I’m feeling frustrated by a fellow believer who opted to fuel the fire of dissension by persistently misrepresenting the reformed understanding of how one is saved in Christ. We really must put aside assumptions that would cause a ceasing of dialog with those we disagree with. We have nothing to fear in searching for truth in every issue and allowing for the honest examining of each other’s position…especially issues of extreme significance, like the gospel of salvation.
Below is a discussion I had on Facebook with another reformed brother, Edward Dalcour, in which I sook some clarity on a misrepresentation I perceived was coming from an “anti-Calvinist.”
“Me: I was called a troll recently in an online blog forum and was blocked. I had made a comment that I felt much of the American church needs to be evangelized. My testimony speaks to the ignorance of the doctrines of grace in much of the popular American church, and since I’ve been awakened to them I have been drinking from the fountain of grace that spills through them. My desire is to share these things with others in my non-denominational church in patience and gentleness praying for God’s mercy. This guy was pissed at the thought of this, thinking that the church isn’t the ground for reform but the world. Meh.
I recognize that the objector who blocked me suffers from anti-Calvinist syndrome but one of the questions he asked was this; “what was Calvin reforming, either A. The church. Or B. Roman Catholicism. I pointed to a definition of reformation that rediscovered the sovereignty of God in salvation (I think he blocked me because I refused to answer his fallacious either/or question) as the over arching light we should focus on.
In the end he basically asked me how I can follow a man who justified killing the opponents who disagreed with him theologically. I’ve never read Calvin and I haven’t even started my bible history classes yet but perhaps you could point to some good resources to read on this subject? I assume there is a valid concern to the manner in which Calvin may have operated in the civil realm…again, I’m assuming here and have never studied him.
I recognize that in most cases whenever we humans oppose a position the tendency is not to rightly represent your opponent when trying to refute it. Trying to learn…thoughts?
In response to me, Anthony linked to this awesome historian’s article that articulates a thorough narrative of Calvin’s achievements and motive; http://www.the-highway.com/theocracy_Horton.html
Dr. Dalcour responded to my inquiry: Abram, I find three main problems with the anti-Calvinists. 1) many are historically challenged, thus assuming John Calvin “invented” the *doctrines of grace*–so they naturally attack the man, 2) many are theologically misinformed as to what the “doctrines of grace” (also known as Calvinism) actually teaches (typically, they assume inappropriately a hyper-Calvinistic view), and
3) many passages such as John 3:16 and 2 Pet. 3:9 are interpreted in light of tradition,.not exegetical confirmation; not considering the entire content of biblical revelation in which we find a positive affirmation of God’s sovereignty in His election “according to the kind intention of His will.”
Me: What is a proper definition of “hyper-Calvinism?”
Ed: A hyper-Calvinistic view is an unbiblical view and thus a crass misrepresentation of what Calvinism teaches. Hyper-Calvinism asserts in essence, God dragging a person kicking and screaming (against their will) unto salvation or damnation.”
***end of Facebook portion of discussion***
I myself, coming from a non-denominational background, with no known traditions to share with my reformed brothers, have come to share in the doctrines of grace through some of their expositions of scripture available online. I am not undertaking to stir controversy with those who haven’t embraced calvinism in my fellowship, nor am I looking to leave, but I am praying that God spreads the joy and fullness of this blessed knowledge to my brothers and sisters should He will it in His timing.
I’ve become convinced that many are just ignorant, as I was ignorant, (and therefor unduly burdened by a works mentality) of the sustaining spiritual food supply made available through the systematic exposition of the bible’s position on God’s freedom in salvation and the resulting comfort provided in the eternal assurance this understanding brings. My hope is that God gives me the grace to share the awesome truth of His grace with my fellowship and that His mercy spreads like wildfire.
We ought to pray for grace…for the long-suffering love required to teach what the bible teaches in a spirit of gentleness. The challenge is with those who haven’t learned to avoid the fallacious worldview which assumes Calvinism to be a disease in the church. We need grace to articulate in love the reality that the doctrines of Grace (Calvinism) truly serve as an antibiotic that restores biblical consistency.
This post title isn’t meant to say that only Calvinists can restore biblical literacy to the church; I acknowledge that God uses all His children in all the differing shapes of clay we are made of. My aim is in rightly representing a position which throughout my lifelong experience in church has been utterly misrepresented. To that end, this is the most accurate definition I’ve come to thus far: Calvinism isn’t the following of a man but a systematic rediscovery of the true teaching of scripture regarding the sovereignty of God over salvation.