My Nickels Worth

Philippians 4:8 "Finally brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure,acceptable, or commendable."

Friday, September 08, 2006

Calvinism to Believe or Not to Believe

What is Calvinism. Well it is a theology that some poeple are chosing to believe in. In a nutshell calvinism says that God has chosen who is going to heaven. That He has elected who will go to heaven just because He wants to. (See www.mslick.com/tulip.htm for more info on calvinism). The opposite theolgy is called arminianism which says that God predestined His children because He knew who would accept Him and who would not.

Now, if you have accepted Christ as your savior, you are going to heaven no matter which theology you believe. So the theology is really irrelevant to those who are already saved. In my opinion calvinism borders close to legalism.

1 Timothy 1:3-4 says, ".....command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer. nor to devote themselves to myths and endless geneologies. These promote controversies rather than God's work - which is by faith."

Why do I believe Calvinism is a false doctrine? Simple it contradicts the word of God. If you just read Ephesians you might believe that calvinism could be true. However the word of God will never contradict itself and if you read the whole Bible you will find other passages that contradict this theory. I am going to use John 3:16 for my example there are others though. John 3:16 says "for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever should believe in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life."

That one word "whosoever" ruins the whole calvinistic theory. If you look up "whosoever" in the Greek/Hebrew bible dictionary it translate that word as "all". Simply put all who believe in Jesus will be saved. Now I am sure that there are some who can argue with me all day long and try their hardest to say that it is not that simple, but I believe that it is. Faith in God is simple, in fact simple enough for small children to understand it. So I chose to believe the whole word of God. God is the almighty, all powerful creator of heaven and earth and I believe He sent Christ to die for all of us not just some.

Have a blessed weekend.

6 Comments:

  • At 4:57 PM, Blogger rzrhawg said…

    This is an interesting topic - one that has gotten a lot of attention in the SBC as of late. There has been a significant amount of confusion as to what "Calvinism" really is and is not. I'm really excited to see you address this topic.

    I do, however, have to disagree with a few of the points that are presented here.

    First, to say that "in a nutshell calvinism says that God has chose who is going to heaven. That He has elected who will go to heaven just because He wants to" is an overly simplistic explanation of an entire system of theology. Regardless of where anyone comes down on this discussion, they have a "system" of theology that - hopefully, scripturally - attempts to explains man's spiritual condition and God's cure for it.

    Indeed, a person holding a reformed theology may say "God has chosen whom He will save." But, that is only because that same person will tell you that because of their sin there is no way they could have chosen God on their own. Ephesians 2:1 makes it clear that we were "dead" in trespasses and sins. A dead person doesn't choose anything. Romans 3:9-10, 18 further explains the totality of our sin. Left to our own devices and our own will, we would never "choose" Christ. Which really brings me to my second issue.

    Calvinism is the complete opposite of legalism. A calvinist theology says there is nothing you could do - ever - to earn God's forgiveness. It is entirely a grace work by God through Christ's death. You don't have to stop at Ephesians for support the doctrines of grace. Support for a reformed theology is embodied in the entire scriptures.

    Finally, John 3:16 does not provide support for or against a reformed theology. It simply says who will be saved. It will be those that believe. What that one verse doesn't answer is - how does one come to believe in the first place. Is it based on an act of my own will free from any influence by God. Or is the ability to believe itself a work of God? Romans 9:15-16 says "..."I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." Why? The answer is in the next verse - "So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy." God gets the glory!

    I'd like to address a lot more, but I don't want to hijack your blog. I'd love to discuss this further if you'd like. God's grace and sovereignty has done more

     
  • At 9:30 PM, Blogger My Nickels Worth said…

    You make some good points, so I believe that we could probably go back and forth on this until one of gets to heaven and finds out for certain. I have been called stubborn more than once in my life and there's really nothing you can say that is going to make me believe God "elects" only some people to go to heaven. The way I see it is if He elects some to go to heaven that means He elects others to go to hell. I don't believe that. I believe He knows who will reject Him and spend eternity separtated from Him, but not that He sends them there by His own choice.

    You said my explanation of an entire theology was simplistic, but honestly thats what kind of person I am. Jesus said you have to have the faith of child to get to heaven and believe me a child does not know about entire systems of theology.

    My husband and I recently had the privilege of leading our 7 yr old to Christ. All she knows and had to know is that she is a sinner in need of a savior. She knew and believed He died on the cross for her sins and rose again on the 3rd day. She asked Him to be Lord of her life by a precious prayer down on her knees on our bedroom floor. Really that is all I need to know.

    I think when we start coming up with "systems of theology" we may get ourselves into trouble. I choose to read the Bible and let God give me the discerment of it that He chooses for me to have.

    As I stated in my blog it really is a mute point if you are already saved. "Praise be to the name of God forever and ever wisdom and power are His." Dan. 2:20 I praise Him for exercising resurrection power to bring Christ out of the grave. I praise Him for the relationship that I have with Christ which means someday I will be spending eternity with Him!

    I know He has called me to share my faith so others will be saved. I choose to share with everyone and leave the rest up to Him.

    Thanks for reading!

     
  • At 10:23 PM, Blogger Tad Thompson said…

    This is a very interesting post. Its good to see folks out there thinking about such deep topics because the Scripture calls us to search out the mysteries of the gospel. The searching is not for the purpose of justification, but rather for sanctification. This is why Paul discusses the depths of the gospel as he writes to the church. Paul threads a common view of grace throughout all of his writings, none of which contradict the gospel writers.

    Anyway...I browse the blogosphere for any posts on "calvinism" or reformed thought to see what is out there and to spark discussion.

    You may not know it, but I would call myself of Calvinist...I prefer the label Reformed Baptist, for many reasons to lenghthy to discuss here.

    Anyway...your post has sparked an idea for a series of posts on my blog Total Truth. The address is www.pastortad.blogspot.com.

    Now...in this series I will adress some of the points made in your post. I hope that you will read the series...since you claim stubborness by your own admission do not feel I am trying to change your mind...I am stubborn too...LOL. Just read the series to help you understand where some of us reformed guys are coming from, you might find that we are not false teachers...but passionate lovers of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the wonderful mysteries of His grace.

    You make some series allegations in your post that need addressing. Calvinism may not be a person's favorite theology, but it is certainly not heresy or false doctrine. And the passage quoted from Paul was most definitely not addressing reformed thought. Because of this I pray that you will at least read my series...it will not be directed at you or your blog...I will not mention your blog in the series. It will only address some of thought processes in your post from a general standpoint...you are not the only one with these sentiments.

    I would also enjoy your interaction on the series.

    Anyhow...I miss you, Jason, and the FBC family and love each of you dearly. Be blessed.

    Tad Thompson

     
  • At 8:42 AM, Blogger rzrhawg said…

    In your last post you said "I believe He knows who will reject Him and spend eternity separtated from Him, but not that He sends them there by His own choice."

    When I first started wrestling with these doctrines, this was one of the approaches I took to make myself more comfortable with something at first I didn't like. But, someone posed the following question to me: What is the difference between God ordaining something and Him "knowing" it from the beginning of time? It's interesting to think about.

    If, before creation, God knew who was and was not going to "choose" Him and he still decided to create some that would and some that would not - is that not the same as ordaining it? He could certainly have decided to only create people that would choose Him if he knew about it beforehand. Something to think about.

    Also, when I said "simple" in my first post, I only meant to say that the characterzation of Calvinism was too simple. Yes, we are to have the faith of a child. But Ephesians 4:14-15 tells us that "we should no longer be children...but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ -..."

    Thinking about and wrestling with these weighty things of God is good! What we think about these things will shape our views of God, Christ, salvation, sanctification, missions, evangalism, etc. Our growth in Christ doesn't stop when we are saved.

    Don't ever stop wrestling!

     
  • At 7:13 AM, Blogger My Nickels Worth said…

    rzrhawg, that is something to think about and Tad I will watch for your series.

    Here is my main problem with Calvinsism. If I understand the theology correctly, a 5 point calvinist beleives that even babies and children who die will go to hell if they were not elected. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Before the birth of my oldest, I had a miscarriage. Guys... absolutely nothing anyone on this earth says is going to make me believe that my baby went to hell if he wasn't elected...PERIOD. The only way I will ever believe that any unborn,newborn, and young children go to hell is if God Himself tells me so. Which is not impossible because He has changed my mind on many things. As much as my husband hates it, he can tell me something repeatedly, but until I hear it from God I generally don't change my mind (ie which is why I get called stubborn).

    So here's my stance, I'm not going to say Calvinism is wrong, I just choose not to believe it until God tells me otherwise.

    Thanks for the feedback, when I got talked into starting this blog it never occured to me that people would respond because I never even heard of blogs until about 6 months ago. It is fun, unfortunately I don't get to spend much time on it. So be patient if my responses are slow.

    Tad, call us when you come to town we would love to see you guys espcially the newest member of the family. Hope you are getting some sleep!

     
  • At 10:02 AM, Blogger rzrhawg said…

    The topic of what happens to an infant that dies is definitely a sensitive issue. Any approach we take to it must be consistent with scripture and remember that ALL of us are born sinful and as a result worthy of judgement.

    Now, if we are all born under sin and with a sin nature, and salvation is by faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8), then at first glance it may appear as though no babies could be saved. Fortunately, I am aware of no reputable "Calvinist" (although, I don't know them all :) that holds to this position. In fact, most would tell you, and I agree wholeheartedly that this is an unbiblical stance.

    Why? Well, there are examples in the Bible of infants who were saved. Luke talks of John the Baptist in Luke 1:15 saying "...He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb." David wrote in Psalm 22:9-10, "But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother's breasts."

    So, regardless of exactly how God does it, these verses cause me to believe that the notion that "all infants that die are lost" is simply wrong.

    Some may say that God will save some and not save others. Perhaps this is possible, but I am convinced that a belief that God will save ALL infants that die is scriptural and not inconsistent with reformed doctrine. Take a look:

    Romans 1:20 - "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse."

    So, in other words, if a person (such as an infant) does not have the abliity to understand these things - His eternal power and Godhead - they would have an excuse at the judgement.

    John 9:41 may provide even a stronger case - "Jesus said to them, 'If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains."

    Again, an excuse would exist if a person did not have the natural capacity to see the revelation of God's glory.

    I do not believe infants have the capacity to see His glory or understand His will, and therefore, God brings them under the saving power of Christ.

    How, specifically He does it, I have to be honest with you - I have no idea. I imagine that somehow it will be through the blood of Christ.

    I am also not suggesting that babies are saved because they are not guilty. They are guilty and just like the rest of us are deserving of wrath. It's just that in God's mercy he excercises compassion on those who are sinful, but lack the ability to understand the truth about Him.

    This is a long answer, so this is the last thing I'll say here. The idea that God saves all who die in infancy is NOT inconsistent with Calvinism or the premise of unconditional election (the view that God chooses who He will save, not based on anything in the individual). John Piper points out that "God does not choose to save someone because they are goint to die as a baby" - that wouldn't be grace. "Rather, He has ordained that only those who have been chosen to salvation will be allowed to die in infancy." He goes on to say that "God's justice in condemnation will be most clearly seen by allowing those who will not be saved to demonstrate their inherent sinfulness through willful, knowing transgression." I couldn't agree more.

    Hope you find this helpful. I've enjoyed the discussion.

     

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