "active reprobation". Active reprobation is the belief that God *actively* reprobates men, meaning that God is directly causing men to sin for the purpose of damning them. This view is held by some *hyper-Calvinists*, but not main-line Calvinists.

Having said all this, I sincerely hope that you will follow Jan's example and try your best to understand what Calvinists believe and why, so that, if you continue to disagree with them, you can at least accurately represent their views. Moreover, I wish to apologize here and now if my post seems a bit pointed. It is not my intention to disparage you personally. And I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have in regards to Calvinistic doctrine.

I think it is unwise to compare me to Jan.

It wasn't a comparison really, rather, a recommendation. Jan knows what Calvinists believe and she does her best to accurately represent those beliefs when discussing them. She has went as far as to defend those beliefs (that she doesn't agree with) from misrepresentation which is comendable and, I think, the Christian thing to do.

If you read the short testimony I gave then you might (if you try) to see my heart on the subject of Calvinism.

If you are referring to your loss, then yes, I have read it and I offer my condolences. But I must point out that scriptural truth cannot be judged in this way. I say this because your testimony suggests that you are rejecting Calvinistic theology because of this episode in your life. Moreover, you were proceeding on the false assumption that Calvinists all taught and believed the same thing in regards to infants. As moG and myself have pointed out, we do not. And as you yourself said, there is not much to go by in scripture to say dogmatically what happens to those who die in infancy. One can only speculate on the available data.

I am not totally ignorant on the subject...

Nor did I mean to imply that you were. You obviously have read something on the subject. My concern is that you may have not read enough or, you may have been reading the wrong stuff. If all you have read is Hunt's book and articles by D.A. Waite, then my example of a juror hearing only one side of the case is accurate.

The fact that I had to ask Tron for a definition of "double predestination" shows that Calvinism itself is a multiplicity of beliefs within the system.

All theological systems have a "multiplicity of beliefs". No theological subject is as simple as it first seems. Take Christ's deity for example. If you examine the controversy at Nicea, you will find that the discussions got long and deep into many questions and these questions have not been completely resovled to this day. To criticize Calvinism on the basis that it can be "deep", is overly simplistic and inconsistent when the whole of Christian theology is considered.

I have often quoted something that Calvinists believe, "Limited Atonement" for example and someone will say "oh but we don't hold to that view" we believe something else. You have just done it.

If you have always used D.A. Waite's presentation, I can see why. But this does not accurately represent my objection to your use of Waite's material. You seem to be suggesting that Calvinists are "shifty" on their views. Is this what you are suggesting? If so, I would of course object on the basis of your choice of sources for what we believe. If you are getting bad information of what we believe, then you will certainly get the response you have mentioned.

My walk with Jesus is simple and I believe that it is my duty to point out to others that they needn't feel pushed into a belief system that has no relevance to their faith.

I see no one here pushing anyone into believing the doctrines of grace. In fact, I have never seen a Calvinist "pushing" their doctrine on anyone. Further, if Calvinism is true, then it does indeed have relevance to one's faith.

I see it as an elitist doctrine.

And did you get this opinion from Dave Hunt?

I respect the way you guys debate it and I admire your understanding of it and your knowledge of church history.

If so, then did you accept my explanations in my previous post? Your comments above in regards to Limited Atonement along with your post to Stronghold would seem to suggest that you didn't.

For myself, I believe I am qualified to speak into it.

I suppose that would depend on what you mean by "qualified". Everyone has a right to their own private opinion of course. But if you are claiming this based on reading Dave Hunt, then I respectfully disagree.

Not because I understand the letter of it but because I have studied it enough to know I reject it as part of my life in Christ.

Okay, so who have you studied? Piper, Sproul, White? I ask because to claim to be studied on Calvinism requires that you read those who espouse it. For instance, one does not become studied in history by reading books on physics.

I have quoted two men on the subject whose knowledge you have rejected.

And I have stated just *why* I reject those two men's explanations of my beliefs.

I have read other books on the subject and I'm sure you didn't come to your own views through reading the Scriptures alone.

And were these books pro or con? I can't emphasize enough that one must listen to both sides of a debate in order to make an informed decision on the truthfulness of any given topic.

My post stands as it is. It speaks for me and my beliefs.

As does mine.

That is all that is required and I do not have to answer to you.

Forgive me, but, this is a cop-out. I do not believe that you must "answer to me". What I do believe is that folks should accurately represent my beliefs before they critique and/or rake them over the coals as you have done here on this thread. This statement to Stronghold...

Watch this! They will deny it is like I am saying and come up with something that says, "oh it is not like that, only some Calvinists believe that or the hypers or the partials or the Lutherans or the others believe something else. a canard. What you are doing is intimating that Calvinists are deceptive in their beliefs and when called on it, you fall back to saying that you don't have to answer for the things you put in print.

Your reply concerning my testimony reveals to me that you do not have the faintest idea of what I am talking about.

If I am as off as you claim here, then by all means demonstrate it. As it is, I do not know what it is like to lose a sibling, true. But I do know that you do not use this to brow-beat other's viewpoints, especially without the benefit of accurate supporting argumentation.

We might as well come from different planets.

In regards to how we go about critiquing the viewpoints of others, then yes, we do.

You would recommend that I become like Jan. I would recommend that you receive the heart from the Lord that is in Dave Hunt.

If Dave Hunt were a better man than I, then I would welcome it. But you don't know him or me, so you have no real basis to make such a statement. Sure, you've met him, but does that mean you know him personally? Do you visit him often? Perhaps have dinner with him and his family on occasion? Moreover, my differences with Hunt are not about Hunt's personality; they are about his argumentation.

I am not intimating that Calvinists are deceptive. I am saying that there are aberrations to the Calvinistic doctrine.

Of course there are aberrations in Calvinism. But this is true of any and every Christian doctrine. Thus, for you to argue successfully against Calvinism, you would need to demonstrate that I, or moG, or whoever, is engaged in aberration by using source material from Calvinistic writers. This would take us back to my points in regards to your sources for what you believe about Calvinism.

I can only argue from the points of Calvinism of which I have read.

Okay, so again, who have you read besides Dave Hunt and articles by D.A. Waite?

If you choose to distort the meaning of Calvinism itself, then there is no discussion.

In order to suggest this, you would have to have knowledge of Calvinism from Calvinistic sources so that you could distinguish between what I say, and what Calvinism says. Thus far, I see only your suggestion that I'm distorting Calvinism based on your reading of Dave Hunt and D.A. Waite. I will continue to belabor the point that what you are doing is no different than, say, an atheist attacking christianity based on nothing more than the writings of other atheists.

You tell me to demonstrate where you are "off".

Yes I do. It is easy to make an assertion. It's altogether a different story when one has to substantiate that assertion when challenged.

All I can say is that you debate from the letter, I discuss from my heart.

And this is a fine example of an assertion that you will not, and cannot, substantiate. You have no idea if I discuss these issues "from my heart" or, if I'm here to debate for the thrill of it. As it is, I am here to defend the truth of the doctrines of grace against those who would attack and misrepresent them.

I discuss this because I believe Calvinism as it is generally understood to be an erroneous teaching not for one upmanship as a debater. I would lose in that field every time.

Generally understood by whom? Dave Hunt? Again, where does your knowledge of Calvinism come from? You have been challenged on your statements in regards to Calvinism by four different people on this thread and two of them are not even Calvinists themselves. Yet you continue to suggest, without benefit of argument or documentation from Calvinistic sources, that we are wrong and you are right in our understanding of the issues. Further, you continue to suggest that I'm not sincere about the truth but are only interested in winning an argument. But again, you cannot substantiate this since you don't know me from Adam's house-cat.

Your post demonstrates nothing that warrants a reply from me.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fare Thee Well Manuel Culwell

Readers of this blog are no doubt aware by now that I have decided to ban Manuel Culwell from posting to my blog. My reasons for this are many and I cannot think of a single reason why I shouldn't have. Manuel's first post here was exceedingly bad and each successive one had steadily gotten worse. It appeared that this spiral of spam would not stop unless I stopped it. In fact, Manuel himself stated that he would not leave unless I made him. That statement was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back since I had already come to suspect that Manuel was the type to keep going after somebody with an almost stalker-like fervor. This suspicion first came about when Manuel stated that Eddie Dalcour would not have anything else to do with him. Here is what Manuel said regarding Dalcour:

I tried very hard to get him to have a discussion but he kept insisting I made no attempt at exegesis so that he would not debate me,...

Now, this sounds to me like Eddie Dalcour was having the same problem with Manuel that I've been having. That is, Manuel doesn't do exegesis. Rather, he prooftexts, makes a statement that doesn't contradict the opposing viewpoint, and concludes that the opposing view is wrong. This flawed methodology is what Manuel consistently employs. For instance:

Every man that hears and learns of the father (Through the preaching of the word Romans 10:14-15) that is the drawing and the way mankind comes to God. The Calvinist view is completely unwarranted. I don’t care if you go back even further it still does not prove your point.

This statement comes on the heels of Manuel quoting John 6:35-45. Notice that the statement only alludes to v.44 and 45 only. This is prooftexting. Next, Manuel states every man who hears and learns from the Father is drawn to the Son by the preaching of the word. This is what I meant by Manuel making statements that don't conflict with the opposing viewpoint. That is, Reformed theology teaches that those who come to Christ were drawn to Him by the Father. This drawing is ordinarily done by way of the preached word. So where is the contradiction between what Calvinists believe and what Manuel has stated? There is none. Lastly, Manuel leaps to the conclusion that the Calvinist view is unwarranted. But in point of fact, it is Manuel's own conclusion that is not warranted. One cannot draw conclusions based on absentee argumentation. I believe that this faulty methodology is what Eddie Dalcour was referring to and that this is why he chose not to go any further with Manuel.

Now, after reading what Manuel had to say about Eddie Dalcour not having anything else to do with him I wondered if there were others who have had similiar experiences in dealing with Manuel. So I googled the name "Manuel Culwell" and a thread from none other than Alan Kurschner's Calvinist Gadfly popped up. This particuliar thread had devolved into a discussion on man's will and had a virtual who's who of Reformed bloggers commenting on it. So what insights did Manuel bring to the insuing discussion? See for yourself...


Readers of this blog who have kept up with my exchange with Manuel will immediatly recognize that this is the same kind of near incoherent tripe that he opened with here. Same screed, different day. And it only took about six more of these before Kurschner gave Manuel the boot. And in so doing, Kurschner was on target when he said:

You cannot be reasoned with. And the “your doctrine is trash!” comment is the last straw. Cease commenting here.

Manuel cannot be reasoned with. He is, himself, unreasonable. Kurschner knew it, ditto with Dalcour. If anyone thinks this assessment is too harsh, I simply invite them to read thru the entirety of what Manuel has written here (and at the Gadfly) and simply ask themselves how they would deal with him. As for myself, I will give one last response to what Manuel has written in the comments section of my previous entry concerning him. After that, I'll wash my hands of him.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Go Figure

Earlier this week, James White blogged about his surreal experience with some KJV-only fundamentalists in Mesa, Arizona. And when I say surreal, I mean it. Reading James' entries (he has added a couple more entries about this episode including a video) could cause a person to experience a wide range of emotions such as laughter, anger, sadness, and even being flat-out sick to their stomach, all in one reading. Through all the documented stupidity however, James did make mention of something that, for me at least, really stood out. While witnessing to some Mormons, one of the KJV-only folks shouted this out to James:

Don't give that one a tract, James, he's not elect!

Now, for the Calvinists out there, doesn't this just make you want to bang your head against a wall? I mean, Calvinists get criticized for (supposedly) not believing, and not engaging in, evangelistic efforts. But when we prove them wrong by going out and doing evangelism, we get mocked for it! Go figure.