Friday, July 31, 2009

"Fun" Calvinist Quotes on Arminian Theology

Here are some less than flattering quotes about Arminian theology from various Calvinists. You can click on the author's name if you're interested in the original context. As an Arminian there's really not much to say in reply to this kind of stuff. I have decided to use my God given free will to make fun of the quotes. My random thoughts are in italics. Don't take them any more seriously than you take the Calvinist quotes. :)

Agustus Toplady: If we sum up the evidence that has been given, we shall find its amount to be, that Arminianism came from the Church of Rome, and leads back again to the pit whence it was digged.

Now there you go again playing the Catholic card. If you can't successfully debate your opponents, you can always fall back and call them Catholics. By the way, "Agustus" sounds pretty ROMAN to me. You might want to take a look in the mirror buddy. Mind if I call you Gus for short? Growing up I had a dog named Gus. He was a cool little schnauzer. He could urinate on command. That chubby chocolate eating kid from Willy Wonka was also named "Agustus". That movie is one of my favorites. The Gene Wilder one, not the lame Johnny Depp one. Favorite Augustus line: "I feel very sorry for Wonka. It's gonna cost him a fortune in fudge!"

John Owen: Who would have thought that our church would ever have given entertainment to these Belgic semi-Pelagians, who have cast dirt upon the faces and raked up the ashes of all those great and pious souls whom God magnified, in using as his instruments to reform his church; to the least of which the whole troop of Arminians shall never make themselves equal, though they swell till they break?

But Gus said that the Arminians were dug from the pit of Rome. Now you think that they're entertained dirt casting Belgic semi-Pelagians? What the hey? Arminius was DUTCH, not Belgic. Belgic = Catholic. I hope you're not trying to play the Catholic card again. To help you remember the difference between Belgium and Holland, try memorizing the following: "If it ain't Dutch, it ain't much." Or here's another: "Remonstrants, common sense." Or you can simply visualize a windmill. At any rate, at least Arminius wasn't French. No pious souls have ever come from France. Well, there was Joan of Arc. But she was Catholic AND a female leader - no doubt that's two strikes in your book.

Christopher Ness: Lest this overflowing deluge of Arminianism should bring destruction upon us, there is great need that some servants of Christ should run to stop the further spreading of this plague and leprosy.

I like the word "deluge". It looks like "fudge" and makes me hungry for chocolate. Anyway, you're forgetting your theology again dude. Leprous Arminianism was decreed by God for his glory. Who are you oh man to talk back to the overflowing deluge? Besides, if someone tried to run and stop it, that would be a WORK, and that would give him something to boast about. Not to mention that he would get all wet. Also, I like your last name. It reminds me of Nessie.

Charles Spurgeon: And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.

Can I call you Chuck? You're right, the work of the Redeemer is nothing without the the gratuitous addition of exhaustive determinism. And don't even get me going about those heretical Arminians, a bunch of tramps and thieves - the whole lot of them. As a side note, your own private opinion isn't private anymore if you put it into print. And what does Touchstone have to do with anything? Touchstone is just the front for Disney's R-rated movies. I fail to see how that is relevant. Oh wait...R-minian. I get it. Cute word play there Chuck.

John Piper: Here’s my rule of thumb: the more responsible a person is to shape the thoughts of others about God, the less Arminianism should be tolerated. Therefore church members should not be excommunicated for this view but elders and pastors and seminary and college teachers should be expected to hold the more fully biblical view of grace.

Whew, I had a scare there for a second. Glad I'm just a lowly church member! That means that you have to tolerate me. I'll stick to warming pews so that you can't kick me out. Don't worry, I won't do something rash like become an elder. Don't tell Chuck, but I have my own private opinion that we should run off the Supralapsarians. By the way, since y'all live in the same town, you should stop and have coffee some time with Greg Boyd. It could be a teaching moment, as Obama likes to say. You could discuss something interesting, like whether or not God decreed the Minnesota bridge collapse.

R.C. Sproul: I agree with Packer and Johnston that Arminianism contains un-Christian elements in it and that their view of the relationship between faith and regeneration is fundamentally un-Christian. Is this error so egregious that it is fatal to salvation? People often ask if I believe Arminians are Christians? I usually answer, "Yes, barely." They are Christians by what we call a felicitous inconsistency.

I'm curious, what does R.C. stand for? I'm guessing that it doesn't stand for Roman Catholic. Maybe Remote Control? "Remote Control Sproul" has a very nice flow to it, plus it is consistent with your theology. Whatever R.C stands for, it makes me thirsty for a cola. Back to the subject at hand. Weren't the egregious un-Christian elements of Arminianism decreed by God? And since your answer must be 'yes', I want to know was what was God thinking of when he came up with that particular felicitous inconsistency? Can you answer that without referring to Deut 29:29? Another thing I'm wondering about: how can anything be fatal to a fatalist?

John MacArthur: The question comes, “Can somebody who holds an Arminian view be a Christian?” And I would hate to say they couldn’t be. I really believe that it is possible to be Arminian and to be a Christian…to misunderstand your human capability, to misunderstand the election, to misunderstand the extent of the atonement, even to misunderstand the irresistible nature of God’s saving grace, and even to think you could lose your salvation. But, at the same time--while being confused or ignorant of those things--to know that you’re a sinner and know that the only way of salvation is through Jesus Christ. I guess you could say that someone could be an Arminian and push those points far enough, where they could jeopardize my confidence that they really are a Christian. You could push the point of not being totally depraved far enough where you’re actually being saved by your own works, by your own belief, by your own ingenuity, by your own self-induced faith. And you could get to the point where you could really wonder whether someone understands that it’s all a work of God.

Uh oh, the last thing I want to do is jeopardize your confidence, John. I'm probably going to lose some self-induced sleep over that one. By the way, it almost sounds like you think that Arminians can lose their salvation by thinking that they can lose their salvation. Now THAT would be a felicitous inconsistency.

C Matthew McMahon: Arminianism is not something hidden under a stone, but lives in full view, and in direct opposition, to the Gospel. It is a deceiving doctrine of demons wrought up from the pit of hell, where, in the consummation of the age, it will be cast for all eternity with the devil that spawned it and the false teachers who propagated it.

Devil spawned doctrine of demons huh? Tell me how you really feel C Matthew. Hmm, what does C stand for? Catholic? Sorry, redundant joke. Do you know how you can easily recognize demons? They're the ones who like to burn human beings at the stake. By the way, are you any relation to Ed or Jim? Naw, probably not, they're a lot nicer. And how did a hyper-Calvinist get on this list? Oh well, what's done is done. Que sera sera I always say.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Interesting Links 7-25-09

British Calvinist Peter Masters criticizes the new American Calvinism. "The new Calvinism is not a resurgence but an entirely novel formula which strips the doctrine of its historic practice, and unites it with the world." Masters is the current pastor of Charles Spurgeon's church.

God in the Hands of Angry Calvinists. Describing the angry behavior of some Calvinists, William Birch writes that "How we view God affects how we think and act."

New Testament Scholar Craig Bloomberg explains why he is a Calminian. He holds to middle knowledge (Molinism). HT: Robert

Nate rightly points out that you don't have to be Calvinist to be Reformed. Both Arminians and Calvinists are Reformed. "The difference in the end is that Arminians believe God gives a resistible grace unto all men..."

Methodist Dr. Riley Case has some praise for the new Calvinism. "Evangelical United Methodists should welcome the new interest in Calvinism. When we debate Calvinists we can appeal to Scripture, and talk about truth, and discuss meaningfully matters like salvation and grace and the blood of Jesus. Those who call themselves Progressive Christians, on the other hand, are a moving target."

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Meal on the Moon

Today is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. It is not often told, but one of the first things Buzz Aldrin did after landing on the moon was to take communion. He originally planned to quote scripture (John 15:5 - "I am the vine and you are the branches..."). He was asked by NASA not to do this because they were involved in a legal dispute with Madelyn Murray O'Hare. So Aldrin simply asked for a moment of silence, and then privately gave thanks to God.

Here is an account of the story from Guideposts: A Meal on the Moon

Here is a more detailed account: First Communion on the Moon

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Interesting Links 7-18-09

The Albert Mohler program interviews Matt Pinson (Arminian) and Mark Dever (Calvinist) on Calvin's 500 year legacy. They amicably address their theological differences.

Were the 18th century (largely Arminian) revival movements based on Enlightenment thought? A book entitled "Advent of Evangelism" argues that they were, and that this was bad. Colin Hansen at Christianity Today gives a critical review of the book. Scot McKnight gives his thoughts here.

Calvinist Alexandre Costa is reading the book Arminian Theology by Roger Olson. He is enjoying it and has found it to be helpful in clearing up misconceptions.

Is it possible for an Arminian to be a Christian Hedonist? John Piper says yes, even though Arminians believe in "grace plus their will".

Ben Witherington of Asbury airs some concerns about a new M.Div. program at Indiana Wesleyan (he doesn't mention the school name in the post). Ken Schenck from IWU responds here.

Reformed Pastor Joey Rogers enjoys James White, but sometimes find's White style a bit much, especially when he's debating Arminians.

Methodist instructor Donald Haynes writes about the causes of the Calvinist resurgence. "When spiritual seekers with no theological foundations bring their broken lives to this theological oracle [Calvinism], they can easily be blocked from the shining sun of God’s abiding love."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Essay About Calvinism by Roger Olson

[The following is an essay by Roger Olson, author of the book Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. Dr. Olson has made this available to the Society of Evangelical Arminians. William Birch has posted some interesting commentary on the background of the essay, which can be found here.]

My Biggest Problem with Calvin/Calvinism

Roger E. Olson
Professor of Theology
George W. Truett Theological Seminary
Baylor University

Above all I want to make clear that I admire and respect my Calvinist friends and colleagues. We disagree strongly about some points of theology, but I hold them in high esteem for their commitment to the authority of God’s Word and their obvious love for Jesus Christ and his church as well as for evangelism.

However, I do not admire or respect John Calvin. I have been told that he should not be held responsible for the burning of the heretic Servetus because, after all, he warned the Spanish doctor and theologian not to come to Geneva and he urged the city council to behead him rather than burn him. And, after all, Calvin was a child of his times and everyone was doing the same. Nevertheless, I still struggle with placing a man complicit in murder on a pedestal.

Furthermore, I find Calvin’s doctrine of God repulsive. It elevates God’s sovereignty over his love, leaving God’s reputation in question. What I mean is that Calvin’s all-determining, predestining deity is at best morally ambiguous and at worst morally repugnant.

Much to the chagrin of some contemporary Calvinists, Calvin clearly taught that God foreordained the fall and rendered it certain. (Institutes of the Christian Religion III:XXIII.8) He also affirmed double predestination (III:XXI.5) and displayed callous disregard for the reprobate who he admitted God compelled to obedience (disobedience). (I:XVIII.2) Calvin distinguished between two modes of God’s will—what later Calvinists have called God’s decretive and preceptive wills. (III:XXIV.17) God decrees that the sinner shall sin while at the same time commanding him not to sin and condemning him for doing what he was determined by God to do. To Calvin this all lies in the secret purposes of God into which we should not peer too deeply, but it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of anyone who regards God as above all love.

John Wesley commented on the Calvinists’ claim that God loves even the reprobate in some way. As one contemporary Calvinist put it, “God loves all people in some ways but only some people in all ways.” Wesley said that this is a love such as makes the blood run cold.

Calvin’s successor in Geneva, Theodore Beza, commented that those who find themselves suffering in the flames of hell for eternity can at least take comfort in the fact that they are there for the greater glory of God. To paraphrase Wesley, that is a glory such as sends chills down the spine. God foreordains some of his own creatures, created in his own image, to eternal hell for his own glory? Calvin may not have put it quite that bluntly, but many Calvinists have and it is a necessary extrapolation of the inner logic of consistent Calvinism. (Institutes III:XXII.11)

I have been heavily criticized by some of my Calvinist friends for saying that my biggest problem with Calvinism (by which I mean consistent divine determinism) is that it makes it difficult for me to tell the difference between God and the devil. (I am not saying Calvinists worship the devil!)

For me nothing about the Christian worldview is more important than regarding God and the devil as absolute competitors in this universe and its tragic history. God is good and desires the good of every creature. As church father Irenaeus said “The glory of God is man fully alive.” The devil is bad and desires harm for every creature. To view the devil as God’s instrument makes a mockery of the entire biblical narrative.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Two Views of Regeneration by John Hendyx

I just ran across this little beauty: Two Views of Regeneration, by John Hendryx. I don't know too much about Hendryx, other than that J.C. Thibodaux likes to take him to task. I see why now.

Simply put, Hendryx's representation of Arminian Theology is about the most biased that one will ever run across. His descriptions are worthless for accurately representing what Arminians hold to. These descriptions are not even an accurate representation of Semi-Pelagianism.

Either Hendrix is uninformed, or is completely dishonest. I hope the former. He really needs to read Arminian Theology, by Roger Olson.

Ok, I'm done ranting now. Stuff like this really ticks me off. :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Interesting Bible Transalation Chart

I ran across this Bible translation chart. I found it helpful in visually explaining the goal of different English translations. The number in parenthesis is the grade level readability. The chart comes from Lion Track Ministries. I can't speak to it's accuracy.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Six Ways Calvin is Better than Arminius

Well, today is the big 5-0-0 for Mr. John Calvin. Although he isn't my favorite theologian, he deserves special recognition in honor of his big day. So I humbly offer six ways that Calvin is better than Arminius.

Better Name. Calvin is a great sounding name. It's stylish enough to have its own clothing line. Arminius does not role off the tongue, and is too easily confused with a small Asian country.

Sure of Himself. Calvin knew he was right, and never changed his views. Arminius changed his theology over the years. Pretty wishy washy if you ask me.

Better Chess Player. Calvin would smoke Arminius in a game of chess. He would plan his game from beginning to end and execute it to perfection. Arminius would no doubt waste his time worrying about the pawns.

The Beard. Calvin has the way cool Z.Z. Top beard thing going. Arminius' beard is respectable, but nothing to phone home about. As a side note: Z.Z. Top would be executed if they ever showed up in Calvin's Geneva. And rightfully so.

Political Power. Calvin ran his own city-state with an iron fist. Arminius could hardly hold down a job at Leiden.

No Weenie Frill Collar. Calvin has a stylish fur collar. Arminius deserves a butt kicking for his collar. Enough said.

Happy Birthday John Calvin!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Interesting Links 07-01-09

Arminian Today is doing a series on different interpretations of Romans 7.

Nick Norelli has a great book review on How to Choose a [Bible] Translation for All It's Worth.

The Road to Rome? Calvinists who have converted to Catholicism.

James White grabs some low hanging fruit.

Have they found the remains of Saint Paul? Maybe.

Ken Schenck has a thought provoking post on the nature of original sin.

Governor Mark Sanford employs the King David defense.

Oy vey! The Israeli Supreme court rules that a Christian Jew can sell kosher food.