Isn’t it a wonder some times when one discovers some truth about a facet of God’s divine design or the doctrines of grace and then we lose all patience with those slow to taste the honey dew? The term used here is usually –Angry Calvinist. Could it be that we become angry with them and not realise we too were once blind to these truth until the light of God’s grace shone on our paths? On becoming a humble Calvinist – John Newton, Memoirs of the Life of the Late Rev. William Grimshaw (London: 1799), pages 86–87 writes something that rings true:
They who avow the doctrines distinguished by the name of Calvinism, ought, if consistent with their own principles, to be the most gentle and forbearing of all men, in meekness instructing them that oppose. With us, it is a fundamental maxim, that a man can receive nothing but what is given him from heaven (John 3:27). If, therefore, it has pleased God to give us the knowledge of some truths, which are hidden from others, who have the same outward means of information; it is a just reason for thankfulness to him, but will not justify our being angry with them; for we are no better or wiser than they in ourselves, and might have opposed the truths which we now prize, with the same eagerness and obstinacy, if his grace had not made us to differ. If the man, mentioned in John 9, who was born blind, on whom our Lord graciously bestowed the blessing of sight, had taken a cudgel and beat all the blind men he met, because they would not see, his conduct would have greatly resembled that of an angry Calvinist.
[This post was first published in April 2012] It’s a common thing to see believers come across the Doctrines of Grace and then with their new mantle and a banner screaming in the air go out in search of “Arminians” of any stripe and kind.The elixir of grace does feel intoxicating but should not be an excuse to become lawless. We should always remember that our own salvation was not because of any thing we did or deserved but it was despite our wretchedness that Christ opened our eyes through the inner working of the Holy Spirit. Micah Burke recalls in a post written to encourage those new to Reformed theology or Calvinism:
There was a time, over a decade ago, when someone introduced me to the Doctrines of Grace. For a few years after that moment, the amazing truth of God’s exhaustive sovereignty was all I sought to talk about. When the church I was attending made it clear that Calvinism was unwelcome, I left and found a church where the pastor was Calvinistic, soon he was out and the Purpose Driven movement took root, I fought what I saw was (and truly is) an affront to God’s Word and sovereignty and eventually was pushed to the periphery of the church. My wife and I sought a new church and found one that was confessional, and true to the Word of God.
Given these experiences, I have a few suggestions for those folks who find themselves newly exposed to the concepts of Calvinism, the Reformed understanding of the faith and the Doctrines of Grace in general.
One caveat… most of these points refer to where you are NOW. The intention is to get you solid food, grow you in the faith, and prepare you for your purpose in the economy of God.
On a lighter note…don’t read this while sipping coffee infront of your computer:
Sign #1: You’ve given up smoking your pipe because you want to actually be able to afford term life insurance.
Sign #2: Your ‘Jonathan Edwards is My Homeboy’ shirt is faded and now simply reads, ‘Jonathan Edwards is My Home.”
Sign #3: You now read your ESV Bible more than you read John Piper.
Sign #4: You’ve considered writing a book (for P&R rather than Crossway), Old, Well-Rested, and Reformed. [Copyright: Adam Parker, 2010] (You want the name, Collin Hansen!? Come back in 30 years and just try to get it!)
Sign #5: You find yourself warning newbies about ‘the cage stage,’ and then you find yourself reminiscing about terrorizing unsuspecting Arminians back in your day.
Ever met some one who said he is both Calvinist and Arminian; straddles both sides of the proverbial fence? I am proudly Cal-minian they say. Well I know it gives a theological head ache . Listen to this …..
There is so much wrong with that statement that I don’t even know where to begin. First of all it assumes that two mutually exclusive claims can both be true. This is patently false. Believe in both/and propositions all you want, you and the semi truck cannot both cross the intersection at the same time without grave consequences. There is only truth and error. There is only life or death. …Read More!
The usual way of arguing against one of the doctrines of grace is first, to misrepresent it so badly that no serious student of the Scripture would ever embrace it; then totally demolish it with arguments that have nothing at all to do with the issue. You have heard these straw man arguments before. Now we shall boldly look at them and debunk them one straw at a time. Some say the doctrine of total depravity (inability) cannot be true because:
1. The Bible teaches that all are responsible to believe and repent.
2.The Bible teaches that man has a will (choice). Man is not a robot or a puppet.
3. Every man does not act as sinfully as he is capable of acting.
4. Even wicked men perform acts which are good in the sight of other people.
1. The Bible teaches that men, controlled by a sinful nature, are not able to believe or repent. The person who believes in free grace has no argument with the truth that sinners are responsible. …Read More!
John Pedersen writes a deeply passionate plea outlining his concerns and fears during his transition from Arminianism to Reformed theology.
“If Arminianism is so evil, why did many Reformed believers start their Christian lives as Arminians, as Christians who believed in “free will”? I myself was a believer in “free will” Arminianism for years, and it was a long and painful journey for me to finally see the biblical basis for the doctrines of grace.”
“All those years, I read my Bible, prayed, and sought the salvation of my friends and loved ones, just as I do now. My transition to Calvinism was somewhat reluctant, but the inevitable result of Christian maturity, good Reformed books, and the patience and godly example of Reformed believers who did not castigate me for my free will beliefs but encouraged me to see the greater richness and deep biblical truths of Reformed doctrine.”
“I was loved into the Reformed Faith; not condemned into it. …Read More!
I grew up a devout Arminian (Word of faith and Prosperity gospel Pentecostal Christian) believing that Salvation is accomplished through the combined efforts of God (who takes the initiative) and man (who must respond) – man’s response being the determining factor. God has provided salvation for everyone, but His provision becomes effective only for those who, of their own free will, “choose” to cooperate with Him and accept His offer of grace. At the crucial point, man’s will plays a decisive role; thus man, not God, determines who will be recipients of the gift of salvation. But later I realised scripture is more in tune with reformed theology or Calvinism that asserts that: Read More
Once in a while I sit awake musing. No, I am through with the silly stuff like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin e.t.c Once in a while its about something I have read especially personal testimonies and conundrums. Like, if two people are poles apart theologically, what happens when they fall in love? Say, a staunch Calvinist dude and a staunch Arminian lady? Impossible, huh? Well sit back and read on…
I have been a die-hard Calvinist for approximately sixteen years now. During that time, I have engaged in “debates” with innumerable Arminians in person, via email, or in chat rooms. These debates were rarely moderated or formal affairs—just the typical sort of thing that Calvinists and Arminians find themselves involved in two or three times a week every day (that’s not a typo). In the process of these debates, I think I’ve hit upon just about every topic that could be hit upon in the differences between the Average American Arminian and the Average American Calvinist. Through it all, my beliefs have been strengthened and fortified by iron sharpening iron, and by the confirmation that in the marketplace of ideas, Calvinism has no peer.