Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stuff Young Calvinists Like (Satire)

[Updated favorite music artist section on 9-20-09]

The following is an attempt at satire about stuff young Calvinists like. The idea came from this blog (which is funny but crass). Hopefully you will find this in good taste. :)

In most cases there is an obvious Arminian corollary. These are listed in italics.

The ESV translation: Young Calvinists (YCs) love the ESV. In certain circles its use is mandatory. The translation can easily be identified by the prominent circle on the front and/or on the binder. Since every YC uses the ESV, the "circle" has the nice side benefit of allowing them to easily identify each other when in unfamiliar environments.

The easiest way to explain why the ESV is preferred is by pointing out out the problems with all other Bible translations. The KJV is archaic. The NKJV is too much like the KJV. No one uses the NASB. The NIV and NLT are thought for thought translations (bad). The Living and The Message are paraphrases (really bad). The NRSV and TNIV use gender neutral language (really really bad). Special note: people who prefer the NRSV are invariably liberal (keep in mind that "liberal" and "Arminian" are synonymous term in the Calvinist mind). When in the presence of YCs it is wise to avoid all reference to the NRSV for reasons of safety.

The ESV is generally the only permitted translation for Calvinists; however, there is one notable exception: The NASB is considered acceptable if one is buying a MacArthur study Bible. In all other cases the NASB should be avoided in order to maintain conformity. It is a matter of great consternation among YCs that there is currently no ESV MacArthur study Bible.

Arminian Corollary: All Arminians use the NIV. If you catch an Arminian using a translation other than the NIV, this indicates that he intends to convert to another branch of Christianity. You can determine what branch based on the translation used. A few years ago there was an Arminian movement to migrate to the TNIV. This was singlehandedly shot down by James

Mars Hill Church:
YCs like Mars Hill because it is contemporary, hip, and Reformed. The first rule when discussing Mars Hill is to be aware that there are actually two of them. One is very cool. One is evil. To mix them up is a sign of terrible ignorance and is considered almost as bad as reading the NRSV. The cool Mars Hill is pastored by Mark Driscoll, and is located in Seattle. The evil Mars Hill is located near Grand Rapids. It is pastored by Rob Bell (The Emergent who produces the NOOMA series). It is excessively irritating to YCs that there is a successful Emergent mega-church in Mecca (Grand Rapids).

Arminian Corollary: Arminians like the evil Mars Hill.

All YCs drink alcohol. Other Christians drink too, but alcohol has special significance among YCs. Most of them grew up in churches where drinking was frowned upon. Since YCs are invariably fundamentalists, it is important for them to be able to point to something that indisputably proves that they have thrown off the legalistic chains of their youth. Alcohol fills the role nicely.

Arminian Corollary: Young Arminians drink too, and for the same reasons.

Old Theologians:
YCs love old theologians. Their favorites include: Edwards, Owen, and Spurgeon (primarily because their works are written in English). All YCs own works from old theologians. They love to display them in their library. A special note of precaution here: It is better to not ask the YC specific questions about the classic works that he owns. This can create an embarrassing moment, because there is a good chance that he hasn't read them. This is not intentional. When the YC bought the works he fully intended to read them, but then realized that wading through Owen and Edwards is quite difficult. Though rare, it is worse to ask a question to a YC who has actually read the classics. In that case you will get more than you bargained for, such as a dissertation on the merits of John Owen's insight into penal substitution theory. It is always safer to merely notice the YC's large library, and to comment on his excellent tastes.

Arminian Corollary: Arminians don't know the names of any old theologians. If you ask an Arminian to name one, he will say "Billy Graham". Like YCs, Arminians rarely read the books that they own.

John Piper:
John Piper is the "holy grail" of Calvinist authors. YCs own all of his books. In many cases his work is actually preferred over scripture (of course you will never get a YC to admit this). Unlike "old theologians", YCs actually read Piper. In fact it is common to find YCs who have memorized large portions of his work. If you attempt to argue with a YC, there is a 100% chance that he will refer you to something written by Piper. If you have a good friendship with a YC, you have an excellent chance of receiving a Piper book for Christmas.

There is no Arminian corollary to John Piper. Arminians do own and memorize the "Left Behind" books.

Caedmon’s Call:
Caedmon’s Call is the preferred music group for all YCs. This is not because Caedmon’s Call has particularly outstanding music, but because the lyrics of their songs are discernibly Calvinist in nature. If you have a good friendship with a YC and don't get a Piper book for Christmas, it is near certain that you will receive a Cadmon’s Call CD instead.

LACRAE: Caedmon's call is very 08. Lacrae is now the preferred artist for all YCs. This is not because he has particularly outstanding music, but because the lyrics of his songs are discernibly Calvinist in nature. For white YC's he is also the only rap artist that they can name, although they'll be offended if you point this out. And no, DC Talk doesn't count. If you have a good friendship with a YC and don't get a Piper gook for Christmas, it is near certain that you will receive a Lacrae CD instead.

Arminian Corollary: Arminians like Michael W Smith, because he sings about love and endorses books like "The Shack". White Arminians can't name any rap artists.

Second Generation Calvinists:
Second generation Calvinists are highly esteemed because there are so few of them. Most children of Calvinists become either non-Calvinists (the Schaeffer route) or hyper-Calvinists (the Sproul route). If you happen to be a level headed second generation Calvinist, there are lots of YCs who want to pepper you with questions about how exciting it must have been growing up in a Reformed Church. You get extra points if you are from Michigan, have a Dutch sounding last name, or have spent time at L’Abri. If you happen to be a Calvinist of South African descent, you present a special situation. In this case the YC still desires to question you; however, he will be very discreet about it when in the presence of minorities.

There are no second generation Arminians. They invariably become liberal, or convert to another branch of Christianity.

The Word "Reformed": YCs actually hate to be called Calvinists, due to the negative connotations associated with the word. They instead prefer to use the word "Reformed". The term is less recognized, and when in mixed company it allows the YC to maintain the illusion that he is on the sly. If someone comments in passing that he enjoys "Reformed Theology", this is code to tell you that he is a Calvinist. This is quite similar to a Mormon casually mentioning where he served his mission, and it is done with identical motives. The YC will be closely watching your response. Appropriate responses include: "That's cool, what is your favorite John Piper book?" or "I am a huge fan of Caedmon's Call." If you ask what Reformed theology is, you will immediately be put on the YC's list of Arminians to convert.

Arminian Corollary: Arminians hate to be called fundamentalist. They will spend 10 minutes explaining to you why they are not fundamentalist, even though they are. Arminians also will never admit that they are Arminians.

The Five Solas:
Among educated brethren YCs refer to themselves as adherents of the five solas. YCs prefer not to use the term TULIP. However, references to TULIP become necessary when indoctrinating non-Calvinists, as the unique distinctives of Calvinism are not readily apparent from the five solas. YCs always say the solas in the original Latin. This makes them feel smarter. When a YC is losing an argument, he will often shout out "SOLI DEO GLORIA!" YCs rarely refer to "sola fide" or "solus Christus" because they sound too Arminian. Much like the word "Reformed", YCs frequently refer to the solas as part of an elaborate code language in an attempt to vet out other Christian's knowledge of Calvinism.

Arminian Corollary: Arminians agree with the five solas, but usually don't know what they are. Arminians sometimes refer to themselves as adherents of John 3:16, and will often hold entire conferences based on the verse.

Small Groups:
All YCs attend a small group. While small groups are by no means unique to Calvinism, YCs have particular reasons for attending them. Calvinist small groups have much in common with military boot camps. They are intended to indoctrinate and promote conformity. In mixed denominations where Calvinism is taught on the sly, small groups present the unique opportunity to indoctrinate with minimal oversight. It is also the desire of every YC to work for Desiring God or Crossway. Since this is not always a realistic goal, it is considered an acceptable fall back to lead a small group.

Arminian Corollary: Arminians host small groups primarily as a motivation to clean up their messy house. They rarely discuss theology, unless a YC has infiltrated the group. Typically the purpose of Arminian small groups is to discuss politics, watch football, and eat food.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why I Became an Arminian

This is a personal post that deals with my journey as an Arminian.

I became a Christian at a young age. I remember going to a church service, being convicted of sin, and going down to the altar to pray with my dad. I asked Jesus to forgive me and to come into my heart. He did. I remember the experience. I felt forgiveness, peace, and the personal love of Jesus. This brought me great joy. I was around the age of 4 or 5 when this took place.

I grew up in a Christian family. My parents were committed church goers. If the church doors were open, we were there. My family attended the Nazarene church. Growing up, I did not realize that my denomination was "Arminian". But, I was learning Arminian concepts. John 3:16 was the first verse memorized. In Sunday school we sang "Jesus Loves Me" and "Jesus Loves the Little Children". I grew up believing that Jesus loves every person, that he wants each person to be saved, and that it is genuinely possible for anyone to become a believer. To this day, I believe that these distinctives are the heart of Arminian theology.

Until several years ago, I was largely ignorant of Calvinist theology. I knew that Calvinists placed a lot of importance on predestination. I also knew that they believed that a Christian could not lose his salvation. I thought that "eternal security" was the defining characteristic of Calvinism, thus, in my mind every Baptist was a Calvinist. I was blissfully unaware of the TULIP. I was also unaware of the Calvinistic concept of exhaustive determinism.

There were three events that piqued my interest in Calvinism. They all took place around the same time.

1) I attended Sunday school class where we went through a book by John Piper.
2) I started memorizing scripture, and ran into Romans 9.
3) My brother became a Calvinist, and began to try to convince me and other family members of its merits.

In the Sunday school class we studied the book "The Dangerous Duty of Delight" by John Piper. The discussions were lively. At the time I had never read Piper, and didn't know that he was a Calvinist. However, I knew that I didn't care for his book. Initially I couldn't put my finger on the reason why. In retrospect, I think it was my "stink detector" going off. I didn't really know what Calvinism was, but was still able to detect something amiss in Piper's writing.

To this day, I don't enjoy Piper's work. No doubt he is a godly man with spiritual insight. However, his deterministic theology is in focus in all of his writings. This turns me off. When I read his writings I know that he is using Biblical terms in a way that is quite different from the way I understand them, and the way they have usually been interpreted historically. As a result, I find it difficult to appreciate his work (As a side note, I don't find this to be true of all Calvinist authors.).

Around the same time as the Sunday school class, I began to memorize scripture. There was a man at our church who had memorized huge chunks of the Bible. He said that anyone could memorize large passages, and encouraged me to do so. I decided to give it a try. Over the course of several months I memorized Romans 8 and 12 - two of my favorite chapters. When I had 8 and 12 down, I decided to work on the chapters in between.

When I dug into Romans 9, it bothered me. What I read in Romans 9 did not sound like the God that I had heard about growing up, or had read about elsewhere in the Bible. A God who hates Esau before he was born? A God who hardens hearts, and creates objects of wrath? And to top it off, He tells us not to talk back and question his motives. What did this mean? What kind of God was this? Fortunately, I didn't start or stop at Romans 9 (as I fear many Calvinist "converts" do).

When I read Romans 10, it seemed to me to flat out contradict Romans 9. There I read that that the same Lord is Lord of all. He richly blesses all who call on him. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Romans 9 created a lot cognitive dissonance for me. I didn't understand how it fit in with Romans 10, or with other passages that seemed to contradict it. As I began to research the issue, I found that there were some viable Arminan interpretations of Romans 9. They made a lot of sense to me. I now enjoy Romans 9. Understood in context, it is a refreshing passage (My thoughts on Romans 9 can be found here).

As they say, sometimes life happens in threes. Around the time these other events were going on, my brother became a Calvinist. At the time I was still unaware of the distinctives of Calvinism. I just figured that he had bought into the "eternal security" thing. This didn't really worry me. I had always respected my brother's views and insight. He was (and is) a kind, patient, and reflective person. If he thought eternal security was true, that was fine with me. Maybe it was true.

But, to be sure, I decided to read up on Calvinism - both pro and con. What I read about it bothered me. I discovered that there was much more to Calvinism than "eternal security". There was this thing called TULIP. TULIP contradicted what I knew to be true - that God loves the world (John 3:16), that Jesus died for all (1 Tim 2:4-6), and that God does not desire for anyone to perish (2 Pet 3:9). These were all biblical concepts that Calvinism rejected. I did not believe in a God who damned people before they were born for "His glory". It was at that time that I realized that Calvinism was more than simply a minor variance in theology.

When I read Calvinist authors, I did not find their criticisms of Arminianism to be accurate. They said things like: Arminians deny the sovereignty of God. Arminians believe in a works salvation. Arminians are man-centered. Arminians don't believe in the sinful nature. Arminians worship free will. Arminians are liberal. I knew from personal experience that none of these criticisms were legitimate (As a side note: Roger Olson's book addresses many of these myths.).

Later on my brother convinced my sister and her husband of the merits of Calvinism. Both of their families broke fellowship with the churches that they had been attending, and began attending Calvinist churches. Unfortunately theology is now a matter of division in our family. I have learned to agree to disagree with my brother. I have not discussed the issue much with my sister. We are neither likely to change opinions, and I feel that addressing the matter would only strain our relationship. To my brother and sister: if you happen to read this, I hope you both know that I love you dearly, and accept you as fellow believers.

I have found that my experiences are not unique. Calvinism is in a period of resurgence. Thankfully, there are many godly Calvinists who are followers of Jesus. My brother and sister are among them. However, I also believe that Calvinist theology damages the body of Christ. Calvinism is a distortion of the Gospel. It misrepresents the character of God. It is something that needs to be addressed, checked, and opposed. For this reason I am now dedicated to to promoting Arminian theology.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

According to Scripture, Jesus Died For ...

According to scripture, Jesus died for ...

Us all (Isaiah 53:6)
His people (Matthew 1:21)
All who are weary (Matthew 11:28)
Many (Matthew 20:28)
His people (Luke 1:68)
All the people (Luke 2:10)
The lost (Luke 19:10)
All who receive him (John 1:12)
The world (John 1:29)
Everyone who believes (John 3:15)
The world (John 3:16)
The world (John 3:17)
Whoever believes (John 3:18)
Whoever believes (John 3:36)
The world (John 4:42)
Whoever hears and believes (John 5:24)
The world (John 6:33)
He who comes and believes (John 6:35)
He who believes (John 6:47)
The world (John 6:51)
The sheep (John 10:7)
The sheep (John 10:11)
The sheep (John 10:15)
My sheep (John 10:27)
He who believes (John 11:25)
The Jewish nation (John 11:51)
The scattered children of God (John 11:52)
His friends (John 15:13)
Everyone who calls on the Lord (Acts 2:21)
The Church of God (Acts 20:28)
The ungodly (Romans 5:6)
Sinners (Romans 5:8)
God's enemies (Romans 5:10)
Many (Romans 5:15)
All Men (Romans 5:18)
Your brother (Romans 14:15)
The weak brother (1 Corinthians 8:11)
All (2 Corinthians 5:14)
All (2 Corintihans 5:15)
The world (2 Cor 5:19)
Paul (Galations 2:20)
The Church (Ephesians 5:25)
All men (1 Timothy 2:6)
All men, especially those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10)
All men (Titus 2:11)
Everyone (Hebrews 2:9)
Many people (Hebrews 9:28)
The unrighteous (1 Peter 3:18)
False prophets (2 Peter 2:1)
Us, and the whole world (1 John 2:2)
The world (1 John 4:14)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Arminian Audio: Arminius -The Scapegoat of Calvinism

Here is an audio presentation by Dr. Vic Reasoner, entitled: "Arminius -The Scapegoat of Calvinism". Reasoner has also published an article by the same name.

MP3 Link
Article Link

Dr. Reasoner gives the historical background for Arminianism, and how Arminius and Wesley have often been misrepresented by their critics. He addresses three misrepresentations: that Arminians do not hold to total depravity, that they hold to the absolute free will of man, and that they promote a works salvation.

Dr. Reasoner is a Methodist theologian and pastor. He is also involved with the Fundamental Wesleyan Society and the Arminian Magazine.

(HT: JNORM888)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What are the three things God doesn't know? (Joke)

What are the three things God does not know? (Catholic version)
1) What the Jesuits are thinking.
2) What the Franciscans are doing.
3) How many orders of nuns there are.

What are the three things God does not know? (Protestant version)
1) What process theologians are thinking.
2) Who's in charge of the Baptists.
3) What the Pentecostals are saying.

HT: Thomas Oden

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

In Defense of the Invitation / Altar Call

(Note: this is an updated version of an old post)

The "invitation" or "altar call" is a common tradition in many "low church" bodies. Invitations to accept Christ are not new, however, the specific form of invitation known as an "altar call" is a relatively new practice. It started with the evangelist Charles Finney, back in the 1830's. Other evangelists who have popularized the practice include D.L Moody, Billy Sunday, Corrie ten Boom, and Billy Graham.

Arminian churches typically utilize altar calls more frequently than Calvinist churches do. Why is this so? First, Arminians believe in prevenient grace - that God is working in the hearts of non-believers to draw them to Himself. Second, Arminians believe that God desires for everyone to be saved. Thus, every non-believer is a genuine candidate for the saving grace of God. Third, many Arminian and Semi-Arminian denominations are "low church". Low church worship services tend to be more expressive and less formal than those of older and more established denominations. Given these reasons, it should be expected that Arminian leaning denominations would be more likely to utilize the public invitation to accept Christ.

Recently I've read a number of Christian blogs where the altar call tradition has been criticized. The most common arguments are that this is a new practice, that it is not supported by scripture, that it is abused by preachers, and that "decisional regeneration" is not genuine. Let's consider these criticisms.

New Practice?
Should we discontinue the altar call because it is a new practice? Not necessarily. Innovations in worship are often helpful, and should be welcomed if they conform to scripture. Isaiah 43 says to not dwell on the past, because God is doing a new thing. To reject something simply because it is new is legalistic. Church services today should not necessarily be identical to the way they were in 1829. In 1829 no church building had electric lighting or indoor plumbing. You don't hear most Christians complaining about those innovations!

Altar calls are really a new type of liturgy – something instituted as a tradition in some evangelical circles. Other "modern" liturgies include: Sunday school, worship music, and even the pastor's sermon. Liturgies in and of themselves are neutral. They can be used by the Spirit, or they can be empty. It depends on whether or not the liturgy is used in a way that is consistent with what scripture teaches.

Another criticism of the altar call is that the practice is not mentioned in scripture. While altar calls are not specifically mentioned, public invitations to accept Christ were frequently made by many of the disciples, including Peter and Paul. An altar call is a public invitation to accept Christ. It can be used in a manner that strongly affirms scripture. Here are some examples:

Altar calls are used to proclaim the good news of Jesus. In Mark 16:15 Jesus said to "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation."

Altar calls are used to exhort repentance. In Acts 17 Paul makes a public invitation to the Athenians to accept Christ. In Acts 17:30 Paul states that "...(God) commands all people everywhere to repent."

Altar calls are an opportunity for new believers to publicly acknowledge their faith in Christ. Jesus called for his disciples to follow him publicly. Matthew 10:32-33 states that "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."

An altar is a place where one can openly confess sins. 1 John 1:9 states that "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

Altars calls are used as a time for the laying on of hands, for healing, for anointing, and for the forgiveness of sins. James 5:13-16 states: "Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

Altars are a place where the non-believer can be overwhelmed, convicted of sin, and worship God. 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 states that: "...if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!"

Even though altar calls are not specifically mentioned in scripture, invitations are, and altar calls are nothing more than a form of invitation. They can clearly be used in a way that conforms to scripture.

Abused Practice?
Can evangelists and preachers abuse the practice of altar calls? Certainly they can. Altar calls can be coercive, they can appeal to emotion instead of scripture, they can be overused. But many church practices can be abused - including tithing, exorcism, baptism, confession, and others. Abuse in and of itself is not a legitimate reason to discard a practice. We should instead use altar calls only in ways that affirm scripture.

Decisional Regeneration?
Does God "save" someone who makes a trip to the altar? He certainly desires to, but justification is dependent first on the grace of God and then on the heart of a person. In Luke 18:9-15 Jesus describes two types of people who went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and one was a tax collector. The Pharisee prayed “thanks that I’m not like this tax collector.” The tax collector prayed “God have mercy on me a sinner.” Jesus said that the tax collector was the one who went home justified. So it is with going to the altar. Some will be justified, some will not be. It depends if the person has the heart of a Pharisee or a tax collector.

By their fruit you will recognize them. Who can deny that God has used men such as Billy Graham to preach the gospel and call men to repentance? The altar call has definitely been used by the Spirit. It has been used by men of God in Godly ways. It has been used in ways that conform to scripture. Many of those who have gone to the altar have become believers, and lives have been changed.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Wesley Study Bible

The Wesley Study Bible is scheduled to be released in the spring of 2009. It is being published by Abingdon Press. The text version is the NRSV. Abingdon has a sample available here, which includes the book of James.

The General Editors are Joel B. Green and William H. Willimon. Green is Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Fuller Theological Seminary. Willimon is Resident Bishop of the Birmingham Area of The United Methodist Church.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

God's Sovereignty and Man's Free Will

I found these illustrations helpful. They explain two different ways of understanding God's sovereignty and man's free will. The illustrations and quotes come from the book Foundations of Wesleyan-Arminian Theology, by Mildred Bangs Wynkoop. Illustration "A" represents the Calvinist / Reformed view. With this view, any genuine freedom that man has takes away from God's sovereignty. Therefore, free will must be rejected in order to protect God. Illustration "B" represents the Wesleyan / Arminian view. With this view, man has genuine (though limited) freedom. Man's freedom is not a threat to the sovereignty of God.

"When a problem is encountered relative to God's sovereignty and man's will, it probably lies in thinking of man's will as standing over against God's will, challenging and defying God so as to constitute a threat to God's will and purpose in His creation. No evangelical Christian would tolerate such an idea. And yet both the full measure of God's sovereignty and a genuine moral responsibility in man must be accounted for and included in one system without absurd reasoning to explain it."

"The unsatisfactory concept of man's freedom in relation to God's sovereignty could be likened to a set of balancing scales with the weights set against each other. In this view, God's will is thwarted by man's will or mans will is thwarted by God's will. In either case, one of the two is victor, the other vanquished."

"It seems to be more in keeping with biblical teaching to illustrate the proper relationship by a large circle typifying God's sovereign will. The small square contained within the circle is the real though limited freedom which God has given to the man He created. In God's sovereign love He has created morally responsible beings. But man's freedom is strictly limited by God. God makes the rules. Man is
genuinely free within the limits set by God. God controls nature, the universe, the major lines of history. The natural order is absolute (God is Creator). But there is a vastly different kind of order in back of the natural order, namely the moral order-and the rules are moral rules. God has given man the power of discrimination and the ability to make decisions between alternatives. God's will and mercy sustain moral freedom in man. In fact, God has made man in such a way the he is under constant necessity of making decisions. He is not free not to make constant moral decisions."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Never Really Saved to Begin With?

Ben over at Arminian Perspectives has a good post on "eternal security" and how this doctrine does violence to the plain reading of numerous passages of scripture. Check it out.

Never Really Saved to Begin With

Monday, October 13, 2008

More than Dreams (Islam)

I recently had the pleasure of seeing a new believer get baptized. This young person came from an Islamic background. His testimony brought tears to my eyes. It is such a joy to hear the life story of a new follower of Christ. It is particularly amazing when the testimony comes from someone who risks everything to follow Him.

Here is a site with video testimonies from former Muslims who have become Christians. These are professionally done reenactments telling the story of these individuals, and how they came to know Isa (Jesus). They are spoken in the native languages (Arabic, Farsi, etc) of the believers. There are English subtitles also.

More than Dreams

These particular testimonies have several things in common:
  • All were seeking to know Allah better.
  • All had visions and dreams about Isa.
  • All sacrificed much to follow Isa.
Our Savior is moving in the Islamic world He is making his name known among the nations. May the Lord give strength to Christians in Islamic countries. And may I learn from the example of these belivers who give up everything to follow Jesus.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Romans 11

In the previous posts (1, 2, 3) we looked at Romans 9 and 10. The focus throughout the passage is the nation of Israel. Has God broken his promises to the Jewish people? No, he has not.

We noted the following: The election described in Romans 9 is for the human ancestry of Christ (9:5). Jacob and Esau are nations (9:11-13). Pharaoh is a parallel to the nation of Israel (9:14-17). Pharaoh was used by God to proclaim his name to the world (9:17). Israel depended on their works instead of believing in Jesus (10:1-4). Anyone can be saved by confessing and believing that Jesus is Lord (10:9-13). God genuinely desired to save Israel, yet they resisted his grace (10:16-21).

Romans 11

In the opening of Romans 11 we see that God still loves Israel, even though they have been disobedient. In addition, not all of Israel has turned away from God. Some have remained faithful. Others have become faithful. Paul gives himself as an example (11:1-6).

Also discussed is the election and hardening of Israel:

What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened...

The "hardening" here is not by arbitrary decree. Rather, Israel has been hardened by God because of their disobedience. The hardening is also not without purpose. Through it the Gentiles have been shown mercy. Importantly for Israel, the hardening is not a permanent condition. Salvation is available for them too. They have not stumbled beyond recovery.

Romans 11:11-12
Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!

Ingrafted Branches
In Romans 11:13 Paul makes a transition from Israel to addressing Gentiles. He gives an analogy of some branches being cut off and other branches being grafted in. Salvation is now available to the non-Jew. Israel has been "cut off" due to their disobedience, and the Gentiles have been "grafted in" as a result. Importantly to Arminians, Paul makes it clear that we can lose our salvation through unbelief. We should not take our current standing for granted. Just as Israel was cut off, so we can be too.

Romans 11:17-21 (bold and parenthesis mine)
If some of the branches have been broken off (Israel), and you (gentiles), though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 1do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." Granted. But they (Israel) were broken off because of unbelief, and you (gentiles) stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

There is still good news for Israel. If they do not persist in disbelief, they can be grafted back into a relationship with God. Since they are the original branches, it is more all the more natural for them.

Romans 11:22-24
Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

Mercy for All
Paul closes his argument in Romans 11:28-32. He concludes that Israel will be saved in the end, because God is faithful to keep his promises. God has mercy on all of us! This conclusion is the opposite of what Calvinism teaches.

Romans 11:28-32 (bold mine)
As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”

Romans 9-11 is very unfriendly to Calvinism when read in context. Consider the following:
  • God wants everyone to know who he is (9:17).
  • Anyone can be saved (10:9-13).
  • Grace is resistible (10:16-21).
  • Hardening is not arbitrary, it is a punishment for transgression (11:11).
  • The accepted can become rejected (11:22).
  • The rejected can become accepted (11:23)
  • God has mercy on all (11:32).

Isn't it interesting that Paul concludes his argument by stating that God has mercy on us all? The whole point of Paul's argument throughout Romans 9-11 is that our God is faithful! He is good. He is genuine. He keeps his promises. He is merciful to Israel. He is merciful all. Amen to that!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Life of John Wesley

YouTube has a three part video series about the life of John Wesley. It is well worth the watch. Run time is about 3 minutes per clip. (HT: Arminian Today)

The author Chris Denne has done some other interesting series as well (William J Seymour for example)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Romans 10

Recap of Romans 9
In the previous two posts (1,2) we looked at the context of Romans 9. It addresses the question: Has God broken his promises to the Jewish people? We noted that Jacob and Esau (9:11-13) were nations, and that the election described was for the human ancestry of Christ (9:5). We observed that both Pharaoh and Israel were chosen by God to proclaim his name to the world, and that God showed mercy to Pharaoh (Exodus 9:13-16).

More to the story: Romans 10 and 11
Typically, Calvinists are only interested in a portion of Romans 9. However, Romans 9, 10, and 11 are one argument. Romans 10 and 11 teach a very non-Calvinistic view of faith.

The opening of Romans 10 shows that Paul still has Israel in mind. We now learn why not all of Abraham's descendants are God's children (first addressed in Romans 9:6). It is because Israel is depending on its own works, instead of the righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus. God offers salvation to everyone who has faith in Jesus and calls on his name.

Romans 10:1-4
Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

How are we saved?
Salvation and justification are presented in Romans 10:9-13. To be saved one must confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. Importantly, anyone can be saved.

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Amen! No wonder the Calvinists never go on to read Romans 10. There is nothing here about "secret decrees" or the elect being zapped with faith. Instead we see that it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Irresistible Grace Refuted?
In Romans 10:16-21 the Calvinistic teaching of "Irresistible Grace" is contradicted by the word of God. God genuinely desired to save Israel. Not only that, Israel heard and understood the message of Christ. Yet they still resisted.

Romans 10:16-21: But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:
"Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, "I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding." And Isaiah boldly says,
"I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me." But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people."

God desired for Israel to accept Christ. In fact it states that God was holding out his hands to them all day long. Israel heard the good news, and they understood the message. If "Irresistible Grace" was true they would have been saved. But Israel did resist. They remained disobedient and obstinate.

Next up: Romans 11.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

100 Years: Church of the Nazarene

Happy 100th birthday Nazarenes!
(I come from a Nazarene background)

Some facts:
  • The denomination was founded in 1908, in Pilot Point Texas.
  • The denomination started through the merger of 15 small Holiness denominations.
  • Nazarenes are Wesleyan Arminian in orientation
  • The church has always permitted the ordination of women. In 1925, 12% of the ordained ministers were women. Currently the number is about 2%. source
  • The church has always been racially integrated (whites and blacks).
  • The church currently has 1.7 million members, 640,000 in the USA.
  • The founder was Phineas F. Bresee. Bresee came from a Methodist background, and was active in the Los Angeles community.
  • Some of the better known theogians include: H Orton Wiley, Mildred Bangs Wynkoop, and J Kenneth Grider

Challanges for Nazarenes (my opinions)
  • Liberal trends: The belief in the infallibility of the Bible is under attack
  • Slowed growth in the USA
  • closing of churches in the USA (the small ones are being closed, while the big ones are getting bigger)
  • Ministering to postmodern society
  • Ministering to minorities, adjusting to changing racial demographics in our communities
  • The encroach of Calvinistic concepts
  • Decreased emphasis on Holiness
  • There seems to less focus on world missions.
  • "Silo" of the denomination, Nazarenes need to work more with other groups who have closely related theology (like Assembly of God, Wesleyan, Methodist, Free Methodist, Church of God, etc)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Calvinist Proof Text Series: Romans 9 (part 2)

I'm doing a series to address the major Calvinist proof texts: Romans 9, John 6, and Ephesians 1.

Recap of Romans 9 (part 1)
In the previous post we looked at the context of Romans 9: Has God broken his promises to the Jewish people? He has not. We also noted that Jacob and Esau (9:11-13) were nations, and that the election spoken of for the patriarchs is in regards to the human ancestry of Christ (9:5).

Romans 9:14-17 - What's up with Pharaoh?
Paul has been speaking of Israel. Pharaoh is referenced because he provides a parallel to the Jewish nation. Both Pharaoh and Israel are used by God to accomplish His purposes, despite their disobedience. The way God deals with Pharaoh in Exodus is similar to the way he later deals with Israel.

The Israelites had been disobedient throughout their history. They had broken their covenant with God. However, God showed mercy to them over and over again. Why? Because he wanted to make his name known to the world. He had decided to accomplish this through the offspring of Jacob.

Recognizing the parallel (Israel / Pharaoh - both disobedient, both shown mercy to accomplish a purpose), let's look at Romans 9:14-17 (bold mine):

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!
For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

This passage parallels Exodus 9:15-16 (bold and parenthesis mine):
(God speaking to Pharaoh through Moses) I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up (have spared you) for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

To raise up means "to spare". Pharaoh deserved instant death, yet God spared him for a time. Sometimes God spares the least deserving, because by doing so he is able to accomplish his greater purpose of revealing and reconciling himself to the world.

In the process God hardened Pharaoh's heart. Was this unjust? Not at all! If God arbitrarily and capriciously hardened Pharoah from birth, that would be unjust. However, the accounts don't indicates this. The hardening was an act of judgment against a man who had committed much evil, and had positioned himself against God. Calvinists sometimes imply that God "made" Pharaoh wicked. Pharaoh was already wicked. God didn't need to control Pharaoh like a puppet to "make" him do evil things. He knew of how Pharaoh would respond in different situations (Exodus 7:10-13). He had no need to violate Pharoah's will in the process.

When a matador waves a red flag in front of a bull, he doesn't need any magic to get inside the bull's head. He already knows what the bull will do.

What was the purpose of God's interaction with Pharaoh? Proclaiming His name in all the earth! Understanding that God showd undeserved mercy to Pharaoh (and later Isreal) changes the focus of Romans 9:22-24 (parenthesis mine):

What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath (Pharaoh, Israel) —prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

God loves the world. He wants everyone to know who he is. God showed mercy to both Israel and Pharaoh when they didn't deserve it, so that his name would be known. Morover, He acted justly and fairly in all of His dealing with both.

Who are you oh man to talk back to God?
Romans 9:19-21 One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

This has nothing to do with unconditional election or reprobation. Rather, the Jews of that time were making the argument that they ought not to be condemned for doing evil if their evil brought glory to God and helped accomplish his purposes. This is similar to the question that Paul addresses in Romans 3:5-8 (bold mine):

But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, "If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?" Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—"Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is deserved.

Israel freely committed evil actions contrary to what God desired. And they rejected the means of salvation that God had provided (they rejected Jesus). If Israel (or anyone) acts in a way that God does not prefer, God still has the right to use their actions to further the advancement of his kingdom. This in no way clouds the character of God, because he did not determine the disobedience in the first place. In the case of Israel he did everything possible to cultivate their obedience (Isaiah 5). It follows then that Israel has no grounds to talk back to God. This is Paul's point.

Next up: a look at Romans 10.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Calvinist Proof Text Series: Romans 9 (part 1)

I'm doing a series to address the major Calvinist proof texts: Romans 9, John 6, and Ephesians 1.

Calvinism is a philosophy based upon exhaustive determinism (that God controls us like puppets). George Bryson summarizes Calvinism as follows: "You will be saved or damned for all eternity because you were saved or damned from all eternity." (1)

Romans 9.
Inevitably, the first passage Calvinists turn to is Romans 9. They argue that the passage teaches unconditional individual election - that God determines to save specific individuals. Those whom God has chosen will certainly be saved. Everyone else is without help and without hope. Calvinists teach that God passes over the larger part of mankind (Pharaoh and Esau are examples). These individuals are decreed to be vessels of wrath (9:22). Calvinists believe that God does not intend for most to be saved, nor does he provides means for them to be saved.

The background for Romans 9: Has God broken his promises?
During early church history (and now) most of the Jewish people had rejected Jesus. This grieved Paul deeply. The question being asked was: Has God broken his promises to Israel? If the Jews don't believe, does this mean that God's promises are untrue? Has God failed to keep his word? This is first asked in Romans 3:3 "What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness?"

The answer to the question is no. God is not unfaithful. He has not broken his promises to the descendants of Abraham. Paul explains why in detail in chapters 9, 10, and 11. His scope is identified in the opening of Romans 9:1-5 (bold mine):

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit—
I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

The Jews of that time thought that God had unconditionally elected them to salvation by their birthright as children of Abraham. Paul was showing this is not the case. He says, hey look! Not all of Abraham's descendants are God's children (9:6), only those who have faith are (9:32).

What about Jacob and Esau?
Romans 9:11-13: Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, "The older will serve the younger. Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

The passage is about the nations of Jacob and Esau (Israel and Edom - see Genesis 25:23). The election in scope is not salvation of the individual. Rather, it is for the human ancestry of Christ (Romans 9:5). Jacob was elected to be a forefather of the Savior. Jesus came through the line of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.

A parallel situation occurs with Isaac and Ishmael. This is addressed in Genesis 21:12-13 (also mentioned in Galatians 4:21-31 and alluded to in Romans 9:7): "But God said to (Abraham), "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the maid servant into a nation also, because he is your offspring."

Isaac was blessed in a special way that Ishmael was not. Jacob was blessed in a special way that Esau was not. Isaac and Jacob were forefathers of Jesus! This does not mean that Ishmael and Esau were not blessed at all, or that they were eternally hated and dammed by God. God loved both of these men. He made promises to both. In fact, both became nations. And they may both be in heaven today. However, God elected to bring the Savior through the line of Isaac, and Jacob. That was his right as God.

Coming up next in the series: Romans 9 (part 2), then we'll boldly go where no Calvinist has gone before - a look at 10 and 11. :)

(1) George Bryson, The Five Points of Calvinism

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Arminian Audio: Keith Green

Keith Green preaches a sermon entitled: Devotions or Devotion?

It was a pleasure to hear a little bit from the heart of Green. We need more of this kind of challenging message today. I miss this man of God.

mp3 link
Video link

Warning: he quotes from that wicked heretic Finney. :)

Here is another link with some sermons by Green.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Welcome to Wesleyan Arminian!

Welcome to my new blog: WesleyanArminian.blogspot.com

The focus of this blog will be Arminian theology from a Wesleyan perspective (if the title doesn't give it away). Since I am a layman, this blog will come from a layman's view. I write with conversational words (like "salvation") instead of more academic terms (like "soteriology"). Big words distract me.

Coming up in the near future, I want to take a look at some key Calvinist proof texts. I'm planning an overview of: Romans 9, John 6, and Ephesians 1. I also want to address other topics of interest to Wesleyan Arminians. Stuff like: open theism, holiness, views of the atonement, inerrancy, the state of the church universal, etc.

This blog needs a face lift. If you have some suggestions, drop me a note.

In addition, I plan on updating the labels / tagging on some of the old posts to make them easier to find.

I will still be posting on my old blog here: seekadoo.blogspot.com. That blog will be devoted to family, politics, hobbies, and other sorts of interests.

To Him who is not willing that any should perish. To Him who is worthy to be praised. Further up and further in!

Kevin Jackson (Pizza Man)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Book Review: The Shack

What would you do if you were invited to spend a weekend with God? What questions would you ask him? Maybe why evil exists? Why is there pain? That is the background for the book "The Shack" (Author: William P. Young).

The Shack has become a phenomenon. As of today (9-8-08) it is ranked #6 in sales on Amazon.com, and has over 1,200 reviews.

There is a dual reaction to the book in Christian circles. People either love it or despise it. I fall into the former category, with a reservation. I enjoyed the story. It brought me to tears a number of times. As the father of two girls, I empathized with the main character, "Mack".

The Shack is about the problem of evil. Why does God allow for terrible things to happen? Mack's youngest daughter Missy is brutally raped and murdered. This causes a rift in his relationship with God. Mack cannot trust a God who would allow such a terrible act. In the story God invites Mack to come to meet him at the site of the murder. Mack goes to meet God, and so the story continues.

The Trinity is represented by three persons: Papa (who is a black woman), Jesus (as himself), and Sarayu (an Asian woman). Some people have been bothered that the Father and the Spirit were represented by women. However, in the storyline it is made clear that they are not really female, they are simply an anthropomorphism of God - much like "Aslan" represents God in the Narnia books.

What I liked about the book was how well the author illustrated the loving nature of God. This aspect of God' s character shined through. God deeply loves Mack. He desires to heal Mack, to be in relationship with him, and to set him free. God loves all of us that way, the author makes it clear. A phrase that is repeated is that God is especially fond of you (each of us).

In the story God does not desire evil, it is not ordained by him. Yet God is able to accomplish his purposes through the way he responds to evil - with his unconditional love.

One concern I have about the book is that it seems to imply universalism - the idea that everyone will be saved in the end. This concept is not explicitly stated, but I can see readers arriving at such a conclusion.

The outright hostile reviews of the book are unwarranted. They seem to primarily come from Calvinists who have an ax to grind with the (Arminian) theology of the author. This is unfortunate.

In conclusion, I recommend this book. However, it should not be taken as "gospel". It should not be read in place of scripture. In the end it is simply a story - but a very moving one at that.

Some other reviews:
Greg Boyd (positive)
Tim Challies (negative)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

General Atonement

Truehope over at Thru Faith has a new post entitled: Atonement for All. He gives a great overview of General Atonement, and how it is biblical. Be sure to check it out.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Audio Links: SBC Today

SBC Today has several audio links dealing with the issue of Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention. SBC Today is a blog run by several pastors. According to the website: SBC Today exists to restore unity in the convention around biblical discipleship and our historic Baptist distinctives.

Audio Links:
1) Dr. David Allen (Dean at SWBTS) gives a convincing argument that Luke is the author of Hebrews. Calvinism completely aside, this is an interesting presentation. Relating to Calvinism, he makes a strong case for General Atonement, preaching from Hebrews 2:9 "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." (70 minutes)

2) Dr Jerry Vines (Former SBC President) is interviewed. During the course of the conversation he speaks on how Calvinism is impacting the SBC. (23 Minutes)

3) Dr. Ergun Caner (President of LBTS) is interviewed. He gives an autobiography, and speaks on Calvinism along with other issues. (17 minutes)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Full Video of the Saddleback Debate Interviews

A must watch for Christians. I will keep my opinions to myself. :)

Warren Interviews Obama (49 minutes)

Warren Interviews McCain (44 minutes)

Questions asked:
Who are three wise people who you would rely on in your administration?
What has been your greatest moral failure? What has been America greatest moral failure?
Give an example where you went against party interest for the good of the country.
Give an example where you went against your own interests for the good of the country.
What is a position you held 10 years ago that you do not hold today?
What's the most gut wrenching decision you ever had to make?
What does it mean to you to be a Christian? How does your faith live out?
At what point is a baby (fetus) entitled to human rights?
Define marriage.
Do you support a constitutional amendment to define marriage?
Do you favor or oppose embryonic stem cell research?
Does evil exist? If so, what should we do about it?
Which existing supreme justice would you not have nominated?
Should faith based organizations who receive federal funds have the right to hire people of like minded belief?
Do you support merit pay for public school teachers?
Define rich. Give me a number.
What do you do when the the right to privacy and national security interests collide?
What's worth dying for?
What is the criteria for committing American troops to war?
Would you consider a government plan to help orphans worldwide?
What should we do to end religious persecution worldwide?
What should we do to prevent human trafficking (slavery)?
Tell me in a minute why you want to be president.
What do you say to people who oppose me asking you these questions in a church?
What would you tell the American public if you knew there would be no repercussions?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Book Review: Passion for the Heart of God

Passion for the Heart of God, by John Zumwalt

Zumwalt makes the case that the reason the church exists is to fulfill the great commission. God loves people. It breaks his heart that there are so many who have never heard his name. He yearns to be in relationship with the unreached people of the world. What grieves God ought to grieve us too.

Zumwalt argues that much of the problem with the Western church is that we have lost focus on what matters to God, and instead focus on ourselves. He argues that the Christian walk is not meant to be easy. Blessings that we receive aren't meant for us to be used selfishly, but are given so that God's name will be known among the nations. The same is true of the nation of Israel. Israel was chosen not just to be blessed, but instead to be used by God as part of his plan to reconcile every nation to him.

This is a challenging book. It is easy to understand, but it is not so easy to apply.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Reformation Era Scholars who Moved Away from Limited Atonement

I thought some others might find this interesting:

The Appendix of The Life of John Goodwin (Thomas Jackson, 1872) has a list of some scholars (Reformation Era to the mid 1800s) who moved away from Limited Atonement
to "enlarged views of Divine Philanthropy". The author includes himself in the list, as well as Luther, Calvin (?!), and others. Very interestingly, a number of those listed were involved with the proceedings in Dort. (Goad, Davenport, Tilenus, Hales of Eton).


It is a fact, which is highly worthy of attention, that several of the greatest divines, who have adorned the different Protestant churches by their learning, talents, and virtue, were, in the early part of their lives, "straitened in their bowels" respecting the extent of CHRIST'S REDEMPTION, and as they advanced in years and knowledge, they entertained enlarged views of the Divine Philanthropy. The following are some of the examples of this kind which may be specified:


Luther's friend and coadjutor, was at first Luther's scholar, and drew from him his earliest religious opinions. But being a learned and dispassionate man, pursuing truth, he saw his errors and abandoned them; and espoused sentiments concerning the respectiveness of God's decrees, widely different from those he had formerly held. [A circumstance which is very conveniently passed over in silence by Dr. Cox, his late English biographer.] — Pierce's Divine Philanthropy Defended, p. 14, Edit. 1657.


Also went on long as he at first set out, with so little disguise, that whereas all parties had always pretended that they asserted the freedom of the will, he plainly spoke out, and said the will was not free, but enslaved. Yet, before he died, he is reported to have changed his mind on this and other kindred subjects : for though ho never owned that, yet Melancthon, who had been of the same opinions, did ; for which he was never blame by Luther. — Burnet on the Seventeenth Article.


Himself was education at Geneva, and in the early part of his life embraced those doctrines concerning predestination, which Calvin and Beza had taught in that city. Afterwards, however, when actually engaged in vindication of those doctrines, he was convinced that they were indefensible; and embraced the principles of those whose religious system extends the Divine benevolence and the merits of Jesus Christ to all mankind.— Mosheim's Eccles. Hist. Vol. V. p. 440, Edit. 1806.


Professor of Divinity at Sedan, a man not less acute in judgment, than versed in all kinds of learning, distinguished himself by decided hostility to the sentiments of Arminius. Convinced at length by the arguments of his opponents, he changed sides; and proved the genuineness of his conversion by submitting to share with the Remonstrants in those severe persecutions which were inflicted upon them by the Dutch Calvinists. — Brandt's History of the Reformation, Vol. II. p. 137, Edit. 1721.


President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, is thus characterized by the noted Prynne : "Dr. Jackson is a man of great abilities, and of a plausible, affable, courteous deportment. — Of late he hath been transported beyond himself with metaphysical contemplations. The University of Oxford grieves for his defection" [from the doctrine of absolute predestination] . — Anti-Arminianism, p. 270, Edit. 1630.


Is generally allowed to have been one of the most learned and pious men of the age in which he lived. Concerning him, Dr. Pierce observes, "That that inestimable bishop, in his most mature and ripest years, was very severe to those doctrines which are commonly called Calvinistical, is a thing so known, that I cannot think it will be denied." — Divine Purity Defended, p. 125, Edit. 1657.


Provost of Queen's College, Oxford, who was esteemed by all who knew him, as a divine of an amiable disposition, and of great probity, industry, and learning, has given a pleasing account of his conversion from Calvinism to the Armiman tenets; and the piety and meekness of temper displayed in the narrative add weight to his judgment, and are honourable to the cause for which he pleads. — Collection of Tracts on Predestination, p. 225, Cambridge, 1719.


One of the ablest opponents of Calvinism that system has ever had, states concerning himself: "I was, in my childhood, of the opinions [concerning Election, Reprobation, &c.] Mr. Barlee doth now contend for. But, through the infinite mercy of God, I have obtained conversion: and being converted from the practice, as well as from the opinion, which I was of, I will, to my poor utmost, endeavour to confirm or convert my brethren." — Divine Philanthropy Defended, p. 15.


Who was a Calvinist in his younger days, used frequently to say, that when he heard Episcopius argue in favour of General Redemption at the Synod of Dort, he "bade John Calvin good night." — Hales's Golden Remains, Preface.


Author of a very able work entitled, " God's Love to Mankind Manifested," — a work which produced a considerable effect among the national clergy, in the early part of the seventeenth century, — says, " I have sent you here my reasons which have moved me to change my opinion in some controversies, of late debated between the Remonstrants and their Opponents." — See the tract itself, p. 1, Edit. 1G38. W1tiston's Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 10, Edit. 1749.


Was a person every way eminent, having the repute of a great and general scholar, exact critic and historian, a poet, orator, schoolman, and divine. He was a member of the Synod of Dort, and acquitted himself there with great applause, in opposition to the opinions of the Remonstrants. He at length saw cause to alter his judgment ; and, in defence of those principles ho had formerly opposed, wrote a very able work entitled, "A Disputation concerning the Necessity and Contingency of Events."— Echard's History of England, Vol. II. p. 122, Edit, 1718. Collection of Tracts on Predestination, Preface.


Who is generally acknowledged to have been one of the most learned men in Europe, in the early part of his life held the doctrines of strict Calvinism; but as he advanced in years, avowed his belief of General Redemption; and is said, before his death, to have expressed his dislike of the whole doctrine of Geneva. — Pierce's Christian's Rescue from the Grand Error of the Heathen, Appendix, Edit. 1G58. — Bird's Fate and Destiny Inconsistent with Christianity, p. 74, Edit. 1726. — Parr's Life of Ussher, Appendix, p. 61, Edit. 1G86. — Wordsworth's Ecclesiastical Biography, Vol. V. p. 504, Edit. 1810.


Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford, and afterwards Bishop of Lincoln, has given an interesting account of the progress of his mind, from the sublapsarian scheme, to the mild sentiments of Melancthon and Arminius. — Hammond's Pacific Discourse concerning God's Grace and Decrees, p. 8, 1660.


At the commencement of his theological career, was eager in his attachment to the peculiar doctrines of Calvin. But when his judgment was more matured, though he still maintained the absolute Election of some men to Life Eternal, he contended strenuously for General Redemption, and for Universal Grace. — Baxter's Catholick Theologie, Preface.


Appears to have undergone a change of sentiment similar to that of Baxter. For Archbishop Ussher "freely declared himself for the doctrine of General Redemption, and owned that he was the person who brought both Bishop Davenant and Dr. Preston to acknowledge it." — Calamy's Abridgment of Baxter's Life and Times, p. 405, Edit. 1713.


Says, "They who have known my education, may remember that I was bred up seven years in the University, under men of the Calvinistical persuasion; and had once firmly entertained all their doctrines." The zeal with which he afterwards opposed those doctrine's, in his Commentary on the New Testament and in his Discourse concerning the Five Points, is universally known. — Whitby on the Five Points, Preface.


Himself, according to Dr. Watts, is entitled to a place among those divines whose attachment to the doctrines of limited mercy and partial redemption abated as they advanced in years. After noticing the difference between his sentiments as expressed in his Institutions and in his Commentaries, the Doctor says, " It may be proper to observe, that the most rigid and narrow limitations of grace to men are to be found chiefly in his Institutions, which were written in his youth. But his Comments on Scripture were the labour of his riper years, and maturer judgment."— Works, Vol. III. p. 472, Edit. 1800.