Sunday, February 27, 2011

Calvin's Contradictory, Illogical Writing

The quote below is from John Calvin's Institutes, Book III, chapter XXIII, verse 8. In the first sentence that begins in bold (mine) notice that Adam fell because God "deemed it meet" which means this is what God thought best (predestined, foreordination). The first underlined section highlights three things that are typical Calvinistic defensive positions used after stating something that is unscriptural and illogical:
  1. Claim mystery or paradox - "we know not."
  2. Rush to God's known character to hide - "it was just"
  3. Always end with God's being glorified no matter how stupid your logic in getting there is - "His own glory would thereby be displayed."
Whatever!? It is a strategy that has worked for 500 years because for me, a mere mortal Bible reader, to disagree with Calvin's statement, "The first man fell because the Lord deemed it necessary," means that I must claim to:
  1. Know the mysteries that even Calvin himself dared not explain
  2. Challenge God's character and blasphemously say God's actions are not "just"
  3. Steal God's "glory" to satisfy my own fallen pride and self-glory 
Who would dare do these things. It is best not to face the Romans 9 rebuke: "Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?" Yet, I will talk back to Calvin and his morbid theology.

The second bold sentence is a beautiful example of a Calvinistic contradiction:
  1. Man Falls
  2. Divine Providence Ordained Man's Fall
  3. It is Man's Fault
How can God deem it necessary and ordain man's fall, then while man has no chance of avoiding the fall, God blames man. After God's will has been done, man is guilty, even damned because of God's will? But, again we hear from the Calvinist, "Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?"

Then notice the final underlined sentences. All of these lines stress the mystery of God's ways and actually say that those of us who want to understand these things and expect God to be logical are "a species of madness." Here, Calvin demands that I subject my intellect, my will, my curiosity, my logic to the "boundless wisdom of God." We know from history that a search into the "boundless wisdom of God" in Geneva in the 1500's ended with banishment or death for those who would challenge, not just the Bible, but this book that the quote below comes from, Institutes by Calvin.

Is this were we should quote Paul's doxology at the end of Romans 11? - "O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God." or, should we continue to pursue truth and reject Calvin and Calvinism?
The first man fell because the Lord deemed it meet (necessary, fitting) that he should: why he deemed it meet (necessary, fitting), we know not. It is certain, however, that it was just, because he saw that his own glory would thereby be displayed. When you hear the glory of God mentioned, understand that his justice is included. For that which deserves praise must be just. Man therefore falls, divine providence so ordaining, but he falls by his own fault. The Lord had a little before declared that all the things which he had made were very good (Gen. 1:31). Whence then the depravity of man, which made him revolt from God? Lest it should be supposed that it was from his creation, God had expressly approved what proceeded from himself. Therefore man's own wickedness corrupted the pure nature which he had received from God, and his ruin brought with it the destruction of all his posterity. Wherefore, let us in the corruption of human nature contemplate the evident cause of condemnation (a cause which comes more closely home to us), rather than inquire into a cause hidden and almost incomprehensible in the predestination of God. Nor let us decline to submit our judgment to the boundless wisdom of God, so far as to confess its insufficiency to comprehend many of his secrets. Ignorance of things which we are not able, or which it is not lawful to know, is learning, while the desire to know them is a species of madness.
Galyn Wiemers
Generation Word
http://www.generationword.com

Calvinism's Weak Defense Against Fatalism

Supporters of Calvinistic predestination (or, predeterminism) argue that their philosophy, Calvinism, is not the same thing as Fatalism. The online Wikipedia definition of Fatalism is:
Fatalism generally refers to several of the following ideas: That free will does not exist, meaning therefore that history has progressed in the only manner possible and that man has no power to influence the future, or indeed, his own actions. This belief is very similar to predeterminism.
According to RC Sproul's own definition (Chosen By God, page 191):
Fatalism literally means that the affairs of men are controlled either by whimsical sub-deities (the Fates)...
The Calvinistic approach is to change words, meanings, and reality in order to hoodwink themselves and others into embracing an illogical conclusion. The key words I want to use against RC Sproul are the words:
  1. Whimsical
  2. Sub-deities
Sproul says that Fatalism means the sub-deities, or gods, control the affairs of men according to their whimsical plans or desires. When a Christian in the Western world considers the Greek gods or some barbarian's deity to be the sub-deities mentioned by Sproul, then Fatalism seems outdated, ridiculous, naive and illogical. Although the word whimsical means "given to fanciful notions and erratic, unpredictable thoughts or behaviors," it is still directed by the will and pleasure of the sub-deity.

Sproul expects me, the reader, to accept his mocking of Fatalism as he defends the integrity of Calvinistic predestination. He says:
Predestination is based neither on a mythical view of goddesses playing with our lives nor upon a view of destiny controlled by the chance collision of atoms. Predestination is rooted in the character of a personal and righteous God, a God who is the sovereign Lord of history.
Now, I am a Christian and I would much rather have Jehovah be sovereign than Zeus, but do you see the contraction in Sproul's defense of Calvinism (predestination)? Sproul says Fatalism is "far removed from the biblical doctrine of predestination as the East is from the West," yet, predestination is described exactly the same as Fatalism. Sproul merely changes the name of the god and "whimsical" is replaced with "the good pleasure of His will" (Ephesians 1:5)

Sproul then states his confidence in Calvinistic Predestination while forgetting that worshipers of Zeus or other reprobates may not be quite so excited about Sproul's god having predestined Sproul to glory, while, at the same time, this same god passed by others, no fault of their own, in order to condemn them to eternal damnation. To be a reprobate in Calvinism means to be one of those NOT chosen or elected by God's good pleasure and to enjoy eternal salvation, but rather to be damned to eternal judgment in order "to show His wrath and make His power known." Sproul goes on to glory in his god while forgetting that this is not good news to others who are not predestined. Sproul is caught up in this Calvinistic fatalism and vehemently argues that it is not the same thing as Fatalism:
That my destiny would ultimately be in the hands of an indifferent or hostile force is terrifying. That it is in the hands of a righteous and loving God is quite another matter.
Once again, the only difference is WHO the god is and WHY he is acting out his predetermined will in human lives. I ask how is it different in character or essence? If you were favored in Greek mythology by the gods for no reason but the god's own desires, then this philosophy is called Fatalism by Sproul. But, if you are favored by the god of Calvinsim for no reason (the "U" of TULIP, or Unconditional Election) other than the "good pleasure" of God, then Sproul calls this glorious. Sproul is terrified to have his fate in the hands of a Greek goddess, just as I and the reprobates are terrified to have our fate (which could result in forced eternal damnation with no hope of ever having had a chance to accept Christ) in the hands of Calvin's and Sproul's god.

Sproul then uses God's name and character in vain when he attempts to sugar coat his own fatalistic philosophy as the true Christian faith by writing:
God is altogether holy. I prefer that my destiny be with him. 
Of course Sprould prefers his destiny be with his god, Sproul believes he is favored, elected or chosen by his god. But, others of us remain confused and, even, terrified that there is no good news for all of mankind.

Galyn Wiemers
Generation Word
http://www.generationword.com

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How is This NOT a Contradiction?

"Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called 'knowledge.'"  -First Timothy 6:20
In his book The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Loraine Boettner attempts to diffuse the offensive nature of the Calvinistic concept of "Irresistible Grace" (the "I" in "T.U.L.I.P."). In a chapter that he calls Efficacious Grace Boettner tries to explain how man's free will is not violated, and, in fact, remains in full operation, during the five steps of Calvinistic salvation.

Boettner writes on page 176:
"It is a common thing for opponents to represent this doctrine as implying that men are forced to belief and turn to God against their wills, or, that it reduces men to the level of machines in the matter of salvation. This is a misrepresentation. Calvinists hold no such opinion..."
OK, so Boettner seems to be saying that men are not forced to believe nor are they forced to turn to God. The key phrase being "against their wills." I think the impression he is trying to leave is God does not "force" belief on individuals, but instead men are placed in a state in which their free will responds positively to the gospel. Boettner then says that Calvinism does not reduce "men to the level of machines."

Boettner supports this with a quote from the Westminster Confession to explain his statement of belief:
"Yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace."
Again, Boettner is trying to prove that God is not making men come to salvation and that the Calvinistic doctrine teaches no such thing. It is grace that makes men willing to come. So, it appears that if grace does the work then it is not God forcing men against their will? But notice the phrase "being made willing by His grace." God does not make men come to salvation, but God's grace makes men willing. Then once men are "made willing" they will come freely. What does this mean?

It is like the natural man who breathes oxygen from the air. Man does not want to breathe oxygen from the water. In this example God, or the grace of God, would first turn the man into a fish. Once the man has been turned into a fish he now wants to get in the water to breathe. This is Calvinistic salvation that Boettner says does not "force" men to be saved or treat men like machines. God simply turns a man into a fish and by God's grace man freely and willing starts to breathe oxygen with gills.

Boettner attempts to mock the accusation that Calvinism reduces men "to the level of machines," but turning a man into a fish so that he breathes with gills is nothing but mechanical. Turning a man who resists grace into a man who swims in grace is to change the man. This Calvinistic change is mechanical.

Boettner says that God does not force man to believe and turn to God. This is true only because God (or, grace) is said to first change the very nature of man. According to our example, God does force the man to turn into a fish, but he does not force the man to breathe with gills once he is a fish. What is the point of Boettner's argument? I mean, if you turn a pig into a frog with no input from the pig then the pig is being forced to be a frog against the pigs will. So, if a frog begins to hop after he has been changed from a pig into a frog, how does that lessen the fact that he had once been a pig and had been forcefully changed into a frog. This is more than a contradiction. This is an argument that proves nothing concerning the issue that was put forth.

Boettner's point is the simple, basic Calvinistic thought that says, God first causes the new birth* (regeneration, "born again") to change the man deep in his soul beyond the point of consciousness** in order to change man's nature. Once man has been changed by the power of God (and, this with out man's consent, approval, faith or even consciousness), then man will naturally repent, come to God and place faith in Christ.

I hope you understand this...Boettner says that man is saved by God without faith in Christ. Only after the nature of man is changed forcefully by God will the man trust Christ as naturally as a fish breathes with gills. This is Boettner's defense against those of us who say that God forces salvation on men mechanically.
----------
"A man is not saved because he believes in Christ; he believes in Christ because he is saved." (p. 101)
** ("Regeneration or the New Birth) is an instantaneous change...It is not even a thing of which we are conscious at the moment it occurs, but rather something which lies lower than consciousness."  (p. 165)
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Who is Loraine Boettner?
Certainly we study this Reformed Theologian because of his work “The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination.”  His agility in rewriting the doctrines commonly held in a Reformed setting placed him among the current authorities on the subject. It is important to note that he did not introduce any new doctrine, but renewed the old. In this book he explained the traditional five points of Calvinism, total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints.  He molds into this the theological aspects of the plan and decrees of God; and also the relevant attributes of God.  He very convincingly answers criticisms of Calvinism. (this quote taken from: http://www.apuritansmind.com/christianwalk/LoraineBoettnerBio.htm)
-----------

Galyn Wiemers
Generation Word
http://www.generationword.com

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wild, Fanciful and Speculative Quotes

I have been promising for about 4 weeks a list of quotes from the great Calvinist authors who write in defense of Calvinism or who write in an attempt to tie all the lose ends of this narrow theology together. Today's list comes only from Loraine Boettner in his book "The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination."

But, first, who is Loraine Boettner? He graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary with degrees in 1928 and 1929 and received the Doctor of Divinity in 1933 and Doctor of Literature in 1957. It is said that the mantle of Calvinism's most distinguished expositors, Dr. B.B. Warfield, came upon Dr. Boettner. So, these quotes are not just somethings I picked up from some Calvinistic blogs. These are quotes from the author of the book that Christianity Today says, "Not only a clear and cogent presentation of the Reformed Doctrine of Predestination but of all the great distinctive doctrines of the Reformed Faith."
"It is not the whole of mankind that is equally loved of God and promiscuously redeemed by Christ." (p. 158)
"In Genesis we read that God 'put enmity' between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent...So the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent are each a part of the human race...And since at the very beginning God 'put enmity' between these two groups, it is plain that He never loved all alike, nor intended to redeem all alike." (p. 158)
"Since this work on the soul is sovereign and supernatural it may be granted or withheld according to the good pleasure of God." (p. 166)
 "(Regeneration or the New Birth) is an instantaneous change...It is not even a thing of which we are conscious at the moment it occurs, but rather something which lies lower than consciousness."  (p. 165)
 "And shall we not believe that God can convert a sinner when He pleases? Cannot the Almighty, the omnipotent Ruler of the universe, change the characters of the creatures He has made?" (p. 32)
 "Since evil exists only by His permission, He could, if He chose, blot it out of existence." (p. 32)
"If it be asked why He does this, or why he does not save all, the only available answer is found in the words of the Lord Jesus, 'Yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight.' " (p. 36)
"But while the Bible repeatedly teaches that this providential control is universal, powerful, wise, and holy, it nowhere attempts to inform us how it is to be reconciled with man's free agency." (p. 38)
"God so presents the outside inducements that man acts in accordance with his own nature, yet does exactly what God has planned for him to do." (p. 38)
"The actions of free agents do not take place because they are foreseen, but they are foreseen because they are certain to take place (because they are foreordained by God)." (p. 46)
Calvin said, "The discussion of Predestination - a subject of itself rather intricate - is made very perplexed, and therefore dangerous, by human curiosity, which no barriers can restrain from wandering into forbidden labyrinths, and from soaring beyond its sphere, as if determined to leave none of the Divine secrets unscrutinized or unexplored..." (p. 54)
"God is free, in consistency with the infinite perfections of His nature, to save none, few, many, or all, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His will." (p. 71)
 Westminster Confession: "By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated to everlasting life, and others are foreordained to everlasting death." (p. 84)
 Westminster Confession: "The rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice."
"God undoubtedly does choose some nations to receive much greater spiritual and temporal blessings than others...The contrast is very striking when we compare these with other nations such as China, Japan, India, etc." (p. 88)
"Where God, in His sovereignty, withholds from men the enjoyment of the means of "grace, - an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the only way of salvation, - He at the same time, and by the same mean, or ordination, withholds from them the opportunity and power of believing and being saved." (p. 91)
 "These secret counsels of His, which even the angels adore with trembling and desire to look into, are left unexplained, except that they are said to be according to His own good pleasure." (p. 93)
"It may be asked, Why does God save some and not others? But that belongs to His secret counsels. Precisely why this man receives, and that man does not receive, when neither deserves to receive, we are not told. That God was pleased to set upon us in this His electing grace must ever remain for us a matter of adoring wonder." (p. 96)
"Furthermore, the reason that God did not choose all to eternal life was not because He did not wish to save all, but that for reasons which we cannot fully explain a universal choice would have been inconsistent with His perfect righteousness." (p. 97)
"A man is not saved because he believes in Christ; he believes in Christ because he is saved." (p. 101)
"If a sinner is to desire redemption through Christ, he must receive a new disposition. He must be born again." (p. 163)
"Repentance is equally declared to be a gift." (p. 101)
"Calvin did not hesitate to base the reprobation of the lost, as well as the election of the saved, on the eternal purpose of God." (p.105)
"Multitudes were left with no chance to hear the Gospel, and consequently died in their sins. If God had intended to save them undoubtedly he would have sent them the means of salvation." (p. 117)
"Let it be remembered that we are under no obligation to explain all the mysteries connected with these doctrines." (p. 124)
  "It is hard for us to realize that many of those right around us are probably foreordained to eternal punishment." (p. 125)
"THE WORLD IS GROWING BETTER...We live in the day of advancing victory and see the conquest taking place...this course shall ultimately be completed, and before Christ comes again we shall see a Christianized world." (p. 141)
 "When we contrast the rapid spread of Christianity in recent years with the rapid disintegration that is taking place in all of the other world religions, it appears very plain that Christianity is the future world religion. In the light of these facts we face the future confident that the best is yet to be." (p. 143)
"He (Calvin) explicitly taught that some of the elect die in infancy and that they are saved as infants. He also taught that there were reprobate infants...his own reasoning compels him to hold that no reprobate child can die in infancy." (p. 147)
"All of those dying in infancy are among the elect." (p. 149)
"God, in His sovereignty, could regenerate all men if He chose to do so." (p. 149)
"The reason why God does not apply this grace to all men has not been fully revealed." (p. 152)
"We may rest assured that if some men are lost God never purposed their salvation, and never devised and put into operation means designed to accomplish that end." (p. 156)
"Those who oppose this doctrine do so because they neither understand nor consider the majesty and holiness of God, nor the corruption and guilt of their own nature...they want to be independent to work out their own scheme of salvation rather than to accept God's plan which is by grace." (p. 148)
 Well, according to Boettner, I do not understand God's majesty and holiness nor do I understand how evil I am since I work out my own scheme for salvation instead of embracing Calvinism.  

 Galyn Wiemers
Generation Word
http://www.generationword.com

Unedited Preface of Next Book - "(Untitled)"

Below is the proposed preface of the book I am currently researching. The goal of the book is to present support to my skepticism of Calvinism and to build a case for the reasonable doubt of the Reformed Theological system. The preface begins now:
“I believe in the sovereignty and foreknowledge of God and man’s free will and responsibility to respond to God.”  - Galyn Wiemers
That statement is good enough for most Christians. They require no more information. There is no need to write this book or teach any deeper. Most believers will be ready to move on to other areas of Bible study, to practical theological questions and to issues that are relevant in the Christian life. Yet, if these Christians get caught off guard by the presentation of Calvinist doctrine they will defenselessly succumb. If the average Christian faces the strong hand of Calvinistic teaching in seminary, Bible school, from the pulpit in church or in the home Bible study they will have no other choice than to swallow this bitter pill due to the average church member’s lack of preparation in biblical understanding and church history and to their lack of ability to debate the illogical and defend orthodox Christian faith. Thus, the result is the conquering of America’s emotional, non-academic faith with a structured, cult-like presentation of a pseudo-intellectual understanding of scripture and the “mysteries” of God. Game over.

I write this book to prepare God’s people to have a defense, or, at least, some questions in their seminary, Bible school, church or study group when someone starts to explain “predestination,” “total depravity,” “dead in sin,” and “grace” while stringing them all together with words like “paradox” and “mystery.”  They can have this presentation also, and, because they have free will, they can decide for themselves.

I also write because other Christians want to know more about the issue of sovereignty vs. free will since they have already been hit by the Calvin train or they hear its whistle coming down the track.

I also write this book for, or against, the Calvinist who’s blood runs thick with T.U.L.I.P. and the Institutes. I know I will not change them, but I do want them to know I am here with a big stick and I have a vaccination for their doctrinal plague.

Before I go any further these presuppositions should be stated:
  1. I may be wrong in my conclusion, but I will present my evidence which I understand to by historically accurate, biblically supported, theologically orthodox and philosophically logical. At the very least, everyone should understand why I have reasonable doubt concerning the doctrines of Calvinism.
  2. Calvinist should be free to believe what they want. I do not agree with Calvinism, but based on “Presupposition One” above, I can not be dogmatic. If a person wants to continue to investigate Calvinism or to embrace and believe Calvinism I must encourage them to continue. Even in my own Bible studies I allow this, as long as it is understood that I will also continue in my defense and presentation. I will meet suggestion with suggestion, teaching with teaching, history with history, quote with quote, scripture with scripture and the label “heretic” with the same proclamation returned with proof. This is not a threat, but a responsibility. Feel free, because I do. I will also respond to cooperation with cooperation, tolerance with tolerance, discussion with discussion and friendship with friendship.
Calvinism should not be allowed to make their unbiblical, illogical, anti-orthodox claims and then escape into the murky pseudo-academic world of “paradoxes,” “mysteries,” and the “sovereign mind of the eternal God.” Calvinism is surfacing and it must be answered. There must be a logical, historical, scriptural response.
“They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach.” – Titus 1:11
I am not saying a Calvinist is not a believer simply because they adhere to this false notion (although, it is possible). I can not historically say Calvinist can not have a positive effect on church history. Jonathon Edwards would prove me wrong if I did. But, neither can a man like Jonathon Edwards be used as proof that Calvinism is correct. I remember the first time as a youth seeing my baseball hero Willie Mays smoking a cigarette in the tunnel to the locker room behind the dugout between innings. Willie Mays was one of the greatest (and, my favorite) baseball player of all time. But, this was in spite of the fact he smoked between innings. I could mention Babe Ruth who over drank, over ate and under trained on his way to becoming the greatest sports legend in American history. The Babe did this in spite of his bad habits. So it is with Calvinist. Some of the people I know, some of the people I study and read, some of the people who made the USA great were Calvinist. Calvinist have made positive impacts on Church history in spite of their bad doctrine just like baseball players can smoke and drink their way to Cooperstown.  Effective Christians can hold a warped view of the sovereignty of God and embrace an abusive view of man’s free will and still advance the cause of Christ. As Paul says:
“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” – Philippians 1:18
In my understanding Christ can be preached without having to defend or disprove Calvinism. Some are presenting the gospel to God’s elect others are trying to win men’s hearts by presenting the gospel. The results are the same, I believe – men  come to God through Christ. We labor together. What follows may present a challenge. I also understand that part of the Christian responsibility is to grow in their faith and in their understanding of God. This is where we will eventually, at some point, move in different directions. It seems the Calvinists feel a quicker need to introduce their views of election, predestination, etc. much, much quicker than they introduce other concepts of the faith because so much of their personal theology (soteriology, ecclesiology, eschatology, Christology, angelology, hamartiology, and the study of God himself) is directly effected by Calvin’s views concerning God’s sovereignty and man’s bondage to sin. And, so the theological battle begins, or continues, since it remains unresolved since the 1500’s (some would say the 400’s, but that is in this book.)

So, this book is my case why I do not worship at the altar of Calvinism and why it is possible that I may not even worship the same God as John Calvin. This book explains why, if pushed, I could say that Calvinism is a heresy.

Ultimately, after reading this book I hope to have at least shown why there is room for reasonable doubt concerning the “doctrines” of Calvinism, the basis of Reform Theology.


Galyn Wiemers
Generation Word
http://www.generationword.com