I have been going round and round with self-proclaimed Calvinsts on the Wartburg Watch. One of which is–or…er might be?– Wade Burleson, the E-pastor for Wartburg’s E-church. I qualify this with a “might be?” because I have yet to pin Wade down…his ability to subterfuge language is amazing. He knows all the subtle ways to nuance his argument so that his doctrines are difficult to define objectively. On one hand, he claims he believes in free will, but then on the other hand seems to defend the idea of God needing to compel that will to act…which of course is NOT free will. The point is that I do not want to call Wade a “Calvinist” in the strict sense, but his ideas are definitely of Calvin, most apparent, the idea of Pervasive Depravity. He and some other posters on Wartburg enjoy lauding the observable manifestations of “good” and “grace” they see in their churches, for following the very doctrines which I have shown to be wholly antithetical to human life. Also, doctrines that I believe are categorically evil.
The following was my response to the idea of perceived “good” trumping the logical conclusions of the doctrine, and the metaphysical assumptions the doctrine lays as its indefatigable foundation. I have added some notes in italics for clarification:
Why Calvinists MUST Reject Calvinism, Regardless of Any “Good” or “Grace” They Perceive
For years and years I felt just like JeffS (one of the self-described Calvinist posters on Wartburg). I had heard some of the objections, but I easily brushed them aside because of all the “grace” I experienced and saw in the church. Then I saw how quickly the very same doctrines of “grace” could be used to scourge those who intended to question the “divinely appointed leadership”. Then the ugly side of Calvinism roared to the surface, and I realized from then on that doctrine was EVERYTHING. All actions are rooted in assumptions. And the more I studied and thought the more I realized that the MEN leading the church had not changed. The doctrines they believed had not changed. It was merely that the circumstances were such that only the “good” side of Calvinism was apparent (and because of my own evil decision to only see what I wanted to see). It was only when people in the church began to demand justice based on their OWN observations and convictions, rooted in the belief that they held some inherent self-worth that demanded it when I saw how, according to the same doctrine that had been preached for years, this could not possibly be true. Man has NO right to demand justice from appointed “elders in the stead”.
So, someone is wrong here. Me or Wade. Anon 1 (a highly thoughtful and very intelligent commenter who also rejects the Calvinist construct) or Jeff S. The doctrine says what it says, so someone is not understanding it properly.
I submit that what we EXPERIENCE is irrelevant. It is the assumptions that drive the teachings, the actions, that matters.
So, either Calvinist doctrine leads where it leads, and is rooted in metaphysical beliefs about man that are what they are, or it does not. And IF the doctrines are antithetical to human life, then we are obligated to reject them. What we experience is beside the point! Perceived “good” is beside the point! Objective good is all that matters! If the doctrine is evil, then how can we EVER stand before God and make excuses for why we “did not want to change”. If we say “because I felt, or I experienced”…we have made a mockery of morality. We have insulted God. We have decided that WE are in a position to declare what ideas are good and what ideas are evil based purely on our subjective experiential opinions. We have traded reason for madness.
And God will call you a hypocrite for violating you OWN doctrinal beliefs.
9 thoughts on “Why Calvinists MUST Reject Calvinism, Regardless of Any “Good” or “Grace” They Perceive: God cannot ignore the hypocrisy”
Argo, I used to read Wade’s blog back in 2006-7 and came to the conclusion he was more antinomian than anything. Also, I think the Calvinist doctrine is pretty much embedded in his family history. Did you ever read about the letter AW Pink wrote his grandfather? (I think it was his grandfather…might have been “great great”)
But as time goes on and you read Calvinists you see they insert what we might call “free will” statements into comments or teaching. And these references negate what their doctrine teaches (or even what they said earlier!) so it gets very confusing. It is like they live in a cognitive dissonance and when you try to flesh it out there is always some wordy confusing explanation that really makes no sense or answers the actual questions.
Which leads me to Calvinism works on paper and from pulpits only. I have come to see this more and more clearly over the last few years. You cannot “live” out Calvinism without it causing tons of problems in the long run. The simple belief that man has no real volition starts to wreck havoc in practical application of beliefs! And then the leaders start to try and explain that you have freedom to sin but not freedom to accept Christ as Savior. It gets very strange. It is like a big black hole where green is red and sky is land.
The sheer confusion inherent in Calvinism makes it look intellectual at first. But if one is serious about it and digs in, it starts to look like institutionalized confusion and chaos.
I have come to think of Calvin as having a personality disorder. I get this from his behavior in life to his writings. He thrived on power, control and keeping people off balance. He did not suffer anyone to disagree with him including his close friends like Castillo whom he eventually banished and ruined.
It is like waking up one day and realizing you were following the dictates of Hitler without realizing it. The man was a creep and he systematized what folks are following today no matter how much they claim otherwise.
John Immel says that Calvinism appeals to people because it is the most systematized, comprehensive, and organized version of protestant ideas. I think that is part right. I actually think that another big reason intelligent people are drawn to it is due to the very thing you pointed out: the confusion. This is why I think it appeals to both smart and below-average thinkers (like man neo-Calvinist preachers). Smart people yet another chance to use their cognitive acumen to yet again “be in the know”, and dumb people like feeling smart by claiming to “be in the know”. And the “know” is even that much better when it is the functional difference between being on a path to heaven and the wide road to hell. Damnation and life. More importantly, YOUR life, and and the much deserved damnation for all the people you hate: liberals, homosexuals, feminists, Obama, deists, Arminians and other assorted heretics, Catholics, atheists, MSNBC, R-Rated movie watchers, daters not courters, those who won’t serve on the UCCC (Urinal Cake Cleaning Committee), boys with long hair, and public school teachers…among others.
And because the theology is SO systematic…well, it just sounds so doggone intellectual.
Funny how it stops sounding intellectual and just sounds INSANE once you are finally able to apply this one simple truth to it: EVERYTHING in Calvin’s doctrine…and I do mean EVERYTHING is designed to remove YOU from YOU. To put YOU inexorably beyond TRUTH; beyond God, beyond salvation…even beyond damnation. If you are anywhere around, even in hell, you are “doing it wrong”.
I think people just really, really enjoy believing they know something that other “ordinary” people don’t. They LOVE to be the ones who have “truth”; who reeeeally understand. They love being the ones who reeeeally know that up is down and down is up and black is white. I think they feel empowered by this in some way…like they have some kind of uniqueness that impresses themselves, and gives them a mandate to somehow dictate the terms of reality for everyone else.
Also…no that I think about it (again), I think this is why so many scientists, particularly physicists, I have known are so doggone pretentious…possessing a sense of innate haughtiness which taints their persona’s, and they talk to the “regular” folks almost in something akin to parental tones. They are just so giddy at the fact that they somehow understand the master and the strings; the “language” of the cosmos, which is hidden from the lesser minds.
So…like you said. Confusing people. With confusing concepts and words that have just enough of a ring of truth and spoken with just enough “authority”, and systematic just enough..yes, this combination takes people right where they are dying to go. To the place where they are special and smarter than everyone else who foolishly thinks that what they see is actually what is real. And the really ironic part is that this kind of thinking is actually accomplished with doctrines like “total depravity”. Have you noticed the level of arrogance displayed by those adhering to reformed doctrine? They speak to you like you are a child; or worse, rebuke your “heresy” or block you from their blogs altogether. As if somehow depravity doesn’t apply to them…as if, for some reason THEY are exempt from the depravity of the mind, and that through the mine-laden obstacle course of TULIP they have come out the other side with understanding. Which, of course, is completely contradictory to their doctrine, which categorically declares that men can know nothing at all. There is no human agency capable of understanding GOOD; which is to say TRUTH.
But at the end of the day, for all of their pomp and circumstance, they are really third-rate thinkers. The fact that someone as intelligent as Stephen Hawking or Leon Lederman–both Nobel Prize winners–cannot see the inherent logical fallacies in scientific determinism astounds me. The fact that they cannot understand that you simply cannot claim that the TRUTH of things is this: TRUTH cannot be known, by definition, since all of reality is simply an EFFECT. T
Scientific determinism makes every mathematical equation ever devised utterly moot before it leaves the gate. All these great equations they use to “prove” their deterministic ideas are dead on arrival based on their OWN assumptions that everything is determined by natural law.
But if this is the case, you cannot describe the cause and effect of reality because everything you observe is mutually exclusive to the cause. That is, the CAUSE can never be known because everything, including man’s very thoughts have already been determined FOR him. If your reality–everything that ever is or was–is merely the effect, what is the cause? They pretend to know, but by their OWN tacit admission understanding is IMPOSSIBLE. They CANNOT know the cause. And if they cannot know the cause, they cannot know that we are all determined. If you don’t know what is determining, then you can’t claim determinism. It just doesn’t work. And you can’t use math to determine the cause, because math, by definition is part of everything that is ALREADY determined. Mathematical proofs and physical laws are not cause, they are EFFECT.
It is a logic that doubles back and destroys the assumptions.
Also, I am shocked that they cannot understand that determinism is an absolute. That is, if everything is determined, then that which determines must ALSO be determined. You can NEVER arrive at any kind of cause…there is no such thing as something being determined by that which is arbitrary. You cannot ever make the equation ARBITRARY + DETERMINISM = DETERMINISM work unless you make ARBITRARY equal to zero. And that leaves you with what? Determinism. Going back as far as the eye can see.
And the fact that someone as wise as RC Sproul cannot see the impossibility of a concept like “God controls every molecule” makes me crazy. The fact that he cannot see that this makes everything GOD (according to Argo’s Universal Truth #7: Anything which precedes directly from an absolute IS an absolute), and utterly eradicates any line between God and creation and ALSO makes man’s ability to then understand anything at all totally impossible, because man cannot EXIST in this construct…well, let’s just say, I remain unimpressed with the turning wheels behind their eyes. They could use some grease.
And the fact that Wade Burleson can say with a straight face and honestly believe he speaks the truth that it is his WILL by which he chooses Christ but that that will is utterly UNABLE to resist God’s calling reveals just how little these men truly understand the world they pretend they can bring good to with such nonsense. The fact that they will or can’t see the glaring rational larceny in such a view is staggering. And they get PAID to preach ideas that are wholly irreconcilable with what can be true. A will that is ALWAYS inexorably bound by something outside of it is NOT FREE. If God is absolute, and our will is ultimately subject to HIS will, then what does Argo’s Universal Truth #7 say?
“Anything which proceeds directly from an absolute IS the absolute”.
If our salvation proceeds directly from God’s will, then our will plays NO part in the salvation process, period. Further, our will MUST BE the exact same thing as God’s will, for we cannot function according to our will because his grace is irresistible…so by definition His will absolutely trumps our will. We become God.
How hard is that to understand? Really…you are going to nuance your argument that much? You need to go there? That’s what the truth is now? Lies? Whether intentional or as a product of your elementary reason. This is what Christianity is? Irrational thinking?
Where is truth then? Nowhere. It is gone.
But see, this is the whole idea of irresistible grace and limited atonement. Oh, sure…Calvinists have no problem conceding free will. They’ll do it all day long. Why? Because, as always, they apply irrational, mystic, false logic to the definition. They concede man’s will, but the ULTIMATE decision belongs to God. In other words, man’s will profits him exactly zero. It is ALL up to God’s good and arbitrary graces. In the words of Wade Burleson “God is not obligated to save us”.
What I believe he is saying here is that whether you WILL Christ or not is irrelevant, because God gets the final say, and He is not obligated. THAT is the essence of limited atonement. Regardless of what human will desires, God is going to choose who gets saved. You can accept Christ all day long, but it means nothing to God. Your WILL means nothing to Him. You are saved by His will only. And this of course means that your will isn’t free, because it amounts to nothing in the end. Your life concludes where it concludes based on God’s will only. YOU have nothing to do with it. Even your belief in Jesus is meaningless.
Of course, the REALLY wicked part of this is that it makes Jesus ultimately irrelevant; His sacrifice, pointless. If believing in Jesus isn’t efficacious to salvation, but the sacrifice is trumped by God’s predetermined will, then of what use is the sacrifice? It is of no use. It means nothing. God is going to save who God is going to save. You were saved, not by believing in Jesus, but by God’s arbitrary will. By definition if God is not going to save you based on your faith in Christ (choosing to believe), then belief in Christ cannot POSSIBLY MATTER. Which means that Christ’s sacrifice cannot POSSIBLY MATTER. It is neither here nor there. Believe if you want by your will. It matters not to God. God’s criteria is…well, who the heck knows? Even HE cannot know. It can only be utterly arbitrary. He cannot have a reason beyond Himself, and since He is an absolute, HE, alone, cannot have a set value…He is an infinite set. ANY reason then equals God. And as far as Creation is concerned, the functional value of THAT is ZERO. Without relationship, God can have NO reason for doing ANYTHING in Creation. Because He is what He is…and if that is His criteria for His will–Himself–then the applicable value of Him applied to anything NOT him is nothing.
I have said all along that Christ does NOT make election possible, but election makes Christ MOOT. And it does.
And so, here we are with Wade. Saying one thing, but what he says isn’t really what he is saying. He concedes certain things because the gymnastics of semantics, along with his “authority” as a “called” (gnostic) minister allows him to twist reason in service to his “sound doctrine”. I believe this is what is happening. I’m not accusing him of willfully doing this…really, I think most of these guys are just not that deep. They don’t seem to posses the intellectual fortitude to really follow their ideas to the places they must reasonably go.
But God only excuses ignorance so far. After a while, as a teacher, you are supposed to know. If you don’t, you are at best incompetent, and and worst a liar.
Okay…whew. That was long.
I’m going to make this a post, LOL
The Calvinist doctrine about humanity is not only “antithetical to human life” but antithetical to what Genesis 3 actually says. It doesn’t say Adam’s sin caused anyone to lose freewill or moral capacity. Quite the contrary, God says “Behold the man has become as one of us, knowing good and evil,” and then just a little later God says to Cain “If you do well, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do well, sin is at the door and it desires to have you — but you can conquer it.” The Calvinist says we lost freewill in the “fall” but God tells Cain he has freewill and can conquer sin, and if he does so he will be accepted.
“I have said all along that Christ does NOT make election possible, but election makes Christ MOOT.”
Absolutely. If people only can have faith by predestination, then faith isn’t what really saves, predestination is. In that case they could have been predestined to believe in anything. The object of faith no longer matters: only that whoever happens to be predestined to believe in whatever the unnecessary object was arbitrarily chosen to be, is saved by predestination alone. Its amazing they still even use the phrase “faith alone” since really they believe in “predestination alone.”
Exactly right. In addition, I explained over at Wartburg that if man loses free will at the fall, then the consequences OF the fall are utterly moot. For without free will, man does not possess the capacity to actually apprehend any TRUTH, and “reality” is utterly beyond him. He can only see what something ELSE wants him to see…that is, man sees nothing by or for himself, but is the functional extension of that which has subverted his will. And if this is the case, then man cannot recognize any “punishment”; nor “reward” for that matter.
TRUTH is directly tied to man’s ability to correctly judge his environment, and to correctly organize it into abstract concepts that lead to efficacious and observably effective, preconceived outcomes.
It would be pretty silly for God to pronounce “consequence” and then remove the very agency by which man can understand he is being punished.
” If people only can have faith by predestination, then faith isn’t what really saves, predestination is”
Oh wow. What a great way to put it.
Is God just “crying wolf” when He warns Christians of falling away or mentions those who have departed from the faith?
The doctrine “Perseverance of the Saints” states that God grants eternal security for all those He has unconditionally selected and saved. IS THAT FACT OR FICTION?
Acts 20:28-30 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Was God using the apostle Paul to “cry wolf” even though there was no dander to the church?
Galatians 5:4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Was the declaration by Paul, to those Christians who were trying to be justified by the law, just an other example of God “crying wolf” through the apostle Paul?
1 Corinthians 9:27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
If “once saved always saved” is God’s doctrine; then how could Paul be disqualified? Was Paul just “crying wolf” as some might proclaim?
Hebrews 6:4-6 For in the case of those who have once been enlighten and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the power of the age to come, 6 and when then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.
Why would God warn of the possibility of apostasy if all Christians were guaranteed eternal security? Was God just “crying wolf” one more time?
Revelation 3:1-5 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write……4 But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life….
Jesus sent this message to the church. Note: Jesus said only a few had not soiled their garments. Jesus makes it clear that church members can have their names erased from the book of life. Was Jesus just “crying wolf?”
GOD CANNOT LIE!
Titus 1:2 in the hope of eternal life , which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
IS “CRYING WOLF” A LIE?
God promised eternal life, He did not promise Christians; that they could never fall from grace.
“CRYING WOLF” IS NOT AN ACT OF GOD!
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I thought Calvinism had died out until a few years ago, to my dismay, I discovered it
is still alive and kicking, especially in the U.S. The real evil of Calvinism is the belief that a good God would create sentient beings for the sole purpose of having them tortured forever when they die. I do not believe anyone deserves this no matter what they have done or believe. This belief just renders God not good but
more evil than Hitler! The first century Christians had no concept of Hell and Hell is not mentioned at all in the O.T. No one was warned of it. People just died and that was it. Please read ‘The History and Origin of the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment’
by Thomas B. Thayer. It was written in 1855 and published in 1856. It can be bought on Amazon. Hell is a Pagan doctrine and Plato admits they made it up.
Please visit ‘Tentmaker.org’ and WhattheHellisHell.com and ‘HopebeyondHell.com
Yeah…I think the whole issue of hell needs to be reexamined, because I too agree that there is not a strong enough rational argument to defend the idea that eternal, or “infinite” punishment, is a just consequence of a finite offense…that is, does the finity of man’s material life warrant a perpetual spiritual punishment? And what would that even look like? What is the spiritual conclusion of a material existence?; and naturally that question is not only applicable to punishment but reward.
Also, since we can have no frame of reference for “infinity” (if we concede the common scientific metaphysic of a finite existence “in the flesh” ), how can appealing to any infinite context have any meaning for man? If the default standard MUST be finity, how can we judge or define an INfinite scenario BY that standard?
So yeah…all of these questions must be answered before we can even begin to have a useful conversation about hell.
However, a couple of things I belive we can say. The first is that annihilationism does not pass the consistency test because “is” and “is not” are mutually exclusive existential states. In other words, if we concede that we ARE, that man IS, then man cannot by definition become is NOT. And to me, this precludes the possibility of annihilationism because annihilationism demands the acceptance of such a contradiction.
Next, assumptions must have consequences. So, insofar as we hold to existential axioms, in order for those axioms to have any real truth, and thus their implementation to be argued as morally defensible, and thus have any efficacy, we cannot assume that bodily “death” represents and end of ideas in an annihilistic sense, but in logical conclusion/consequences sense.
If that makes any…er, sense.
So, that’s my two sense. I mean cents. 🙂