The Contortionist’s Theology: The slippery semantics behind neo-Calvinists concession of “free will”, and other logical fallacies (LydiaSellerOfPurple’s comment and my very long response)

Crazy-smart and ALWAYS welcome LydiaSellerOfPurple posted this comment today under my last post.  My response was so long, it warranted making the whole exchange a separate post.  In my response, I affirm Lydia’s observation of the confusing and ultimately incoherent “explanations” of Calvinist doctrine; in particular, the seeming concession of “free will”, as exemplified by Wade Burleson in an exchange I had with him on the blog “Wartburg Watch” the other day:

Lydia said:

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.

Argo said: 

Lydia,

John Immel says that Calvinism appeals to people because it is the most systematized, comprehensive, and organized version of protestant ideas.  While I agree with this, I think there is another reason…and it is the reason I find the doctrine has mass appeal for both smart and average-thinkers.  It is simply what you pointed out already in your comment:  the confusion.   Smart people enjoy yet one more chance to use their cognitive acumen to  “be in the know”, and dumb people like feeling smart by claiming a kindred spirit with “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…now 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.  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 think 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.

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–that natural law “governs” (determines)–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 on itself and destroys its own 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 the 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 his 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 won’t 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 to that extent…to blasphemy?  You need to go there, to the place where contradiction is the root of God?  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 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 (I disagree completely with this; once Christ was sacrificed, indeed, He had obligated Himself to the salvation of those who would believe, otherwise He makes Himself a hypocrite).  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.

Evil philosophy.

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 self.  ANY reason He has then can only equal God.  And as far as Creation is concerned, the functional value of that is ZERO.

Without real 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 (incidentally, this was the whole beef people had with me on Wartburt…claiming that I was telling them “that they believed what they said they didnt”; all I was doing is telling them that what they were saying wasn’t really what was being said).  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 follow their ideas to the places they must reasonably go.  Or they don’t possess the will. Which makes sense, since they don’t believe their will effects much in the grand scheme.

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 at worst a liar.

Okay…whew.  That was long.

I’m going to make this a post, LOL

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18 thoughts on “The Contortionist’s Theology: The slippery semantics behind neo-Calvinists concession of “free will”, and other logical fallacies (LydiaSellerOfPurple’s comment and my very long response)

  1. Argo, I want to add more reason I have seen that Calvinism has become so popular of late in evangelicalism. It is a backlash to the seeker church growth movement. just as comp doctrine (Danvers Statement) was a backlash to the culture in the early 80’s, Calvinism is to the seeker movement of the 80’s/90’s.

    Have you noticed these backlashes tend to come in about 20 year increments? As if a generation picks up on the problem/situation and some leaders exploit that or use it as the “enemy” to gain followers. (Think WW1 to rise of Hitler and it being a movement mainly attracted by youth. Danvers in early 80’s to mainstreamed comp teaching by late 90’s in most churches attractive to young couples)

    Many of the YRR I know came from seeker type churches with Disneyland type of youth groups. They were looking for something more intellectual and they found it at seminaries that were teaching Calvinism. Add to that these men were “authorities” and scholars and you have a recipe for disaster when it was presented as the only real truth and you have the priviledge to understand it.

    I admit this attracted me to it after leaving the seeker world of Purpose Driven hype. I was so put out with the bizarre cheap believism of the seeker world that I decided to do some homework on Calvnism during that time. I even saw it totally change some of my previously humble and loving family members into cold hearted people who shunned other believers.

    So, Calvinism was really presented to a lot of folks as the anecdote to the easy believism taught in so many churches as course. Because of this, I think it will run it’s course for some as it becomes obvious it is not the answer they were looking for. However, so many young men from seminary have invested their entire beings into this doctrine and the gurus around it and we all know how that works out. They will be loathe to admit they might have been wrong.

    There will be fall out from this, I think. I am already seeing people who fell for this back in 2006 or so leave the faith. They are simply thought of as people who were never saved. I know some of them as saved people before they got into Calvinism and this has made me start to question the doctrine of OSAS. The ride into Calvinism really did a job on them when it came to God’s character. I think the doctrine is that evil. Although I know many good and decent people who are Calvinists but they are not really thinking through the end results of what they believe. I am so grieved over it.

  2. The fact that Wade chose the word “obligation” – that alone really bothered me. Because for me, the most important fact to consider is that God is love. Love, above all else!

    That God would choose to save some and not others, to display his “justice” at the expense of people, is the most UNloving thing I have ever heard. (Apart from the “God designs every detail of child abuse” gem, the cause of my new spiritual crisis!)

    Is this about “obligation” or the nature of God? In fact, is God not “obligated” to love (by offering salvation to all) because that is his nature? God is love – what does love do in this situation, or what would it choose to do? Have I been deceived all of these years, believing God is more loving than he actually is?

    This is the message I hear from some: “God is HE-MAN and in total CONTROL of every molecule. NO ONE is going to FORCE MY GOD to do ANYTHING! He must call ALL of the shots, or else he’s weak, and not God!”

    (It has become too painful for me to take part in discussions, and sometimes even to lurk, on TWW.)

  3. Hi Oasis, I am not really understanding about “obligation”. In what context was it used? That God is obligated or that we are obligated?

    Perhaps what you are seeing on TWW is the same thing we see in many churches? That people like someone so they are not comfortable with disagreeing with them? or they think they will look disrespectful? I have seen that so much in churches. I find it hard to understand how people so easily accept the contradictions or they don’t care they are taught as truth.

    I am very uncomfortable with the language that says God does not save all on purpose to show his justice. First of all, God made it possible for all to be saved because of the Cross/Resurrection and man’s volition.

    But their doctrine does not allow for volition so it is all about God’s glory. Humans have no say in the matter at all. They say they do when it comes to sin but in the next breath, God has to have predestined us to be saved. They completely separate man from his behavior. It is bizarre when you think about it.

    You are so right about the “love”. God is love sounds so cheesy these days but that is exactly what He is. One of my all time favorite words is HESED. And it is translated as lovingkindness in the OT. It is a huge mixture of attributes all rolled into one Hebrew word that would take many words to communicated. Carolyn Custis James did a big study on it that was brilliant.

    As far as someone communicating with you that God designed child abuse –that is pure evil and one reason the whole idea of the determinist God is evil at it’s root even if decent nice people believe/teach it. It is death.

    The horrors you suffered were because of this fallen horrible world and adults who did evil and are responsible for their actions including those who did nothing. One thing that doctrine does it take responsibility away from adults and that is the most devastating part of it.

    You are precious and valuable. In fact, your value comes from God. And I don’t blame any victims who are uncomfortable with reading things that do not make sense. We have to come to grips that humans are responsible for what they do or don’t do. They can choose Christ and they are able to make moral choices and we must hold them accountable when they don’t and stop blaming God. God wants US to love justice and Calvinists just do not have that thinking. They are platitudes for it but when humans have no volition, the justice part is totally lacking because that sort of thing is left to God. It is separating man from reality, actually.

    Calvinism is a moral disaster and wrecking confusion all over the place.

  4. Lydia, referring to Wade’s statements about God not being obligated to love or save anyone or all people. It really irritates and confuses me, the use of that word.

    The thinking seems to be, “People are unlovable criminals. God is not obligated to love wicked criminals. Therefore, he chooses to save some but not others. Because, why should he? For what reason? Love? He’s under no obligation.”

    Somehow that just flies in the face of love, to me. I am not sure how to better explain at the moment. Running on no sleep and pressed for time.

    Yes, God made it possible for all to be saved – yet, he still chooses not to save some? Is that belief not also a slap to his own face?

    Again, you read my mind – agreed on what I may be seeing on that blog. My exact thought. Among other thoughts. Not strong enough to handle a couple aspects of the environment right now.

    I know, the “God is love” stuff does sound cheesy. Did cringe a little as I typed it, haha! But that is one thing I keep coming back to. It is a lifeline of sorts. Now the word “love” is becoming confusing. Thank you so much for mentioning that study by Carolyn Custis James. I am now dying to search for it.

    And wow… Lydia, if only I could express how much I appreciate your kind, healing words to me! I am stunned. They are life-giving and just what I needed to hear today. I am so happy now; you’ve put a big smile on my face! It is death, as you said. Perfect word to describe the teaching. Agonizing death. You really get it and I am so thankful! I am trying to find the place of peace that some others have found after being knocked over with such a dark view of God, but it keeps haunting me. As I told a few people, at times I feel like a child being sacrificed on an ancient pagan altar, for the sake of doctrine. I scream and cry out but it seems most are not listening.

  5. “As I told a few people, at times I feel like a child being sacrificed on an ancient pagan altar, for the sake of doctrine. I scream and cry out but it seems most are not listening.”

    Well that sums up exactly what this doctrine leads to if you have serious stuff in your life. You are to thank God for heinous evil that was done to you. You are to be the sacrifice. It is horrible and evil.

    Thanks for explaining about the “obligation”. I think they start with faulty premises so the outcome is always going to be wrong. It is never a matter of obligation for God to save us. God in the flesh freely went to the Cross to make is possible as the ‘sacrifice’ for us. It is up to us to tell people that and for people to accept that, repent and live as believers with the help of the Holy Spirit.

    Since the foundational premise of this doctrine so blatantly changes the relationship between God and man, there can be no good outcome. The truth is that God wants NONE to perish. Could God force these things? Yes but then He would not be God because that is not His character. Jesus Christ should be our view of God.

    What I have never understood is why they think it elevates man to God status to acknowledge man is part of the salvation equation?

    God is “love” is not cheesy because we do not understand the word “love”. You are so right!

    Oasis, I highly recommend my friend, Cindy Kunsman’s website: Undermuchgrace. she has a ton of stuff on there concerning how to heal from abuse and explaining the dynamics. She is very educated on this topic. Spend time there learning and perhaps using some of the techniques she writes about. She has completely invested herself in this topic.

    You do deserve to heal. We are to be the kingdom now and that includes healing from abuse as much as you can this side of Jordon. Protect yourself and never forget you are the daughter of a King!

    God Bless you, sister.

  6. Here is something Cindy shares from her late friend Paul Martin who dealt with spiritual abuse quite a bit. It is fascinating and really makes Calvinism look silly when you think about it:

    “According to Paul Martin’s analysis, the 210 verses found in the Bible that refer to false prophets, priests, elders and Pharisees deal with the following:

    99 verses (47%) concern Behavior
    66 verses (31%) concern Fruit
    24 verses (12%) concern Motives
    21 verses (only 10%) concern Doctrine

    Only 10% of those verses concern doctrine!

    According to the Scriptures, we should be very concerned with both the behaviors and the fruit of spiritual leadership in the church and in parachurch organizations. This is not gossip or mean-spirited critical abuse but what Scripture actually teaches us to observe”

    And this is the problem….Calvinism (and even seekers in other ways) take man’s behavior out of the equation. It is all doctrine over people. They do this because their premise of God is deterministic therefore man’s behavior is determined. It is insidious.

  7. Oasis, Read Carolyn Custis James’ book, The Gospel of Ruth. She goes deep into Hesed in that book. It is a very good book.

  8. Lydia, you’re incredible! Really…you are a godsend! You used the word “honor” (thank you!)…earlier I was telling God how honored I felt, after being treated so kindly by someone who cares, who understands the “death” of the teaching. That you saw the line I put in parentheses and decided to address it…been in a lot of pain and struggling with this for a while, so it really means so much to me, that you “saw me” and did that!

    And thanks so much also for all of your recommendations, will definitely check each of them out and take your advice. You have made me so happy!

    Yes, horrible and evil, where evil becomes “necessary” and on some level, intended by God and therefore “good” etc. I refuse to believe such dark and devastating things, and am actually unable to. Yet, they still have the power to tear me apart, one way or another. This is why every bit of your input, and Argo’s, is so very helpful.

    Pressed for time again, but want to say that I love what you said about the “obligation” thing.

    God bless you right back!

  9. Oasis, I often think of the banished and abused Hagar who named God, El Roi. The God who sees me. (Gen 16)

    I pray you will know His presence.

  10. Lyida,

    Yes, determinism is strange. The fascinating thing is, once you unlock the logical fallacy behind it, it becomes even more absurd to realize that people base their entire lives on deterministic forces. Why do people not realize that by definition this puts themselves BEYOND themselves. They can never claim to know anything at all, even if God or Jesus or salvation is real or not. EVERYTHING must become wholly irrelevant. And worse, nothing can really exist…for determinism is an absolute. There can exist nothing that is not determined, and so NOTHING ever actually exists. Everything is merely an effect of something else…but the something else can’t be real. And the actions of nothing harvest nothing, by definition.

    So congratulations, determinists. You just lost every debate you enter into before you even took a breath. YOU don’t exist, and neither does your opinion.

    But I notice that even if we don’t necessarily accept determinism, the crux of man’s problem is that everything man values seems to be outside himself. Everything he does and thinks seems to be in service to that which is wholly exclusive to his physical self…meaning, that the greatest value us never individual life, but something else. Doctrine, money, power, knowledge, goods, services, entertainment, piety, etc., etc. At the root of all the assumptions in all the philosophies is that individual physical human beings are NEVER that which is of the greatest value.

    That kinda surprises me.

    I am going to do a post musing on objectivism as a good starting point for a new comprehensive philosophical construct for Christians. Now, I know this seems a bit incongruent because Ayn Rand was an atheist…but I think she at least, to a limited extent, tried to make the individual self BE the thing which was of the greatest moral worth; the greatest moral good. And of course I agree. I think the SELF–mine, yours, God’s–is that which should be valued above all.

    The problem, I think though with objectivism is that Rand leaves it up to individuals to determine that which THEY will declare is of the greatest value to themselves. I don’t believe that is possible. I don’t believe value can be an X, so to speak. Value must be life above all else. For it is only via valuing the physical entity of other humans above all else that you can affirm YOURSELF. And so, sometimes you do have to “deny yourself” so to speak–that is, things you might RATHER do, get, say, etc.–in the interest of affirming your RIGHT to demand that you be valued above all else (so that you are free to pursue that which you desire to do, think, act, obtain, earn, etc.) by accepting that in lieu of material gain, you gain self-affirmation by DENYING yourself in the interest of another human being (sort of the whole “love your enemy” kind of a deal).

    Anyway…

    Determinism. Yeah. It is evil. And it is rationally corrupt. It is logically indefensible.

  11. El Roi, yes! Really wish I could manage to read the bible…

    Lydia, so as not to hijack Argo’s blog…please let me know if I can reach you via e-mail somewhere. If that’s okay…

  12. Oasis,

    LOL! You aren’t hijacking my blog! I’m thrilled to get some comments…so much better the HELPING kind (as opposed to the Calvinists blogs, which destroy life).

    You are NOT doing anything except being a PLEASURE.

  13. Oh, okay! Good to know, haha!

    Then just let me say that something clicked for me when I read such life-giving words here: Life-giving…vs. death. Life vs. death. I told myself to consider the rotten fruit of determinism, and to choose life. On John Calvin’s birthday I felt more liberated from Calvinism than ever before.

    Please understand that I am like a desert, dry and starving for water. I had to hold myself back from overdoing it with thank yous. I just wish the doubts and confusion would stop coming back.

    This is the second crisis that has crept upon me since ’06. Both due to different aspects of Calvinism.

  14. Oasis,

    You will love my latest post. I understand that my topics, discursive style, arcane language, and rambling prose can be confusing. I greatly apologize for that. I am a wordy person, and it translates into my writing. I always have like a million great points I want to make, and so I try to stuff them in in as organized a way as possible.

    But understand that Calvinism is exceedingly systematized. It proceeds from demonstrably false assumptions and metaphysical/logically impossible contradictions, but it hides them with great finesse and nuances of semantics…euphemism, and and outright shameless re-defining of words and concepts so that they fit nicely with the orthodoxy. It is complete, concise, VERY organized, and extremely comprehensive. Do not get down on yourself for feeling confused. But remember…

    Do you know what else it is?

    It is FALSE. You need to understand this: the assumptions which drive the Calvinist doctrines cannot POSSIBLY be true. They are wholly irrational. Determinism is impossible. There is NO non-contradictory construct or paradigm of existence where it can work. It can no more be true than the sun can be made of buffalo hide.

    In order for you to exist and God to exist and for relationship to occur and for all the promises of God and salvation and peace and love and pardon to ACTUALLY be real, you MUST have unfettered access to your own volition, and you must at your core physical being be GOOD, and your senses MUST be effective for apprehending your environment so that you CAN have a real and pragmatic and efficacious understanding of TRUTH.

    And if there was a time you could concede the farce that is reformation theology, then you CAN concede this. 🙂

    You need to vet EVERY assumption by this idea: does what I’m being told result in the functional expulsion of myself from myself. Am I being asked to belief that I, in order for this to work, must not actually be myself. If the answer to that is “yes”, then it is a false doctrine. It denies not only YOU, but it must deny God. Because if YOU don’t exist, then there is no way you can possibly argue for the existence of God.

    Are you most affirmed by member ship in a local church (i.e. a “collective”)? You are removed from YOU, YOU are nothing more than the local church. This is a false doctrine.

    Are you a slave to your sinful will (Total Depravity) Can you NEVER please God by “your own strength”; can you never do good before salvation? After salvation? You are removed from YOU. This is a false doctrine.

    Are you told that the “best” way to please God is to fulfill your “biblical role” as a wife, mother, homegroup leader, father, husband, missionary, tither, etc., etc.? You are nothing more than the abstraction of “role”. You are not YOU. It is a false doctrine.

    Does the pastor preach “free will”, but then declare that God is not obligated to save any “sinner”? (This is the Calvinist notion of limited atonement). YOUR will, even choosing Christ is irrelevant. The only will that matters is God’s. This means that YOU are irrelevant. As such, YOU cannot exist in the equation at all. You are removed from the salvation construct. It is a false doctrine.

    Has your outcome been “predestined”? Meaning, nothing you do can change where God has said you will go before you were born (which is an utterly irrational concept). Meaning all your works are moot; your will is moot? (This is the Calvinist notion of “unconditional election”). This means that you are irrelevant. Meaning that in the salvation construct you do not exist. You are removed from YOU. It is a false interpretation of “predestination”.

    Are “works in your own strength” ubiquitously and consistently condemned?

    Are you told that “you only deserve hell”, because all YOU can do is “filthy rags” before God in your own strength (what I call the Transference of Depravity as Identity)?

    Are you told that “God doesn’t need you”?

    Are you told that all you have really belongs to God and you are merely a steward…meaning the product of YOUR work doesn’t belong to you, it is a direct function of God’s “grace”? Meaning you cannot own it, meaning you don’t own your work, meaning you don’t own the means to your work (body and mind)?

    Yes, yes, and more yeses?

    All of these doctrines you will notice do the EXACT same thing. At the root of them is the idea that YOU are the problem. That YOUR existence is at the heart of sin and evil and why God had to send Christ to die. That the ONLY way to truly know good is to spend your life rejecting YOU, in favor of some external abstract “role” or “doctrine” or “standard” or “obligation” or external “will”.

    If the idea takes you out of the equation, it is false.

    Get that down, and you will see just how easy it is to rip off the lofty and pseudo-piety and see the evil underneath.

    Stay strong! Don’t fret. Jesus loves YOU, because YOU ARE YOU.

    (Oh…and check out John Immel’s site, “spritualtyranny.com”. A LOT of great information their. It will help you immensely.)

  15. Argo, I think this comment could be a post. Asking those questions then showing how the answers make no sense in application.

    My forte is the historical view of Augustine/Calvin. I am constantly astonished how supposed scholars are missing the plunge into the “Dark Ages” As Augustines writings/interpretations spread across Europe. Like you said, the clubs came out and dualism was institutionalized.

    But more recently we had a false “reformation” which simply was more politics and put those who wanted power in power. Calvin was a despot looking for a kingdom to rule. Luther was against indulgences as were his protectors who were sick of money going to Rome.

    There is NOTHING spiritual about the Reformation. What a lie. They left another bloody trail to follow right to America with the Puritans. People forget the Boers were Dutch Calvinists who instituted Apartheid in South Africa!

    Just reading history made me read Calvin from a totally different light.

  16. Oasis, When Calvinists tell you that YOU cannot do any good just remember that about them. Even if they are the nicest people in the world, they are giving you are warning about themselves. They do not believe they are in control of their own behavior. That is why pedophiles often get a pass. It is not their fault when you think about it. It is God’s fault on their paradigm.

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