Tuesday, May 20, 2008

CALVINISM VS NON-CALVINISM

For those of you who stop in, would you please take the time to answer this question/s. Is the fact that someone either is or is not a Calvinist a deal breaker for you? In other words, are you willing/unwilling to work alongside someone whose soteriology differs in this respect? Please note that I am not asking if you would be willing to work alongside Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses. In regards to the Southern Baptist Convention, is the Calvinism issue a deal breaker for you no matter which side you happen to land on?

Thanks

53 comments:

Tony said...

Deal breaker? No, I don't think so. Since you only were looking for yes or no, I won't elaborate. :)

Bill Poore said...

There is no reason why a Calvinist could not work alongside with a non-calvinist.After all,most of us who are Calvinist, pastor churches that are not Reformed. I would hope that whatever camp you are in..we could agree..that Christ Jesus came to save sinners,and Anyone,Anywhere,Anytime,who under the enabling power of the Holy Spirit,will Repent of sin,trust Christ alone,and follow him can and will be saved.If we cannot come to a consensus on that ,then I would just as soon work with a Mormon or a Jehovah's witness.
Bill

Luke said...

Tony,

You may elaborate all you want but I do appreciate the straight forward answer.

Bill,

I can agree with your consensus. And while I could have gone into more detail with my questions, I prefer to keep them as simple as possible but in your answer, you have greatly contributed, as has Tony, and I thank you for your response.

By the way, I should have answered my own question. Not only can I work with Calvinists, one of MY favorite profs is currently at Southern and I would not trade the time I sat under him for anything. I would take every class he offered if I lived there.

throughtheveil said...

As a {cringe} "Calvinist" (I find that label limiting) I actually find it easier and more enjoyable to work with non-Calvinists. They usually hold to the doctrines of grace when they don't even know it! They just don't have the labels for their beliefs but just can't stand to have that awful label, Calvinist, applied to themselves.

Luke said...

TTV,
No need to cringe, unless someone is putting black-eyed peas on your plate.

I appreciate you stopping in. What I am seeing is that there is an amiable spirit(brotherly love) that exists amongst us. I think we lose sight of that in our theological discussions at times. Thank you for commenting.

Dave Miller said...

Here's my problem: I am a Calvinist, but I find other calvinists the most difficult to deal with. I have encountered some pretty severe calvinistic folks who seem to care more about enforcing the reformed perspective than obeying the Great
Commission. They look judgmentally on anyone who isn't a loyal 5-pointer.

I have known some very fine calvinist pastors, but as the number of calvinists grows, the number of the troublesome type seems also to grow.

So, I am a calvinist who sometimes has trouble fellowshipping with calvinists more than non-calvinist Baptists.

I need a shrink.

Dave Miller said...

Oh, and Luke, I will suggest that our friend from Memphis come over and give his perspective here.

Would that be a blessing to you?

Luke said...

Dave,
Thanks for adding your perspective here. It is interesting that other than myself, the only 3 comments so far are from Calvinists and all three of you are open to the idea of working with others. I am beginning to wonder if part of the fears and repulsions are coming from a vocal minority. I do hope that I could garner more response here though.

And as to your blessing, bless me my brother!

Grosey's Messages said...

:) well.. I don't think the issue of calvinist non calvinist has much to do with it.. if someone is keen for the gospel I am keen to work with them.
I gotta say though Dave M... I have had the same experience... If a man believes the inerrant Word of God and preaches the unique and only Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, he already has my vote.
Steve

Luke said...

Grosey,
That is precisely my point. Is Calvinism/Non-Calvinism really the main issue OR is it the militant exchanges of a few that is the problem? In other words, is the main problem our difference or is it how we VOICE our difference?

As always Grosey, it is good to hear from you. I hope you are enjoying your winter. We are having the air you can cut with a butter knife day(aka humidity). Man, I miss winter!

Grosey's Messages said...

Amen Luke,
its the attempts by some to be nicolaitans (overcomers of objectors through power nike.. victor, laos... people) seen in controlling rather than by communicating that is the problem.
They want to win debates rather than win people.
Bro.. on your summer and our winter.. maybe we need to trade pulpits 4 months per year! My wife and I would sooo love to miss winter.. and ours only goes down to 55F !!
Steve

Luke said...

Grosey,
Ya'll sure dont' get much of a winter. But I'll trade 55 for 89 any day of the week. I wonder if our churches would agree to the swap?

And on debates, I have observed that it is entirely possible for someone to capture the debate on technicality and not substance. In some classes in seminary, we were graded more heavily on our grammar than what we wrote. I do not want to undermine the idea that good grammar can lead to good communication but when the contents of the papers were ignored over the grammar, that's just plain silly.

The Soul Theologian said...

My experience is a lot like Dave Miller's.

I'm not a calvinist. I used to consider my views calvinistic, and could probably work with a calvinist, in some limited capacity.

Dave Miller said...

Here's what I believe in summary form:

1) I believe that the Bible teaches clearly that God chose those who would be saved before the foundation of the world, based solely on his grace, and no merit on our part.

2) I believe that the Bible teaches that human beings have a responsibility to respond to God's grace in faith, turning from their sins and trusting Jesus Christ.

I cannot see how both can be true. If God chose, isn't my choice meaningless.

However, I also believe that one God exists in 3 persons. Any logical explanation of that will be a heresy. I believe that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man - at the same time. Huh?

The Bible often teaches truths which are in direct and logical contradiction to other truths. But, "his ways are higher than our ways, and his thoughts higher than our thoughts."

There is a divine logic in which all of this makes sense. I am not divine, therefore I do not understand it. I am only responsible to teach what the Bible says.

So, I teach both salvation as an act of God's will, and the importance of the human will.

The problem comes when people try to choose one side or the other. Some calvinists of my acquaintance are too quick to dismiss human responsibility. Many non-calvinists ignore (in my humble opinion) the clear evidence in scripture of the sovereign choice of God.

I refuse to choose. I believe that both sides of this conundrum are actually true even if only God understands how.

Grosey's Messages said...

Swap 55 for 89? you must be kidding? I'd take 95F any day of the week...
99 is getting a little warm..
Steve

Byroniac said...

Luke, I guess I would have to say, "It Depends." I hate to be that reserved, but in my experience it has been wiser (I'm Calvinist, obviously).

Is it a deal-breaker for the non-Calvinist to work with Calvinists? If so, no way Jose!

Does the non-Calvinist expect me to tell others they're saved after praying a sinner's prayer? Or add a tally mark for the number saved this week that I've witnessed to? Sorry, I can't tell them that, though I do hope it's sincerely the case. Time will tell.

Does the non-Calvinist expect an altar call from a visiting Calvinist evangelist/preacher (in such a case one would visit)? Some will not be willing. I'm not a professional preacher/minister and have no plans to be, but if I am a visiting preacher, I do not mind an altar call AS LONG AS it is understood that I do not equate coming to the front with getting saved in my preaching. The invitation and necessity is to come to Christ. If you come to Christ, He will not cast you out or turn you away. And you really do not need an altar call for this, but done right it helps serve as a public profession of faith.

Then again, you can tell from my questions I have not worked with many Non-Calvinists (and haven't preached much, for that matter). In terms of how to handle ministry matters like these, I'm sure all of you guys are already light years ahead of me. :)

selahV said...

As long as those Calvinists are like Steve Grosey, I can handle them. Ha! But those ones that Dave Miller comes in contact with have been rather annoying at times. Love 'em in the Lord, but must have the Lord in order to love 'em. :) But then I've known a bunch of Non-C's who try my spiritual tolerance pretty heavily, also. Deal breaker? depends on the deal. Most deals aren't that big a deal. selahV

Byroniac said...

I could certainly nominate Steve Grosey as a model Calvinist. May his tribe increase! And SelahV, I would nominate you as a model non-Calvinist. And in my finest Darth Vader voice (you don't really want to hear it, trust me), "Luke...I mean, SelahV... Come to the dark side." :)

selahV said...

Byron...ah, you're so sweet. Oh that I could not resist. ;) selahV

Dave Miller said...

Luke? Luke? Where have you gone?

Byroniac said...

Hey Luke, since you've been gone...

I convinced the entire Calvinist world to emulate Steve Grosey. SelahV even became a Calvinist (I think; at least she didn't recoil in horror at the idea). AND, I even broke out my bad Darth Vader voice (that's redundant, but still). And yet, you're nowhere to be found.

What does it take to make you appear? ;)

If you show up by tomorrow, you might catch me raising Darth Vader from the dead, taking him to Wal-Mart and getting him hired on as a greeter. That way he can breathe heavily and scare little kids coming in, and meanwhile, when the annoying siren goes off for unpaid merchandise, he can just calmly whip out his light saber and cut the thief in half on the spot. That should cut down Wal-Mart thefts dramatically overnight. At least at that location. And I can put Yoda up front as a checker, lifting merchandise from the cart or the belt surface straight to the plastic sacks using The Force(tm). And maybe I can get R2D2 a job at a Wal-Mart McDonald's nuking french fries and warming burgers in his internal microwave (ha, bet you didn't know THAT, now did you?).

But meanwhile, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, we'll have to do something drastic if you don't show, dude!

(Seriously, where are you? If you're studying for a sermon, you get a pass, but you can take a 5-minute break...)

Grosey's Messages said...

well folks you have me humbled at your very gracious and kind words.. and at the righ time here for me
2Cor 7:5 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.
6 Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;

Your encouragement for me was timely. Thank you.
Steve

Byroniac said...

Steve Grosey:

Though we do not necessarily agree on every doctrinal matter, we certainly agree on every essential, and I count you as a brother in Christ. I do not know what struggles you have in the ministry, but I just said a prayer for you. I hope and pray you will feel the closeness of Christ and His strength.

Gen 26:20 And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him.

Gen 26:21 And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.

Gen 26:22 And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.

2Ki 6:15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

2Ki 6:16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

2Ki 6:17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Joh 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

selahV said...

Byron..stop spreading false rumors about me. :)

Steve..."The Lord is their (your) strength. And He is the saving refuge of His annointed (you, Steve), Save Your people, and bless Your inheritance, Shepherd them also, and bear them up forever." Ps.28:8,9 selahV

Byroniac said...

Byroniac pauses and listens for signs of life---


...crickets chirping...


---then shrugs resignedly and wanders off.

(Whatever happened to Luke?)

Luke said...

Dave,
You have explained yourself well. I do not think that we would have a problem working together. But I do hold to this, that when sharing the Gospel, I do not share to the person that they may/may not have been chosen from the foundation of the world. Instead, I share with them the Good News of Jesus Christ, and that through repentance and that by faith(alone) in Christ(alone) they too can experience the salvation offered by God.

Grosey, I'll take the cold air ANY day of the week.

And I agree with Mrs. V and Byron, Grosey has a great spirit about him and from my perspective, I would have no trouble working with him in spreading the Gospel. Except for the fact that he'd like to go to the jungle and I'd like to go to Siberia.

Luke said...

Mrs. V,

With the caveats you have listed, I understand you well. I see the likes of Tony, Bill, TTV, Grosey, Byron and I think that we have much more that binds us together than drives us apart. What I am coming to see is that it is not the differences that divide us so much as it is the personalities behind the differences.

Thanks for your concern.

Luke said...

Byron,

In my best Skywalker voice, "You're not my father!" And may I also remind you that in the end, it is you that repents, not Luke. :)

By the way, it isn't the crickets you were hearing over here, it was the locusts. They seem to love this hot, dry weather.

Luke said...

To All,

A brief word for my absence. Family came in from out of town, my daughter graduated from high school, Memorial day was spent with family, church was busy, busy, busy--not just sermons, brought family to the airport in Houston,(waved at Byron while passing through Beaumont), spent time at the ball park watching my nieces and nephews play ball, celebrated anniversary with my wife, church, and a day with my wife helping her take care of an errand in the great city of Baton Rouge.

In a nutshell, that is where I've been.

Luke said...

I'll voice my response to my initial paragraph as well. Tony seemed to catch clearly what I was after. I would have no problems with working with someone provided they fit the scheme I put forth.

BUT, as the comments have demonstrated, an individual's personality might be/would be the bigger draw back for me no matter what side of the issue they were on. I think I sense another post on this matter from that angle.

Thanks to all who stopped in.

Byroniac said...

Luke, I save you from getting barbecued by the Emperor, and THIS is the thanks I get? Wow, this generation just does not know how to respect its elders. But anyway, you're right, I haven't repented yet---can't---because now that I've heard "Only a Sith deals in absolutes" I learned what I am, and my fate is sealed.

And BTW, just because you have a life, that's no excuse for being AWOL on your blog. ;)

No, seriously, God bless you and your family. Hope it was great. Just glad something didn't happen to ya.

Luke said...

Byron,
Okay, I forgot about that one little part. But again, I emphasize, it was YOUR repentance that helped me! :)

If I would have had your phone number, I could have met you for lunch last week. So I just waved from the interstate. I guess that is best though, I think people would have stared at us had you showed up in your black cape. Seriously, I would like to catch up with you over there some week when we are both free.

I do find interesting the amount of parallelism between Star Wars and religious beliefs/ideas. I think the point of Star Wars was the triumph of man's efforts over what was fated. But then again, if what was fated did not happen, then was it really fated?

But back to the primary emphasis of this post, way back, I could not work with the Emperor, he has a different soteriology altogether.

Byroniac said...

Not many people know this, but I don't take my black cape everywhere I go. I tend to "let my hair down" so to speak on ordinary days at the office. It's only when underlings are meeting me for the first time, or I have to deal with pesky Jedi scum that I show up in my tuxedo, as it were.

The real reason is this. If you notice, when you have a long, flowing black cape and are going through automatic doors, you have to be QUICK, for obvious reasons (why I tend to stay in one room a lot in the movies, if you noticed, by the way). Besides, it helps you look more focused and determined for the Dark Side of the Force and that sort of thing. But one especially grumpy Monday morning, I wasn't fast enough going through an automatic door, and my cape got caught, and I almost fell backwards. I had to choke three high-ranking officers to death with the Force just to stifle the laughter, and it took a solid two weeks to train replacements (high attrition rate if our standards are not met, if you know what I mean). So now, I tend to stay in one room a lot, and just page people or use the intercom.

Now you know. It ain't easy being me.

Luke said...

What's with the cape anyway? It ain't like you can fly? Who do you think you are, Superman?

But alas, your attempt to divert attention away from the fact that it is Vader who defected back to the proper side is quite humorous though it has not gone unnoticed. Although, the idea of seeing you with your cape caught in the automatic door is worth a couple of laughs.

Dave Miller said...

Luke, I believe in God's sovereign choice. But he has not shared the results of that choice with us. And so, I fully agree that the proclamation of calvinist doctrine has NO PLACE in the gospel presentation.

Calvinists don't accept me anyway - I have some serious doubts about limited atonement (because I read my Bible) so I am not considered a true calvinist.

Byroniac said...

Luke, bah humbug. I got soft and sentimental in my old age. May I remind you, I put off repentance and conversion as long as humanly possible. I was literally dying in your arms, if I remember correctly (after I saved you from being barbecued by the Emperor, the thanks for which I am still waiting patiently). Ah, perhaps I repented when I threw the Emperor down the hole? No, as a matter of fact, I actually had just been notified of a significant salary cut, increase in work load, and having to be on call 24/7 in case the server went down, too, all in the same week!

Luke said...

Byron,
It really stinks when you work for the Dark Side doesn't it? But, if it will make you feel a little better, I appreciate that you got roasted so that I wouldn't.


Dave,
If you do not hold to all of the 5 points, doesn't the system fail? Or at least from my perspective, it is seemingly impossible to reject one of the 5 without causing troubles with the rest.

But I am going to pursue the fact that I think the fact that anyone is/or is not a Calvinist isn't the main issue, it has more to do with the personality of the individual. Though, I'd have to change my mind if others stopped in and began to say that they could not work together and say so in a polite manner.

Byroniac said...

I'm interested too in Dave Miller's response, since I do not understand Amyraldism (haven't really studied it yet).

Byroniac said...

Dave Miller, I assumed you are Amyraldian in my last comment, without asking you first. It is the only theological system I know of currently that holds to 4 points of Calvinism but not Limited Atonement. Do you hold to Amyraldism? And have you blogged about your beliefs in this area? Thanks.

Dave Miller said...

I am sorry, Byron, I have no idea what an Amyraldian is. Maybe I will google it.

I believe what I see the Bible teaching. I see the sovereignty of God in salvation taught clearly. I see the logic in limited atonement but I also see a lot of scriptural evidence that leans the other way. I often call myself a 4 1/2 point calvinist.

I will have to figure out what an Amyraldian is.

Dave Miller said...

OK, Byroniac, I read a little about Amyraldianism. I might be one, I am not sure.

I think I have been in the pastorate too long, but "hypothetical" decrees don't make a lot of sense to me, and supralapsarian controversies mean little to me. I have become too practical.

So, I will have to explore that a little more to know if I identify with that.

Byroniac said...

Luke, this is an interesting overview of the order of God's Decrees, as found on Theopedia:

http://www.theopedia.com/Order_of_God%27s_decrees

I'm in the supralapsarian camp myself (most days) but occasionally I have infralapsarian moments (well, depends on my mood, actually). ;)

Luke said...

Byron,
Thanks for the link. It is safe to say that neither Supra nor Infra would describe nor would Pelagian, no matter what my mood.

selahV said...

Oh my goodness...just when I think my choices are between Calvinism, Arminianism or ArmiCalvian, you guys start tossing around Supra, Infra and Pelagian. What is a born again Believer to do? selahV

Byroniac said...

SelahV: You don't have to become a five-point Calvinist (but trust me, I won't stop you). All you really need are three points: Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ. I can sell you all the add-on packages for $9.95 a piece. ;)

Luke said...

At that price, it better come with a happy meal and fries. :)

Byroniac said...

Hey, that's actually a neat idea...If we could get the SBC to merge with McDonald's, so I could get a discount on McNuggets (which I shouldn't even be eating), that would rock. Not sure how I'd take Ronald preaching from the pulpit, though...

My main point was simply that we have all we need in Christ. I do wish every believer was a Calvinist of some sort, though. But I'm glad Jesus Christ is in charge of this Christian life, and not me, or I would mess it all up without delay.

Luke said...

Byron,
I am one...of the non-Calvinist sort. On some things, I am Amyraldian, on some things, I'm Arminian, and on a few things, I may be even a little on the Infra/Supra side, at least according to your chart. I'm what we would call a Heinz 57.

AND, any plan that would include McDonalds is sure to be a failure. Burger King is the way to cook.

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Luke said...

To the last commenter, WHAT???

Byroniac said...

Luke, your blog got torpedoed by some sort of automated web-crawling spam generator. Yikes.

Luke said...

BYRON,

You have surfaced. I have wondered how you endured IKE. I trust that you were far enough inland to avoid the water. I've kept up with ya'lls recovery through the radio. I listen to KLVI talk radio and they did an excellent job of covering the storm recovery.

That comment was something eh? I figured the poor fellow had hit the root beer too hard.

Good to hear from you.

Luke

Byroniac said...

God was merciful and gracious to me. I sort of "evacuated" and went to a friend's in Silsbee. I did not enjoy the Hurricane Ike experience at all. But I really can't complain. Ike took away my Time Warner cable temporarily and I'm currently on dialup, so my forays into the Net are very limited. It's IKE+12 for me, and I'm ready for my computing life to go back to normal.

Speaking of dialup, I'd be pleased as punch if spammers like this one were sentenced to dialup for life and forced to surf only websites enhanced for broadband. Oh, and it would also be great if they had to use email without junk-mail filtering capabilities. And, I'd make sure the browser cleared its cache after every session, guaranteeing internet sluggishness each time. But, I think I'm being too lenient here. Perhaps more clever methods of torture could be invented for these people. ;)