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Consider the Calvinists, What They Know
First Things ^ | 10/1/2013 | B. D. McClay

Posted on 10/02/2013 9:44:27 PM PDT by Alex Murphy

Calvinists get a bad rap, but how many of the critics really understand him? James R. Rogers points out how few of us read the Institutes or bother to think seriously about Calvin in today’s On the Square. Instead, we rely on easy stereotypes:

Some of the answer certainly derives from misunderstandings of Calvinism. I recall in elementary school my teacher instructing the class that when the Puritans sailed to America on ships, if someone fell off the ship into the water, the others would not attempt to save him, because they believed that God had predestined that person to drown. In trying to save that person from drowning, she said, the Puritans thought they would be opposing God’s will.

Read the rest here. Searching for some kind of definitive statement on this “letting people drown” business, I uncovered a Puritans subreddit. So, Puritan enthusiasts, there’s your link for the day. (Dorothy Bradford fell off the Mayflower and drowned, but so far I have not encountered an account of her fellow Puritans standing around and shrugging. The search continues.)

Sometimes, of course, people aren’t really reading Calvin even when they’re reading Calvin. Once in a seminar on the Institutes, I heard someone assert that Calvin’s thinking was based in a hatred of life. Calvin, he thought, wanted us to stew in self-hatred until we died. In response, someone read him this passage from “Of Christian Liberty”:

Certainly ivory and gold, and riches, are the good creatures of God, permitted, nay destined, by divine providence for the use of man; nor was it ever forbidden to laugh, or to be full, or to add new to old and hereditary possessions, or to be delighted with music, or to drink wine.

“Well,” said the critic, after a moment’s thought, “there’s just no way he could possibly mean that.”


TOPICS: Apologetics; History; Mainline Protestant; Theology
KEYWORDS: calvin
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Sometimes, of course, people aren’t really reading Calvin even when they’re reading Calvin. Once in a seminar on the Institutes, I heard someone assert that Calvin’s thinking was based in a hatred of life. Calvin, he thought, wanted us to stew in self-hatred until we died. In response, someone read him this passage from “Of Christian Liberty”:

Certainly ivory and gold, and riches, are the good creatures of God, permitted, nay destined, by divine providence for the use of man; nor was it ever forbidden to laugh, or to be full, or to add new to old and hereditary possessions, or to be delighted with music, or to drink wine.

“Well,” said the critic, after a moment’s thought, “there’s just no way he could possibly mean that.”

1 posted on 10/02/2013 9:44:27 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

Calvinism is the most absurd example of pathological heresy. It not only denies the existence of free will but it worships a merciless and brutal God. It actually believes that God would create human beings who would suffer for eternity as their predestined fate. There really is no role for grace and personal redemption.


2 posted on 10/02/2013 9:52:59 PM PDT by allendale
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To: allendale
I'm a Calvinist.....and I most certainly have a God given free will.

And I pray you will receive grace and redemption......and ask God's forgiveness.

3 posted on 10/02/2013 10:19:31 PM PDT by Guenevere (....)
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To: allendale

“Calvinism is the most absurd example of pathological heresy. It not only denies the existence of free will but it worships a merciless and brutal God. It actually believes that God would create human beings who would suffer for eternity as their predestined fate.


And on the other hand, you believe in a powerless God, who lets people be born at random, wills what He cannot accomplish, and lets men perish at random, especially those born in lands where the Gospel was never preached, even to this day, as if he set the world in motion and, as Luther would say, went off to an Ethiopian dinner.

“There really is no role for grace and personal redemption”


Which goes to prove the point of the article, that very few people who criticize Calvinism (that is, Christianity) actually understand it. Isn’t your position exactly that God ‘s mercy, His grace, isn’t capable of saving anyone? We say that the grace of God is so potent, that, it is not of Him that wills, nor Him that runs, but God who has mercy, that we are effectually brought to salvation. That we, who are utterly unworthy, who, if God abandoned us without His grace, would do nothing but sin; yet, despite this, God deigned to save us, while we were yet sinners.

That, my friend, is grace. Not your self-righteous working and debt, which imagines that God rewards grace to those who earn it.


4 posted on 10/02/2013 10:32:20 PM PDT by Greetings_Puny_Humans
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To: allendale

You will need to condemn as pathological heretics Augustine, Anselm, Acquinas & Luther too, who all believed Jesus meant it when He said: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” (John 15:16)

Also you must condemn the earliest Baptists, Congregationalists, Independents, Presbyterians, Anglicans, and Reformeds, and the great majority of early Americans up through the 1700s as “pathological heretics.”

Choose a happy life then!


5 posted on 10/02/2013 10:33:12 PM PDT by AnalogReigns (Real life is ANALOG!)
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To: Guenevere

Calvinism and Armenianism both have the same problem, they just open the box at opposite ends.

5 point Calvinism denies the reality of choice and Armenianism denies the sovereignty of God. The real truth is that one of the proofs (somewhat paradoxically)of Christianity is that it can’t be explained. While the concepts of predestination are clearly taught in the Bible so is the doctrine that our choices, our prayers and actions actually matter. The only two religions that share this quandary are Christianity and Judaism.

Islam is highly fatalistic (Allah does what he will and we must submit). Eastern religions like Hinduism/Buddhism are works based and it is even sometimes said that Buddhism does not require a god at all because the Karmic wheel could simply be an almost mechanical process and you are just getting what you deserve for your actions.

Both Christians and Jews say “Yes God is in absolute control but yes it matters what we do and how we live and your choices matter.” The two are mutually exclusive of each other but both are true. It is something that Christians can spiritually see and experience at a very basic level but cannot be explained. The error of both Calvinism and Armenianism is looking at only one side of the coin.

If I could explain it any better than that there would be a statue of my balding, somewhat portly likeness in front at least one seminary somewhere.

But then what do I know? I’m a fideist in a lot of these areas


6 posted on 10/02/2013 10:41:12 PM PDT by Fai Mao (Genius at Large)
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To: Guenevere
I'm more of a Hobbesian:


7 posted on 10/02/2013 11:02:05 PM PDT by Defiant (A rainbow curtain has descended upon the west, from Munich to San Francisco.)
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To: allendale
It's like an evil robot-maker God who creates robots who are programmed to either do good or do evil. These robots are then programmed for what deeds they will do.

So they are "destined" by the robot-make to do evil and when they DO do evil, then the robot-maker laughs and says "you will get eternal torment for doing what I programmed you to do'

8 posted on 10/02/2013 11:05:48 PM PDT by Cronos (Obama’s dislike of Assad is not based on Assad’s brutality but that he isn't a jihadi Moslem)
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To: allendale; alphadog; infool7; Heart-Rest; HoosierDammit; red irish; fastrock; NorthernCrunchyCon; ..

Calvinism is the most absurd example of pathological heresy. It not only denies the existence of free will but it worships a merciless and brutal God. It actually believes that God would create human beings who would suffer for eternity as their predestined fate. There really is no role for grace and personal redemption.


9 posted on 10/02/2013 11:07:54 PM PDT by narses (... unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.)
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To: Fai Mao; Guenevere; allendale
Sorry, but "A denies the sovereignty of God." is incorrect. That philosophy holds that God governs the entire universe and nothing happens sans God’s permission -- many things are specifically and directly controlled and caused by God.

God permits evil and limits it without willing or causing it.

Between Calvinism and Arminianism is the definition of sovereignty. For the Calvinists: sovereignty means meticulous control, super control, like the ultimate police state from 1984 while for Arminians, God’s sovereignty necessarily means His complete freedom and authority to act any way He so wills.

10 posted on 10/02/2013 11:19:58 PM PDT by Cronos (Obama’s dislike of Assad is not based on Assad’s brutality but that he isn't a jihadi Moslem)
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To: Alex Murphy

I think it would be fair to say that Calvin didn’t experience much joy in his life; and neither did those who lived under his tyranny.


11 posted on 10/02/2013 11:28:20 PM PDT by SeaHawkFan
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To: Guenevere; allendale
I'm a Calvinist.....and I most certainly have a God given free will. And I pray you will receive grace and redemption......and ask God's forgiveness.

Based on this statement you are a Spurgeon type Calvinist rather than a hyper-Calvinists like many Calvinists on freerepublic.

12 posted on 10/02/2013 11:31:04 PM PDT by SeaHawkFan
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To: Cronos

The more extreme versions of Armenianism do deny the Sovereignty of God when they state it is possible to lose ones salvation inadvertently, when they claim that it is possible to earn salvation or live a holy live through human effort.

You are right and I do not disagree. I was focusing upon the hard line T.U.L.I.P Calvinist who do exemplify the stereotype and some of what might be called “Ubber pentecostals” like the Churches of God (which in addition to being Armenian are Modalist and thus limit the power of God.


13 posted on 10/02/2013 11:34:06 PM PDT by Fai Mao (Genius at Large)
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To: allendale

Ding-ding-ding - we have a winner!

Beat a man with a club and win over his heart award!

Must be an author of “How to convince a man in 4 easy sentences!” living the life of great violent joy.

Don’t help a man discover the truth, KICK him down with it and stomp him.

What’s wrong with the world? I am.


14 posted on 10/03/2013 1:25:34 AM PDT by If You Want It Fixed - Fix It
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To: SeaHawkFan
Actually I should have put it another, better way....

I am a Christian and I follow Christ...

.....Calvin, Spurgeon, Edwards, etc. are great men of God of whom I revere.
And I acknowledge the Westminster Confession.

15 posted on 10/03/2013 4:01:42 AM PDT by Guenevere (....)
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To: Defiant
How does that differ from Bartism? bart simpson photo: bart-simpson bart-simpson.jpg
16 posted on 10/03/2013 5:23:51 AM PDT by Morgana (Always a bit of truth in dark humor.)
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To: Fai Mao

I did not know that about the CoG — they are Modalists?


17 posted on 10/03/2013 5:46:08 AM PDT by Cronos (Obama’s dislike of Assad is not based on Assad’s brutality but that he isn't a jihadi Moslem)
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To: Morgana; Guenevere

Morgana, do you and Guenevere know each other?


18 posted on 10/03/2013 7:54:35 AM PDT by Defiant (A rainbow curtain has descended upon the west, from Munich to San Francisco.)
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To: Guenevere

I greatly admire Spurgeon’s. Calvin, not really. Calvin was an egotistical tyrant who was responsible for the murder of Servitus simply because he disagreed on a few theological points.


19 posted on 10/03/2013 11:22:20 AM PDT by SeaHawkFan
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To: Cronos

There are quite a number of “Church of God” denominations/movements. Need to be much more specific about which one to which you make a reference.

The Church of God, Anderson, IN is very Biblically based. No one would call it a Calvinistic church, but there are many families in my local COG that are members who used to belong to the Christian Reformed Church, including me.

One older guy was fond of saying, “I was raised in the CRC, but praise God, I got saved.”


20 posted on 10/03/2013 11:30:41 AM PDT by SeaHawkFan
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