If you were a pastor for a church and some guy asked you:
I would like to teach your Sunday school kids that Jesus only died for a few people and not the whole world, that God doesn’t want all to be saved, that man doesn’t have free will, that whatsoever comes to pass is predestined by God no matter how evil it is, that nothing happens against the will of God, that he is the one who makes us sin through our sinful natures and that even abortions happen according to the will of God. Would that be ok with you?
Would you say yes? I don’t believe you would accept even if you were a pastor for a reformed church, because this guy expresses himself in a way that is much too straightforward and he doesn’t leave anything to be read in between the lines being so upfront with his belief. He spells out his doctrines too strongly – even if what he says actually lines up with calvinism (TULIP) perfectly. Now, not all calvinists aspire to be consistent with their own teachings and that’s why they often express themselves as though they were freewillers. Instead of taking their doctrines to their logical conclusions (if nothing happens against the will of God then also sin must be according to the will of God) they prefer to settle with vague “mysteries”.
In order to present calvinism in a more appealing way he would have to be much more careful with his expressions/terms and focus on the good things about God, such as him electing people to salvation (but being careful with confessions that God also sends people to hell even though they have no choice but to be the wicked people that their God always wanted them to be). In a Church he would have to mix in lots of self evident truth that he knows that most christians can agree on, and to generally act and speak in such a way that his listeners can feel confidence in him and what he is about to teach them. Instead of using terms that sound calvinistic he would instead rephrase himself, and he would highlight certain popular verses (among calvinists) without covering the context and ask the students leading questions.
I’m not saying calvinists generally stand up in church and openly promote sin, BUT unfortunately calvinism in itself is a very sin-condoning system. If a person starts to believe that he is born with a sinful nature that makes him sin by necessity, and that he is once saved always saved so occasional sins are not an obstacle for eternal life, and that God has actually selected whom to save already from when the world began, then it’s a risk this person will easier fall for temptations. He really doesn’t have much to lose if his soul is never at stake. Be careful! The Bible warns about men who sneak into our churches and homes and who change the grace of God to a license to sin! These dangerous men will NOT say “Go and sin all you want because God doesn’t care”, but they will express themselves in a much more sophisticated way. Be on your guard for what you hear in between the lines because THAT is their real message!
Jude:4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJV)
I love calvinists enough to warn them about false doctrines and that they are deceived!
Interestingly Jude is telling us in the verse before that we should “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints”. So if Jude is exhorting us that we should believe the doctrines that were once delivered to the first saints, what exactly did the saints believe and teach? We know this from the Bible of course where the first saints and eye witnesses wrote down their stories, but some of them also had disciples (also saints) who naturally kept on teaching what they had been taught from the disciples of Jesus – who they had the privilege to know and be taught by. The apostle John is a good example of a disciple of Jesus who had his own disciples (like Polycarp), and John reached an old age. The first disciples were considered our “church fathers” and it’s interesting that NONE of them taught anything remotely close to Calvinism the first 300+ years AD. The only ones who taught such doctrines were the gnostics and they were considered heretics. But today gnosticism is crept into our midst unnoticed!
Jude3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
If someone admits that he must “cleverly” avoid certain terms in a Sunday school class in order to teach kids the real meaning of God’s sovereignty (the way calvinists understand this term), doesn’t this suggest this person is sneaking his preferred doctrines into church? Here is what a calvinist with the user name “Blainemonster” wrote in a christian forum, and you can find the whole story in this blog article. When he wrote his post, he probably didn’t realize exactly how much he would upset christians (christians who believe in free will perhaps I should add) and particularly those who belong to an Assembly of God church and who realize that their children risk to be deceived in their own Church. One must wonder if his motive isn’t simply to spread calvinism since he admits that he must cleverly hide his convictions. Someone (or more) made a polite response to his post but the moderator chose not to add it. Instead the moderator defends this calvinist vehemently (and Blainemonster is prevented to defend himself which would be a more honest approach) at the same time as he also judges all those who feel that his behavior was inappropriate in a Church.
“Just yesterday I was teaching (in my A/G church) my high school class the Scriptural truths about God’s sovereignty in salvation. I cleverly did not use the terms “unconditional election” or “Calvinism.” I simply explained what the Bible clearly teaches in, i.e., Ephesians 1 and Romans 8. The kids came up with some good questions, and what I noticed was that we (humans) desperately want to be able to explain everything.
A couple of the students hypothesized that, regarding foreknowledge, it was just that since God knows everything, he already knew who would choose him – that same ol’ saw. I explained that first of all, that that is NOT what “foreknow” means, and then helped them to see that if it were true, then God is essentially bound by our decisions.
We went on from there to talk very briefly about the mysteries of God. At any rate, it was a fun exercise, and what you’ve posted today is just exactly where we were yesterday. I love these bits especially:“The issue of human freedom and unconditional election is in the same apophatic domain. We can’t make sense out of them and once we do, we have entered into error.”
Wouldn’t parents who attend an Assembly of God church (a Church which is NOT based on calvinism), and who send their kids off to a Sunday school, like to know what the Sunday school teacher is really teaching their kids? I would be mightily upset if it happened to me! If I went to a Church based on calvinism on the other hand, then such doctrines would come as no surprise to me.
Yes, It is wrong for a Christian minister to hide his true convictions on important theological matters. It is even more wrong for him to hide those convictions in order to provide cover while subversively introducing them in a setting where they are not welcome.
I realize how easy calvinism can creep into Churches and homes here in Sweden despite that calvinism has never been popular here before. Young people might attend reformed Bible schools in the US and bring home false teachings which they continue to spread to others, and people who own websites and Blogs interpret video clips from Paul Washer, Mark Driscoll, John Piper and other calvinists and introduce more and more Swedes to calvinism. Of course, it’s a huge risk that those who listen are not aware of that the preachers are calvinists in the first place (and they are never introduced as such) but once some listeners are caught on the hook you can slowly but successfully draw the whole fish line into the boat and catch yet another person into the net of calvinism.
However that is not exclusive to Calvinism. Even if one rejects Calvinism they are still left with the problem of a good God who would allow the fall to happen.
Why would it be a problem to create man with the ability to choose to obey or disobey, and allow both alternatives?
Reformed theology has often made the distinction between Gods will and decree.We have maintained that God decreed the fall yet did not cause/will it. Your right in that in Calvinism teaches that salvation is only for the elect, but on the flip side you have to deal with the fact that on the cross Jesus hypothetically died for everyone, and yet saves no one. Of course people will bring up 1 Timothy 2:4 as showing God desires all to be saved I have no struggles with this passage. The Arminian has no leg to stand on with this verse, because if they are consistent they must become a universalist, and teach that everyone automatically goes to heaven.
It’s not possible that God would decree something which he hates. Naturally God wouldn’t decree the fall.
Yes, Jesus died for everyone on the cross, and made provision for us all. Everyone can be saved (and people could be saved in the OT as well), and the requirements are faith and repentance.
Since you mention “arminians”, universalism and bring up issues that are dealt with on many free will sites, you show me that you have yet things to learn about the free will argument. That’s fine and you can read more on my Blog if you want to learn more. The free will position is that the Bible is riddled with things that went against God’s will, that Jesus died for everyone and made salvation possible for whosoever chooses to repent and believe in him. And who makes sure to remain with him, of course – since we can all fall away.
Also, the issue is not really about free will. It is about the character of God. For someone to say that God decreed the fall is slanderous to His impeccable character.
I must say I don’t think you understand Calvinism at all. As a general rule your opponents should actually believe what you accuse them of believing, other wise all you have done is built a fake opponent that is easily defeated. If you ever want to learn what Calvinists actually believe and what it means to be Reformed feel free to contact.
If you only knew how many times I’ve been charged of erecting a strawman about calvinism. Naturally I let calvinists explain where I’m in error, but at no time did they manage to prove that it was a strawman argument. All I need to do is to go back to TULIP and show them what their own doctrine says. Jesus didn’t even die for all people, which means that God doesn’t want all people to be saved. If nothing happens against God’s will, and if God predestines everything, then it follows that also sin happens according to God’s will (and not as WCF says).
Justin, I have spoken to many calvinists but not once have I met one who is consistent with his own teachings. It’s not even possible since calvinism is based on mutually exclusive contradictions.
Let me recommend http://www.xcalvinist.com
True, but you would think that he would answer in a “safe” calvinist environment where the moderator approves all posts.
BTW – I was in Stockholm in Aug 2009. You had a freak hailstorm on the 14th, we waited it out in a shoppe. Loved Skansen zoo 🙂
Aha, you’ve been to Stockholm. I live north of Stockholm close to the airport where I used to work.
We actually don’t have many calvinists in Sweden and I believe there is only one small church which adheres to calvinism. But calvinistic thinking is getting more common, due to the internet and the spreading of youtube teachings by Paul Washer, etc. Really sad!
No answer. Eerily quiet… Seems telling to me.
Well, maybe it’s because they haven’t found this particular blog post yet:)
Excellent!! Your conclusion seems reasonable, it does appear this is subterfuge going on.
Note that I did have a comment approved that I was able to write to Blainemonster at the original post. I wonder if he will respond to me?
I hope you will get an answer!
God bless you and thanks